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The Warrior's Honor by Michael Ignatieff

The Warrior's Honor

by Michael Ignatieff

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1643114,967 (3.68)1
Since the early 1990s, Michael Ignatieff has traveled the world's war zones, from Bosnia to the West Bank, from Afghanistan to central Africa. The Warrior's Honor is a report and a reflection on what he has seen in the places where ethnic war has become a way of life. In a series of vivid portraits, Ignatieff charts the rise of the new moral interventionists - the aid workers, reporters, peacekeepers, Red Cross delegates, and diplomats - who believe that other people's misery, no matter how far away, is of concern to us all. He brings us face-to-face with the new ethnic warriors - the warlords, gunmen, and paramilitary forces - who have escalated postmodern war to an unprecedented level of savagery. From the encounter of these two groups, he draws dramatic and startling realizations about the ambiguous ethics of engagement, the limited force of moral justice in a world of war, and the inevitable clash between those who defend tribal and national loyalties and those who speak the universal language of human rights.… (more)



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Ethnic and national groups > Groups of People ; Inequality > Social Sciences > Social Sciences, Sociology, Anthropology
  FHQuakers | Feb 12, 2018 |
This is an eloquent book, veering to poetry at times. For a book about the modern wars of militias and warlords within failed states, its eloquence actually gets in the way of the message at times. Occasionally one can even see that sometimes Ignatieff says something just because he has thought of an eloquent way of saying it. Not that I am accusing him of insincerity, for he is not. Nor that the book is without an honest message, for it has several.
The book is a sort of meditation on the nature of these "modern wars" that is colored much by his own personal experiences in several of them. The observation that is central to the book is that diverse people (who are really much alike too) can fall into a state of viewing the "other" as the enemy when a state begins to fail to protect them, and anarchy looms. In successful modern states, the protection is present, and the fiction that diverse people are underneath it all, the same, is maintained.

The book has a very intelligent treatment of the dilemma of the various aid agencies such as the Red Cross and the UN Peacekeepers in trying to ameliorate the effects of war, and maintain their credibility, while not prolonging it or even intensifying it.

On the other hand, the author is a little too reverent of Freudian and even Marxist ideas on the nature of man, both of whom have about zero credibility to the discerning reader. His account of the "Narcissism of Minor Differences" is just so much hooey to me. Ignatieff seems to be entirely uninformed of modern thinking on this problem, which goes by the name of evolutionary psychology, and to me, seems so much more insightful and informative.

The general problem of war is not treated here, only a particular form of it. The wars that inform his thinking in this book are those in Angola, Lebanon, Ireland and, especially, Yugoslavia, with a few "lessons" from the holocaust thrown in. There is not much in the way of systematic study, but rather a grab bag of ideas and anecdotal observations. Eloquently written, though... ( )
5 vote DonSiano | Oct 20, 2006 |
Ignatieff charts the rise of the new moral interventionists who believe that other people's misery concerns us all, introduces the new ethnic warriors who have escalated post-modern war to an unprecedented level of savagery and draws conclusions about the ambiguous ethics of engagement and the limited force of moral justice in a world of war.
  antimuzak | Nov 9, 2005 |
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Full title (1st American edition): The warrior's honor : ethnic war and the modern conscience / Michael Ignatieff; original UK edition has title The warrior's honour : ethnic war and the modern conscience
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