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Arguing About War
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About the Author

Michael Walzer is UPS Foundation Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of more than a dozen books, including Politics and Passion, On Toleration, The Jewish Political Tradition and 50 Years of Dissent, all published by Yale University Press.

Reviews

Walzer (Just and Unjust Wars) collects previously published pieces from the last 15 years that dramatize and discuss the ethical dilemmas of military intervention in emergency situations, after terrorism and during foreign civil wars. Walzer's consideration of pros and cons can be so theoretically oriented that it is difficult to tell where he stands precisely, but it is clear that he believes officers must require risk-taking in battle and soldiers should undertake it. He does not have anything good to say about pacifists and works to refute arguments on the left claiming that the terrorism originating in the developing world should be thought of differently than that originating elsewhere. Rwanda's ethnic cleansing, the Gulf War and Kosovo's bloody move toward independence all serve as case studies, often as facts on the ground were developing or before they developed; writing before the Iraq War, Walzer weighs military occupation in Iraq against the possibility of a better political regime and follows that with a provocative, counterintuitive argument that France, in particular, but also Germany and Russia, bear a heavy responsibility for the United States' decision to preemptively attack. Events are outpacing some of Walzer's deliberations, but his case studies put the issues at stake in relief, regardless of whether one accepts his conclusions. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"This book of essays has an outstanding pedigree. Michael Walzer is one of the US's foremost political theorists and social commentators... penetrating and powerful" - Ben Rogers, Financial Times "Walzer has moved the concerns over just war from the periphery of political theory to the very center of our democratic dilemma." - Garry Wills, New York Review of Books "Accessible and elegantly written... [and] essential reading for [both] scholars and practitioners." - Choice "If there is such a thing as the American conscience, one of its most important custodians is Michael Walzer... A must read." - Peter S. Temes, San Francisco Chronicle.

Walzer (Inst. for Advanced Study, Princeton) has attained the status of an eminent moral philosopher on collective violence through his classic Just and Unjust Wars (1977). In these previously published essays, he draws particular strength from an insightful combination of theory and case studies. For example, his discussion of the concept of proportionality in the first Gulf War challenges us to consider not only the costs of a response to aggression but the moral significance of specific wartime decisions. Walzer provides an excellent defense of the decision to embark upon a "just war" and what is implied by justification. His objection that the second Gulf War was "preventive, not preemptive" clarifies the moral difference between the two and shows that, contrary to President Bush's view, the current war was not preemptive. Walzer's discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict offers a good account of why the moral argument is confusing; elements of each side have engaged the other in two distinct wars, both just and unjust. A concluding chapter explains different versions of global governance, but perhaps the book's title reflects Walzer's most durable accomplishment. Highly recommended for both academic and public libraries. Zachary T. Irwin, Sch. of Humanities and Social Science, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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