Deficits of International Law

I approach my theme here today indirectly. [1] In his book Just and Unjust Wars, adapting a remark of Trotsky’s about the dialectic Michael Walzer proposes the aphorism ‘You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.’ War is a scourge and a horror, and most of those whom it involves it draws in against their will. Hence the ambition, the age-old ideal, of a world at peace. Those of us who share a commitment to a just and more or less stable system of international law attach great weight, consequently, to the outlawing of aggressive war. That, however, is only one side of the story. It cannot be the whole of it. For although peace is an opposite of war, war is not the only opposite of peace. If we want to create a peace movement – a genuine peace movement with influence and moral standing across the planet – we need an understanding of international law that has thoroughly internalized this imbalance.

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