Rethinking the Just War Tradition

The editors of Rethinking the Just War Tradition invite readers in their role as citizens to take individual responsibility for demanding that warfare conducted in their name be just (pp. ix and 11). They do well in calling for an exploration of the success of Just War Theory, since, as John Stuart Mill famously points out, ‘in political and philosophical theories as well as in persons, success discloses faults and infirmities which failure might have concealed from observation.’ [1] With Walzer’s highly popular Just and Unjust Wars in its fourth edition (as of 2006), Just War Theory (JWT) may have triumphed in the realm of academia, the classrooms of the U.S. Naval Academy, and the halls of the United Nations. But does it succeed in the face of contemporary challenges such as genocide, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism, or does it need to be re-thought or even rejected?

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