Justifying America's Wars: The Conduct and Practice of US Military Intervention, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Justifying America's Wars

The Conduct and Practice of US Military Intervention, 1st Edition

By Nicholas Kerton-Johnson


208 pages

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This book examines the justifications for, and practice of, war by the US since 1990, and examines four case studies: the Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The author undertakes an examination of presidential speeches and public documents from this period to determine the focal points on which the respective presidents based their rhetoric for war. The work then examines the practice of war in the light of these justifications to determine whether changes in justifications correlate with changes in practice. In particular, the justificatory discourse finds four key themes that emerge in the presidential discourses, which are tracked across the case studies and point to the fundamental driving force in US motivations for going to war. The four key themes which emerge from the data are: international law or norms; human rights; national interest; and egoist morality (similar too, but wider than, 'exceptionalism'). This analysis shows that 9/11 resulted in a radical shift away from an international law and human rights-focused justificatory discourse, to one which was overwhelmingly dominated by egoist-morality justifications and national interest.

This book will be of much interest to students of US foreign policy, humanitarian intervention, Security Studies, and IR theory.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Setting the Context: Intervention and Norms in International Society 3. The Gulf War 4. The Kosovo Intervention 5. The Intervention in Afghanistan 6. The Iraq War 7. Conclusion

About the Author

Nicholas Kerton-Johnson is Chief Executive Officer of The Ephesus Initiative.

About the Series

Contemporary Security Studies

This series focuses on new research across the spectrum of international peace and security, in an era where each year throws up multiple examples of conflicts that present new security challenges in the world around them.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / General