Walzer, Just War and Iraq: Ethics as Response, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Walzer, Just War and Iraq

Ethics as Response, 1st Edition

By Ronan O'Callaghan


170 pages

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pub: 2015-10-26
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In recent years questions of ethical responsibility and justice in war have become increasingly significant in international relations. This focus has been precipitated by United States (U.S.) led invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq. In turn, Western conceptions of ethical responsibility have been largely informed by human rights based understandings of morality.

This book directly addresses the question of what it means to act ethically in times of war by drawing upon first-hand accounts of U.S. war fighting in Iraq during the 2003 invasion and occupation. The book focuses upon the prominent rights based justification of war of Michael Walzer. Through an in-depth critical reading of Walzer’s work, this title demonstrates the broader problems implicit to human rights based justifications of war and elucidates an alternative account of ethical responsibility: ethics as response.

Putting forward a compelling case for people to remain troubled and engaged with questions of ethical responsibility in war, this work will be of great interest to students and scholars in a range of areas including international relations theory, ethics and security studies.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction. The Tower of Babel and the Ideal of Unity. Michael Walzer and the Just War Tradition. Deconstruction as Methodology. Historical Analysis and the Problem of Representation. With whom does the historical writer of historicism actually empathise? Structure of the Book. Conclusion Chapter 2: Morality, Community and the Justification of War. Introduction. There is a Thin Man inside Every Fat Man. Self-determination and Membership. Declaration and the Birth of Community. Membership and Alterity. War and Maximal Morality. Temporal Revelation and Being. Différance and Secular Theology. Conclusion Chapter 3: Violence, Ethics and the Invasion of Iraq. A Brief History of Iraq. The Pre-War Imaging of Justice in Iraq. Occupation and Legal Authority. Postwar Security. De-Ba’athification and Sunni Resistance. Religious Authority and the Iraqi Constitution. The 2005 Election and Ethno-Sectarian Violence. Conclusion Chapter 4: Derrida and Ethics. Introduction. Ethics as first philosophy. Community as the possibility of justice. Ethical Action as Sacrifice. Undecidability as Justice for the Other. Conclusion Chapter 5: Non-combatant Immunity and the Sacrifice of Rights. Introduction. Identifying the Target. Combatant Rights. Justifying the Loss of Rights. Simply by Fighting. Danger and Threat. Freedom and Sacrifice. Conclusion. Chapter 6: Double Effect and its Parasites. Introduction. The Doctrine of Double Effect. Pardon me for not Meaning to … In All Good Faith. Policing with Due Care. Deepening Double Effect. Siege Warfare: An Illustrative Example. Conclusion: Ethics as Double Effect. Conclusion: Ethics as Response. What the Hell is Water? Shattering Sisyphus. Responding to Iraqis

About the Series


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes.

We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics.


We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors:

  • Jenny Edkins (jennyedkins@hotmail.com) and
  • Nick Vaughan-Williams (N.Vaughan-Williams@Warwick.ac.uk).

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR's traditional geopolitical imaginary.’

Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Parties
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / General