Just War Reconsidered
Strategy, Ethics, and Theory
James M. Dubik
Narrated by Tim Halligan
Approximately 10 hours
Book published by The University Press of Kentucky
In the seminal Just and Unjust Wars, Michael Walzer famously considered the ethics of modern warfare, examining the moral issues that arise before, during, and after conflict. However, Walzer and subsequent scholars have often limited their analyses of the ethics of combat to soldiers on the ground and failed to recognize the moral responsibilities of senior political and military leaders.
In Just War Reconsidered: Strategy, Ethics, and Theory, James M. Dubik draws on years of research as well as his own experiences as a soldier and teacher to fill the gaps left by other theorists. He applies moral philosophy, political philosophy, and strategic studies to historical and contemporary case studies to reveal the inaccuracies and moral bankruptcy that inform some of the literature on military ethics. Conventional just war theory adopts a binary approach, wherein political leaders have moral accountability for the decision to go to war and soldiers have accountability for fighting the war ethically. Dubik argues, however, that political and military leadership should be held accountable for the planning and execution of war in addition to the decision to initiate conflict.
Dubik bases his sober reassessment on the fundamental truth that war risks the lives of soldiers and innocents as well as the political and social health of communities. He offers new standards to evaluate the ethics of warfare in the hope of increasing the probability that the lives of soldiers will not be used in vain and the innocent not put at risk unnecessarily.
James M. Dubik is Professor of the Practice and Director of Teaching at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program. He held the Omar Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership from 2012 to 2013, a position cosponsored by Dickinson College, Penn State Law School, and the U.S. Army War College. He is coauthor of Envisioning Future Warfare.
“A genuinely important book. Dubik's experience as a military leader has clearly given him a keen sense of civil-military leadership dynamics and of the practical realities of war, and this lends great authority to his perspective.”
—Scott P. Segrest, author of America and the Political Philosophy of Common Sense
“Just War Reconsidered examines a timeless topic: moral leadership at the strategic level of war. Dubik’s five principles for waging war justly provide a framework for judging the moral agency of senior leaders, civilian and military, in their war-waging responsibilities.”
—Lance Betros, author of Carved from Granite: West Point since 1902
“Just War Reconsidered will surprise, discomfort, and ultimately enlighten those interested in how the nation wields the military instrument of power. Dubik challenges us to understand and confront not only our responsibility to fight wars ethically but also to wage wars ethically.”
—from the foreword by General Martin E. Dempsey, USA (Ret.),Eighteenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
“In this book, remarkable for its intellectual bravery and originality, General Jim Dubik shows that he is truly one of the most thoughtful, ethical, and excellent field officers of his generation. His analysis will leave many uncomfortable—but in a very good and necessary way. Coming out of the wars of the early 21st century, the United States and its military and policymakers and citizenry need to wrestle with the issues that Dubik explores so well. ”
—Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow, Brookings Institution
“Dr. Dubik has given us a powerful reflection on a troubling time in American history, with a clarion call for a moral foundation for national action using military force. ”
—John Hamre, former Deputy Secretary of Defense
“Dubik's new book, Just War Considered, examines conduct in war not in traditional terms of the morality of war, or a given war, per se, nor from a primarily tactical point of view, e.g., whether civilian casualties can be justified, but from a new perspective—the morality of executing strategies not capable of meeting the war aims. Given America's experience in most major ground wars since World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, this perspective is profoundly useful. Diplomats and statesmen and stateswomen will benefit from his insights as much as military officers, as the ultimate determination of war aims is a civilian responsibility, and determining the proper strategy to execute it a combined military-civilian endeavor. I wish we had such insights before we took fateful decisions on Vietnam Jeffreyand Iraq.”
—Ambassador James Jeffrey
“Dubik combines his philosopher's wisdom with his experience as a combat soldier and commander. The argument brilliantly bridges both worlds. This wise, thoughtful, and beautifully written book explores the profound question of justice in the conduct of war. It recognizes, with Clausewitz, that war is an extension of politics by other means, that it is by nature riddled with chance and ambiguity, and that civilian and military leaders share responsibility for ensuring that war is waged justly. It is a profound contribution to scholarship, citizenship, and leadership. ”
— Kimberly Kagan, President, Institute for the Study of War
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