Morality and Contemporary Warfare

Morality and Contemporary Warfare

3.7 (17 ratings by Goodreads)

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When is the use of military force by a nation morally justified? Why has the long accepted moral requirement to protect civilians from intentional attack eroded in recent years? How can the tendency toward unrestrained warfare between parties with major cultural differences be controlled? In this thought-provoking book, James Turner Johnson refocuses the moral analysis of war on the real problems of today's armed conflicts. Moral debates about nuclear war and annihilation fail to address the problems of actual contemporary uses of military force, Johnson argues. We must address the type of armed conflict that has emerged at the end of the twentieth century: local wars--often inflamed by historical, ethnic, or religious animosities and usually fought with conventional weapons that can be carried by individual fighters.

Johnson sets out a moral basis for understanding when armed force can be justified. He analyzes specific problems posed by contemporary warfare: the question of military intervention to ameliorate or end conflicts, the question of warfare against noncombatants, the problem of cultural differences inflaming conflict, and the tension between those who would punish war crimes and those hoping to reconcile adversaries. The author concludes with a discussion of how to reshape and renew an international consensus on the proper purposes and limits to war.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 140 x 210 x 20.07mm | 340g
  • United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 0300091044
  • 9780300091045
  • 848,207

Review quote

"In his latest book, James Turner Johnson, one of the great American exponents of the just-war approach, demonstrates its values by applying it with sustained rigour to the conflicts of the past decade, starting with the 1991 Gulf War. Johnson's analysis exudes wisdom." Lawrence Freedman, Times Literary Supplement "This is a very good book on an important topic." J. Bryan Hehir, Commonweal "Johnson here provides us with a timely attempt to apply traditional just war principles to a new breed of post-nuclear warfare... Johnson does a nice job of guiding the reader through the moral intricacies of just war theory... Johnson's book provides us with an example of how a very old moral tradition is still able to handle contemporary moral problems." Virginia Quarterly Review "To those caught between uncritical pacifism and equally uncritical interventionism, Johnson provides an invaluable perspective and sense of balance." Martin L. Cook, Christian Century
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About James Turner Johnson

James Turner Johnson is professor of religion and a member of the graduate program in political science at Rutgers University. He is the author of Can Modern War Be Just? published by Yale University Press.
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Rating details

17 ratings
3.7 out of 5 stars
5 18% (3)
4 47% (8)
3 24% (4)
2 12% (2)
1 0% (0)
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