Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations

By Michael Walzer | Go to book overview

3
The Rules of War

The Moral Equality of Soldiers

Among soldiers who choose to fight, restraints of various sorts arise easily and, one might say, naturally, the product of mutual respect and recognition. The stories of chivalric knights are for the most part stories, but there can be no doubt that a military code was widely shared in the later Middle Ages and sometimes honored. The code was designed for the convenience of the aristocratic warriors, but it also reflected their sense of themselves as persons of a certain sort, engaged in activities that were freely chosen. Chivalry marked off knights from mere ruffians and bandits and also from peasant soldiers who bore arms as a necessity. I suppose that it survives today: some sense of military honor is still the creed of the professional soldier, the sociological if not the lineal descendent of the feudal knight. But notions of honor and chivalry seem to play only a small part in contemporary combat. In the literature of war, the contrast between "then and now" is commonly made -- not very accurately, but with a certain truth, as in this poem by Louis Simpson: 1

At Malplaquet and Waterloo They were polite and proud, They primed their guns with billets-doux And, as they fired, bowed. At Appomattox too, it seems Some things were understood . . . But at Verdun and at Bastogne

-34-

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Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the Third Edition xi
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgments xxv
  • Part One - The Moral Reality of War 1
  • 1 - Against "Realism" 3
  • 2 - The Crime of War 21
  • 3 - The Rules of War 34
  • Part Two - The Theory of Aggression 49
  • 4 - Law and Order in International Society 51
  • 5 - Anticipations 74
  • 6 - Interventions 86
  • 7 - War's Ends, and the Importance of Winning 109
  • Part Three - The War Convention 125
  • 8 - War's Means, and the Importance of Fighting Well 127
  • 9 - Noncombatant Immunity and Military Necessity 138
  • 10 - War against Civilians: Sieges and Blockades 160
  • 11 - Guerrilla War 176
  • 12 - Terrorism 197
  • 13 - Reprisals 207
  • Part Four - Dilemmas of War 223
  • 14 - Winning and Fighting Well 225
  • 15 - Aggression and Neutrality 233
  • 16 - Supreme Emergency 251
  • 17 - Nuclear Deterrence 269
  • Part Five - The Question of Responsibility 285
  • 18 - The Crime of Aggression: Political Leaders and Citizens 287
  • 19 - War Crimes: Soldiers and Their Officers 304
  • Afterword - Nonviolence and the Theory of War 329
  • Notes 337
  • Index 355
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