Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations

By Michael Walzer | Go to book overview

8
War's Means, and
the Importance of
Fighting Well

The purpose of the war convention is to establish the duties of belligerent states, of army commanders, and of individual soldiers with reference to the conduct of hostilities. I have already argued that these duties are precisely the same for states and soldiers fighting wars of aggression and wars of defense. In our judgments of the fighting, we abstract from all consideration of the justice of the cause. We do this because the moral status of individual soldiers on both sides is very much the same: they are led to fight by their loyalty to their own states and by their lawful obedience. They are most likely to believe that their wars are just, and while the basis of that belief is not necessarily rational inquiry but, more often, a kind of unquestioning acceptance of official propaganda, nevertheless they are not criminals; they face one another as moral equals.

The domestic analogy is of little help here. War as an activity (the conduct rather than the initiation of the fighting) has no equivalent in a settled civil society. It is not like an armed robbery, for example, even when its ends are similar in kind. Indeed, it is the contrast rather than the correspondence that illuminates the war convention. The contrast is readily explicated; we have only

-127-

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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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