Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations

By Michael Walzer | Go to book overview

14
Winning and
Fighting well

"Asinine Ethics"

Chairman Mao and the Battle of the River Hung

In the year 638 B.C., during the period of China's history known as the Spring and Autumn Era, the two feudal states of Sung and Ch'u fought a battle at the Hung River in central China. 1 The army of Sung, led by its ruler Duke Hsiang, was drawn up in battle formation on the river's northern bank; the Ch'u army had to ford the stream. When its soldiers were halfway across, one of Hsiang's ministers came to him and said, "They are many, and we are few. Pray let us attack them before they are all crossed over." The Duke refused. When the enemy army had reached the northern bank but had not yet re-formed its lines, the minister again asked leave to begin the fight; again the Duke refused. Only after the Ch'u soldiers were properly marshaled did he signal the attack. And then, in the ensuing battle, the Duke himself was wounded and his army put to flight. According to the chronicles, the people of Sung blamed their ruler for the defeat, but he said, "The superior man does not inflict a second wound, and does not take prisoner anyone of grey hairs. When the ancients had their armies in the field, they would not attack an enemy when he was in a defile; and though I am but the poor representative of a fallen dynasty, I will not sound my drums to attack an unformed host."

-225-

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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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