Morality and war

Bringing contemporary warfare into focus

Morality and Contemporary Warfare, by James Turner Johnson

It is a truism that generals always prepare to fight the previous war. The memory of the past so shapes military thinking that the new challenges of future conflicts are frequently obscured. In a similar way, moral thinking about war is to a large degree focused not on the shape of future conflicts, but on the moral questions of previous eras.

James Turner Johnson wants to bring ethical reflection to bear on the conflicts most typical of the present and the foreseeable future. Ours is a post-cold-war world of small-scale ethnic and religious conflict amid the ruins of collapsed empires. The analyses applied to the Vietnam war or the problems of nuclear deterrence are ill suited to illuminate the contemporary scene.


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