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

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

Michael Walzer first wrote Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with

Historical Illustrations in the years following the Vietnam War, and unfortunately its

premise on morality in war will always remain as relevant as it was then as it is now, with

conflict between states forever existing. Michael Walzer is one of the most prominent

social critics in North America and in this book, he explores two main concepts, the

justice of war and the justice in war in a great depth, and uses numerous historical

references to support his claims. It is a very well configured piece, written in such a way

of persuasion that your personal view
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In a ‘just’ war the

combat is between combatants only. A perfect example of this occurred in the Gulf War;

The pilots in the Gulf War had specific orders to support this requirement, becaused if

they were unable to get a clear shot on their assigned targets, they were instructed to

return with their bombs and missiles intact.

Walzer also addresses the rules of war as applied to soldiers on foot involved in

battle. Walzer’s central principle on warfare is that soldiers on both sides of battle have

the equal right to kill. Under this central principle are two groups of restrictions; The first

group of these pertains to when and how soldiers can kill, and the second details whom

they can kill. An observer cannot decipher between war and murder without such

limitations. Walzer stays primarily concerned with the second group of restrictions.

Traditionally, these protected groups have included people who are not actively engaged

in the act of war (i.e. women, children, priests etc.), simplistically expressed by Walzer as

“They can try to kill me, and I can try to kill them. But it is wrong to cut the throats of

their wounded or to shoot them down when they are trying to surrender" (Walzer 38).

War is generally thought of as a business of the

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