BY NIKOLAS GVOSDEV What is the appropriate role (and size) of a U.S. nuclear force that would make both strategic and ethical sense? Although arms control treaties have brought the numbers down, the U.S. still possesses some 4000 nuclear weapons, yet the force is still structured as if it must deal with a Soviet threat circa 1982.
Americans have registered one set of lessons too well—those deriving from the seventy-five year war against German imperialism and Soviet communism. They have forgotten, or want to forget, another set of lessons—those deriving from the history of U.S. involvement in the Philippines and Vietnam, in Nicaragua and Panama, and on to Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Great War and its imagery imprinted itself on the human imagination. In poetry and prose, photography, art, film, and other modes of expression, its influence on cultural memory and identity, on modern meaning and human sensibility, has been remarkable.
Feminist theorizing of peace suggests a number of transformative observations. Feminist perspectives focus a critical lens on the meaning of peace, often making invisible violence visible; help to critically interrogate the role of the United States in furthering “peace” in the international arena; and make different theoretical and policy prescriptions than perspectives that omit gender from their analyses.
Today’s optimists stress the degree to which globalization appears much more firmly institutionalized than it was a hundred years ago, the rather striking success of global economic governance in responding to the financial crisis of 2007–2008, and the longer-term trend within international society to move away from major-power war. Pessimists are less sure.
The increasingly widespread and energetic engagement with the idea of just war over the last fifty years of thinking on morality and armed conflict—especially in English-speaking countries—presents a striking contrast to the previous several centuries, going back to the early 1600s, in which thinkers addressing moral issues related to war did so without reference to the just war idea.
Have the critics of the historical approach to just war theory landed it a knock-out blow, or can it withstand the bricks and bats that have been hurled its way? This article will elucidate four of the most hard-hitting charges levied at the historical approach, and evaluate its continuing utility in light of them.