Just and Unjust Wars

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In this paper, I will attempt to argue Michael Walzer’s reasoning that war is not inevitable, and show that freedom of choice does not exists for the parties involved. I will present an argument for the inevitability of war after outlining Walzer’s objections to the realist’s point of view on the morality of war. In Just and Unjust Wars, Walzer argues against the realist’s view on the morality of war; namely, that war is inevitable therefore eliminating freedom of choice. Before delving into the argument, it is important that we understand a realist’s belief; Realism, as presented to us in the book, holds that states are motivated by concerns for national security and self-interest. Realism then concludes that due to the anarchical state of the world, wars will happen inevitably. One of Walzer’s objections to realism is that war will not happen inevitably. Walzer takes the stance that there is freedom of choice for states to engage in war, rather than war being an inevitable occurrence. In his argument, Walzer gives the account of the Peloponnesian War according to the writings of Thucydides, a realist. In this re-telling, there are two Athenian generals that determine it is “necessary” that Athens establishes rule in Melos (a Spartan state), in order to preserve order and avoid put an end to the rebellion there. They rationalize that a show of force is the only option to ensure these objectives are met. The Melians are faced with a situation in which their safety is threatened and the Athenian Generals, believe that war is inevitable, because the Melians “value freedom above safety” (Walzer 5) and will have no other option but to engage them in war. It is the claims of inevitability and necessity that Walzer objects to. His argument is based on questioning the “necessity” of war, a word whose meaning doubles as “indispensable” and “inevitable” (8). Walzer paints a picture of an assembly in Athens, where policy is deliberated and decided, as the starting...
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