Saturday 31 October, 1.30pm until 3.00pm, Henry Moore Gallery
Britain’s string of wars over the past ten years has brought questions of the rights and wrongs of going to war to the forefront of political debate. Ten years ago NATO bombed Yugoslavia to force it to withdraw from the breakaway province of Kosovo, in what the British Prime Minister Tony Blair called a humanitarian ‘war for values’. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was variously described as a campaign of preventive self-defence, or as an intervention to liberate Iraqis from Saddam’s tyranny. The attempt to secure United Nations backing for the Anglo-American invasion also focused attention on the relevance of UN authority and international law to the waging of war.
Today, the chances of another humanitarian intervention being mounted seem diminished because of the chaos that followed the invasion of Iraq. Yet Britain continues to fight a controversial campaign in Afghanistan, based on justifications that range from fighting terrorism to the war on drugs, to supporting women’s rights and Afghan democracy against Taliban oppression. The range of justifications given for Britain’s role in these wars has stoked debate about what it means to fight a just war in the 21st century. Are there valid justifications for waging war beyond those of self-defence and the national interest? Is today’s international environment so different from previous eras that we need to re-think the principles of just war? Does our government bear a ‘responsibility to protect’ individuals and peoples against grave human rights violations by states throughout the world? When is it right to go to war?
|Professor Chris Brown|
professor, international relations, LSE; author, Understanding International Relations
|Dr Philip Cunliffe|
senior lecturer in international conflict, University of Kent; co-editor, Politics Without Sovereignty: a critique of contemporary international relations.
director, Centre for Social Cohesion; author, Neoconservatism: why we need it; political commentator
curator of Common Spaces, Fakulta Solidarnosoc; former political and strategic advisor/analyst, EU and Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Dr Tara McCormack
lecturer in international politics, University of Leicester; author, Critique, Security and Power: the political limits to emancipatory approaches
Under the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W Bush and now Barack Obama, America has consistently pursued abroad what it lacks at home – moral authority.Tara McCormack, spiked, 25 September 2009
In mid-May, as the Sri Lankan army completed its rout of the Tamil Tigers, President Mahinda Rajapaksa described the scorched-earth campaign as ‘an unprecedented humanitarian operation’.Christopher Caldwell, London Review of Books, 9 July 2009
Ten years on, the conflict should be remembered as a responsible western intervention. It is a very different example to Iraq.David Clark, Guardian Comment is free, 16 April 2009
The transformation of Kosovo into a colonial-style protectorate exposes the authoritarianism behind Western governments’ ‘ethical’ foreign policies.Philip Cunliffe, spiked, 24 March 2009
Every society and every period of history has had to face the reality of war. War inevitably yields situations in which the normal ethical rules of society have to be overridden. The Just War tradition has evolved over the centuries as a careful endeavour to impose moral discipline and humanity on resort to war and in its waging, and the tradition deserves our attention now as much as ever.
Charles Guthrie & Michael Quinlan, Bloomsbury, 26 September 2007
Michael Walzer, Yale University Press, 3 January 2006
Chris Brown, Polity Press, 17 May 2002
I believe that the increasing tendency of states to intervene in others’ affairs, and the idea that it is right and legitimate for them to do so is a very dangerous trend.Philip Cunliffe, The Browser