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Postmodern Morals, Ends, and Means: Shifting Ideas About Why, How, and for Whom Wars are Fought

Postmodern Morals, Ends, and Means: Shifting Ideas About Why, How, and for Whom Wars are Fought published on

Authored by Command and General Staff College

During the postmodern era moral reasoning on why and how nations fight has shifted. The just war tradition was founded during the fourth century in a system of thought based on natural law as defined by the Christian conception of God. This moral construct served as a means of valuing both humanitarian concerns and state sovereignty. Then, during the Enlightenment era, modernist thinkers removed God as a metaphysical basis of the just war tradition, and systematized it such that state sovereignty had greater value over humanitarian concerns. The advent of postmodernism in the last few decades, maintained the modern metaphysics, but prioritized humanitarian concerns over sovereignty, hence the emergence of the recent international principle of responsibility to protect. However, because of the lack of a moral or legal authority to determine when humanitarian concerns should trump state sovereignty, the application of the principle is surrounded in debate and uncertainty. Therefore, there is a search for international bodies that can assume such authority. The National Security Council has accepted this responsibility, but inherently lacks the process to execute the principle to achieve postmodern purposes, so the search continues. Concurrent with the search for authority is a discussion regarding the appropriate means of conducting humanitarian intervention. A viable means exists in the postmodern technologically centric unmanned system. While there may be legitimate moral concerns surrounding drone use, when judged using the just war tradition, there are no moral concerns inherent in unmanned warfare that would prevent it from being used for humanitarian intervention. In fact, unmanned combat vehicles are well suited for such police style enforcement actions. Given the continuing search for an international authority to conduct humanitarian intervention and the viability of unmanned combat vehicles as a means to conduct such missions, these postmodern influences portend an international organization with the authority and means to conduct international police functions in otherwise sovereign states.

Publication Date:
Nov 11 2014
1503176290 / 9781503176294
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5″ x 11″
Black and White
Related Categories:
Political Science / General


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