Michael Walzer on Just War in Iraq

Michael Walzer is one of America's leading political philosophers. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and editor of Dissent, a left-wing quarterly of politics and culture. He has written on a wide range of topics, including just and unjust wars, nationalism, ethnicity, economic justice, social criticism, radicalism, tolerance, and political obligation. He is also a contributing editor to The New Republic and a member of the editorial board of Philosophy & Public Affairs. To date he has written 27 books and has published over 300 articles, essays, and book reviews. He is a member of several philosophical organizations including the American Philosophical Society.

  • Transcript


Question: Was going to war with Iraq necessary or just?

Transcript:I thought it wasn’t and argued against the war that we fought. I did think that the regime of constraint which had been established after the First Gulf War, which involved the no fly zones and the UN inspectors in the country and the embargo on the import of arms. I thought that was a just regime and that we should have sustained that regime. We needed to improve the embargo. We needed what Colin Powel called smart sanctions, because the sanction system was hurting ordinary Iraqi civilians, but there should have been a way--and I have spoken to some of the people who were running the embargo who say there were ways--to deal just with weapons and not to prevent food and medicine from reaching the people. So that system of constraint which I think was working--we now know that it prevented the Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction. That system of constraint should have been sustained.