Michael Walzer
Professor Emeritus, The Institute for Advanced Study

Michael Walzer on Just War in the Gulf War

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Some of the troubles that we have had in Iraq after '03 come from the loss of confidence of trust that we produced by our behavior in '91, Walzer says.

Michael Walzer

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.


Michael Walzer:  Well going in this was a classic case of a just war. There was an active aggression invasion of a country, the invasion of a member of the U.N, and we organize the coalition to resist and throw back the invasion and then we stopped. In classic Just War Theory that’s what you are supposed to do. You are supposed to defeat the aggression and repel it and then stop. You don’t march...you don’t have to overthrow the aggressive government; that’s for the people to do if they want to do it, and we stopped. But then we incited a rebellion inside Iraq leading people to expect, since we had an army right there, that we would help the rebels, and then we didn’t. And there was mass murder. Saddam, who had been unable to fight against the coalition army was perfectly capable of fighting against then slaughtering his own people, and he did on a very large scale in the south and later in the north … so, yes, we behaved very badly and some of the troubles that we've had in Iraq after ’03 come from the loss of confidence of trust that we produced by our behavior in ‘91. Recorded on: 2/27/08