Nelson Maldonado-Torres argues that European modernity has become inextricable from the experience of the warrior and conqueror. In Against War, he develops a powerful critique of modernity, and he offers a critical response combining ethics, political theory, and ideas rooted in Christian and Jewish thought. Maldonado-Torres focuses on the perspectives of those who inhabit the underside of western modernity, particularly Jewish, black, and Latin American theorists. He analyzes the works of the Jewish Lithuanian-French philosopher and religious thinker Emmanuel Levinas, the Martiniquean psychiatrist and political thinker Frantz Fanon, and the Catholic Argentinean-Mexican philosopher, historian, and theologian Enrique Dussel.
Considering Levinas’s critique of French liberalism and Nazi racial politics, and the links between them, Maldonado-Torres identifies a “master morality” of dominion and control at the heart of western modernity. This master morality constitutes the center of a warring paradigm that inspires and legitimizes racial policies, imperial projects, and wars of invasion. Maldonado-Torres refines the description of modernity’s war paradigm and the Levinasian critique through Fanon’s phenomenology of the colonized and racial self and the politics of decolonization, which he reinterprets in light of the Levinasian conception of ethics. Drawing on Dussel’s genealogy of the modern imperial and warring self, Maldonado-Torres theorizes race as the naturalization of war’s death ethic. He offers decolonial ethics and politics as an antidote to modernity’s master morality and the paradigm of war. Against War advances the de-colonial turn, showing how theory and ethics cannot be conceived without politics, and how they all need to be oriented by the imperative of decolonization in the modern/colonial and postmodern world.
In this jarring look at contemporary warfare and political visuality, renowned anthropologist of violence Allen Feldman provocatively argues that contemporary sovereign power mobilizes asymmetric, clandestine, and ultimately unending war as a will to truth. Whether responding to the fantasy of weapons of mass destruction or an existential threat to civilization, Western political sovereignty seeks to align justice, humanitarian right, and democracy with technocratic violence and visual dominance. Connecting Guantánamo tribunals to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, American counterfeit killings in Afghanistan to the Baader-Meinhof paintings of Gerhard Richter, and the video erasure of Rodney King to lynching photography and political animality, among other scenes of terror, Feldman contests sovereignty’s claims to transcendental right —whether humanitarian, neoliberal, or democratic—by showing how dogmatic truth is crafted and terror indemnified by the prosecutorial media and materiality of war.
Excavating a scenography of trials—formal or covert, orchestrated or improvised, criminalizing or criminal—Feldman shows how the will to truth disappears into the very violence it interrogates. He maps the sensory inscriptions and erasures of war, highlighting war as a media that severs factuality from actuality to render violence just. He proposes that war promotes an anesthesiology that interdicts the witness of a sensory and affective commons that has the capacity to speak truth to war. Feldman uses layered deconstructive description to decelerate the ballistical tempo of war to salvage the embodied actualities and material histories that war reduces to the ashes of collateral damage, the automatism of drones, and the opacities of black sites. The result is a penetrating work that marries critical visual theory, political philosophy, anthropology, and media archeology into a trenchant dissection of emerging forms of sovereignty and state power that war now makes possible.
The United States spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined. And Western nations in general spend far more than developing nations around the globe. Yet when Western nations have found themselves in conflicts in recent decades, their performance has been mixed at best. In his fully updated new edition of The Art of Military Coercion, Rob de Wijk presents a theory on the use of force. He argues that the key is a failure to use force decisively, to properly understand the dynamics of conflict and balance means and ends. Without that ability, superiority of dollars, numbers, and weaponry won't necessarily translate to victory.
How can some politicians, pundits, and scholars cite the principles of "just war" to defend military actions—and others to condemn those same interventions? Just what is the just war tradition, and why is it important today?
Authors David D. Corey and J. Daryl Charles answer those questions in this fascinating and invaluable book. The Just War Tradition: An Introduction reintroduces the wisdom we desperately need in our foreign policy debates.
Tracing war’s expansion beyond the battlefield to the concept of the human being itself
As military and other forms of political violence become the planetary norm, On Posthuman War traces the expansion of war beyond traditional theaters of battle. Drawing on counterinsurgency field manuals, tactical manifestos, data-driven military theory, and asymmetrical-war archives, Mike Hill delineates new “Areas of Operation” within a concept of the human being as not only a social and biological entity but also a technical one.
Delving into three human-focused disciplines newly turned against humanity, OnPosthuman War reveals how demography, anthropology, and neuroscience have intertwined since 9/11 amid the “Revolution in Military Affairs.” Beginning with the author’s personal experience training with U.S. Marine recruits at Parris Island, Hill gleans insights from realist philosophy, the new materialism, and computational theory to show how the human being, per se, has been reconstituted from neutral citizen to unwitting combatant. As evident in the call for “bullets, beans, and data,” whatever can be parted out, counted, and reassembled can become war materiel. Hill shows how visible and invisible wars within identity, community, and cognition shift public-sphere activities, like racial identification, group organization, and even thought itself, in the direction of war. This shift has weaponized social activities against the very notion of society.
On Posthuman War delivers insights on the latest war technologies, strategies, and tactics while engaging in questions poised to overturn the foundations of modern political thought.
Operation Valhalla collects eighteen texts by German media theorist Friedrich Kittler on the close connections between war and media technology. In these essays, public lectures, interviews, literary analyses, and autobiographical musings, Kittler outlines how war has been a central driver of media's evolution, from Prussia's wars against Napoleon to the so-called War on Terror. Covering an eclectic array of topics, he charts the intertwined military and theatrical histories of the searchlight and the stage lamp, traces the microprocessor's genealogy back to the tank, shows how rapid-fire guns brought about new standards for optics and acoustics, and reads Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow to upset established claims about the relationship between war, technology, and history in the twentieth century. Throughout, Operation Valhalla foregrounds the outsize role of war in media history as well as Kittler's importance as a daring and original thinker.
Many famous texts from classical antiquity—by historians like Thucydides, tragedians like Sophocles and Euripides, the comic poet Aristophanes, the philosopher Plato, and, above all, Homer—present powerful and profound accounts of wartime experience, both on and off the battlefield. These texts also provide useful ways of thinking about the complexities and consequences of wars throughout history, and the concept of war broadly construed, providing vital new perspectives on conflict in our own era.
Our Ancient Wars features essays by top scholars from across academic disciplines—classicists and historians, philosophers and political theorists, literary scholars, some with firsthand experience of war and some without—engaging with classical texts to understand how differently they were read in other times and places. Contributors articulate difficult but necessary questions about contemporary conceptions of war and conflict.
Contributors include Victor Caston, Page duBois, Susanne Gödde, Peter Meineck, Sara Monoson, David Potter, Kurt Raaflaub, Arlene Saxonhouse, Seth Schein, Nancy Sherman, Hans van Wees, Silke-Maria Weineck, and Paul Woodruff.
Why do civilians suffer most during times of violent conflict? Why are civilian fatalities as much as eight times higher, calculated globally for current conflicts, than military fatalities? In Why They Die, Daniel Rothbart and Karina V. Korostelina address these questions through a systematic study of civilian devastation in violent conflicts. Pushing aside the simplistic definition of war as a guns-and-blood battle between two militant groups, the authors investigate the identity politics underlying conflicts of many types. During a conflict, all those on the opposite side are perceived as the enemy, with little distinction between soldiers and civilians. As a result, random atrocities and systematic violence against civilian populations become acceptable.
Rothbart and Korostelina devote the first half of the book to case studies: deportation of the Crimean Tatars from the Ukraine, genocide in Rwanda, the Lebanon War, and the war in Iraq. With the second half, they present new methodological tools for understanding different types of violent conflict and discuss the implications of these tools for conflict resolution.
Why did America invade Iraq? Why do nations choose to fight certain wars and not others? How do we bring ourselves to believe that the sacrifice of our troops is acceptable? For most, the answers to these questions are tied to struggles for power or resources and the machinations of particular interest groups. Philip Smith argues that this realist answer to the age-old "why war?" question is insufficient. Instead, Smith suggests that every war has its roots in the ways we tell and interpret stories.
Comprised of case studies of the War in Iraq, the Gulf War, and the Suez Crisis, Why War? decodes the cultural logic of the narratives that justify military action. Each nation, Smith argues, makes use of binary codes—good and evil, sacred and profane, rational and irrational, to name a few. These codes, in the hands of political leaders, activists, and the media, are deployed within four different types of narratives—mundane, tragic, romantic, or apocalyptic. With this cultural system, Smith is able to radically recast our "war stories" and show how nations can have vastly different understandings of crises as each identifies the relevant protagonists and antagonists, objects of struggle, and threats and dangers.
The large-scale sacrifice of human lives necessary in modern war, according to Smith, requires an apocalyptic vision of world events. In the case of the War in Iraq, for example, he argues that the United States and Britain replicated a narrative of impending global doom from the Gulf War. But in their apocalyptic account they mistakenly made the now seemingly toothless Saddam Hussein once again a symbol of evil by writing him into the story alongside al Qaeda, resulting in the war's contestation in the United States, Britain, and abroad.
Offering an innovative approach to understanding how major wars are packaged, sold, and understood, Why War? will be applauded by anyone with an interest in military history, political science, cultural studies, and communication.