Warrior's Honor

Michael Ignatieff, Author Metropolitan Books $24.95 (207p) ISBN 978-0-8050-5518-4
Essayist and novelist Ignatieff (Blood and Belonging; Scar Tissue) is a leading authority on ethnic war: conflicts involving not states but communities, characterized by genocidal ferocity. This book is comprised of nearly a decade's worth of essays that consider the moral relationship between these ""zones of danger"" and the ""zones of safety"" that are increasingly impelled to intervene, not out of ideology or self-interest, but from compassion. Ignatieff warns against ""the seductiveness of moral disgust""--the temptation to leave zones of ethnic war to their own fates. As a counterpoint, he describes a renewed emphasis on universal human rights in a world of indivisible human interests. The aid experts, the development specialists and even the U.N. politicians are at the cutting edge of this moral revolution. But how can they best change behaviors, as opposed to mitigating consequences? Mutual respect offers the best long-term prospect for breaking the cycle, Ignatieff finds. The book's strongest chapter describes the International Committee of the Red Cross, which seeks to facilitate war's conduct according to rules and codes of honor. Warriors, Ignatieff argues, can understand and observe such codes. But warriors are more likely to respond to other warriors than to the best-intentioned, toughest-minded humanitarians. The title and the theme of this book are correspondingly ironic for a U.S. that intervenes in ethnic conflicts while apparently determined to create kinder, gentler armed forces, perhaps gendered and gelded to a point where ""warrior's honor"" has no place. First serial to the New Yorker and Harper's. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/02/1998
Release date: 02/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 228 pages - 978-0-8050-5519-1
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