cover image The Violence of Peace: America's Wars in the Age of Obama

The Violence of Peace: America's Wars in the Age of Obama

Stephen L. Carter, Beast Books (Perseus, dist.), $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-9842951-7-3

Distinguished Yale Law professor and bestselling author Carter (The Emperor of Ocean Park) examines Obama's words (particularly his invocation of the "just war tradition" during his Nobel Peace prize acceptance speech, the full text of which is included here) and actions in order to determine his position on "what he believes to be worth fighting for." Rather than vilifying Obama, who has continued the dubious war-mongering of his predecessor, Carter believes that neither Bush nor Obama had much choice, arguing that modern warfare, involving drone attacks and long-distance fighting, is an autopoietic process. Carter delves into Obama's orientation toward the tenets of Just War, the theory that has dominated Western thought since the Roman era: jus ad bellum (just cause for going to war); jus in bello (just conduct within war); jus ad pacem (success in war); and pacem in terris (peace). The author cites Dissent editor Michael Walzer and other prominent political scientists almost as frequently as he does the president, and includes examples of warfare from the American Civil War to Afghanistan, resulting in a thoughtful examination of America's engagement in a "great war" undertaken by a dedicated thinker on the subject. (Jan.)