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A Matter of Principle

Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq

Thomas Cushman (Editor)


Current debate over the motives, ideological justifications, and outcomes of the war with Iraq have been strident and polarizing. A Matter of Principle is the first volume gathering critical voices from around the world to offer an alternative perspective on the prevailing pro-war and anti-war positions. The contribu-tors—political figures, public intellectuals, scholars, church leaders, and activists—represent the most powerful views of liberal internationalism. Offering alternative positions that challenge the status quo of both the left and the right, these essays claim that, in spite of the inconsistent justifications provided by the United States and its allies and the conflict-ridden process of social reconstruction, the war in Iraq has been morally justifiable on the grounds that Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant, a flagrant violator of human rights, a force of global instability and terror, and a threat to world peace.

The authors discuss the limitations of the current system of global governance, which tolerates gross violations of human rights and which has failed to prevent genocide in places such as Bosnia and Rwanda. They also underscore the need for reform in international institutions and international law. At the same time, these essays do not necessarily attempt to apologize for the mistakes, errors, and deceptions in the way the Bush administration has handled the war. Disputing the idea that the only true liberal position on the war is to be against it, this volume charts an invaluable third course, a path determined by a strong liberal commitment to human rights, solidarity with the oppressed, and a firm stand against fascism, totalitarianism, and tyranny.
Introduction: The Liberal-Humanitarian Case for the War in Iraq
Thomas Cushman
1 The Case for Regime Change
Christopher Hitchens
2 Liberal Legacies, Europe’s Totalitarian Era, and the Iraq War: Historical Conjectures and Comparisons
Jeffrey Herf
3 “Regime Change”: The Case of Iraq
Jan Narveson
4 In the Murk of It: Iraq Reconsidered
Mitchell Cohen
5 National Interest and International Law
Roger Scruton
6 Just War against an “Outlaw” Region
Mehdi Mozaffari
7 Moral Arguments: Sovereignty, Feasibility, Agency, and Consequences
Daniel Kofman
8 A Friendly Drink in a Time of War
Paul Berman
9 Wielding the Moral Club
Ian Buruma
10 Peace, Human Rights, and the Moral Choices of the Churches
Mient Jan Faber
11 Ethical Correctness and the Decline of the Left
Jonathan Rée
12 Pages from a Daily Journal of Argument
Norman Geras
13 Liberal Realism or Liberal Idealism: The Iraq War and the Limits of Tolerance
Richard Just
14 Iraq and the European Left
John Lloyd
15 Guilt’s End: How Germany Redefined the Lessons of Its Past during the Iraq War
Richard Herzinger
16 The Iraq War and the French Left
Michel Taubmann
17 Tempting Illusions, Scary Realities, or The Emperor’s New Clothes II
Anders Jerichow
18 Antitotalitarianism as a Vocation: An Interview with Adam Michnik
Thomas Cushman and Adam Michnik
19 Sometimes a War Saves People
Jose Ramos-Horta
20 Gulf War Syndrome Mark II: The Case for Siding with the Iraqi People
Johann Hari
21 “They Don’t Know One Little Thing”
Pamela Bone
22 “Why Did It Take You So Long to Get Here?”
Ann Clwyd
23 Full Statement to the House of Commons, 18 March 2003
Tony Blair
[24 The Threat of Global Terrorism
Thomas Cushman is Professor of Sociology at Wellesley and Editor in Chief of The Journal of Human Rights. He is coeditor of George Orwell into the Twentieth Century (2004) and editor of The Time We Knew: Western Reponses to the War in Bosnia (1996).
“Cushman has done a great service by bringing these articulate and passionate voices between two covers. It is a reminder that there is an astute and humanitarian case for force, and that devout liberals can make it.”—Peter Ross Range Blueprint Magazine
“Cushman's labours should be appreciated by all those who have felt the need to do more than disassociate themselves from the Chomsky-Pilger worldview. This stimulating and diverse series of arguments make A Matter of Principle an important collection for anyone with an interest in the debate over the Iraq war, regardless of their views on the merits of the decision to invade.”—Harry Hatchett Democratiya
“An intellectually demanding and relevant collection.”—Library Journal
“Mr. Cushman's book deserves a wide circulation. . . . If a decent left is to reconstitute itself, it will need the writers in this collection—people who have both the ardor of their liberal convictions and a hard-nosed take on reality.”—Fred Siegel New York Sun
“Meaty, provocative . . . Cushman’s volume may include the most articulate support yet for America’s Iraq adventure.”—Publishers Weekly
“A welcome effort presenting the war's moral ambiguities by people across the political spectrum.”—San Francisco Chronicle
"The scholarship contained in this collection is superior: it includes the leading and most sophisticated advocates of liberal internationalism from the worlds of the academy, politics and the media. The arguments are complex and nuanced, and contribute to a new understanding of the Iraq war."—Richard A. Wilson, Director of the Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut

"This is a first-rate collection. By bringing together isolated, important, and at times iconoclastic voices on the issue of the invasion of Iraq, A Matter of Principle makes for critical and provocative reading."—Michael Barnett, Stassen Professor of International Relations, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

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