Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Philosophy of War and Exile

My forthcoming book The Philosophy of War and Exile: From the Humanity of War to the Inhumanity of Peace, will be published by Palgrave-MacMillan on September 5th, 2014 as part of their new Palgrave Studies in Ethics and Public Policy series, edited by Thom Brooks

It's currently available for preorder on

The abstract:

The Philosophy of War and Exile argues that our current paradigms for thinking about the ethics of war—just war theory—and the suffering of war—PTSD theory—judge war without a proper understanding of war. By continuing the investigations of J. Glenn Gray into the meaning of how war is experienced by combatants we can find an alternative understanding of not only war, but of peace, culminating in a new theory of responsibility centered around embodiment and mortality rather than praise and blame. This conception of responsibility will in turn allow us to not only ask new questions about torture, unmanned warfare, and the treatment of veterans, but also to ask new questions about what it means for noncombatants to experience as home what combatants experience as exile.

The Table of Contents:

1. The Lust for War vs. The Lust for Judgment
2. A World Without Responsibility
3. What's Wrong with (How We Think About) Torture? 
4. Drone Operators, Cyber Warriors, and Prosthetic Gods
5. Of the Many Who Returned and Yet Were Dead
Conclusion: Our Veterans, Ourselves

Until the book is released, you can check out the article by Dan Baum and book by J. Glenn Gray that first inspired my book, the image that best encapsulates it, and the poem that says everything I want to say, only better... 

To a Conscript of 1940

A soldier passed me in the freshly fallen snow,
His footsteps muffled, his face unearthly grey:
And my heart gave a sudden leap
As I gazed on a ghost of five-and-twenty years ago.

I shouted Halt! and my voice had the old accustom'd ring
And he obeyed it as it was obeyed
In the shrouded days when I too was one

Into the unknown. He turned towards me and I said:
'I am one of those who went before you
Five-and-twenty years ago: one of the many who never returned,
Of the many who returned and yet were dead.

We went where you are going, into the rain and the mud:
We fought as you will fight
With death and darkness and despair;
We gave what you will give-our brains and our blood.

We think we gave in vain. The world was not renewed.
There was hope in the homestead and anger in the streets,
But the old world was restored and we returned 
To the dreary field and workshop, and the immemorial feud

Of rich and poor. Our victory was our defeat.
Power was retained where power had been misused
And youth was left to sweep away
The ashes that the fires had strewn beneath our feet.

But one thing we learned: there is no glory in the dead
Until the soldier wears a badge of tarnish'd braid;
There are heroes who have heard the rally and have seen
The glitter of garland round their head.

Theirs is the hollow victory. They are deceived.
But you my brother and my ghost, if you can go
Knowing that there is no reward, no certain use
In all your sacrifice, then honour is reprieved.

To fight without hope is to fight with grace,
The self reconstructed, the false heart repaired.'
Then I turned with a smile, and he answered my salute
As he stood against the fretted hedge, which was like
white lace.
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