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Anne Meeker

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Is war a national right?

First, I would like to clarify a few things:

While, perhaps, there may be or have been wars waged for worthy causes, I don't think anyone would argue that war as a whole is morally right, or the best way to solve international conflicts in every situation.

Also, I'm referring to offensive war, not defensive war or post-war operations. Self defense, nationbuilding, etc., are way easier to argue, I think, re: Dr. Barnett's talk on the future of the United States military. I mean Hobbes' Leviathan.

Anyway, that being said: looking at nationalism, it seems that part of national identity is based on the idea that nations, whatever their governmental structure, have rights as entities--the right to economic involvement with the rest of the world, for example (although I know it gets complicated with trade embargoes, etc). Is war one of those rights? Does a nation have a right to invade another nation? Does it depend on the reasons behind the invasion? Does this right rest with a national coalition, like the United Nations? Has this right ever existed, or will it exist if it doesn't now?

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    Jul 24 2011: Wow, great topic. I view it as a subtopic of the general question: Is it right to use violence to prevent violence? E.g. can I shoot an armed robber as he enters a bank to prevent possible death? Or example of a more eminent threat, can I shoot someone to prevent a violent crime in progress if no alternative exists?

    If you answer yes to either these scenarios, than a logical pathway exists leading to a nation being justified in war. If we agree that we can use force/violence to assert the rights of an individual who isn't able to assert their rights for themselves, then what does it matter who is doing the asserting? The nation is just the vehicle.

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