The End of War: Truth or Fiction?

Antony Ou in response to Dr Jean-Paul Gagnon’s article ‘The End of War?’ in Political Reflection, 2 (4): 30-33.

In Volume 2 Issue 4 of Political Reflection, Dr Jean-Paul Gagnon wrote a mindprovoking feature article on whether there will be the end of war in the near future. Therein he contended that cosmopolitanism is a possible moral force for global citizens to check any kind of power abuse by their governments, private industries, and themselves. It will be a spreading trend of improving the quality of democracy across the world, at sub-national, national and international levels. Wars, therefore, are constantly checked and condemned by global citizens. The two World Wars, the wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were atrocities that cannot be compared with wars nowadays such as the wars in Iraq, Libya, and the Falkland Islands, in terms of scale and brutality. This conversation, due to space restrictions, did not look to ethnic cleansing or genocide as these differ to “conventional war” (see Michael Mann’s separation of  war and ethnic cleansing in The Dark Side of Democracy). Gagnon argues that the global citizenry “will keep us firmly away from the total wars and blitzkriegs of the 20th century. War, as it was once known, is thankfully dead – war is dead.”

As a modern just war theory supporter, Antony Ou agrees with the moral stance of Gagnon. There is something to be said that the global citizenry is a powerful and convincing moral force when arguing about wars. However, when moral theories encounter Realpolitik, the former is silenced. Too often, human beings build their mistakes on already erroneous and shaken platforms. The greed for power and the intensity of hatred prevail. Wars have not been stopped in many parts of the world; weapons are deadlier; and national sentiments of hatred towards “outside” enemies are increasingly evident. Ou’s question remains: Is the notion “war is dead” a realistic goal, or is it a fiction invented by moral philosophers?

In the following dialogue, Ou will ask for the clarification of concepts, and more importantly, the plausibility of implementing the “unfinished project” of the global citizenry. Gagnon provides his responses to these questions. This dialectic approach traces back to the times of Plato and Confucius. The purpose of these dialectics is nothing more than to attract and open up further dialogues and debates on the nature and possibility of ending one of the most devastating human inventions: war.

Published in Political Reflection Magazine Vol. 3 No. 4


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