Wars on Terror and Beyond

This month, with the US exit from Afghanistan after almost 20 years, and the 20th anniversary of 9/11, it seemed like an appropriate time reflect philosophically on war and conflict in the 21st century. We have selected a number of episodes that address various moral and political questions about war and its justification. We think you'll find they are just as relevant today as they were when they first aired.

This month's listening begins with our first ever broadcast in January of 2004, an episode that questioned the doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense with George R. Lucas Jr. from the U.S. Naval Academy. The doctrine had been invoked by then-President George W. Bush as part of the justification for the U.S. invasion of Iraq the previous year.

Part of that justification involved, (in)famously, claims that the Iraqi regime was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. A decade later, with events in Syria bringing WMDs to the fore once again, John and Ken asked Stanford political scientist Scott Sagan about the moral differences (if any) between conventional weaponry and WMDs.

Another feature of U.S. military action since 9/11 has been the increased reliance on unmanned aerial vehicles, AKA drones. In 2015, John and Ken questioned whether drone warfare represented more sanitized and efficient form of war or a dystopian reign of uncaring technologies with Bradley Strawser from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Of course for most Americans, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mostly played out in the media as a one-sided narrative that often ignored the violence visited upon its victims. In 2009 John and Ken explored the limits of the media representations of war with renowned cultural critic Judith Butler, author of Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? 

Rounding out this month's listening is a 2011 episode in which John and Ken question how a relatively small, relatively inexpensive (as a fraction of the overall economy), and all-volunteer military fits into a modern democratic society with Puitzer Prize-winning historian David Kennedy.

Wars on Terror and Beyond

Episode Title Date Related Content

The Bush Doctrine of Preemptive Self-Defense

Tue, Jan 13, 2004 The Bush Doctrine of Preemptive Self-Defense

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Sun, Mar 30, 2014 Weapons of Mass Destruction Weapons of Mass Destruction

The Ethics of Drone Warfare

Sun, Sep 13, 2015

War, Sacrifice, and the Media

Sun, Oct 04, 2009 War, Sacrifice, and the Media War, Sacrifice, and the Media

The Military: What Is It Good For?

Sun, Nov 27, 2011 The Military: What Is It Good For? The Military: What is it Good for?