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Scarred souls, weary warriors and military intervention: the emergence of the subject of war in the writings of Jean Bethke Elshtain

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Over the past three decades Jean Bethke Elshtain has used her critique and applica-tion of just war as a means of engaging with multiple overlapping aspects of identity. Though Elshtain ostensibly writes about war and the justice, or lack of justice, therein, she also uses just war a site of analysis within which different strands of subjectivity are investigated and articulated as part of her broader political theory. This article explores the proposition that Elshtain’s most important contribution to the just war tradition is not be found in her provi-sion of codes or her analysis ofad bellumor in bello criteria, conformity to which adjudges war or military intervention to be just or otherwise. Rather, that she enriches just war debate because of the unique and sometimes provocative perspective she brings as political theorist and International Relations scholar who adopts, adapts, and deploys familiar but, for some, uncomfortable discursive artefacts from the history of the Christian West: suffused with her own Christian faith and theology. In so doing she continually reminds us that human lives, with all their attendant political, social, and religious complexities, should be the focus when military force is used, or even proposed, for political ends.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-880
Number of pages22
JournalReview of International Studies
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

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