Just American Wars: Ethical Dilemmas in U.S. Military History

A Conversation with Author Eric Patterson

March 26, 2019
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EDT
Location: Berkley Center Third Floor Conference Room Map

In his latest book Just American Wars: Ethical Dilemmas in U.S. Military History (2018), Eric Patterson examines the moral choices faced by U.S. leaders in deciding when and how to employ force, from the American Revolution to the present day. For instance, what was Truman’s responsibility for dropping the atomic bomb? How did JFK and Nixon’s egos impact moral decision-making toward Vietnam? Was the American Revolution a just war to begin with? The case studies provided highlight the nuances and even limits of just war principles, such as just cause, right intention, legitimate authority, last resort, likelihood of success, discrimination, and proportionality, and principles for ending war such as order, justice, and conciliation.​​

Patterson discussed historical examples from the book, highlighting the trade-offs that civilian and military leaders must take into account when making decisions about the use of force. An audience Q&A followed the discussion. Lunch was served.

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