Liberty, Statehood and Sovereignty: Walzer on Mill on Non-intervention

Journal of Military Ethics 2 (1):46-62 (2003)
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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to critically assess Michael Walzer's use of John Stuart Mill's text 'A Few Words on Non-Intervention' in his seminal work Just and Unjust Wars. Although point by point, I think Walzer's reading of Mill is largely sound, I will argue that the specific narrative into which Walzer orders these points places a highly tendentious spin on the original text. More precisely, Walzer's way of articulating the negative aspects of Mill's argument--the general presumption against intervention--obscures the many positive reasons that may be seen to follow in favor of intervention from the text. Surprisingly, perhaps, from a closer reading of Mill is likely to emerge a picture of international political morality that is closer to Walzer's present views on the subject than Walzer himself might like to admit

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