America’s Wars in the Age of Obama

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stephen L. Carter, Professor of Law at Yale, discusses President Barack Obama's views on war and what they mean for America and its role in military conflicts. The Violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama looks at the implications of the military philosophy Obama has adopted during his first two years in office. It also explores how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are shaping Pres. Obama’s views of the country's role in conflict and peace.


Stephen L. Carter

Comments [14]

An interesting discussion, although the idea that war in order to help the helpless is per se morally justified puts one on a slippery slope politically and intellectually.

I would really appreciate a discussion of how and why we no longer feel the need to pretend that undeclared wars are "conflicts" or "police actions" and we unabashedly refer to them as wars. Is there any way for the people to limit or revoke the government's new license to "just do it," and ignore the Constitution?

As to Obama's varying opinions about our wars, as a senatorial and presidential candidate, as a Nobel laureate and as president, we need an honest discussion of how economic, political and personal security considerations affect a president's attitudes about war. I believe that if Kucinich had been elected president, our policy vis a vis Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan would be pretty much what they are now. The president's two most influential constituencies, in my opinion, are the military leaders, whose advancement in their branch of service depended in large part upon their combat experience, and the corporations with whom these officers have a symbiotic relationship. Add the various intelligence services over which a president can have only very limited influence and you have an elected official with the trappings of "the most powerful person on earth" and little real control over events and national policies.

Jan. 12 2011 02:01 PM
Kerner from Brooklyn

I wonder if your guess is aware of the way in which torture has burned intelligence in the war on terror. It seems to me that this, plus all of the unrecognized toxic dividends, takes the use of torture totally unjust -- and truly reprehensible. I just read about all of this in a new book titled, None of Us Were Like This Before. It's well worth checking out.

Jan. 12 2011 12:39 PM
Mike from Tribeca

My dear fellow commenteers -- What's with the "us"? I was never invited to sign up. I'm just saying that basing one's opinion of a presidency on a single speech is simplistic.

Jan. 12 2011 12:38 PM

Does Prof Carter believe that the President's executive War Powers were properly invoked?

Jan. 12 2011 12:38 PM
Steve from Bergen County, NJ

The speaker discusses the concept of just war, with the idea of defeating "evil," but how do you account for the evil motives of the party going to war? Just because we label a war as a "just war," it does not mean that our core motives are just or moral in themselves. Isn't it true that we choose to not defend Sudan or other nations, because they do not have resources/connections that WE need (oil, commerce, etc.)?

Jan. 12 2011 12:36 PM

Leonard, your comments are great as usual. Not so impressed with your guest-he is espousing the standard American Imperialist view that the US is always just by definition.

But one can find many, many examples to the contrary. Think of the bombing of Cambodia, at least as illegal and immoral and as evil as the actions of Saddam. Or think of the great evil perpetrated by the US in Central America in the 1980s.

Sad that people are able to be so purposely ignorant.

Jan. 12 2011 12:34 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Mike from Tribeca

Yes, you blew us all out of the water with that observation, +1.

Jan. 12 2011 12:32 PM


Our criticisms contained substance. Yours is the wounded cry of a man in love.

It would best be archived in a tear-stained diary accompaned with a pressed flower.

Jan. 12 2011 12:32 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

The REAL issue is that there is no just war other than those fought purely in self defense, i.e. when one nation declares war on another nation and/or its allies. BTW - "Allies" are not puppets or proxy states, they are real countries with independent governments who have formally entered into a mutual self defense treaty (like NATO). The notion that one can wage war to "right a wrong" or to prevent human suffering is prima facie wrong, and stupid.

Jan. 12 2011 12:31 PM
Mike from Tribeca

The comments on this page should be archived as examples of the simplistic criticism that passes for discourse these days.

Jan. 12 2011 12:28 PM

what are the guest's views on the justness of the American civil war?

Jan. 12 2011 12:25 PM

There was nothing thoughtful about the Nobel speech it was 100% typical American boilerplate.

This author is ridiculous.

Jan. 12 2011 12:19 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Sophia

Couldn't agree more, but to be fair no president is strong enough to challenge the eminence gris anymore, i.e. the military industrial complex.

Jan. 12 2011 12:17 PM

EVERY President talks about just and unjust war including Bush, who did so in terms almost identical to Obama.

This is yet another attempt to heap undeserved praise on a completely undeserving person in order to justify having fallen in love with his charisma and their own projections.

Jan. 12 2011 12:12 PM

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