Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Just War

ISBN : 9780198832911

Cian O'Driscoll
192 Pages
153 x 153 mm
Pub date
Nov 2019
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Committing one's country to war is a grave decision. Governments often have to make tough calls, but none are quite so painful as those that involve sending soldiers into harm's way, to kill and be killed. The idea of 'just war' informs how we approach and reflect on these decisions. It signifies the belief that while war is always a wretched enterprise it may in certain circumstances, and subject to certain restrictions, be justified. Boasting a long history that is usually traced back to the sunset of the Roman Empire, it has coalesced over time into a series of principles and moral categories-e.g., just cause, last resort, proportionality, etc.-that will be familiar to anyone who has ever entered a discussion about the rights and wrongs of war. Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Just War focuses both on how this particular tradition of thought has evolved over time and how it has informed the practice of states and the legal architecture of international society. This book examines the vexed position that the concept of victory occupies within this framework.


1 Beneath Every History, Another History
2 Making a Desert and Calling it Peace
3 The Smell of Napalm in the Morning
4 The Usual Definition of Just Wars
5 The Right of Conquest
6 Mission Accomplished
7 The Disease of Victory

About the author: 

Cian O'Driscoll is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Glasgow. Cian's principal area of research is the intersection between normative IR Theory and the history of political thought, with a particular focus on the ethics of war. His work has been published in leading journals in the field. His first monograph, The Renegotiation of the Just War Tradition (Palgrave), was published in 2008. Cian was the Principal Investigator on the ESRC grant-funded research project, Moral Victories: Ethics, Exit Strategies, and the Ending of Wars. Cian has also co-edited several volumes, including Moral Victories: The Ethics of Winning Wars (Oxford University Press, 2017), Just War Thinkers (London: 2017), and Just War: Authority, Tradition, Practice (Georgetown University Press: 2013). Cian is an ISRF Fellow and the Chair of International Ethics section of the International Studies Association.

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