The Choice of War
The Iraq War and the Just War Tradition
by Albert L. Weeks
November 2009, 200pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99111-1
$75, £58, 66€, A103
eBook Available: 978-0-313-08184-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The Just War Doctrine was first enunciated by St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) and has come down through history. Conditions for a Just War are generally agreed to include these: it can be waged only when non-violent options are exhausted; it can be fought only to redress a wrong; it must not produce evils graver than the evil to be eliminated.

A longtime scholar of the Cold War deftly weaves together the tradition of "just war" and an examination of current events to show how the time-honored concepts of jus ad bellum (justice of war) and jus in bello (justice in war) apply to the U.S. military involvement in Iraq.

This timely analysis of President George W. Bush’s foreign policy deals with the cornerstone of his administrations—the “war on terror”—as implemented in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and at Abu Ghraib prison. The Choice of War: The Iraq War and the “Just War” Tradition discusses NSS 2002, the national security statement that became the blueprint for the Bush Doctrine. It explains the differences and similarities between preventive and pre-emptive war and explores the administration’s justification of the necessity of the March 2003 invasion. Finally, it analyzes the conduct of the war, the occupation, and the post-occupation phases of the conflict.

In evaluating the Bush Doctrine, both as declared strategy and as implemented, Albert L. Weeks asks whether going it virtually alone in the global struggle against 21st-century terrorism should be incorporated permanently into American political and military policy. Answering no, he suggests an alternative to a doctrine that has isolated the United States and left the world divided.

Albert L. Weeks, formerly professor of international affairs at New York University, New York, NY, (1961-1989), now teaches politics and foreign policy at the Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL. A well-respected Sovietologist, he is the author of nine books, including Stalin's Other War: Soviet Grand Strategy, 1939-1941 (2003) and Russia's Life-Saver: Lend-Lease Aid to the USSR in World War II (2004).


"Weeks (politics and foreign policy, Ringling School of Art and Design) critiques the George W. Bush administration's reasons for waging war against Iraq in 2003 within the context of met the concepts of jus ad bellum (justice of war) and jus in bello (justice in war). He analyzes NSS 2002, the national security document that became the blueprint for the Bush Doctrine, and looks at how the Bush Doctrine clashed with long-standing principles of just war. About 20 pages of documents are included."—Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2010

"Heisenberg famously said an 'expert' is someone who knows the worst mistakes that can be made in a particular field of activity, and how to avoid them. With this book, Albert Weeks shows he’s an expert, offering both a deadly accurate description of the shambles we made of the second Iraq War, and a healing prescription that is mandatory reading for everyone interested in national security.' "—General Merrill A. McPeak, USAF (Ret.) Chief of Staff, 1990-1994

"No sensationalism here; just plenty of informed critical reasoning. Albert Weeks moves with sure foot and clear eye through the tangle of moral, philosophical, and legal issues, the recent and less recent history, surrounding US actions in Iraq. His deepest vision is a hopeful one: democracy’s citizens taking this opportunity to deliberate on how they want their country to behave, and for what reasons."—Nickolas Pappas
Professor of Philosophy, City University of New York and author of Guidebook to Plato and the Republic

"As a student of Dr. Weeks’ for nearly two years, I was fascinated by his balanced insight into Operation Iraqi Freedom. I hoped he would expand on the topic in the form of a book. In this latest discourse he presents a compelling insight into the question of the justifiability of America’s entering into war and does so in a well articulated and understandable fashion."—Rory Cooley, graduate, Ringling College of Art and Design

" ''When it is not absolutely necessary to go to war, it is necessary not to.' This profound statement from the Introduction, an assertion that constitutes a breathtakingly subtle exercise in modal logic, illustrates the depth, intricacy, and importance of what this book undertakes. It would be foolish to attempt a judgment of the Iraq War’s legitimacy while ignoring twenty-five centuries of debate and reflection concerning the moral dimensions of war. What is needed is a wise guide to these discussions who is attuned to their main themes and most potent contributions. Even better would be a commentator who can then pick through the complexities of the events and arguments leading up to the Iraq War, pressing to them the historic arguments and principles in a careful and critical manner. No better guide can be found than Al Weeks, a long-time student of the Cold War and a historian whose mind has been primed by the most important ideas of both the Eastern and Western traditions. Weeks is afraid neither of 'big ideas' nor minutiae of fact, and is thus well-qualified to help us penetrate through the fog of our most recent war."—Dr. Douglas Chismar
Chairman, Departmant of Liberal Arts, Ringling College of Arts and Design

"Dr. Albert Weeks gives readers a thoughtful set of criteria for which to weigh the pros and cons of starting war. The ancient just vs. unjust war criteria, appraised systematically by Weeks, are of vital importance in establishing the moral foundation in initiating any war. Discussion of these touchstones, when applied to the Iraq War begun by the U.S. in 2003, is especially timely. As the great military thinker Clausewitz wrote in Napoleonic times that the moral factor in waging war becomes the determining factor as a government decides on a policy of waging war against another state. Politics and war-making, Clausewitz emphasized, are intertwined. President Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War understood this connection. American presidents nowadays need the same wisdom.' "—Richard Raack
Emeritus professor, California State Univeristy, East Bay and author of Stalin’s Drive to the West, 1939-1945

"In his The Choice of War, Albert Weeks has avoided the pitfall of descending into polemics and partisan politics, while at the same time presenting an insightful critique of the American invasion of Iraq and of American policy regarding detainees. It is about time that an honest evaluation of American strategy and policy in Iraq is now available; this book is both timely and topical and is ideally suited for college students who want to better understand the current crisis that the United States still faces as we attempt to extricate ourselves from Iraq. Most admirably Mr. Weeks does not seek to chastise unnecessarily those responsible for our failed mission in Iraq, but rather he has provided us with a guidebook that can help our nation repair the damage to American honor and prestige that has arisen from our ill-conceived and ill-advised invasion of Iraq."—Neil Marinovich
Professor, European and American History, Ringling College of Art and Design

"In this book, Dr. Albert Weeks cogently presents an analysis and a survey of the concepts for waging a 'justifiable war' versus an unjustifiable one. By tackling this important issue directly, Dr. Weeks’ book can serve to provide an antidote to initiating wars that fail to serve the national interests and violate moral principles."—Larry R. Thompson
President, Ringling College of Art and Design

"I was profoundly impressed by the objectivity of the writing about such a disputable subject, which for a long period of time has been judged and treated too subjectively, in a way considerably fueled by political bias, rather than a refined strategic outlook. And in this book I was pleased to find the correct perspective, presented professionally, comprehensively and soberly analyzed."—Dr. Dani Shoham
Senior lecturer at the Dep. of Political Studies, Bar Ilan University, Israel
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