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Law, Science, Liberalism and the American Way of Warfare
The Quest for Humanity in Conflict


  • Date Published: November 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107637139

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About the Authors
  • Founded and rooted in Enlightenment values, the United States is caught between two conflicting imperatives when it comes to war: achieving perfect security through the annihilation of threats; and a requirement to conduct itself in a liberal and humane manner. In order to reconcile these often clashing requirements, the US has often turned to its scientists and laboratories to find strategies and weapons that are both decisive and humane. In effect, a modern faith in science and technology to overcome life's problems has been utilized to create a distinctly 'American Way of Warfare'. Carvin and Williams provide a framework to understand the successes and failures of the US in the wars it has fought since the days of the early Republic through to the War on Terror. It is the first book of its kind to combine a study of technology, law and liberalism in American warfare.

    • A synthesis of historical, military and legal scholarship which will appeal to readers from a variety of backgrounds
    • Offers a thorough case study of the relationship between society and warfare
    • Makes the novel argument that a legal-scientific way of war has developed in the United States where law does not limit war, but actually facilitates it
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Explaining how the American way of war has been shaped by lawyers and scientists, Carvin and Williams provide a much welcome discussion of developments in the technology of warfare (such as drones) that goes beyond the outrage that seems to be the basis of most of the current debate.' Mikkel Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen

    'American military power has been a central geopolitical fact since the middle of the twentieth century and has defined the first decades of the twenty-first century. Situating American combat power in a long-term historical process, Stephanie Carvin and Michael Williams demonstrate how the United States' approach to war-fighting is not so much the product of its obsession with technology, as many have suggested, but its attempt to maintain its security while simultaneously sustaining its core liberal values. Carvin and Williams dissect the many difficulties which this American way of war, as a manifestation of fundamental forces in US culture, has engendered in Iraq and Afghanistan.' Anthony King, University of Exeter

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107637139
    • length: 231 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 150 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Law and science in the Western way of war
    2. Conceptualizing the American way of war
    3. Vietnam and the 'science' of war
    4. Immaculate destruction
    5. Revolution denied: the 'war' on terror
    6. Back to the future?

  • Authors

    Stephanie Carvin, University of Ottawa
    Stephanie Carvin is Visiting Professor of International Relations at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa. While a Visiting Scholar at the George Washington University School of Law, Dr Carvin served as an expert advisor to the US Department of Defense during their writing of the new US manual on the laws of war. She is the author of Prisoners of America's Wars (2010).

    Michael John Williams, New York University
    Michael John Williams is Reader in International Relations at the University of London. He was the head of the Transatlantic Security Programme at the Royal United Services Institute and worked in the US Senate Office of Joseph R. Biden and at the US Embassy in London. He is the author of three books and several articles on strategic aspects of international relations.

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