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Why War?The Cultural Logic of Iraq, the Gulf War, and Suez$
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Philip Smith

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780226763880

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226763910.001.0001

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Why War?

Why War?

Theorizing the Role of Culture and Civil Discourse

(p.3) One Why War?
Why War?
University of Chicago Press

“Why War?” was the question that launched a celebrated correspondence between Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. Although those two great thinkers could not agree on a definitive answer, today there does seem to be a broad consensus. Popular beliefs and academic theories alike point overwhelmingly to the machinations and interests of elites and the struggle for power and security within and among nations. If not exactly false in any simple way, such a vision is nevertheless narrow and misleading. This book sketches out an alternative answer to the “Why War?” query—one that illuminates the role of culture and deliberative democracy. In a series of matched case studies it shows that codes defining the sacred and profane in social life and a limited pool of narrative structures within a civil discourse form the cultural bedrock upon which military policy is made legitimate and thinkable.

Keywords:   security, war, power struggle, deliberative democracy, case studies, social life, military policy

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