Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War

Farrar. Sept. 2021. 416p. ISBN 9780374173708. $30. POL SCI
This book makes the case that justifications for war have become increasingly complex in response to arguments for peace from the treaties of The Hague and Geneva Conventions and assorted organizations and international law theorists. Historian Moyn (jurisprudence and history, Yale Univ. and Yale Law Sch.; Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World) maintains that the United States has superficially humanized war (especially since 9/11) and become more accurate in attacking designated targets. The concept of more humane warfare challenges those who seek to abolish it as an intrinsic evil rather than opposing particular illegal aggressive conflicts or ameliorating the atrocities within war. The author warns that those who seek control over others as in war may choose to do so more easily through various surveillance methods rather than by physical means. Readers will learn much about the views of post–World War II legal influencers, such as Telford Taylor, Richard Falk, and John Yoo, and may be surprised by the continuity of evolving policies and arguments on hostilities during the administrations of George H. W. Bush through Donald Trump.
VERDICT This complex, idea-filled tome may contradict some general readers’ assumptions; its subtle argumentation will appeal to contemporary political historians, students of international law, post–Cold War military analysts, and social justice advocates. These are all good reasons to study it.
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