For God, King and Country

For God, King and Country

Mini Teaser: Over the centuries, the causes and justifications for war have evolved. But we remain caught in a Westphalian mindset, even though the nature of today’s substate threats demands an altogether-different mentality and a new breed of soldier—or at le

by Author(s): Michael Howard

But we now have to accept that our "countries," however great their power, glorious their past and noble their intentions, can no longer be regarded as "Mortall Gods" in whose service it is always legitimate to kill. They can still issue a license to do so, but only in the service of that wider community whose well-being is the ultimate condition of human survival. The reasons we advance to justify our wars, as well as the methods we use to fight them, need to be made relevant to the needs of our own time.

That might provide some comfort for poor Ebenezer.


Sir Michael Howard is Professor Emeritus of Modern History at Oxford University, Professor Emeritus of Military and Naval History at Yale University, and Life President of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.


This article is based on a talk delivered to a Columbia University workshop on "The Laws of War" on April 18, 2008.

Essay Types: Essay