At all Costs and in Spite of All Terror? The Victory of Just War

Review of International Studies

Author/s (editor/s):

Cian O'Driscoll

Publication year:


Publication type:

Journal article

Find this publication at:
Cambridge University Press

Cian O’Driscoll, ‘At all Costs and in Spite of All Terror? The Victory of Just War’, Review of International Studies, 41(4) 2015: 799-811.

Derived from the Latin Victoria, which itself can be traced to vino victus, meaning ‘to conquer’, victory evokes a number of close synonyms, principally conquest and triumph. It occupies an ambivalent position in respect of contemporary war. Though in some regards a concept that is essential to the very idea of combat, the notion of winning wars has acquired an ironic ring in the aftermath of two brutal world wars and the advent of nuclear weapons. Victory in war is clearly a contentious subject. Yet scholars of the just war tradition have largely ignored it. This article fills that breach by asking what, if anything, victory can mean in relation to just war? It argues that victory has an aporetic quality insofar as it appears both integral to but incompatible with the just war ethos. As such, it reveals both the limits and possibilities of just war thinking.

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