Why Don’t You Tell Us About Them Rabbits, George? The Tragedy of Just War

International Studies Review

Author/s (editor/s):

Cian O'Driscoll

Publication year:


Publication type:

Journal article

Find this publication at:
Oxford University Press

Cian O’Driscoll, ‘Why Don’t You Tell Us About Them Rabbits, George? The Tragedy of Just War’, International Studies Review, 15(2) 2013: 229-42.

Scholars of the just war tradition are often invited at conferences or in seminars to defend their position. Are they corrupt, or do they really believe that it is appropriate to address the brutish realities of modern warfare in terms of justice? And if not, why do they persist in writing about just war? Adopting a first-person autoethnographic style, and drawing upon the writings of John Steinbeck and Albert Camus for guidance, this article reflects upon these pointed questions and the doubts they may coax to the surface. Against this backdrop, this article contends that the task of writing and speaking about the rights and wrongs of killing in war should be treated, not as a purely intellectual pursuit—a theory to conjure with—but as a vocation that requires scholars to engage and negotiate their personal convictions and beliefs. Alongside this, it issues a call for a less abstract, more human understanding of the just war idea that emphasizes its tragic dimensions and centrality to Western traditions of political thought.

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