Paul's Perambulations a personal blog

March 28, 2015

West Point conference on the Ethics of War (an oxymoron).

Filed under: Education,Peace — admin @ 7:32 pm

I attended  a two-day Ethics of War conference held at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I was the sole pacifist in attendance, and my attendance was publicly acknowledged at a plenary session.  I had some concern about attending,

Lunch at the cadet mess, complete with my peace buttons.

particularly that I not be co-opted. I am grateful that I had opportunity to make my position and reasoning known to many of those in attendance, including students/cadets. This occurred during the Q&A periods as well as breaks between sessions. I had a briefcase of literature with me and gave some away.  I had deep conversations with a few individuals, including two chaplains who were my partners at the reception/dinner at the West Point Club. I also managed to leave a few FCNL buttons proclaiming that WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER at Cullum Hall and the Jefferson Library.  A Quaker in Cold Spring, just across the river from West Point, kindly offered me accommodations for two nights. I found the conference exhausting but worthwhile. I’m hoping to educate the organizers, who are philosophers of just war theory, that jus ad bellum requires hearing from those who work to keep us from going to war (e.g. nonviolent activists). The conference assumed militarism, while my focus is on demilitarization and civilian defense as ways to avoid war.


  1. I’m preferring the term “nonviolent activist” or “peacemaking activist” in conjunction with pacifist. The term pacifist can be used in a dismissive manner, and anti-war activist doesn’t make clear that you’re active and not just “anti” something. I think just war scholars often have little notion of what this means, and not much interest in jus ad bellum — a topic mostly ignored, with the assumption that since we are apparently in (perpetual) war, the only question is how do we fight it.

    Comment by admin — April 1, 2015 @ 9:25 am

  2. I made a point of parking my car near the entrance to the parking lot, so that my bumper sticker “There is NO VIOLENT SOLUTION” would be as visible as possible to those entering.

    Funny Story: A Senior cadet was giving a small group of us a tour of the library and was particularly proud of the collection of West Point rings for the past two centuries, and he described how each cadet buys a ring at graduation. Someone asked “What if anyone declined to wear a ring?” Cadet responded “That would be permissible, if maybe he was Amish or something.” Another educational moment was thrust upon that cadet

    Comment by admin — April 1, 2015 @ 9:29 am

  3. War is chaotic. Chaos cannot be managed. How can one ethically manage what is unmanageable? What are the ethics of creating a state of chaos?

    Comment by Morris Kaufman — May 27, 2015 @ 12:44 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress