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Portside Watch. CREDIT: Marines

For 100 years, Carnegie Council has worked with prominent academic and leaders on issues concerning policy, peace, ethics, and international affairs.  In honor of our centennial, we posted 100 of the most interesting and historically significant materials from our archives.

On this page, we have curated primary sources from our archives that relate to ethics and war. We also have a series of our favorite primary sources for the classroom as well as a full list of our 100 for 100.

Mission to Hanoi 
Daniel Berrigan
In February 1968, peace activists Father Daniel Berrigan and historian Howard Zinn flew to Hanoi to obtain the release of three American prisoners of war. Here are Berrigan's notes from that historic trip. "The mission is calculated to outrage some on both sides," he writes.

On the Moral Implications of Torture and Exemplary Assassination 
Paul W. Blackstock
First published in May 1970 during the Vietnam War, this WORLDVIEW magazine article is just as relevant today.

An Ambassador's Reflections on a Bloodbath
Thomas Patrick Melady
Everyone knows of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, when Hutus massacred Tutsis. But few have heard of the 1972 genocide in neighboring Burundi, when Tutsis slaughtered 80,000-210,000 Hutus. U.S. Ambassador Melady was an eyewitness. In this 1974 article, he discusses Burundi and other countries where hostile groups live side by side.

The Nuclear Dilemma: The Greatest Moral Problem of All Time 
Theodore J. Hesburgh
"We all know that we are the first generation of humans since Genesis that can totally destroy the human species and make our beautiful planet uninhabitable." In this 1998 talk which is sadly still all too relevant, Hesburgh laments the nuclear arms race between the U.S. and the USSR, and proposes practical steps towards reducing the nuclear arsenal.

A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide 
Samantha Power, Michael N. Barnett, Joanne J. Myers
Why did the United States largely ignore the Rwandan genocide and yet devote endless time to the contemporaneous Bosnian crisis? According to Samantha Power, the reason is "politics, politics, politics."

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda
Roméo A. Dallaire, Joanne J. Myers
Dallaire, Force Commander of UNAMIR in Rwanda, recalls the agony of not being able to take action to halt the Rwandan genocide because he lacked the requisite authority as well as manpower and equipment. In essence, he lacked the support of the international community.

Arguing About War (2006)
Michael Walzer, Joanne J. Myers
For the first time since his classic "Just and Unjust Wars" was published in 1977, Professor Michael Walzer has again collected his most provocative arguments about contemporary military conflicts and the ethical issues they raise.

Ethics and War in Homer's Iliad  
Joel H. Rosenthal
Are the values we bring to war today really the same as they were back in the days of the warring Greeks and Trojans?  Or have we evolved morally, as Steven Pinker and others believe? The evidence leads to an answer of yes and no.
 


Abstracts (Whole Article For Purchase):

Superpower Ethics: The Rules of the Game [Abstract] 
Stanley Hoffmann
International systems have historically come in two forms: those based on the balance of power and those of a revolutionary nature, including systems organized around bipolar competition. Stanley Hoffmann finds the world order of 1987 to contain both these systems and judges it both ambiguous and original. 

Covert Intervention as a Moral Problem [Abstract] 
Charles R. Beitz
Often manipulative and sometimes anonymous, covert operations raise critical morality concerns in a democratic society. Written in 1989 in light of scandals in the mid-1970s and 1980s such as the Iran-Contra affair, this article poses questions that still need to be addressed today.

On Moral Equivalency and Cold War History [Abstract] 
John Lewis Gaddis
"National History Standards" and the Smithsonian's abortive effort to mount a 50th anniversary exhibit on the decision to drop the atomic bomb suggest that historians need to rethink some of their academic approaches to this subject, wrote John Lewis Gaddis in 1996.