Ethics & International Affairs Volume 7 (1993): Articles in this Issue: The Ethics of Collective Security [Abstract]

Dec 3, 1993

This article is based upon Rousseau's vision of interdependence being a habitual source of conflict among nations. Today's version of collective security, in contrast to Woodrow Wilson's advocation of exclusive use of political and economic sanctions, often demands military action. Collective security offers inherent contradictions: Does multilateral action, for example, usually led by the United States, indicate international accord on countering the 'aggressor'? The authors answer is "no" because smaller nations may be joining the crusade for completely different reasons, for example, so as not to offend the larger partner. Does multilateral action always succeed in creating a Pax Universalis? No, on the contrary it may lead to war. Generally offering arguments from the U.S. perspective and examples from the Gulf War, Hendrickson sees neither collective action as necessarily a good thing nor unilateral action as necessarily a bad thing. However, he does urge reconsideration of the advantages of collective security as an all-powerful preventor of conflict.

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