Question of Peace


The Question of Peace in Modern Political Thought, Toivo Koivukoski and Edward Tabachnick, eds.. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Waterloo, Ontario, 2015

- by Jamie Arbuckle


At a very early stage in my career as a soldier, I had amassed a very comprehensive collection of classical war literature: Sun Tzu, du Picq, the Brodies, Ropp, Earle, Liddell-Hart, Keegan, Taylor, and more, spanning more than two-and-one-half millenia. I thought I knew what war had been, was now and might  be.  Nearly half a century later, I have them all still on my shelves, and have often referred to several of them in these pages.

I have never read a book about peace, and I don’t actually know much about it. So the arrival of this book for this review was, for me, timely. Perhaps for you as  well?

What is peace? Is it merely the absence of war? Or is it the absence of violent conflict? Was the period between the two World Wars a peace? Is scale involved, that is to say, was the NATO-led action in Serbia and in Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1999 a war (it is commonly called one)? Can we have peace without justice, or must those responsible for unjust wars be pursued beyond the cessation of hostilities?  And is there such a thing as a just war?

I think we need some answers to these questions and more, and I hoped this book would help me to understand peace at least as well as I once thought I understood war.

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Restrepo, 2010, a film by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington.
Reviewed for Peacehawks by Jamie Arbuckle

It is a characteristic of our very advanced communications media that the medium is often not the message, and sometimes contains almost no message at all. This film is one such non-message.

The intention of the film seems to be to accompany the book, War, by Sebastian Junger. Junger is a skilled writer with a strong sense of contemporary history and is well known for his narrative skills, both of which are amply displayed in his book. War presents the operations of Battle Company, 2nd Parachute Infantry Battalion of the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan from May 2007 to July 2008. (The other companies in the Battalion are called “Chosen” and “Destined” – the irony, as in so much of the terminology used here, is certainly unintentional.) In particular, the movie tells inter alia the story of the Second Platoon of Battle Company in combat outpost Restrepo, which was named for a very popular medic, Juan Restrepo, and which was established shortly after he was killed in action in Afghanistan.

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