Abstract

As a rejoinder to Robert Terrill's recent analysis of Barack Obama's 2009 Nobel lecture, this essay more closely examines that address vis-à-vis the historical foundations of just war philosophy. We argue that Obama's lecture rechannels traditional just war thought by diffusing the potential spatiotemporal reach of American military jurisdiction, praising the supposedly post-political decisions of elite individuals and institutions, and offering ever more inclusive definitions of originary hostile acts that demand the “retribution” of just war. We conclude by addressing the irony that, instead of harnessing that historic occasion for the cause of a renewed global peace, President Obama's lecture actually lays the moral foundation for future conflicts.

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