Brian Orend, Ph.D. – philosopher, professor, author, speaker
“War, huh – yeah, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing” – Edwin Starr (Lyrics to the song WAR)
War is good for absolutely nothing. People die, civilizations are destroyed, earth is scorched, humanity is tarnished. It should be avoided at all costs. Why can’t we all just get along…….right? Not so fast. Did you know there is actually an entire theory that goes back thousands of years that outlines when a war may be considered just. It’s called….well…just war theory. At it’s core, just war theorists combine both a moral abhorrence towards war with a readiness to accept that war may sometimes be necessary. It’s weird to think about war being necessary. I have always considered myself to be somewhat of a pacifist, sometimes even entertaining the idea of being a hippy (without the smelly hair). However, I still remember watching two planes fly into the twin towers and saying out loud, “someone is going to pay for this, we are at war.” I then rejoiced upon hearing the news of the killing of Osama Bin Laden. So much for that pacifism, huh?
The thing is, war is ugly; it does bring out the worst in us. But it is also a part of us. It has been around since the first tribes stumbled upon each other and it will be here up until the last tribe is wiped off of this planet (or any other planet we inhabit). Some may say we are a nation of warmongers and we are too quick to engage in violence. At first glance, it may seem they are on to something. We sure like to throw the term around. We have the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on obesity…the list goes on and on. But no matter how hard we try to escape it, war is a fact of life, so we might as well try to understand it.
This week we talk Professor Brian Orend. Orend is the author of the book, The Morality of War, which is considered to be “the single most comprehensive and important book on just war for this generation.” It is a required textbook at universities, and military academics throughout the world. Orend is the Director of International Studies, and a Professor of Philosophy, at the University of Waterloo in Canada. His Ph.D. is from Columbia University in New York City. He has taught at Columbia, Waterloo, and the University of Lund in Sweden. He has delivered hundreds of invited lectures around the world. Orend is an active, award-winning writer and public speaker. He focuses on three topics: 1) war and peace; 2) human rights; and 3) happiness. He is perhaps best-known for his work on “justice after war”, i.e., the ethics of post-war reconstruction.