Author: David Perry

David Perry teaches Ethics and Warfare at Santa Clara University. Additional information about him is online at

Just War Criteria and the War in Iraq

The just-war tradition differs from pacifism in assuming that killing can sometimes be justified, e.g., in defense of the innocent. But just-war criteria also assume that war can be so destructive that the burden of moral proof is on those who would wage war. A basic distinction in the tradition is between jus ad bellum […]

The Problem of Total War in Jewish, Christian and Muslim Traditions

[1] In spite of the many differences among Christians, Jews and Muslims, they share a fundamental belief in God as compassionate and just. As a result, those communities have often nurtured people of extraordinary kindness and courageous commitment to justice. In contrast to the deep hatred that obviously inspired the September 11, 2001 attacks on […]

Our Accountability for Afghan Civilian Deaths: Some Insights from Shakespeare’s Henry V

[1] Within the Western just-war tradition, war is thought to be morally acceptable if it can satisfy certain ethical and procedural criteria. But that tradition also regards war as potentially causing so much suffering, death and destruction that leaders must carefully weigh those harms against the goals they hope to achieve through war. Even if […]

Should We Invade Iraq?

[1] In recent months, the President and other members of his administration have openly declared their desire and intent to achieve “regime change” in Iraq. And since previous methods of ousting Saddam Hussein-economic sanctions and coup d’etat-have obviously failed, the President is seriously considering even more dramatic options, including full-scale military invasion (Shanker). How should […]