During the Iraq War, some US soldiers refused (re)deployment. While liberal states appear to protect individuals’ right not to fight against their moral convictions by allowing the right to conscientious objection, those whose objections do not align with the regulations have to break the law in order to follow their convictions. This article explores how the legitimation of liberal war is challenged when we listen to the stories such refusers tell. Focusing on the United States, it briefly sets out the normative context such soldiers faced, highlighting the distinction between permissible conscientious objectors and contemptible deserters. Drawing on Judith Butler, it then focuses on two refusers by reading their own accounts of themselves in their memoirs. Despite not being eligible under the regulations, both invoke their conscience to make their refusal intelligible. By listening to their detailed accounts, the article traces the production and disruption of their subjectivities in relation to the prevailing moral order. Although invoking conscience appears to provide the chance to embrace an authentic self in a bid to resist the problematic moral order, subjectivity remains fractured due to relationality. Put differently, the sovereign subjectivity required by liberal war is simultaneously undermined by it.
* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.
Usage data cannot currently be displayed