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The Ethics of Collective Security

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2012

Abstract

This article is based upon Rousseau's vision of interdependence being a habitual source of conflict among nations. Today's version of collective security, in contrast to Woodrow Wilson's advocation of exclusive use of political and economic sanctions, often demands military action. Collective security offers inherent contradictions: Does multilateral action, for example, usually led by the United States, indicate international accord on countering the ‘aggressor’? The authors' answer is “no” because smaller nations may be joining the crusade for completely different reasons, for example, so as not to offend the larger partner. Does multilateral action always succeed in creating a Pax Universalis? No, on the contrary it may lead to war. Generally offering arguments from the U.S. perspective and examples from the Gulf War, Hendrickson sees neither collective action as necessarily a good thing nor unilateral action as necessarily a bad thing. However, he does urge reconsideration of the advantages of collective security as an all-powerful preventor of conflict.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs 1993

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References

1 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Abstract of the Abbé de Saint-Pierre's Project for Perpetual Peace (1761), in Wright, Moorhead, ed., Theory and Practice of the Balance of Power, 1486–1914 (Towata, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1975), 75Google Scholar.

2 Kelsen, Hans, Collective Security Under International Law (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1957Google Scholar).

3 Address of April 11, 1951, excerpted in Paterson, Thomas G., ed., Major Problems in American Foreign Policy, Volume II: Since 1914 (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1989), 408Google Scholar.

4 President Bush, “Remarks at a Fundraising Luncheon for Rep. Bill Grant,” Sept. 6, 1990, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents 26, no. 36, p. 1331Google Scholar.

5 Osgood, Robert E., “Woodrow Wilson, Collective Security, and the Lessons of History,” in Latham, Earl, ed., The Philosophy and Policies of Woodrow Wilson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), 190Google Scholar. See also Stromberg, Roland N., Collective Security and American Foreign Policy: From the League of Nations to NATO (New York: Praeger, 1963), 47.Google Scholar, and Joffe, Josef, “Collective Security and the Future of Europe: Failed Dreams and Dead Ends,” Survival (Winter 1992), 39.Google Scholar

6 Cited in Stourzh, Gerald, Alexander Hamilton and the Idea of Republican Government (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1970), 81Google Scholar.

7 Statement by President George Bush, January 3, 1991, “Persian Gulf Crisis: Going the Extra Mile for Peace,” US. Department of State Dispatch 2, no. 1, p. 1Google Scholar.

8 See Walzer, Michael, Just and Unjust Wars (New York: Basic Books, 1977).Google Scholar

9 Meinecke, Friedrich, Machiavellism: The Doctrine of Raison D'Etat and Its Place in Modern History, trans. Scott, Douglas (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957), 210.Google Scholar

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