International Justice After the Cold War

Essays with Applications

by Aleksandar Jokic (Author)
©2018 Monographs XXVI, 408 Pages
Series: American University Studies, Volume 230


International Justice After the Cold War: Essays with Applications considers, analyzes, and evaluates the theoretical and conceptual contributions to the novel multidisciplinary field of "international justice" that emerged in the Post-Cold War, U.S.-dominated, unipolar world. Philosophers have not, for the most part, participated in generating massive production in this field, even though they are uniquely well-suited to the task of scrutinizing the merits of this international justice discourse that is often lacking in its historical, factual, and methodological underpinnings. This volume, aimed at both professionals and the general public, may go some way toward filling this gap by critically examining some key components of the "international justice discourse," such as the nature of contemporary military ethics, challenges to defending the right of collective self-defense, construction of an ethics on international activism, the weaponization of genocide discourse, and challenges to attempts to morally justify claims about economic sanctions and the so-called "just war" theory.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for International Justice After the Cold War
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword by Angelo Corlett
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Part I: War and International Justice
  • Chapter 1. International Justice and Military Ethics
  • Is Military Ethics a Species of Professional Ethics?
  • Reflexivity in Normativity
  • Military Ethics and “Just War” Theory
  • International Justice Discourse and Activism
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 2. Justifying States’ Self-Defense in War
  • Introduction
  • The Narrow Account of Self-Defense
  • The Case for War—Pacifism
  • Merits of the Narrow Account of Self-Defense
  • What Do We Defend in Self-Defense?
  • Moral Asymmetry in States’ Defensive Wars
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 3. Yugoslavia, Target of International Justice
  • Introduction
  • Word Games and Public Discourse on Yugoslavia
  • What Should Western Peace Activists Have Known About Yugoslavia?
  • “Democratic Revolution”
  • “Serbian Nationalism”
  • “Reverse Ethnic Cleansing” and “Revenge Killing”
  • Academic Discourse on Yugoslavia: More Word Games
  • Analyzing the Post-Milosevic Period in Serbia
  • Attitudes, Not Descriptions
  • What’s Science Without Predictions?
  • To Get Them in the Dock
  • Note
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 4. Iraq Is No Vietnam, but It May Be Poland
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 5. Open Letter to the French People at the Occasion of the 2012 Presidential Elections: Reject the Security State
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 6. The Narrow Range of the Institutionalized International Criminal Law
  • The Limitations of the International Criminal Court
  • Another Year of Living Lawlessly
  • Bibliography
  • Part II: International Activism
  • Chapter 7. Go Local: Morality and International Activism
  • Introduction
  • International Activists
  • Force Multipliers
  • The Concept
  • International Activists Recognize Their Role
  • The “Revolving Doors” Phenomenon
  • Government Officials on “Force Multipliers”
  • The Paradox of Two Human Rights Discourses
  • Human Rights for “Soft” Intervention
  • Human Rights for Imperial Aggression
  • Belligerent Altruism
  • The Moral Phenomenology of International Activism
  • Sacrificial Nature of Activism
  • Is the Experience of Conviction Enough?
  • The Requirement of Humility
  • The Judgment
  • Towards a Reflexive International Activism
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 8. Toleration and International Activism
  • The Dark Side of Toleration
  • Moral Phenomenology of International Activism
  • Moral Assessment of Activist Cases
  • Activism Purposely Abused
  • Note
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 9. Ethics of International Activism and the Criminalization of Undesirable Foreign NGOs
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 10. Lost in Post-Cold War Transitions: The Limits of Freedom in Scholarship
  • Ethics of International Activism
  • Ethics of Scholarship
  • The Limits of Freedom in Scholarship
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 11. The Michael Walzer Affair: A Scandal at Belgrade University
  • Introduction
  • A Brief Chronology of the Scandal
  • Dirty Morals and Clean Hands
  • General Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 12. Get This: Imperialism Is Bipartisan
  • Against the Bush Regime
  • There Is Only One Party in the United States
  • Continuity of Policy across Political Parties
  • There Is No Remedy
  • The Ultimate Cause: Private Ownership of National Interest
  • Note
  • Bibliography
  • Part III: Weaponizing Genocide Discourse
  • Chapter 13. Genocidalism
  • An Overstated Importance of Genocide Studies
  • Four Dimensions of Genocide
  • Introducing Bosnia
  • The Two (or Three) Holocausts
  • Proving Genocide Is No Easy Matter
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 14. Transitional Justice and “Genocide”: Practical Ethics for Genocide Narratives
  • Introduction
  • Of Activism: Do Not Mix Scholarship and Activism
  • Of Narrativism: Without Law There Is No Crime
  • Of Genocidalism: Genocide as a Phenomenon Is Unaffected by Its Definition
  • Of Pacifism: Do Not Confuse Genocide with Murder
  • Conclusion: Putting the Genocide Genre in Its Place
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 15. Genocide Discourse and Political Harms: The Case of Conventional Wisdom About Rwanda
  • Political Harms of Genocide Discourse
  • Conventional Wisdom on Rwanda
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 16. How Not to “Philosophize” About Genocide
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 17. The (Narrative) Crimes of Ian Buruma
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 18. From Kosovo to Libya: Are We a Morally Dumb Nation?
  • Kosovo European West Bank? Hardly!
  • Are We a Morally Dumb Nation?
  • A Reply to My Critic
  • The Objection
  • The Reply
  • Bibliography
  • Part IV: Economic Sanctions, and “Just War” Claims
  • Chapter 19. Economic Sanctions, War, and Morality
  • The Excessive Susceptibility to Manipulation
  • Paternalism
  • Surrender of Basic Moral Criteria
  • Decline in Moral Consciousness
  • Wholesale Rise in Violence
  • Principled Indefiniteness of Conditions for Lifting Sanctions
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 20. What’s a “Just War” Theorist?
  • Introduction
  • Historical Development of the Doctrine
  • Walzer, Hypocrisy and Just War Theory
  • Scholarship vs. Activism
  • The Dangers of Public “Just War” Activism
  • Decriminalizing US War Crimes
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 21. Ending States During a Holiday From History: The Case of Yugoslavia
  • Beginning and End of Yugoslavia
  • “The Self-Destruction of Yugoslavia” vs. “The Hegemon Did It”
  • The Reformist Optimism vs. The Traditionalist Realism
  • Prelude to Other Aggressions
  • Vocabulary for Interventionism
  • The Myth of Ancient Hatreds and the Actions by the Hegemon
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 22. Why Western Sanctions Against Russia Will Not Be Lifted Any Time Soon
  • Chapter 23. Global Economic Crisis and Human Rights
  • Bibliography
  • Chapter 24. Donald Trump and Michael Walzer: Great Minds Think Alike
  • Note
  • Bibliography
  • About the Author

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In light of the generally insular nature and functioning of higher education throughout the United States of America these days, what philosophy in particular and academia more generally need is not more of the same research based on similar foundational presuppositions, but rather Socratic work which challenges some of the fundamentals about matters that are so important to our lives. Aleksandar Jokic has provided readers with a wide ranging set of provocative and philosophically challenging essays on a number of issues concerning international justice. They address a plethora of issues on international justice and global affairs and pose serious philosophical challenges to much of what might be deemed mainstream philosophical and otherwise academic work on such matters. “Presumptuous” does not describe how Jokic does philosophy. On the contrary, his work often seeks to expose precisely the presumptuousness of much of contemporary political philosophy. This book is bold and courageous in the manner in which it incessantly challenges readers to think outside the box of much of contemporary political discourse as it pertains to international affairs.

Jokic’s work is a serious and necessary read for both those seeking a new and (together with existing work in political philosophy) a more balanced understanding of political affairs, and for those experts honest enough to take ← xi | xii → on the challenges that Jokic presents in his rigorous philosophical method. From the chapters on war and international justice dealing with just war theories and how they might be applied to Yugoslavia and Iraq, to the chapters on global activism, genocidalism, transitional justice, imperialism, and economic sanctions, Jokic’s solid analytic training in philosophy, coupled with his sharp wit, make this book a fascinating read. Especially poignant are his frequent references to matters of modern and recent history and politics, showing that good philosophy is that which makes room for it to be informed by some of the best work from other fields as it seeks to contribute to those other fields. In this way, Jokic’s book is an example of multidisciplinary scholarship grounded firmly in critical reasoning of the “take no prisoners” variety. Generally, his book represents a view from the “other side,” as it continually challenges readers to re-think what grounds their views on politics and society. Indeed, it is a rather welcome read in a culture of seemingly groupthink-like philosophical work on international justice which is prevalent in much of the work by cosmopolitan liberals, for example. Rather than doing political philosophy poorly as if it were a kind of religious cult in not challenging even the most basic of assumptions, Jokic provides us with a set of essays which cumulatively enable readers to begin that arduous journey to do precisely that in the context of today’s politically extremist and close-minded environment.

What is obvious about Jokic’s book is that it will force honest and open-minded readers to re-evaluate what they think about such matters. Moreover, it is likely to lead such readers to the conclusion that no matter how complicated global affairs seem to be, Jokic manages to demonstrate that they are even more complex than we imagined. For some, this might lead to the adoption of a kind of skepticism about international problems and their possible resolution. For others, it is likely to provide more evidence in favor of an optimistic attitude toward such seemingly intractable difficulties. In either case, Jokic should be thanked for the many years he has put into his attempt to enable readers to expand their thinking with regard to matters of life and death. Jokic’s penetrating analyses are likely to deepen readers’ understanding of matters of global justice insofar as readers approach his work with critically open minds.

Jokic’s examples of Yugoslavia and Rwanda are intended to demonstrate how skeptical one ought to be with regard to mainstream media reports about such matters as they are overly influenced by the CIA and what the US government wants others to think about such global affairs. A healthy critical attitude concerning the sources which influence what we hear and read is ← xii | xiii → essential to attaining truth and avoiding error with regard to such vital and complicated international problems. This is especially the case with regard to world events that involve the US, either directly or indirectly.

As for my study of Jokic’s book, whenever I have found disagreement with this or that point of argument, I have been forced to delve more deeply into the groundings for my own beliefs and either discover better positions than I previously accepted, or modify my positions. In either case, I am grateful to such a consistently well-reasoned approach provided by Jokic. What more is reasonable to ask or expect of a philosopher than this?

| xv →


This volume consists of writings on issues that emerged during the nearly three decades of my research and teaching about “international justice,” combining two categories of published works: essays and applications. Essays are more conceptually and theoretically informed, intended to make a contribution to different subfields of “practical philosophy”. Applications are often considerably shorter chapters that focus on specific situations, which permit the use of different concepts and arguments developed in greater detail in the essays to explain and analyze various developments as they occurred during the last thirty years in the international affairs.

The field of international justice emerged in the post-Cold War period as a multidisciplinary effort to discuss a set of phenomena, some old some new, in a more focused way, given the new geopolitical reality of a unipolar world dominated by the US. Philosophers, however, have not, for the most part, participated in generating the massive production of what we may term “international justice discourse”. Yet, given the training philosophers have they are uniquely well suited to the task of analyzing and evaluating the multitude of concepts and theories developed in the field of international justice. This book may go some way towards filling this gap by engaging in conceptual analysis and evaluation of theoretical contributions in the field of international justice with concrete applications. ← xv | xvi →

The overall aim of the book is to be useful to both professionals and general public. The applications are considerably less demanding in terms of requisite theoretical background, and can be read independently of the essays. Ideally this would generate interest to engage more seriously with the argumentation presented in the essays even among the general public. Conversely, professionals might discover that by reading the applications they will uncover new reasons to evaluate what is proposed in the essays. The interplay between the two types of chapters should, therefore, be beneficial to both professionals and general public, made of students or readers who want to be better informed about the field of international justice, through a book that offers a critical approach to understanding claims made in this rather novel field.

What this book offers is a series of writings in which a philosopher scrutinizes the publications in international justice from a variety of writers who belong to different disciplines, such as international (criminal) law, political science, international (and regional) studies, history, or even religious studies. In a way, writings included in this book can be seen as a meta-study, a study that presents, analyzes and evaluates what has been going on in international justice and then elaborates on the morality of the uses international justice has been put to in the context of the unipolar world that emerged after the Cold War.

Structurally, though perhaps not unique, this book will provide an unusually friendly entry for non-specialists who might be interested in the literature on “international justice” by offering brief, accessible pieces that focus on specific aspects of developments in international affairs during the last three decades. The book’s contents are thus divided into four thematically oriented parts, each consisting of two essays and followed by four applications.

In these prefatory remarks, I want to emphasize just two conceptual proposals that feature prominently in the book. They involve, first, what I call “reflexivity in normativity,” and, second, a distinction, which I attribute to the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, between “activism in scholarship” and “activism with scholarship”.

A brief account of “reflexivity in normativity” must start with the realization that there are (at least) three different normative orders—moral, legal, and political—that are sufficiently different to amount to three normative fields, with their own “laws”—that is rules that define what is a proper question; adequate way of addressing it; and acceptable way of arguing in favor of an answer. What this means is that any assessment of the merits of a normative statement (perhaps even an understanding of the judgment in question) must focus on the social conditions of production of the said normative claim, ← xvi | xvii → and therefore on the objective position of the judgment-maker in the appropriate order (moral, legal, or political), but also, perhaps no less importantly, on the position of the given order vis-à-vis others. This normative environment (that is, the applicable rules and context in which a judgment is conceived) is constituted as a social field endowed with a structure wherein the struggle over the positions that judgment-makers occupy, and in which their normative dispositions take shape allows them to evolve as holders of normative claims (preferably maintaining coherence among all their normative beliefs, different normative orders notwithstanding). “Reflexivity in normativity” understood in this way deals in various chapters with different issues in “international justice”.

Secondly, many of the chapters address what could broadly be classified as philosophy and theory of international law, and they are written in ways that are sharply critical of the mainstream scholarship in this area as practicing “activism in scholarship”. The (moral and methodological) argument against “activism in scholarship” is that it constitutes a threat to the autonomy of a scholarly discipline, for its presence in any field signals dependence with regard to external economic, political or religious powers, which erodes any symbolic authority necessary for proper civic engagement by an intellectual that belongs to a given established field. As such, this sort of activism also represents a kind of incompetence, as it manifests a violation of the basic value of all authentic scholarship, i.e., its “interest in disinterestedness”. Thus, when Bourdieu calls for full adherence to scholarship of the public intellectual he is envisioning an improbable but indispensable combination: scholarship with commitment. He thus, calls for a collective politics of intervention in the political domain that follows, as much as possible, the rules that govern the scientific field to which a scholar engagé belongs. This Bourdieusian position gives us a clear sense of the dual failure of “activism in scholarship” that amounts to both pseudo-scholarship (because it lacks autonomy) and fake activism (as it is neither collective nor universal). By contrast, “activism with scholarship” outside research and academia is a way to convey what one knows and has learned or discovered in ways that can be accessible and useful to non-specialists about important practical and (geo)political matters that impact their lives.

Keeping in mind these two guiding ideas, the chapters in this book, whether essays or applications, aim to offer normative assessments in accordance with requirements of reflexivity in normativity. On the other hand, while the essays hopefully eschew all activism in scholarship, the applications exhibit plenty of good activism with scholarship.

| xix →


With the exception of Chapter 2 that is published in this volume for the first time in English, the chapters in this book originally appeared (or are under submission) in different places. All are reproduced here with permission, while some chapters combine the contents of different works. Given that the book is organized in four parts, each beginning with two essays and followed with four applications, my acknowledgments will mirror that structure.

In Part I, “War and International Justice,” the first essay, Chapter 1, appeared under the title “What is Really Military Ethics (and what they Think it is in the West)?” in Theoria 60(4), pp. 35–54 (2016). The second essay, Chapter 2, is a much revised version of the article published in Serbian under the title “Against Anti-War Pacifism” in the Sociological Review 34(1–2), pp. 49–65 (2000). Applications begin with Chapter 3, which is adapted from Chapter 5 of the forthcoming manuscript, co-authored with Tiphaine Dickson, Targets of International Justice: Yugoslavia and Rwanda First in Focus. Chapter 4 was originally published online by Antiwar.com on December 8, 2003; and is available at http://www.antiwar.com/orig/jokic5.html. Chapter 5 in the first instance appeared in French on Tiphaine Dickson’s Mediapart blog under the title “Appel d’un philosophe étranger: Pour la France, pour le monde, votez Mélenchon,” on April 16, 2012, while the English version ← xix | xx → appeared as “Cher Peuple Français: Reject the Security State, Vote for Jean-Luc Mélenchon” in Swans Magazine on April 23, 2012 (http://www.swans.com/library/art18/ajokic10.html). Chapter 6 combines contents from two articles coauthored with Tiphaine Dickson: “Why the ICC Cannot and Will Not Do What Archbishop Tutu Thinks it Should: Try Tony Blair and George Bush for Illegal Invasion of Iraq,” published on TARAFITS, a blog edited by Ambassador K. Gajendra Singh, on September 9, 2012 (available at http://tarafits.blogspot.com/2012/09/why-icc-cannot-and-will-not-do-what.html); and “A Year of Living Lawlessly,” published by Swans Magazine on December 19, 2011 (http://www.swans.com/library/art17/ajokic09.html). The chapter reveals how limited is the understanding of the nature of the International Criminal Court (ICC) even among otherwise intellectually impressive individuals, such as in this case Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and points to the narrowly geopolitical uses that this law-like body has been put to over its existence.

Part II, “International Activism” endeavors in its two essays to develop an ethics for international activists. Chapter 7 first appeared in Ethics & Global Politics 6(1), pp. 1–24 (2013). Chapter 8 is based on a lecture specifically prepared for the 6th annual conference of the International Law and Ethics Conference Series (ILECS) held at the Philosophy Faculty of Belgrade on June 28–29, 2002; with a follow up conference held at Portland State University on November 1–3, 2002. A version of this talk was published in the Belgrade Philosophy faculty’s Philosophical Yearbook 15, pp. 228–249 (2002). Applications begin with Chapter 9, which is a revised version of the article published online under the title “Russia’s Law on Undesirable Foreign NGOs and the Ethics of International Activism” by Oriental Review on June 5, 2015 (https://orientalreview.org/2015/06/05/russias-law-on-undesirable-foreign-ngos-and-the-ethics-of-international-activism/), which was itself an application of ideas developed in the essay “Go Local: Morality and International Activism”. Chapter 10 is a slightly adapted version of an article published under the same title in the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom 7, (2016). Chapter 11 is based on the book coauthored with Milan Brdar devoted to what we called the “Walzer Affair”: Unjust Honoris Causa: Chronicle of a Most Peculiar Academic Dishonor (Kragujevac-Belgrade: Freedom Activities Centre, 2011). The chapter is a version of the article “The Michael Walzer Affair: A Scandal at Belgrade University,” first published in Swans Magazine, November 21, 2011 (http://www.swans.com/library/art17/ajokic08.html). Chapter 12 is ← xx | xxi → based on a commentary about the 2006-midterm elections and the possibility of the real political change in the US, in particular with respect to its consistently aggressive foreign policies, published in Swans Magazine on October 23, 2006 (http://www.swans.com/library/art12/ajokic01.html).

The first and second essay in Part 3 “Weponizing Genocide” both originally appeared, ten years apart, in The Journal of Ethics, under the same titles: Chapter 13 in Volume 8, No 3, pp. 251–297 (2004); and Chapter 14 in Volume 18, No. 1, pp. 23–46 (2014). Chapter 15 builds on a section from my “Conventional Wisdom About Yugoslavia and Rwanda: Methodological Perils and Moral Implications,” Journal of Philosophy of International Law 4(1), pp. 1–29 (2013), and offers to explore, using the case of Rwanda as an example, the connection between current Western genocide narratives and political harm. Chapter 16 is the review of Genocide and Human Rights: A Philosophical Guide edited by John K. Roth (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); published in Philosophical Books Vol. 48 No. 1, pp. 94–96 (2007). Chapter 17 originally appeared in Swans Magazine on June 20, 2011 (http://www.swans.com/library/art17/ajokic07.html), and was written in response to a piece by Ian Buruma, a professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College. Chapter 18 combines and adapts three brief articles; the first “Kosovo European West bank? Hardly,” was published online by Antiwar.com on April 24, 2004 (https://original.antiwar.com/ajokic/2004/04/26/kosovo-european-west-bank-hardly/); the second “Are We A Morally Dumb Nation?” was written for the TARAFITS blog edited by Ambassador K. Gajendra Singh and was published on April 12, 2011 (http://tarafits.blogspot.com/2011/04/are-we-morally-dumb-nation-says-us-prof.html); the latter received a critical comment from a NATO official who wanted to remain anonymous to which “Are We A Morally Dumb Nation? A Reply to My Critic,” is a response that was published by Swans Magazine on May 23, 2011 (http://www.swans.com/library/art17/ajokic06.html).

In the final section of the book, Part IV on “Economic Sanctions, and ‘Just War’ Claims” the first essay, Chapter 19, is a heavily edited version of the article originally coauthored with Jovan Babic, “The Ethics of International Sanctions: The Case of Yugoslavia,” Fletcher Forum of World Affairs 24, 87–102 (2006). The second essay, Chapter 20, is reprinted from the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 91–114. The applications start with Chapter 21, which was adapted from “Introduction: Yugoslavia Dismantled and International Law” that appeared in International ← xxi | xxii → Journal for the Semiotics of Law 19, pp. 339–346 (2006), and was published on February 10, 2014 at the website (now defunct) of the Reiss Institute for Serbian Studies. Chapter 22 was published under the same title in web-based magazine Foreign Policy Journal on May 6, 2015 (https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/05/06/why-western-sanctions-against-russia-will-not-be-lifted-any-time-soon/). Chapter 23 is based on an article that was originally a response to two academics, Radhika Balakrishnan and Diane Elson, about the alleged relevance of human rights for the 2008 global financial crisis, published in Swans, November 3, 2008 (http://www.swans.com/library/art14/ajokic04.html). Finally, Chapter 24 was a commentary on at the time ongoing campaigns during the 2016 presidential elections in the US, published in Counterpunch.org on March 15, 2016 (https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/15/donald-trump-and-michael-walzer-great-minds-think-alike/).


XXVI, 408
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (December)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2018. XXVI, 408 pp.

Biographical notes

Aleksandar Jokic (Author)

Aleksandar Jokic is Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University since 1999. He served as the founding director of the Center for Philosophical Education in Santa Barbara, and is a cofounder of the International Law and Ethics Conference Series (ILECS). He has authored and edited several volumes and special journal issues. His main research interests are in philosophy of time, applied ethics, and political philosophy, particularly the ethics of international affairs. He was a fellow of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, as a recipient of a grant in the Program on Global Security and Sustainability for 1999-2002.


Title: International Justice After the Cold War