Moral Victories: Ethics, Exit Strategies, and the Ending of Wars

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Social & Political Sciences

Abstract

What does 'victory' mean in the context of the liberal interventions characteristic of post-Cold War western warfare? Often conceived in narrowly strategic terms, can the concept of victory also provide a moral compass for policy pertaining to the termination of wars? Or is it a retrograde notion that impairs rather than empowers policy by fostering an unhelpful image of military conflict as 'trial by strength'? Against the backdrop of protracted and messy 'endgame' struggles in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, this project addresses these vital questions.

This focus necessarily leads to an engagement with the field of Military Ethics. Supported since 2002 by a specialist journal, the Journal of Military Ethics, this is a growing area of research in the US, UK, and Europe. Widely taught at service and military academies under the rubric of Leadership Studies, and at research universities, it brings together ethicists, strategists, historians, political theorists, philosophers, international relations scholars, theologians, and military practitioners and planners to consider the ethics of military force.

This project will contribute to an emergent area of concern within Military Ethics, the jus post bellum, that body of work devoted to the ethical issues associated with the conclusion of conflicts. Reflective of the structure of just war theory, Military Ethics has traditionally focused on the jus ad bellum and jus in bello poles of analysis, which focus respectively on the moral questions attendant to the initial resort to force and its subsequent conduct. Since it was first vaunted by Michael J. Schuck in a 1994 Christian Century article, the jus post bellum has been hailed by leading figures in the field-Michael Walzer, Brian Orend, and Larry May, among others-as an area of great importance. Despite this, the jus post bellum remains sorely underdeveloped.

Much current jus post bellum literature focuses on the responsibilities, rights, and duties of the 'victor' (vis-à-vis both the 'vanquished' enemy and the international community more generally). This project will examine the utility of this framing. In particular, it will contend that the emphasis on 'victors' (and by extension 'victory') is of dubious merit. On the one hand, it locks in ad bellum and in bello restraints on war. On the other hand, it is an archaic remnant of the classical and medieval conception of war as an 'ordeal' or 'wager'-a conception that few would endorse today. Accordingly, this project will bring together leading UK, US, and European scholars (historians, strategists, ethicists, and international relations specialists) and practitioners (military educators and defence ministry personnel) to re-evaluate the role that the concept of victory can and should play in military planning and policy.

The project will pivot upon the following question. How should victory be construed in the context of post-Cold War conflict? Is victory a normative or purely strategic concept? Can victory provide a moral compass for the termination of wars? Is victory a problematic concept for any reason? How can victory in war be leveraged to yield a durable post-war order? Viewed in concert, these questions, which are designed to lead rather than constrain, will provoke consideration of the relation between ethics, strategy and governance in respect of the termination of violent conflict. More generally, the project as a whole will challenge scholars and practitioners to re-consider the utility of force in the current security environment and the relation that now prevails between winning wars and winning the peace.

Planned Impact

The principal non-academic beneficiaries of this research will be military planners, practitioners, and educators in the US and UK. It will benefit these actors in three specific ways. First, it will provide a forum for military educators, planners, and practitioners to reflect upon how they conceive of 'victory' in the context of the liberal humanitarian wars characteristic of the post-Cold War era and how this informs professional practice in respect of the ending of violent conflict. Second, it will provide an interface between academic research and professional practice, thus ensuring that military planners, practitioners, and educators have ready access to a relevant knowledge base and facilitating evidence-based curriculum design and development. And third, it will deliver and train highly skilled researchers whose expertise will contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of the armed services in respect of the ending of wars.

Four activities will be undertaken to ensure that beneficiaries have the opportunity to engage with this research:

(1) The first activity is collaboration, that is, the establishment of an active partnership between researchers at Glasgow University, the US Naval War College, and the Joint Services Command and Staff College at the UK Defence Academy. The central element of this partnership will comprise a formal Exchange or Visitorship programme, wherein a senior member of the Naval War College, Professor Martin Cook, will be invited to undertake a fixed-term Fellowship at Glasgow University under the auspices of the Adam Smith Research Foundation. This will be supplemented by provision for a reciprocal visit by the PI and project postdoctoral fellow to attend the military ethics symposiums held annually at the Naval War College.

(2) The second activity is capacity-building, which will be achieved via the provision of a fixed-term research leave for the PI alongside the establishment of a dedicated postdoctoral fellow, to be based at Glasgow University, to serve this field and to coordinate the engagement and exploitation elements of the project. More broadly, the workshop component of the project will foster a collaborative relationship between the Glasgow Global Security Network, the Scottish Centre for War Studies, the Glasgow Human Rights Network, and project partners at the UK Defence Academy and US Naval War College. Indeed, via this collaboration with project partners at the UK Defence Academy, this project will both profit from and build upon related research projects being conducted there.

(3) The third activity is engagement, which will be pursued principally through two annual workshops, one to be held at Glasgow University and one at the Joint Services Defence and Staff College at the UK Defence Academy. These workshops will bring together eight scholars and practitioners in the field and will produce a collection of research papers to be published in the Journal of Military Ethics.

(4) The fourth activity pertains to exploitation, and will comprise the maintenance of a website to communicate our activities to a wider audience; the production of a special issue of the Journal of Military Ethics to disseminate findings resulting from the project; the publication of an article by the PI in the Review of International Studies; and the presentation of project research findings to the annual conferences of the International Society for Military Ethics (ISME).

The following milestones for deliverables will be observed. The project and its devoted website will commence in September 2014. The postdoctoral fellowship will commence at the same time, and run through till September 2016. The Visitorship Programme will take place in Spring 2015. The workshops will be convened in May 2015 and May 2016. The special issue of the Journal of Military Ethics will appear in September 2016, while lead articles by the PI will appear in June 2016.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This project has identified a gap in the contemporary ethics of war literature as it bears on the ending of armed conflict, and particularly in relation to the imperative of "victory". This project has sought to remedy this oversight. The key argument it advances is that, despite the ever changing nature of warfare, classical just war thought furnishes us with a set of resources, examples, and ideas that help us in this task. Among these is a clear account of how the ideal of victory might be conceived as internal to, rather than in tension with, the just war ethos. Finally, this channel of thought supplies a useful way of teaching just post bellum ethics to serving military personnel.
Exploitation Route We are in conversations with prospective partners (the Military Ethics Education Network in the UK and colleagues at the Australian Defence Academy) regarding the prospect of developing a podcast series that would treat issues bearing on the ethics of war. Bringing together active-service military officers, academics, and journalists, the objective of this undertaking will be to produce a series of interesting and informative programmes that would appeal to serving military personnel, other academics, and the wider general public.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Security and Diplomacy

URL http://moralvictories.gla.ac.uk
 
Description Our findings have not yet produced any non-academic impacts, but they are in process. This pertains to the development of our MOOC, which will feed straight into the curricula of military academies in the developing world. This will be live in Spring 2017, and we will be able to produce user figures to evaluate our reach and impact. In the meantime, it is possible to say that this activity adds capacity to the provision of military ethics education (especially as it bears on war-conclusion) in the academies and training institutions of several developing world countries. In concrete terms, this means that, for the first time in many of these countries, soldiers who are tasked with difficult Phase IV (i.e., war termination) missions will receive additional and specialist instruction on the kinds of ethical and legal difficulties that they are likely to confront.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Impact Acceleration Account
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 171726-01 
Organisation University of Glasgow 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 08/2015 
End 08/2017
 
Description Impact Acceleration Account
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 171352-01 
Organisation University of Glasgow 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 06/2015 
End 10/2016
 
Description Centre for Military Ethics 
Organisation King's College London
Department Centre for Military Ethics
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Centre for Military Ethics (CME) exists to support and promote conduct research into military ethics in order to develop and promote best practice in its education and application across global defence and security forces. We engaged with the CME through our project partner, Sr David Whetham. Our contribution was to develop a MOOC that would be hosted on the CME website, via which it would be made accessible to military academies and educational institutions globally.
Collaborator Contribution Our project partners, Dr David Whetham and Professor Martin Cook, advised us that the development of a MOOC hosted by the CME was the best option available to us for feeding into the provision of military ethics education. We had explored other options, but the complex bureaucratic structures of the US and UK military education establishments was proving tricky to navigate. In addition to providing us with this advice, we were also able to develop networks and contacts in the military world courtesy of Dr Whetham and Professor Cook.
Impact In addition to the MOOC cited above, which will be live in the coming weeks, we also worked in concert with Dr Whetham and Professor Cook on the production of an edited book, which will be published with Oxford University Press later this year. Both Dr Whetham and Professor Cook have contributed to this volume--a chapter and a foreword, respectively.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Attended and conducted interviews at the International Society for Military Ethics Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Our team attended the annual ISME convention, which is the principal gathering for military ethics educators and practitioners, to conduct a series of interviews that will form the cornerstone of our forthcoming MOOC module on ethics at the end of wars. We conducted six interviews to camera for this purpose, and a further six which will be posted on our website in due course.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Blog Post 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Dr Andy Hom and Dr Cian O'Driscoll wrote a short essay on the concept of "victory" that President Donald Trump has posited at the heart of his international agenda. This essay appears on the curated blog, The Disorder of Things, which has 13,731 followers and generates significant page visits.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://thedisorderofthings.com
 
Description Everyday Insecurities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This workshop, which was held over two days in April/May 2015, brought together approximately 20 researchers and practitioners from the UK, Europe, North America, and Australia who are interested in everyday or banal insecurities. It attracted numerous applications and a large audience. We supported this project in conjunction with the Glasgow Global Security Network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://moralvictories.gla.ac.uk/workshop-everyday-insecurities/
 
Description Expeditionary Military Ethics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This event, which was a presentation by our project partner, Dr David Whetham of the Defence Academy, launched the project in November 2014. It introduced the remit of military ethics to a primarily academic audience that included staff researchers, postgraduates, and undergraduates from a range of disciplines. The audience also included some visiting military officers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://moralvictories.gla.ac.uk/expeditionary-military-ethics-education-a-philosopher-abroad/
 
Description Hinkley Institute Discussions: Ethics & International Relations 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This half-day event was hosted by the Hinkley Institute at the University of Utah to showcase research that engages the nexus between ethics and international relations. It involved three panels of four speakers each, and addressed an audience of between 25-40 people. Cian O'Driscoll spoke on behalf of the "Moral Victories" project. The event was recorded and may be viewed through the Hinkley Institute's website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://moralvictories.gla.ac.uk/ethics-in-international-relations-intervention-just-war-human-rights...
 
Description How do you successfully end wars? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Reuters ran an opinion piece in Japan Today based on our research and incorporating an interview with the PI. The piece generated significant commentary.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
URL http://moralvictories.gla.ac.uk/ethics-in-international-relations-intervention-just-war-human-rights...
 
Description International Studies Association (ISA) convention 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact What does it mean to win a just war, or to win a war justly? Examining the tensions between ideas about 'winning' and 'losing', war fighting, and the flexible yet demanding tradition of just war thought, this roundtable treats victory as the prism through which politics and ethics reflect each other. It is easier to speak of ethics and victory than to realize them in practice. In recent interventions and the war on terror, a morality of victory paved the way to war but quickly lost traction in the fog of violence. Furthermore, decisive battles and formal surrenders have been replaced by asymmetric conflicts and negotiated settlements. Finally, victory pervades political discourse yet concrete specifics about what it means, looks like, or how to achieve it are conspicuously absent. These issues parallel gaps in ethical deliberations: ad bellum, in bello, and post bellum principles all mention victory yet marginalize it at almost every turn. So even though victory runs through the heart of war, it causes our practical and moral grammars of violence to stutter. Pursuing a timely analysis of a timeless problem, this roundtable opens up new perspectives from which to think about the increasingly paradoxical proposition of war.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.isanet.org/Conferences/Baltimore-2017/Program/Browse
 
Description Leaders 'frankly delusional' over Iraq 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This activity comprised an interview with Prof Martin Cook and Cian O'Driscoll, and was carried in the Scottish broadsheet newspaper, The Herald. It was granted a full-page spread in the print edition and generated extensive commentary.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13414619.Leaders__frankly_delusional__over_war_in_Iraq__says_seni...
 
Description Moral Victories Public Event at the Berkley Center, Georgetown University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Event Details

February 23, 2017
5:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.
Intercultural Center (Icc) Executive Conference Room (7th Floor) Intercultural Center (ICC)
Directions to Intercultural Center (Icc)
Theme

Religion, Violence, and Peace
Moral and legal standards for the use of force have recently reclaimed a central position in international political debates, including former president Barack Obama's open embrace of the language of just war tradition. But even as the moral grammar of war makes a popular comeback against the backdrop of crises in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere, the notion of "victory" continues to remain problematic. This event is part of a major research initiative that is based at the University of Glasgow and engages an international host of experts on the concept of "victory." Scholars and practitioners will reflect on the concept of victory as it relates to just war principles; the ethics of war; and the dynamics of norms, exit strategies, and endgames. They will also reflect on tensions and concerns with the idea of "winning" wars in a complex and changing century.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/events/the-morality-of-victory
 
Description Project Launch 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This press release via the University of Glasgow webpage (Headline item) publicised the launch of our project and resulted in the receipt of a number of inquiries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.gla.ac.uk/news/archiveofnews/2014/november/headline_378490_en.html
 
Description Security at the End of War 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This workshop brought international relations scholars from across the UK and North America to discuss the particular security conditions that post bellum operations engender.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://moralvictories.gla.ac.uk/workshop-security-at-the-end-of-war/
 
Description The Ethics of Insurgency 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This event brought Professor Michael Gross, the renowned Israeli philosopher, to Glasgow to speak about the ethics of insurgency. This talk drew upon his recent Cambridge University Press monograph and was directed primarily toward researchers and postgraduate students at the University of Glasgow.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://moralvictories.gla.ac.uk/the-ethics-of-insurgency/
 
Description Twitter Feed 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This Twitter Feed is active and linked to our events and also to our webpage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://twitter.com/Moral_Victories
 
Description What does it mean to win a just war? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This workshop was our major event of 2015. It brought together a roster of leading military ethicists from Europe, the UK, and North America to discuss what victory means in relation to the ethics of war. It involved two days of papers, attracted international media attention, and will result in an edited volume in 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://moralvictories.gla.ac.uk/workshop-moral-victories/
 
Description What is Victory? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This activity was a guest lecture delivered by Cian O'Driscoll to SAIS John Hopkins University, Bologna. It was directed toward a postgraduate audience, and an ancillary podcast was recorded and made available through the SAIS website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://moralvictories.gla.ac.uk/seminar-just-war-and-victory/