With the end of the Cold War, many hoped that there would gradually be less cause to resort to war; 15 years later, this has clearly not happened. Violence persists in various forms: civil wars, ethnic cleansing, genocide, terrorism, etc. What should the response be, especially on the part of a democratic country? Can violence be used against violence and, if so, according to what "rules"? Are there circumstances when intervention is more permissible than others?
These are some of the issues discussed here by Jean-Jacques Salomon, in reviewing a multi-author study edited by Pierre Hassner and Gilles Andréani (Justifier la guerre? De l'humanitaire au contre-terrorisme [Justifiable War? From Humanitarian Aid to Counter-terrorism]. Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2005), as well as several other books about ethical questions in international relations. In this debate, the sharp contrast between the European and American attitudes obviously take centre-stage, along with the problem of the United States' readiness to act unilaterally, combined with its refusal to submit to international law with regard to waging war and respecting prisoners' rights.