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Aug 1, 2023

Last week, the Biden administration agreed to share evidence with the International Criminal Court of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. President Biden insists Vladimir Putin has “clearly committed war crimes.” But however atrocious Russia’s tactics are, is there a version of this war – or any act of war – that is not? In this week’s episode of None Of The Above, the Eurasia Group Foundation’s Mark Hannah speaks with historian Samuel Moyn about the evolution of America’s thinking on war. From the interwar period to today, war has gone from being something that should be prevented to something that should be made more humane. Through this transformation, Moyn argues, American politicians might face less pressure to avert or end wars. So, while there is an argument to be made for Putin’s arrest, Moyn pushes us to think about whether focusing on the distinctions between “humane” war and battlefield atrocities might make the atrocity that is war itself more likely. 

Samuel Moyn is Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and History at Yale University. His most recent book is Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War (2021). His forthcoming book is Liberalism Against Itself: Cold War Intellectuals and the Making of Our Times (2023).

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