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Between War and PoliticsInternational Relations and the Thought of Hannah Arendt$
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Patricia Owens

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199299362

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299362.001.0001

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The Humanitarian Condition? On War and Making a Global Public

The Humanitarian Condition? On War and Making a Global Public

(p.128) 8 The Humanitarian Condition? On War and Making a Global Public
Between War and Politics

Patricia Owens (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter contrasts Arendt's writing with Jürgen Habermas who has argued that humanitarian intervention is justified, in part, because it places international relations on the path toward cosmopolitan society, a global public realm. Habermas has unwittingly — and perhaps surprisingly — endorsed a model of global political founding that has something in common with Machiavelli's notion of politics and violence being two sides of the same coin. Habermas envisages a political end, a global public; ‘humanitarian’ war is endorsed as a means to make it. Arendt's judgement is more sobering. Her account of founding and political freedom foregoes the temptation to reduce politics to a relationship between ends and means. She held a deeply ambivalent view of the concept of and justifications for political action based on ‘humanity’. Her thought was rarely couched in what she took to be the rather abstract and even dangerous language of humanitarianism.

Keywords:   Arendt, Jürgen Habermas, Machiavelli, cosmopolitanism, humanitarian intervention, Kosovo, humanity, global public

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