The roots of liberalism and the ﬁrst great liberal century
The beginnings and endings of wars are totally linked, whatever paradigmatic
approach you may take to war itself. War aims have no sense unless you have some
idea about what you want the post-war situation to look like. Even in non-democratic
societies there is usually some justiﬁcation for war that is proposed before it is
embarked upon. Adolf Hitler’s Germany manufactured a ‘border incident’ with
Poland in 1939 that ‘insulted’ German pride and sovereignty. Saddam Hussein
had the clear aim in 1990 of ‘restoring’ Iraqi sovereignty over its ‘19th Province’.
Both were excused on the basis of the moral authority of the state. The possibility of
the ‘amoral’ war therefore seems to be ruled out even by its most amoral instigators.