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President Barack Obama has clearly placed himself in the just war tradition, and so we may ask how successful has President Obama in fact been as just war theorist? His justification of the recent NATO intervention in Libya shows that the record is at best mixed. More broadly, Obama’s failure as just war theorist is at least partly a failure of the theory itself: as long as this theory does not address issues of “just military preparedness,” it will fail to place real constraints on American resort to military force.


This paper is a slightly modified and expanded version of a presentation given at a session of the Radical Philosophy Association at the Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Washington D.C., December 27-30, 2011.