Liberal Way of War Programme

In June 2008, Reading's 'The Liberal Way of War: strategy, ideology, representations' was successful in a national competition for a large-scale Leverhulme Programme Award to study 'Security and Liberty'. From 2008-13 fourteen scholars from four Schools (Politics, Law, History, and Modern Languages) will study the ways in which liberal states have reconciled themselves to fighting wars. Such states can only sustain the will to fight if they are able to portray their military actions as being consistent with their liberalism. One way of achieving this difficult objective is to treat the zone of conflict as a kind of privileged space in which the usual rules do not apply. But technological developments (instantaneous communication) and ideological shifts (the spread of belief in a global rights-based order) are making it hard to preserve the old distinction between the zone of conflict and the home society. The Programme brought together military strategists, political and cultural historians, political scientists and theorists, and international lawyers to study this development.

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