A Theory of Truces by Nir Eisikovits (auth.)

By Nir Eisikovits (auth.)

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Extra info for A Theory of Truces

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Maybe the dog will die, maybe the tyrant will die, or maybe the Messiah will come. ” Truce thinking emphasizes immediate benefits – temporary relief, rest, quiet, over more abstract considerations regarding the rights of the parties, mutual acknowledgment, and settling questions about distributive justice. More precisely, truce thinking suggests that it is worthwhile to pursue immediate benefits even when we have no idea if the more permanent concerns can be addressed. Like the rabbi, the truce thinker wants to buy time.

A critic may retort that these directives are not sufficiently instructive; how, she might plausibly ask, could one know such things? How could one tell whether truce making is likely to generate further quiet, whether there are sufficient areas of agreement, whether there are real gaps between state ideology and material conditions on the ground? To rephrase this challenge in concrete historical terms, 32 A Theory of Truces how are we, without the benefit of hindsight, to tell the difference between a Chamberlain, who, insisting on “peace in our time,” sold Czechoslovakia down the river and precipitated the beginning of World War II, and a Kennan, who, in the Long Telegram, contended that we could avoid war with the Soviets in spite of ideological differences and by promulgating this doctrine of “containment,” helped prevent a nuclear holocaust?

But that view accounts for only a fifth (the last fifth) of truce thinking. I have more to say about situating truce thinking within contemporary realism in Chapter 4. 8 He attributes this lacuna to an excessive focus on ideal theory, which neglects the way political and moral agreements are actually reached, in favor of what they should, under perfect conditions, look like. 9 In considering an essentially contested concept, disputants agree that a term denotes something good (say, democracy) but disagree on how to properly interpret it (thus, communitarians and liberals have competing understandings of democracy).

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