I'm on book tour, and even though War is not a political work, people are asking me very political questions about it. Should we be in Afghanistan? Should we pull out? What about civilian casualties? Is there any such thing as a "good" war, or are all wars by definition evil? There are no easy answers — I wish there were — and coming to any useful conclusion requires a person to let go of any political freight they may be carrying.
My experience in war started in Bosnia in 1993. A quarter-million civilians died in the ethnic conflict there, and the carnage finally stopped when NATO forces bombed Serb positions around Sarajevo and forced a rough peace. The triggering event was when Serb militias machine-gunned seven thousand men and young boys into pits after overrunning the city of Srebrenica. My career reads like a human rights report from the past decade and a half: Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Macedonia, Afghanistan. These conflicts killed tens of thousands of innocent people, and the leaders who perpetrated these crimes were immune to the entreaties and diplomatic efforts of the international community. Only military action by Western forces — or the threat of military action — brought those conflicts to a stop. Were those military actions immoral? Were they more immoral than standing by and watching?