<B>A scholar's case for war</B> The way a society wages war reveals more than just its military strategy. At its core, the approach to combat reflects the values of a nation. In <B>Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World</B>, political theorist Jean Bethke Elshtain writes, "the matter of how we choose to defend (our) values is all important, for in fighting terror that knows no limits, there are limits we ourselves must observe." Elshtain examines the moral and ethical aspects of the current war against terrorism. In particular, she explores the complex "just war" tradition, which began with St. Augustine in the fourth century. Elshtain provocatively contrasts the "just war" position with two other approaches that she finds inadequate for coping with today's conflicts. One is the pacifist tradition, which holds that the use of force is never acceptable. The other is realpolitik, where anything goes in wartime, and ethics is separated from politics. To support her thesis, Elshtain draws on the thinking of Protestant theologians Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich, whose theories were shaped by World War II. Discussing Islamic views of war and peace, Elshtain notes that the Prophet Muhammad was a war leader: "One fundamental feature of Islamic teaching is that an effort to extend the boundaries of the territory of Islam is a prima facie case of just cause." In contrast, Christian theology, she claims, "has never taken the primacy of territory or earthly sovereignty as a foundational claim or principle." The "burden" of her argument, Elshtain says, "is that we have no choice but to fight not in order to conquer any countries or to destroy peoples or religions, but to defend who we are and what we, at our best, represent." This is an important and stimulating book that may force many readers to clarify their own thinking on war. <I>Roger Bishop is a Nashville bookseller and a regular contributor to BookPage.</I>

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