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The Importance of Being Civil by John A. Hall

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CHAPTER 5

Intelligence in States

International law is based upon this principle: that the various nations ought to do, in peace, the most good to each other, and, in war, the least harm possible, without detriment to their genuine interests.

(Montesquieu, L’Esprit des Lois)

This chapter follows Montesquieu in suggesting the desirability and sociological importance of restraint and civility in the most vicious arena of all: war between states. But the citation is not mine. Rather, it stands as the legend to Raymond Aron’s great Peace and War, and it is to his thought in the arena of interstate behavior that this chapter is devoted. It may be useful to say immediately that Aron strikes me as the very model of a responsible intellectual (especially ...

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