Issues in Military Ethics

To Support and Defend the Constitution

By Martin L. Cook

Subjects: Ethics, Philosophy, International Relations, Religion
Paperback : 9781438446905, 280 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438446912, 280 pages, May 2013

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Table of contents

Section I. Overview: Legacies and New Challenges
1. What Should We Mean by “Military Ethics”?
With Henrik Syse
2. Reflections on the Stockdale Legacy
3. The Day the World Changed? Reflections on 9/11 and U. S. National Security Strategy
Section II. Civil-Military Relations

4. The Revolt of the Generals: A Case Study in Professional Ethics
5. U. S. Civil Military Relations since 9/11: Issues in Ethics and Policy Development
With Mary Beth Ulrich
Section III. Ethics Education in the Military
6. Teaching Military Ethics in the U. S. Air Force: Challenges Posed by Service Culture
7. Professional Military Ethics across the Career Spectrum
8. Thucydides as a Resource for Teaching Ethics and Leadership in Military Education Environments
Section IV. Religion in the U. S. Military
9. Is Just War Spirituality Possible?
10. Christianity and Weapons of Mass Destruction
11. Evangelical Christianity in the U. S. Military
12. Diagnosing a Loss of Religious Diversity in the U. S. Military
13. Whether (Modern, American) Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved
14. A Force for (Relative) Good: An Augustinian Perspective
Section V. Ethical Issues in War
15. Michael Walzer’s Concept of “Supreme Emergency”
16. Asymmetric Air War: Ethical Implications
With Mark Conversino
17. Ethical Dilemmas in the Use of Airpower in Counterinsurgency War

Reflections on, and analysis of, ethical issues facing military service in the United States.


Reflecting on a seventeen-year career teaching at military educational institutions of the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy, Martin L. Cook finds a powerful but underappreciated basis for military ethics in the oath to the Constitution that members of the armed services pledge. In Issues in Military Ethics, Cook considers the role of airpower in counterinsurgency war and the place of robotic weapons systems on the battlefield, but he also looks beyond ethics in the conduct of war to issues arising in military life generally. He addresses a range of other issues with pressing contemporary relevance, including civil-military relations, ethics education, and religion, in particular the ascendency of evangelical Christianity in military culture. This volume serves as an important resource for scholars, members of the armed services, and educators alike.

Martin L. Cook is Admiral James Bond Stockdale Chair of Professional Military Ethics at the United States Naval War College. He is the author of several books, including The Moral Warrior: Ethics and Service in the U. S. Military, also published by SUNY Press.


"Overall, this book should be mandatory reading for those in uniform … Readers will not agree with all of Cook's arguments, but that is not the point. Professional military ethics is to be engaged—consistently—over the course of one's time in uniform. In one book, Cook raises often ignored debates and tensions confronted by both junior and senior leaders. It is the sort of text one will return to repeatedly over time. " — Journal of Military Ethics

"The U. S. military is one of the most trusted institutions in American society. Martin Cook takes us inside the professional military establishment to examine the most contested ethical debates of the post-9/11 era. His candor and rigor reveal deep sources of American power: the virtues of reason and openness, and the capacity for self-correction. This book is an example of how moral argument has served our country and the world. It should be read by all who seek to understand the moral foundations of war, peace, and democracy in the early twenty-first century. " — Joel H. Rosenthal, President of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

"In this valuable book, Martin Cook brings to bear both his academic background in the study of philosophical, theological, and historical perspectives on ethics and the insider's understanding of issues in military ethics he has gained through his years of teaching and interacting with American military professionals. This special combination of Cook's experience and knowledge give him a rare perspective and understanding not only of what the important issues are today but how they have become so and how to think meaningfully about them. " — James Turner Johnson, author of Ethics and the Use of Force: Just War in Historical Perspective