Liberal Warfare: A Crusade Twice Removed

David Hughes

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Since the 1990s, liberal warfare has attracted a good deal of debate and commentary, virtually all of which has been framed in the secular language of rights, sovereignty, power, and legitimacy. This article, in contrast, makes religion its central analytic category. Treating liberalism as a political religion, it argues that, insofar as liberal wars are fought primarily to uphold “universal” Western values, their motivation has something in common with medieval crusades. But, because that universalist ideal is vitiated by the self-interest of states, liberal wars in fact bear closer resemblance to anachronistic attempts to revive the crusading ideal in the late Middle Ages. Thus, they represent a distant, secularized echo of a pale imitation of the Crusades—or “a crusade twice removed.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-373
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Studies Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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