Discussion Question:

The introduction of Books for Captains says that the ultimate goal of war according to Renaissance military treatises was to return to a Golden Age and everlasting peace through the exercise of war. How does this compare to the ways in which we talk about the goals of war today?

Hypotheses:

  • The development of WMDs means that preemptive action features more in today’s rhetoric than in Renaissance rhetoric about war
  • Human rights features as more of a reason to go to war now than it did in Renaissance writings
  • War today is offered more as a way to remove bad things (i.e. WMDs, human rights violations) than as a way to directly restore peace
  • Rhetoric about wars today focus more explicitly about resources (i.e. oil) than they did in the Renaissance, when they more often cast as being about religion and a sovereign’s rights
  • Rhetoric about achieving peace through war is unchanged, but we emphasize defense more than expansion

Keep these hypotheses in mind as we move through Renaissance and modern-day readings and film about war. See which ones seem to be supported and which ones seem to be contradicted by the textual evidence.

Followup

After finishing our Richard II reading, we applied these hypotheses to the text using the following procedure:

  1. Form groups of four
  2. Review the five hypotheses we generated in class. Pick one to focus on and review Act I of Richard II for specific lines that would support or argue against the hypothesis.
  3. Think about where else you would need to research in order to make a stronger case about the hypothesis. Which modern day situations, which historical texts, etc.
Hypothesis Evidence (or lack thereof) in Richard II Further research – where would you look outside of RII to test these hypotheses?
The development of WMDs means that preemptive action features more in today’s rhetoric than in Renaissance rhetoric about war    
Human rights feature as more of a reason to go to war now than it did in Renaissance writings 1.3.35-

Dangerous to God, king, and Bolingbroke.  Not so much a human rights focus

Honor rather than/more than human rights as motivation: 1.2.182-183

1.4.37-41ish

King going to war to get more land/power. No justifications needed

 

2.3.113-140

Henry’s war on Richard, discontent of commoners. Not about Richard’s transgressions, personal power and wellbeing of nation rather than human rights

 

Political speakers

Invasion of Kuwait (human rights violations)

 

For today’s side, research rhetoric around Syria and chemical weapons. Human rights used much more as a reason for intervention

 

Ken Burns documentary about the Vietnam War

 

War today is offered more as a way to remove bad things (i.e. WMDs, human rights violations) than as a way to directly restore peace 1.1.26, ln 80

1.4.42ish – not about restoring peace, Richard is going off to Ireland to fight more than re-establish peace

 

 

News sources on recent conflicts, political speeches.

UN security council, peacekeepers, etc – we do still care about war as a way to restore peace.

 

 

Rhetoric about wars today focus more explicitly on resources (i.e. oil) than they did in the Renaissance, when they were more often cast as being about religion and a sovereign’s rights 1.2.37- (God’s is the quarrel) Gaunt’s speech supports this hypothesis

1.3.100 “God defend the right”

1.2.137

1.3.16ish – supporting war is about religion/sovereign’s rights

Rhetoric around the creation of Panama and America’s intervention there.

Wars in the middle east. Rhetoric around Israel and end times.

Coverage of the “War on Terror”

Rhetoric about achieving peace through war is unchanged, but we emphasize defense more than expansion 1.1.153, 156-157

Banishment as a way to secure peace

 

1.4.42 – “We will ourself in person to war” – wants to expand in Ireland, not about human rights or resources so much

The Prince; Elizabeth’s speeches; “we take only enough ground to bury our dead”;

 

 

 

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