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Michael Ignatieff

1947 -

Doctor of history, former research Fellow at Cambridge University, author of a trilogy of books on contemporary nationalism (Blood and Belonging, The Warrior's Honour and Virtual War) and of Isaiah Berlin: A Life (1998) and other works


Virtual war ... is a dangerous illusion. It has emerged because it promises to restore war to its place as the continuation of politics by other means.

2000 - from Virtual War, using Karl von Clausewitz' phrase about war as a continuation of politics
War must always be the very last instrument of policy - but when the sword is raised, it must be used to strike decisevely, for only decisive force yields results which can justify its use in the first place.

2000 - from Virtual War
The moral claim that nations are entitled to be defended by force depends on the cultural claim that the needs they satisfy for security and belonging are uniquely important. The political idea that all peoples should struggle for nationhood depends on the cultural claim that only nations can satisfy these needs. The cultural idea in turn underwrites the political claim that these needs cannot be satisfied without self-determination. Each one of these claims is contestable and none is intuitively obvious.

from Blood and Belonging
Values are real to the degree we are prepared to risk something in order to make them prevail. Values are virtual when they remain rhetorical, when the commitments we express are not followed by action.

2000 - from Virtual War