In This Review

Can War be Eliminated?
Can War be Eliminated?
By Christopher Coker
Polity, 2014, 120 pp

Coker does not leave readers guessing about his answer to the title’s question. He sees war not as a vicious, dysfunctional throwback to more primitive, pre-rational times but as an essential feature of human societies. War is ingrained; peace, on the other hand, is an idea that has to be embraced by all if it is to take root. On this matter, Coker has little faith in progress. War has served an evolutionary purpose and continues to evolve itself, in response to cultural shifts and new developments in technology. Digitization and robotics provide new means of fighting and reshape the meaning of war, including devaluing the notions of sacrifice and heroism. This is a short, stimulating book, packed with ideas and quotes from a remarkably disparate range of sources. Not all of Coker’s provocative statements withstand critical scrutiny, but this is a book that will challenge readers who are skeptical of its premise. If those who believe in the possibility of ending war want to persuade others, Coker concludes, “they will have to come up with better arguments.”