Swarthmore College Department of

Peace & Conflict Studies Blog

Murphy and Tierney speak on transitional justice and the American way of war

On March 31, 2010, Matt Murphy (Political Science and member of the Peace and Conflict Studies committee) gave a faculty lunch talk on “Confronting the past in new democracies: Problems, tradeoffs, and opportunities”.  Matt spoke in detail about the importance of the process of transitional justice efforts that is perhaps often overlooked in favor of more tangible outcomes, such as prosecutions.  As it turns out, some states are better equipped to manage the process of considering cases of human rights violations and thus facilitating the public work of dealing with the past.

That same day, Dominic Tierney (Political Science and member of the Peace and Conflict Studies committee) spoke to the campus community about “The American Way of War” and in particular about the United States’ “allergic reaction” to democracy building efforts that tend to become difficult quagmires. Shorter more clearly-defined wars aimed at overthrowing opposing regimes are more popular and produce warrior heroes and opportunities to frame the nation in traditional ways. Some of the discussion after the talk revolved around how and why Americans tend to forget how allergic they are to militarized democracy building projects.