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Lost legitimacy

The readiness of America, and sometimes Britain, to fight difficult conflicts in faraway places was one reason for victory in the cold war. But the end of the anti-communist struggle removed the moral justification for intervention and, as the Iraq war shows, a new source of legitimacy has yet to be found

By Ferdinand Mount   January 2007

The naming of cats is a difficult matter, according to TS Eliot in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The naming of wars is just as tricky. Only rarely do we pause to note the political will and imagination that have gone into imposing a title on this or that episode of state-sponsored violence. Yet the war name matters, because it provides the heading to what we now call the “narrative,” the purpose of which is to explain the reasons for going to war and to justify, even ennoble, the bloodshed and sacrifice. Every war needs, as Old Possum says…

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