Vietnam was an unjust war, in Walzer’s view, one that should never have been fought. But for him, it hardly followed that all wars are unjust. At a time when a kind of nihilist pacifism was taking hold among many on the left, Walzer insisted on reminding his comrades of the moral necessity of World War II and the struggle to defeat fascism. Similarly, at a time when many of his contemporaries were apologizing for, if not celebrating, brutal regimes emerging in postcolonial states where liberation movements had thrown off an imperial yoke, Walzer insisted on holding these governments accountable for their misdeeds. And even as many on the left were working up a post-Marxist critique of neo-imperialist America as a malevolent force in international politics, Walzer insisted that some wars America might wage, including armed interventions for humanitarian purposes, could still be just.
Now, at the age of 83, he has produced a slender new volume, A Foreign Policy for the Left, consisting mostly of material reworked from articles of consequence he published previously, mostly in Dissent. This effort offers not comprehensive foreign-policy prescriptions but rather a comprehensive way of thinking about foreign policy from his point of view—that of a stalwart man of the left.