Murad Idris, in War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought (2019), critically deconstructs relationships between peace and war through an analysis of how peace operates polemically, parasitically, and provincially within the work of ten political thinkers. Idris argues that peace is often intertwined with insinuates, such as law, security, unity, friendship, and justice, and is treated as “a political concept, an ideal, and a morality” (2). Idris’s deconstruction problematizes peace, leading us to ask whose peace and which peace, since peace is not some universal ideal, but is always defined within situated, historical contexts. Peace discourse is always already tied up with violence and war, often producing racialized hierarchies and dehumanization.
Idris’s introduction outlines the three logics mentioned above. The argument is that these three logics “are internal to and constitutive of the ideal of peace.” The polemical structure of peace means, “Not only can peace be weaponized, but its idealization is, structurally and discursively, crafted as a weapon, with specific enemies in view, and honed against specific others” (7). Conceptions of peace have dynamically unfolded vis-à-vis “configurations of enmity [which] draw new contours of peace within constellations of insinuates and visions of the globe.” So, there is a need to look for alternatives to peace, particularly as a political idea, rather than a moral ideal, which he returns to in an epilogue.
The first chapter deconstructs Plato’s Laws, drawing on the discussion between Cleinias the Cretan and the Athenian Stranger concerning “two competing principles: that there is no peace, only war, and that peace exists, because war is waged for the sake of peace” (19). Idris argues that “Plato is showing how . . . acceptance of war conjoins peace to war, turns friendship into a virtue of war, presents ‘war for the sake of peace’ through the law, and secretes ‘unjust enemies’ on either side of the polis’s borders” (68). Idris shows that “Plato gives voice to schematizations of symmetry and of wholeness, as they intermingle with geostrategic concerns and theological forms . . . abstractions [which] delineate the boundaries of peace, but also open up to enmity and violence. The practices of friendship, the reach of law, and the polis’s spaces reinforce one another, for peace and for war” (71).
The second chapter juxtaposes Abu Nasr al-Fārābī and Thomas Aquinas, who both draw on Plato’s Athenian Stranger’s view that the “things of war . . . should be legislated for the sake of peace” (70). A “peace-lover” / “barbarous peace-haters” distinction emerges, but it is unsettled in discussions of how violence transforms those who use it—especially the peace-lover (72–73). For both Aquinas and al-Fārābī, “the virtuous guide and admonish others,” with license to mete out just punishment and the good intention to transform the enemy via war (121–22). However, both neglect the violent peace-lover’s transformation due to their focus on the “purity of the self, the purity of war’s causes and conduct, the purity of war through its distinctions, and the purity of war for the sake of one’s intention of peace, against those who one believes are warlike, those who one believes lack peace” (123).
An interlude addresses “themes about correcting the friend, punishing the enemy, waging war, or making peace with neighbors, [and] reflect[s] the aporetic qualities of intervention,” including that the consequences of correcting one’s neighbor remain undecidable (125). Idris addresses Ibn Ḥazm and al-Jāḥiẓ on friendship, especially disagreements about when it is proper to admonish and risk losing a friend. Though Desiderius Erasmus “sanctions other wars,” he follows on the need for war to be brief and a last resort, since war does not lead to peace (126–29).
Chapter 3 considers Erasmus’s historical context. Erasmus “constructed the Ottoman Empire as a threat,” against which he develops what Idris frames as a political theology pertaining to “peace, war, and the Turk” (134). Erasmus writes on war’s evils, yet builds hierarchies between war and peace with Turks or with Christians (135). Erasmus’s political theology presents Christians as the fulfillment of humanity and aims for the “conversion of Turks into Christians . . . through speech, or the performance of the W/word,” in the sense of “speech for peace” (175–76).
Chapter 4 addresses “the reconfiguration of peace through law against ‘outlaws’ and the relationship of the law’s moral economy to a political economy of seizures, war, commerce, and settler colonialism vis-à-vis extra-European spaces” in the work of Alberico Gentili and Hugo Grotius (179). Gentili and Grotius commonly see law as eternal, everywhere, and necessary; the law is never silent. Universal law reveals the superstition that there is one “human society,” which demonstrates how universalisms exclude lawless “outlaws” to the extent that both Gentili and Grotius justify settler colonialism’s land grabs in terms of “law, humanity, and peace” (212–13).
A second interlude notes emerging themes, such as “anthropology and geography,” “inheritance and normativity,” and “internal and external,” and how “barbarians, nomads, brothers, missionaries, and pirates, act as conceptual templates in discourses about peace and violence” (215). Four “intersections” emerge across the chapters. First is the tendency to elaborate a “morality of peace . . . in circumstances of geopolitical weakness and vulnerability,” which leads to the so-called “need to ‘enlighten’ all peoples and attain universal agreement for the sake of humanity” (216–17). Second is the tendency of “discourses of faith and faithlessness [to] place Turks, pirates, and barbarians outside peace and law” (217). Third, in relation to Ibn Khaldūn’s Muqaddima (Prolegomena), Idris argues that historical relations of power structure how “Western” and “non-Western” texts are canonized (219–20). Fourth, Samuel Pufendorf’s criticism that Thomas Hobbes misnames peace just like Plato’s Cleinias is addressed. However, Hobbes “describes every man as a savage beast” in such a way that men relate to one another like pirates, i.e., enemies of all (223–24). Hobbes generalizes “the law of nations,” reflecting a “war of the lawful against the lawless,” who are “pirates” in the forms of “states, mini-states, empires, families, and persons” (225).
Chapter 5 looks further into how Hobbes, in opposition to indigenous people in the Americas, “universalizes enmity, ends militant friendship, and theorizes law’s separation between the nightmares of war and the commodities of peace.” Meanwhile, Ibn Khaldūn “theorizes militant political friendship and its decay in the life of peace and luxury” in contrast to “the savage nomad of the desert” (225). Both Khaldūn and Hobbes “bind . . . peace and its morals to a political economy of development,” which ultimately shows that “neither the desire for commodious peace nor the projection that everyone shares this desire is outside political economies of war” (229–30). When peace is an ideal, “others of peace” result (260).
The sixth chapter looks at Sayyid Quṭb’s “vision of global Islamic expansion” and Immanuel Kant’s “vision of ‘democratic peace’ as a secular order of the world” (260–61). Perpetual, universal peace connects Kant’s and Quṭb’s respective condemnations of “European imperial exploitation” and “the United States [as] . . . a settler colony, built on war and extermination, that had joined the ranks of imperial powers” (262). Idris argues that their conceptions of universal, perpetual peace are never actualized, but instead each “authorizes war” (313).
An epilogue completes Idris’s book, reaffirming that “peace is a troubling ideal [which] operates parasitically, provincially, and polemically” (314). Idris argues that we should “rethink peace against its idealizations,” such as in terms of a “truce,” which “is one way of rethinking peace without insinuates” (318–19). Idris also calls for focusing on each actual, “particular peace,” rather than abstract notions of peace, and suggests seeing in peace an “ethics of separation” (320). These ways to rethink peace against its idealizations do not construe peace as a solution, universal, or ideal and are not exhaustive of other ways to rethink peace (321). In the end, Idris achieves his aim to introduce the possibility of not thinking of peace as an ideal.
The following symposium with Idris includes Hagar Kotef, Nadim Khoury, Peyman Vahabzadeh, and Chloe Ireton. Kotef discusses the contentious Israeli/Palestinian peace-process plan in terms of how Israel presents its violence as “for peace.” She suggests resituating Idris’s argument within the tradition of critiques of universal, democratic, liberal ideals alongside figures such as Du Bois and Fanon. Khoury considers the parasitical character of insinuates to endorse “just peace.” He asks whether the Israeli position during the 1993 Oslo negotiations in favor of “a simple peace” is a “peace without insinuates.” Vahabzadeh points to how Idris’s analysis could be extended to different areas of study, such as in semiotics and discourse analysis. Vahabzadeh also questions whether Idris’s suggested alternatives to peace can work outside of the current hegemonic world order. Ireton questions how the parasitical, provincial, and polemical logics would apply to slavery and the New World. Ireton also introduces possible ways to expand upon Idris’s work, notably asking what peace would have been idealized by soldiers who have fought and died in wars for peace. I won’t further forestall the discussion, and instead present this symposium as a reflection on Idris’s book as a timely work that offers an abundance of critical analysis, while revealing that we must cautiously address peace, since peace is almost always already entwined with war and violence.
Justice and Peace
War for Peace aims, and hits its marks, personally, politically, and academically. Growing up during the failed Israeli-Palestinian peace process, peace was central to my political upbringing. And what Idris astutely calls the “insinuates” of peace have shaped my experience of the process (e.g., an unjust peace, peace and security, peace of the brave, comprehensive peace, etc.) to the point where I could no longer differentiate peace from its insinuates, peace from its enemies, and peace from war.
Reading War for Peace, I now realize that this was not an accident. The confusion is essential to the way peace works. There is no such thing as peace by itself, Idris provocatively argues, and there has never been. Peace always appears within a constellation of ideas (insinuates) such as security, law, friendship, harmony, order, agreement, unity, concord, dignity, development, and prosperity. Rarely, if ever, does one encounter it alone. It is hard to disagree with Idris on this point, and yet this important claim has not received the critical attention it deserves—not until Idris’s thought-provoking book. So, for the remainder of this review, I would like to focus on the insinuates of peace.
According to Idris, these insinuates play an essential role in the theories and discourses of peace. While they vary (how many, what kind), insinuates operate according to a parasitical logic (2). The implied biological metaphor suggests that peace and its insinuates entertain host-parasite relations similar to those found in nature—trees and fungi, dogs and fleas, stomachs and worms. For Idris, it is mainly the host (peace) that benefits from its parasites (the insinuates of peace). Since peace rarely appears by itself, he argues, it must feed on insinuates such as security and justice in order to become desirable, providing the illusion that these insinuates constitute “peace’s real, intrinsic, and necessary positivity” (3). The parasitical structure also works the other way so that the insinuates themselves (security, justice, friendship, etc.) feed on the host. “Peace sanitizes them of their violence,” Idris writes, “and furnishes them with alternate justifications” (3). In this symbiotic relationship, entire constellations are formed that connect war to peace and blurs their boundaries.
Idris might resist that one takes the biological metaphor too literally. He does not want to suggest that there is a kind of ontological relationship between peace and its insinuates that resembles the biological relationship between host and parasite. The relationship between the two, he insists, cannot be essentialized. “Insinuates are a recurrent series of additions,” he argues, “they form an iterative constellation of supplement concepts; over time, some insinuates disappear, others are added, and the priorities among them shift” (3). Therefore, War for Peace sets to examine these different constellations historically, focusing on ten thinkers that span continents and centuries.
Idris also encourages his readers to look at the ways insinuates work in actual discourses on peace:
This genealogy is an invitation to look more skeptically, critically, and without civility, at those public intellectuals, politicians, scholars, and world leaders who demand peace of others. It is an invitation to ask whether the polemical, provincial, and parasitical logics . . . are at play when we hear those all-too-common demands that everyone, or some, conform to peace or demonstrate their devotion to and love of peace. (314)
I want to take up this invitation and the first question I want to ask is: are all insinuates equal? And here I mean normatively equal? I expect that the answer is no, because Idris insists that there is no independent moral standard by which we can evaluate these insinuates. Any attempt to distinguish amongst insinuates is always “provincial” and “polemical”—marked by the spaces we speak from, motivated by the spaces we seek to dominate, and aimed at the enemies we wish to defeat. If we are always operating within constellations of peace, I would then ask: Am I not to choose my insinuates? Against an imperial peace, should I not summon an anti-imperial peace? Against an oppressive peace, can I not call for an emancipatory one? Against an unjust peace, should I not brand a just one? I ask these questions in the spirit of an agonistic politics, one that I believe informed the ways many socialists, feminists, anti-colonialists mobilized for peace in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and continue to do so today within critical peace studies.
Here again, I expect Idris to answer in the negative, because in the introduction and conclusion, he reintroduces the truce as a preferable alternative, directly challenging mainstream thinking about peace—from perpetual peace, to positive peace, and peacebuilding. The truce, for Idris, is a “peace without insinuates” (319). It is not normative suggestion (9), but a kind of ethic, one that teaches us to see peace as limited in time and in space.
I understand how the insinuates of peace have forged hierarchical orders that have historically legitimized a lot of violence. Idris shows this convincingly in the writings of Plato, Hobbes, Kant, Qutb, and others. I also understand that the removal of insinuates is meant to lay bare the grammar of peace—the violence it enables, the asymmetries it creates, and the silences it imposes. However, I am not convinced that the truce (a peace without insinuates) necessarily offers anything different from the constellations of peace with insinuates.
It seems that Idris is mainly concerned with the additive dimension of insinuates (what kind of violence is committed in the name of peace when we add friendship, security, law, order, etc.). Does subtracting insinuates create similar problems? What kind of violence, dehumanization, asymmetries and sanitization are enabled by the removing (rather than adding) insinuates? What kinds of violence, silences, and enmities are created by de-parasiting peace?
I ask these questions with a specific insinuate in mind—justice—and a specific peace process—in Palestine/Israel. Both issues have generated entire literatures, so I cannot address them in detail. I find the case useful because a major disagreement between Palestinians and Israelis is the insinuate “just” added to peace. Many in the Israeli peace camp preferred “a simple peace” whereas a number of Palestinians have insisted on a “just peace.” For example, Yossi Beilin, an Israeli politician who was highly involved in the negotiations that lead to the Oslo Accords in 1993, insisted that “the concept of Just Peace is not only unnecessary, but may also cause harm, and it is therefore best to avoid using it.” This strikes me as a peace without insinuates (a peace without justice). “The term Just Peace is redundant,” continues Beilin, “but its problem lies not in its redundancy, but in the accompanying concept it introduces onto the stage—‘unjust peace.’ The concept of ‘unjust peace’ creates a wide margin for resistance to peace, claiming that it is unjust, thus causing injustice to those who pay the price for lack of peace.” Here I see Beilin doing the very kind of work that Idris criticizes—distinguishing the friends from the foes of peace and thus sanitizing different kinds of violence, masking asymmetries, and providing excuses for new kinds of war. However, this work is done through the removal of insinuates (especially the insinuate of justice) and the insistence of “simply peace.” The injustice of “a simple peace” explains why so many in the Palestinian camp call for a “just peace” that addresses the structural, historical, and ongoing injustices Israel has inflicted on Palestinians since its inception in 1948.
Genealogies of Violence and the Question of Acting in War for Peace
In War for Peace, Murad Idris provides a fascinating and compelling study of the conceptual constructs that have been holding war and peace in oppositional relations across both Western and Islamic bodies of knowledge and philosophy. Through meticulous readings of select but key works in the areas—from the Greek Plato 2,500 years ago to the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb in the twentieth century—the study collapses the various binarisms (rather than dualisms) that have been constructed around the two notions. Idris’s hermeneutical refusal pays off as he succeeds to reveal the conceptual interdependence of war and peace, and he remains steadfast in suspending the presuppositions upon which each thinker’s conceptualization of the two concepts is founded. The foundations that maintain war and peace as contraries or opposites, Idris suggests, are laid on shifting sands. All peace, he submits, has been in place for the purpose of an apparently imminent war, and, one way or another, as the impending war’s preparatory stage. And these wars, of course, are waged in the name of peace. Idris’s thesis is bold but tangibly realistic: one needs to have a glimpse at the Western powers’ liberal-imperialist campaigns in the Middle East just in the past couple of decades (and not, for the moment, on how British and French imperialisms carved out today’s Middle East through the fall of the Ottoman Empire) and their destabilizing efforts and regime changes in the region, military campaigns and economic wars waged in the name of global and regional peace (for whom?). Peace is indeed a “violent ideal” concealing its violence by attributing it to its apparent contrary. Peace is a “troubling ideal” (xiii–xiv) one that “authorizes war and sanitizes violence” (314). A Nietzschean streak—that the “revered things are insidiously involved with their opposites” (314) informs the study (xiii). “The language of peace has also worked to pacify and delegitimize protests against political oppression, economic inequality, and racial injustice” (xv).
The study’s sophisticated readings and arguments can in themselves be the subject of various reviews, and that should prove a worthwhile effort in its own right. I surmise that at least some of his readings, unconventional as they are, go against the grain of mainstream scholarship on these subjects, which might bring in some controversy (mind you, no serious study is without it), and yet this is precisely why Idris’s study is important: it collapses the long-held dualisms that inform much of Western philosophy—a legacy of Christianity’s influence on European secular Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment thinking, the sustained extent of which continues to strike me as an outsider to, and stranger in, Western contemplative plateaus. That said, it is not my intention here to probe any specific reading of any particular thinker in this book. I am more interested in having a dialogue with this book, or to be precise, in the conceptual work that has led Idris to his hermeneutical master key—one that opens new horizons before thought.
There is rich potential in Idris’s study. The book is intent upon revealing an otherwise concealed and neglected genealogy of the three logics in the works of seven Western and three Muslim thinkers who were in fact in historical dialogue with one another and bound, to varying extents, by the philosophical tradition founded by ancient Greek “love of wisdom”—even thinkers as “radical” as Sayyid Qutb. It is important to note that the three Muslims thinkers in this study (al-Farabi, Ibn Khaldun, and Sayyid Qutb) were specifically Middle East and North African (MENA) Muslims (with some shared civilizational traits) and not the representative of the diverse Islamic world or thought. The book’s selective asymmetry aside, it is important to note that the discourse of “peace” in Idris’s study—in all of its fascinating transmutations across diverse thinkers—has spread, in this particular genus, out of classical Greece. Clearly, peace as such is a universal idea, with its particular Greek variation representing only a subset—albeit hegemonic. Naturally, as a side note, one could launch similar studies of the philosophies of ancient Asia, particularly in China and India at the time when these philosophies were unalloyed by conceptions of war and peace resulting from Greek-Persian and Christian-Muslim conflicts. Likewise, the philosophies of indigenous peoples of Americas could be the subject of study to see if the Greek watershed still holds in face of the radically incommensurable Turtle Island indigenous thought. Out of particular interest for me personally, one could also study, in light of Idris’s work, the Persian epic Shahnameh (Book of Kings, written 977–1010 CE), by Abul-Qasem Ferdowsi (940–1020), a poem of fifty thousand distiches (or couplets), that offers the mythological and historical origins of pre-Islamic Iran (before 651 CE), a work that introduces a specific conception of humanity based on ontological strife expressing itself in episodes of war between enemies that are blood relatives, only with intermittent peace between these episodes when justice periodically reigns. These comments indicate the potential extensions of Idris’s study into the radically heterogenous.
Idris offers a critical thesis, advancing the idea that “peace” functions through three logics. Parasitically, peace hangs itself to other concepts such as friendship or security. Provincially, peace promotes a universal idea that masks particular desires. Polemically, it is deployed in the face of the radically antagonist in order to justify hostilities (2). The “insinuate relocates peace to its discursive terrain” (3), co-implying war and peace (9). Yes, parasitically, it is required “to frame the recurring debate over whether peace should be understood ‘positively’ . . . or ‘negatively’” (2). The asymmetrical polarization of war and peace subsumes peace under potential and actual states of war (37). It leads to “a denial of how the things of peace enable war, or even the things of war and peace are the same” (226). Idris’s study of insinuates yearns for semiotics and discourse analysis and yet he achieves it without them!
If, as Idris shows in this book, the logics of peace tether it to concepts other than peace itself (parasitically, provincially, and polemically), and only through those logics peace is connected to war through a constructed opposition, then we are gifted with three observations that are consistent with Idris’s thesis.
First, “peace” stands out as an empty signifier whose signifieds are overdetermined contextually and historically through a chain of already accessible and vastly comprehensible and thus shared signifieds. One could argue, quite rightly, that within, say, Western imperialist excursions in the MENA region, peace has in fact become a floating signifier in the sense that “bringing peace” to MENA is hegemonically constructed through a chain of signifiers including regime changes, providing strategic “security” for Israel, garnering neoliberal “stability” in the region that is a precondition for unfettered capitalist access to MENA resources and markets, and ensuring the control of Western companies over petroleum. Stated differently, a number of (inorganic) substitutions make the war for peace in MENA justifiable. Idris’s triangular logics explain why this is the case. In this particular context, the floating signifier of peace underdetermines peace as improved human development index, social security, social justice-oriented government programs, and reduction of state-societal violence—all of which refer to social justice, to varying degrees of course, as the conditions for peace. Whence arises Idris’s parasitical structure of peace. The overdetermination, though, is usually a political decision as well. That is why no peace is ever “peaceful enough” (xv). Yet peace must remain an empty signifier precisely because it can become such a malleable idea. Which brings me to the next observation.
Second, peace lingers in the nebulous epistemic region between notion and concept. Peace stands out as a universal idea shared by culturally diverse aggregates of humans on the notional plateaus of communities’ weltanschauungen. Precisely because of its rootedness in human collective experience, peace remains a notion and only thus perpetuating—that is, through cognitive imprecision, which interestingly renders peace a matter for philosophical reflections and acclaimed accuracy. Like other human constructs, notional peace is transformed into philosophical concept. From notion to concept, vagueness is harnessed by asserted exactitude, partly because the experience behind the notion is always a particular experience. What philosophy achieves is to render the notional construct of the particular experience into the universal, catch-all, and wholesale concept. Idris is right about peace’s provincial structure, and again, philosophical conceptualization fixes peace and war to the city’s attempts to defend itself and defeat its Others. So, conceptualization is also already a political decision. Peace remains an empty signifier.
Third and last, if the two points that I extracted from Idris’s argument hold, then we inevitably arrive at the observation that peace has no essence of its own. Its being tethered to other things means that peace can only have an absent presence. This absence holds unless we come up with some positively ascertainable notion or concept that for the time being and within a specific context can give peace a substance, a positive value, thus rendering it desirable. Idris’s exposing the logics shows precisely this. But on further probing, it turns out that peace’s essential lack, which prevents it from being present in an autarkic fashion, indicates its radical negativity. The ontological instability of peace, therefore, makes it both elusive and desirable and thereby ontologically dependent upon war. Stated in common parlance, peace is the absence of war, but war has many, many manifestations. One’s peace is another’s war. And yet, since war needs to justify itself in the name of peace, the foundational violence of war rests with peace and its ontological instability.
Now we are left with this “troubling ideal” that resonates with us all and yet justifies imperialism, interventions, unilateralism, repression of social protests and national liberation movements today. Idris’s concluding position is interesting: “I argued that parasitical, provincial, and polemical functions are internal to idealization of peace. However, they are not inherent to the idea” (318, my emphasis). This is due to the “untenable desire for mastery” (319) and attempts at securing the futures that, as Hannah Arendt shows us, are essentially open, due to which in turn, the outcomes of our actions remain unpredictable. My argument is that the three functions may not be inherent to peace, but it is inherent for peace to fasten itself to insinuates and logics (including my list of social justice-oriented indices above). Precisely because Idris forecloses on my argument, he can offer three alternatives to the dominant concepts of peace that “renounce and unmake the fiction of purity” (319): truce, particular peace, ethics of separation (319–21). I understand that the common denominator of the alternatives is to take peace out of its “ideal” and idealistic shell and push peace to manageable particularities and contextualities. Ideally (pun intended), these “peace alternatives” offer particularistic solutions to conflict situations, thereby delinking peace from war in the traditional-theoretical sense when peace served as the war’s “preparatory” state of affairs, justified through the logics. The condition of possibility of these alternatives, of course, is peace itself—a dominant conception of peace that Idris meticulously deconstructs. In other words, truce, particular peace, and separation inevitably remain subsets of the seemingly immortal and hegemonic ideal of “pure” peace. If we agree that peace is an essentially negative idea (which annuls the claim that logics are inherent to peace), that there is no positively ascertainable substance to it, that because of this characteristic, peace needs to be riveted to logics that become handy in selling the ideal and justifying wars in the name of peace (Idris’s thesis), then would the alternatives not also represent an attempt at substantiating peace in “positive” terms within the seemingly inescapable existing liberal-imperialist hegemonic structure that, having inherited an entire tradition, negates the negativity of peace simply because “peace as such” does not serve its purposes?
I think what I ask here is this: given the revolutionary outcomes of Idris’s deconstruction of the “troubling ideal” of peace, should we seek solace in offering alternatives within the existing, hegemonic world order? Perhaps the alternative peace should be sought elsewhere.
Response for War for Peace Symposium
Why does the idea of peace blur so easily into war across the history of political thought? This provocative question informs Murad Idris’s War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought, a bold and ambitious monograph that unmasks the violence that resides within idealizations of peace across space and time in Western and Islamic thought. This compelling book explores the genealogy of idealizations of peace across the works of ten Western and Islamic thinkers, who each “make visible the questions of power that are crucial for theorizing peace, and each take up some version of the claim that ‘war is for the sake of peace.’” Writing from an early twenty-first-century vantage point in which “the experience of perpetual war for the sake of perpetual peace has become ordinary,” the author unveils how the ideal of peace authorizes war throughout the history of Western and Islamic thought. How and why idealizations of peace authorize war, and who has authority in any given context to determine the friends and enemies of peace are the questions that animate the central arguments of this book.
The protagonists of the monograph are a cast of thinkers rarely considered under the same analytical lens, namely Plato, Al- Fārābī, Aquinas, Erasmus, Hugo Grotius, Alberico Gentilli, Ibn Khaldūn, Hobbes, Immanuel Kant and Sayyid Quṭb, each of whom have been “inserted into civilizational narratives that construct the West and Islam—they have become cultural icons, feeding into the various forms that the Islam/West opposition takes and how this opposition itself is inflected by the polarization between peace and war or good war and bad war, good peace and bad peace.” Idris avoids a discussion of these thinkers as “cultural ambassadors in dialogue,” instead opting to interweave an analysis of the polemical, provincial, and parasitical elements of peace in their works by reading these thinkers’ approaches to peace “through and against” one another. In doing so, Idris unveils the universality of idealizations about peace, and the violence that it authorizes across different times and places. This reading of ideas thematically across different pairs of thinkers, who were not necessarily in conversation with each other, highlights how idealizations of peace share a universality: peace always operates as a weapon that authorizes war and violence, and the existence of an idealization of peace necessitates definitions of both the enemies of peace and the friends of peace.
Reading thinkers’ theorizations of peace through and against each other brings into stark relief the provincial nature of idealizations of peace. As Idris notes, theorizations of peace reflect assumptions about “who counts as peace’s primary subjects, its candidates, and its exclusion, about which places are peace’s epicentres, and its peripheries, and its voices and which zones are marked for peace, and which for pacification, which are sources of legitimate warfare and which are sites our of which legitimate violence arises.” In other words, mapping a genealogy of peace illustrates how the definitions that constitute particular idealizations of peace are never stable, but change depending on the context. Assumptions of peace as a universal moral ideal that have developed in particular streams of Western thought since the eighteenth century, for example, bear little resemblance to earlier idealizations of peace and how peace is constituted in other times and places. By provincializing idealizations of peace, Idris aims to “disrupt the way that peace constitutes the moral purity of Europe, the West, and humanity.” In so doing, Idris takes up Dipesh Chakrabarty’s important challenge “to provincialize Europe and its ontologies, here by focusing on a contemporary ideal, its moralities and its allegedly transhistorical, universalist global form.”
The significance of provincializing peace is most evident in chapter 5, “Colonizing Frontiers: Ibn Khaldūn, Hobbes, and Commodious Violence,” in which Idris meticulously reads “Hobbes and Ibn Khaldūn through and against one another, to elaborate denials of the co-production of war and peace, or the politics of when peace is idealized and by whom.” Provincializing peace brings to light how idealizations of peace “allows some to cast themselves as superior, advanced, cultured, or civilised. It justifies certain kinds of hostility and refuses others, but it does so in ways that often reveal particular interests, anxieties, and desires ––ones that make war-waging peace-lovers the privileged reference of these frames.” The discussion of Hobbes’s vision of peace and war in the Anglo Americas caused me to reflect on the power of discourses of peace in the Spanish Americas, and how, for example, Iberian discourses of pacification of certain groups of indigenous Americans authorized bloody wars, such as the forty-year Chichimeca war (1550–1590) that colonists in New Spain waged against the Chichimecas in the northern New Spain in the name of pacification. A host of Castilian, Indigenous Americans, Black Africans, and people of African descent served as soldiers in the four-decade-long war; such soldiers would later petition the Castilian crown for royal privileges in return for their roles in pacifying the Chichimecas.
Responding to Idris’s invitation to “look more critically at those who claim to speak in the name of peace, at the ostensibly universal desire for peace, and the dominant grammars of peace—that is to see peace as the problem,” I wondered whether Idris might reflect further on the relationship between discourses of peace and just war, and the legitimacy of slavery, especially in the context of the establishment of the the trade in enslaved Africans in the Atlantic world that forcibly displaced over twelve million people from Africa to labor in European imperial domains in the Americas. Developing a more nuanced understanding of the often-contradictory ways that justifications of the enslavement of certain people, but not others, operated in Western political thought is pressing, and perhaps Idris’ work might invite us to consider how ideas about peace that authorized wars and violence, might be helpful for developing a more nuanced understanding of the discourses that authorized enslavement in Western political thought. In other words, Idris’s work might inspire scholars to pause and analyze the provincial nature of ideas about peace in tandem with discourses of just war, and the legitimacy of slavery. Did an idealized vision of peace authorize enslavement in the way that the ideal authorizes war? More broadly, how could Idris’s interventions on peace (and the political work that it does) help us to think about varied discourses of slavery (often diverse and contradictory) that became pervasive in the early modern world, and especially, but not limited to the Atlantic context?
One of the attributes of this monograph is Idris’s impressive linguistic dexterity across languages and deep reading of thinkers who are rarely considered under the same analytical lens, or even read by the same scholars; historians of political thought often reside in intellectual traditions that engage with either Western or Islamic authors and rarely with both. In this respect, the book is an important and welcome addition to the history of political thought, as the work pushes against a Western/Islamic opposition, and demonstrates how peace had different meanings, textures, and lives across space and time, while being universally linked to violence. And yet, as a historian who traces political ideas “from below,” often across diverse social history archives, I wondered whether archives beyond the texts authored by ten male thinkers from Western and Islamic political thought might shed light on broader genealogies of peace. While reflecting on the intricate link between peace and how the ten thinkers deployed the concept to authorize war and violence, I could not help but wonder about those soldiers who risked (and often lost) their lives throughout history in wars that were authorized by peace. How would they have idealized peace? Would the diverse cast of Indigenous American, free Black, and Castilian men who fought for the Castilian crown in the four-decade-long Chichimeca War in late sixteenth-century New Spain have seen themselves as fighting for a peace that authorized the war? In other words, what could we learn about the diverse genealogies of peace and the political work that peace performs from a social history archive? What would a genealogy of the idea of peace look like if we traced idealizations and understandings of peace among historical actors who did not necessarily put pen to paper?
Idris has offered a thoroughly thought-provoking monograph that asks us to reflect on how the name peace “orders understandings of political solutions, and who can ponder such solutions and invoke peace in the process.” Idris demonstrates the violence inherent in idealizations of peace. The book does not seek to find a way for peace to live without violence. Instead, as Idris notes “Peace is not the solution. It is a problem. This is a genealogy of peace to move beyond peace.” This call to move beyond peace perhaps hopes to find an interlocutor in contemporary political leaders who continue to “wage perpetual wars in the name of perpetual peace.” For historians engaged in archives of political thought and social lives, Idris’s work offers a timely invitation to explore how varied and distinct idealizations of peace were tied to war and across different times and spaces, and to more seriously consider peace as a category of analysis.
War for Peace
There was one peace that kept popping into my mind as I read Idris’s War for Peace; one “peace” that, as the many “peace’s” Idris describes, has been more violent than many states of non-peace (for example, cease-fire); one peace that, as Idris so accurately shows, has often worked to foster, support, and instigate war and at the very least was never the opposite of war; one peace that, as he claims, has been historically tangled with, or expressed itself via the Muslim question, itself a question of who is “peaceful” and whose resistance or struggles are always seen as violence. I kept trying to push this peace away, since, as Idris rightly insists, we must resist the urge of exceptionalism. Accordingly, perhaps, this particular peace is not mentioned in the book even once, but I wonder whether the trope of exceptionalism itself does not come to insinuate that this peace has been hounding Idris too, as he was writing the book—a book which is less engaged with the present and more with a reading of the history of political thought, even though it undoubtedly has the present in mind.
I do not want to allow this peace to take over my reading here, and yet it is the peace into which I grew up, the peace I learned to crave, the peace that has shaped the political identities of myself and so many of those near me, the peace that has never arrived, and whose eternal deferral has come to define its very meaning: it was always a-peace-to-come. Idris refers to the “parasitical structure” of peace to point to the fact that “peace” often arrives in tandem, adjunct to something else, such as “security,” “order,” or “friendships.” This combination, he argues, “intensifies the potential of peace for radical self-subversion . . . and for its blurring into war.” (4) The “parasitical” concept that came in tandem with “my” peace did the same, as it was the very declaration of this peace’s futurity, that is: the declaration of its absence; it has always been a “peace process” (or in its current formulation a “peace plan.”) I refer here to the peace process that presumably sought to solve the Israeli/Palestinian “conflict.”
Growing up in Israel was growing up on the desire for peace alongside the notion that this very desire is what defines “us” vis-à-vis the Palestinians and other Arabs (presumably the enemies not just of us but, as Idris notes, of peace itself). “We” kill by accident, we often tell ourselves or others, as collateral damage, or because we have no choice; “they” kill because they are bloodthirsty, because they are savages, because they have no value for human lives—and it does not matter that we kill using F16s, tanks, and some of the most advanced weaponry systems in the world, bombarding entire families, flattening entire neighborhoods, push an entire nation to starvation, kill from the air and the sea and the land, and they kill often using knives, or stones, or semi-improvised missiles, or explosive devices that have to take their own lives as they take others. It is still us who are peaceful and they who want war. Therefore “they” are constantly required to demonstrate their peacefulness (the Trump plan is just the latest articulation of this demand, with Israel given the right to withdraw from future negotiations if it deems Palestinians have failed to provide security for Israel and Israelis—whilst Israel, importantly, is not required to withdraw all military presence from the West Bank, only to make effort to “minimize” it; the security of Palestinians is thus not even part of this equation of “peace and security”). This requirement importantly goes in tandem with the framing of every action Palestinians take in order to resist their oppression as violent, even if it is explicitly part of a politics of nonviolence (the “diplomatic violence” with which the PA engages when seeking recognition from the UN, or the “economic violence” BDS is declared to be, etc.).
Those who have already read War for Peace can hear in these descriptions many echoes to his arguments. I am often struck by the conviction Israelis assume when they insist on this distinction between their own peacefulness and the Palestinians’ presumed thirst for war at the same time that their state bombards unarmed demonstrators for merely walking “too close” to a fence or a wall; when their state demolishes homes on the people in them; when their state generates increasing death tolls which cannot be compared with the death tolls they pay. But the concept of peace as Idris unfolds it brings these tensions to a clear relief, as it shows the long history of the symbiotic existence of war and peace.
The book does so through a genealogical analysis of some key thinkers of peace/war, whose untraditional juxtaposition is sometimes a value in and of itself. These include Kant alongside Sayyd Qutb (who is perhaps most known today for providing some of the ideological foundations of al Qaeda); AlFārābī alongside Aquinas, or Ibn Khaldūn alongside Hobbes. This genealogy reveals the conceptual roots of the war elements and war language that still order our international and national relations: from the notions of militarized societies in which people “belong to war,” (25) to the differences between symmetric and asymmetric wars we find already in Plato; from the idea of “just war” as a “bridge” between war and peace, (180) to the idea of “faithless” enemies—or indeed theological ones (i.e., precisely of faith, albeit the “wrong” one)—as what underlines colonial wars.
War for Peace provides us with a history as well as a structure in which peace and war are very much inseparable. Not only has peace been an empty rhetoric (some would say a facade, a lie) used by people who dishonestly speak in the name of peace to justify military violence. Idris’s argument goes deeper than that and has to do with “the inner structure of peace” (8). Beyond a critique of the dishonest use of the term, then, Idris shows how the very concept of peace is thoroughly entangled with the practice of war. Or as he puts it: “Not only can peace be weaponized, but its idealization is, structurally and discursively crafted as a weapon, with specific enemies in view, and honed against specific others” (7). Peace is the very framework that keeps authorizing war, even though war is presumably what it seeks to eliminate. Peace, Idris tells us, is being sought in war and war—endless wars, from Plato’s time until today—are being waged for the sake of peace. The two are therefore caught in a bind that cannot be reduced to antagonism or constituting oppositions, since they keep flow in and out of each other.
Idris’s analysis of Plato’s Laws can provide a quick example for this claim. Idris points to the fact that Cleinias, one of the dialog’s protagonists, uses “peace” “to describe those times when ‘a state of war’ does not exist quite as much as when it really does” (37). This means that war permeates peace, defines it; not as its other, but rather as its temporary suspension: war always exists in peace, yet rather than concrete battles, “peace” means war’s potentiality. Or perhaps war exists in peace as “the known disposition thereto” as Hobbes’s famous formulation goes. In this sense we have in Cleinias an inversion of Hobbes’s state of nature, wherein “war” is used to define those times—all times outside of sovereignty[/footnote]Yet we should bear in mind that the peace brought by the institution of the Leviathan is merely the internal peace, which does not preclude, and perhaps even necessitates, wars between sovereign states, or between those states and non-sovereign communities as part of imperial expansion.1—where peace cannot “exist quite as much as when it really does,” to return to Idris’s observation. These two opposite formulations do not merely show, albeit from two opposite trajectories, that war is the always-already potentiality of peace (one defines “peace” as the suspended presence of war; the other uses the term “war” to describe a state when peace is always threatened by this suspended presence). The ability to slide seamlessly between these two formulations is yet another manifestation of the degree to which these seemingly opposing concepts are in fact meshed with each other. And in this entanglement, war always triumphs, because no matter which side is presented as the temporary suspension of the other, the outcome is that everyone is called upon to “act as if he is already at war” (37). The peace-seeking society is thus militarized through and through, and through Idris’s long genealogy we see there is no contradiction at play here.
In some of its elements, the book belongs to a rich tradition that offers a critique of universal, democratic, and liberal ideals. Specifically in regard to “peace,” the work of Fanon and Du Bois have offered similar understandings of peace as a value which—to draw on Fanon’s critique of Western values—is always “stated with such violence.” Whilst Idris’s analysis is much more systematic in this regard, and unfolds a much wider theoretical and historical arc, it would have benefitted from a clearer placement within this tradition. Most importantly, such a placement may have been able to mark a clearer political trajectory for the book’s important arguments. While War for Peace begins with a clearer political path, it ends with a less determined one. This—it seems to me—has to so with a conceptual ambivalence subtending the book; an apt ambivalence that we find in Fanon and Du Bois as well. In his analysis, Idris moves between two modes of critique: one is a critique of “peace” as it has been historically conceived and used throughout a wide history of political thought, and hence, one may say, of the meaning of peace as such. The other insists on seeing these uses as contingencies, leaving space for a different peace that is still to come. And while keeping both modes of critique open is crucial, sometimes these two modes of critique are blurred and at times they do not easily reside next to each other. In this movement between the two lies the political and ethical implications of the book, as well as one of its meta-theoretical questions: What we do with the political concepts that keep betraying us? Idris’s uneasiness in answering the question is when and how politics may lose its grip. I did appreciate Idris’s carefulness in refusing to end the book with identify clear alternatives to the politics of “peace.” Those would have probably crumpled under any careful scrutiny. In this sense his ambivalence is an important one. And yet at times I wanted more, and it seems to me that a better anchoring in the above mentioned theoretical traditions could have allowed this ambivalence to travel a slightly more secure path.
4.22.21 | Murad Idris
Response to Hagar Kotef
I am grateful to Hagar Kotef for her productive and insightful reading of War for Peace. Kotef captures the book’s arguments, and she powerfully draws out the book’s relevance for theorizing contemporary settler colonialism in Palestine and for the rhetoric of the so-called peace process and its recent mutations. She also hones in on the relationship of the book to Fanon, Du Bois, and anticolonialism in order to inquire about the political horizons that the book might open up.
War for Peace focused on ten thinkers across the history of political thought, from Plato to Immanuel Kant and Sayyid Qutb. It examined the discursive operations of peace as a universalized and moralized ideal. In the preface, I indicated some contemporary contexts that its analysis can illuminate, alluding to these at different points in the book and again in the epilogue. These contexts include the mobilization of peace talk in the Global War on Terror and the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, Israeli rhetoric about peace and Palestine, and the way that contemporary sites of protest, dissent, and resistance—across Occupy, Cairo, Baltimore, Ferguson—have been continually reframed through an insatiable demand to be “peaceful.” Other commentators have observed further resonances, ranging from Gandhi’s and Bin Laden’s theorizations of peace and violence to Trump’s rhetoric about Iran. The participants in this forum similarly draw out the relevance of the book’s arguments for Iberian discourses of slavery in the Americas (Ireton), slogans of peace with justice or without justice in colonial contexts (Khoury), “bringing peace to the Middle East” (Vahabzadeh), and here, Israeli discourses of peace (Kotef). The phenomena in question, in other words, are relevant to various contexts, and other sites will resonate with different readers.
Palestine and Israel appear at the margins of War for Peace, in the preface (xv), in a handful of footnotes and somewhat more allusively at various points. I agree with Kotef that the Israeli production of peace as a basic desire, and indeed as the desire that marks “humanity,” is bound up with the polemical, parasitical, and provincial structures of dehumanization, racialized hierarchy, and normalized violence that War for Peace examines. (As I write in my response to Khoury, the transfiguration of the question of Palestine into a question of “peace” has been part of an entire machinery of dispossession.) I am indebted to Kotef for noting that, when reading War for Peace, she was thinking of the context of the “peace process” and the frame of “conflict” in Israel and Palestine and, indeed, for modeling how to make such connections. The book’s arguments can shed some light on how peace operates here and elsewhere: from the weaponization of “peace” as a moral ideal that dehumanizes through racialized ideas about enemies who do not “love” peace, to the temporalities of dispossession inscribed in the deferral and anticipation of peace; from pitting “peace and security” against “peace and justice” without interrogating the work that “peace” does, to how the fictions of symmetry and size elide the asymmetries of colonizer and colonized. Kotef eloquently draws out how Israeli public discourse is framed by these structures.
The framing of the book’s individual chapters also lends itself to unmasking the politics of peace in contemporary discourse. The chapters address the oppositions between well-ordered peace and disordering violence, the peaceful and the warlike, just war and illegitimate aggression, peace-lovers and peace-haters, history’s saviors and theological enemies, the lawful and the lawless, civilized peace and uncivilized war, and productive war and purposeless violence. The naturalization of these oppositions is fundamental to the structures of idealization that the book examined and fundamental to the discursive life of peace today. These oppositions derive from and fortify the idealization of peace; they reflect how peace is discursively embedded in, for example, aesthetics that demand symmetry of like-to-like and those that recast the enemy as an incomplete part, or in racialized hierarchies that designate some places as epicenters of peace and legitimate war, others as sites of pacification and sources of illegitimate aggression. The chapters explored the idealization of peace through domains that are activated differently across contexts: ideas of symmetry, the location of violence, the divine purpose of the enemy, the permanence of the law, development and prosperity, historical progress and modern statehood.
I wanted War for Peace to cover the range that it does—Plato to Kant and Qutb, broad in some ways and very specific in others—because the book is about a morality that is pervasive and unacknowledged. Today, this morality is global, and its tensions and paradoxes have deep historical roots. Kotef models how to take these arguments and themes and trace their lives in a contemporary context. Reading the book’s arguments and resonances in terms of these broad structures, without letting it be determined by one place, also overcomes two interpretive dangers and defensive postures tied to the analysis of peace. On the one hand, the book refuses to stop at the idea that appeals to peace are merely “hypocritical” or “ideological.” Focusing on rhetoric in one place can make it easy to deflect attention from the idealization of peace and to think that the particular discourses are “abuses” of a universal ideal. The defensive maneuver would then relocate the analysis to the beliefs and intentions of those who appeal to peace, rather than the structure of peace itself as a morality. Because the idiom of peace does form a public relations and national apparatus, it can too easily shift the terrain to a discourse analysis of how specific politicians, figures, or organizations deploy peace strategically and whether they do so in good faith. It thereby can shield the idealization and moralization from critique. Second, centering one place, be it Israel or the United States, can provide cover for appeals to peace in a different way, namely by normalizing their weaponization of “peace” and by locating it as in keeping with the “tradition” of political theory. I wanted my book’s genealogy to simultaneously push against notions of tradition and inheritance and to carve out space for unmasking how peace performs different kinds of parasitical, provincial, and polemical work across a variety of contexts. The book’s arguments needed to be neither disconnected from the world nor focused on the particularities of one place, neither about ahistorical laws nor an intellectual history of how some thinkers thought about peace. (There is of course much more to be said about being a political theorist who is critical of peace as a moralized ideal in contemporary discourse and the history of political thought and who is also Palestinian, as well as the constraints and compulsions that come with all this in American academia generally and political theory specifically.)
War for Peace attempted to thread those multiple needles. It aims to provide the groundwork for tracing the broad theoretical architecture of the logics that wind through discourses and sites and for seeing the particularities, differences, and permutations across them. It enables readers to do the kind of connective and disruptive work that points to resonances, disconnections, and constellations in and across contexts—as Kotef models in her response—and that thereby come with alternating positions of critique for recognizing points of fissure or intensification.
It is with this sense of connectivity, disconnection, and interruption that the book’s final chapter resituates Immanuel Kant as a philosopher embedded in empire and Sayyid Qutb as a theorist of colonialism, race, and capitalism. The chapter recovers Sayyid Qutb’s pre-prison international thought: a Qutb whose anticolonialism locates him in relation to other anticolonial projects and thinkers from the Global South that tackled colonialism, capitalism, whiteness, knowledge production, and a federation of postcolonial states. Such thinkers include Du Bois and Fanon (304, 305). The idealization of peace thus tracks the global color line and inflects the opposition between colonizer and colonized as one of “values.” Given the book’s scope, part of its challenge was to think with theorists such as Fanon and Du Bois, but to also recognize the long history of the idealization of peace, that it precedes and exceeds colonialism and has been sometimes uncritically championed by anticolonial and decolonial thinkers. The chapter challenged readers to understand Qutb the Islamist in this frame, as part of a tradition of anticolonial thinking. It thereby invites readers to overcome the normalized silos of political theory and public culture that hive off Islam as something separate and altogether different and to think about the location of anticolonialism and anticolonial thought differently.
In this vein, I agree with Kotef that the work of provincializing today’s dominant values is integral to anticolonialism and that it resonates with Fanon’s thought (xviii, 10, 305). Although Fanon does not say much about peace, there is much to recommend bringing Fanon into this frame of interrogating who idealizes peace, when and how and to facilitate or conceal which structures; this is also to say that it can helpfully disrupt the dominant Anglo-American framings of Fanon in terms of a moralized and abstract opposition between violence/nonviolence. Du Bois, I think, offers a different set of possibilities and interventions. I am, incidentally, writing elsewhere on how Du Bois and Qutb offer pieces of a critique of the idealization of peace in relation to whiteness, colonialism, and capitalism, though their critiques reinscribed the status of peace. Du Bois is interesting to me because, and writing here very provisionally, he discusses peace in roughly three ways. The first is skepticism about white appeals to peace as hypocritical, narrow, and self-serving. The second is his critical analysis of how war and peace track “the color line,” or how the peace of colonialism results in wars of colonizer against colonized, colonizers against each other, and eventually will lead to war of all the colonized against their colonizers. He thus calls for anticolonial unions. The third way is an immanent critique, in which “peace” is a moral universal ideal that would be attained through progress, a genuine commitment, and the desire for peace. In this sense, Du Bois and Qutb were simultaneously critical of colonial invocations of peace but nonetheless reinscribed its status as a universal moral ideal to be attained through the right desires and through federative political forms that use but exceed the modern state. Even as they treated peace as the answer, each outlined some of the crucial components for a critique of peace as a morality.
Such readings of Fanon and Du Bois would also be important as disciplinary interventions, for disrupting how each has been taken up to sanction the valorization of peace and as doing the work that the liberal idealizers of peace want them to do. They are marshaled and mobilized to shield peace from critique, so that Fanon apparently wrote about violence and colonialism because supposedly he really just wanted peace (perhaps even unbeknownst to him?), whereas Du Bois’s antiwar activism puts peace beyond critique. I am interested in how the discipline’s double investment in peace and in race requires that peace, or the desire for it, remain unassailable, and that minoritized thinkers’ own critiques of the rhetoric of peace, its violent structures, and its system of values can only culminate in ventriloquizing the desire for peace—a desire that cannot be critically examined. The issue, then, is less whether Du Bois or Fanon provides solid footing as an ethical exemplar, and more the structure of morals that gives peace a remarkable hold over contemporary sensibilities and the compulsion to idealize it. (There is a different but related way that highlighting Qutb’s anticolonialism makes liberal readers worry about whether it’s a slippery slope to endorsing a theocratic regime.)
Kotef is exactly right that the book refuses to prescribe solutions or to identify alternatives that treat peace as an answer. War for Peace begins by moving beyond the idea that peace is a solution and it ends by resisting easy solutions to peace, let alone the strange idea that the solution to the discursive structures of peace is more peace. Kotef is right that the epilogue refuses to give closure. It also refuses to recuperate peace as an ideal.
Historicizing and provincializing peace, and working to see what it masks and what it colonizes, means treating it as a political idea rather than a moral ideal: this shift makes it possible to draw connections and mark disconnections across formations of violence, to sketch political horizons that are unrelenting in moving beyond peace, and to demand a discipline that is unabashed in seeing the operations of power.