Ethics & Public Policy Center

Peace Betrayed?


In his highly controversial 1988 book Peace and Revolution, political scientist Guenter Lewy charged that since the Vietnam era the four major American pacifist organizations—American Friends Service Committee, Fellowship of Reconciliation, War Resisters League, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom—have moved from singleminded devotion to the principles of non-violence and reconciliation to a defense of “the moral legitimacy of armed struggle and guerrilla warfare.” This provocative collection begins with a summary of Lewy’s argument. Then fifteen respondents—pacifists and non-pacifists—join the discussion. Some decry Lewy’s account as prejudiced and incomplete; others applaud it as a long overdue exposure of the subversion of a noble purpose. In a final chapter, Lewy replies to his critics.

peacebetrayed“This stimulating book advances an important debate, a debate about the nature and merits of pacifism and also, most critically, about securing peace by the establishment of political community. Although the writers vary widely in their reaction to Guenter Lewy’s thesis, they move beyond offensive condescension and angry rejection. This is essential reading on the vital relationship of religion, ethics, and America’s role in the world.”

—Richard John Neuhaus, The Institute on Religion and Public Life

“A superb discussion. The intense debate over how best to interpret the past two decades of pacifist activity is both provocative and instructive. There are important lessons here for all who care deeply about the complex challenges of peace-making.”

—Richard J. Mouw, Fuller Theological Seminary

“I strongly recommend this valuable set of essays. Representing a wide range of religious and social-political views, the authors both praise and criticize Lewy’s argument and, in the process, contribute significantly to the debate about the role of pacifism in American political life.”

—James F. Childress, University of Virginia

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