Saturday, August 21, 2004


SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES is geared toward a particular (captive) audience, namely, the students in the three international politics courses I teach at Pepperdine University. Other readers (and correspondents) are welcome, but those who are enrolled in International Relations, International Organizations and Law, and Ethics and International Politics are, shall we say, more than welcome to read and contribute to discussions of the questions posed and the issues highlighted in my commentary.

The title of this blog deserves a brief comment. It is drawn, in the first instance, from Scripture. The prophets Isaiah (2:4), Joel (3:20), and Micah (4.3) each use the expression. Here is Isaiah's version:

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

For students of international politics of a humane (and religious) bent, few prophetic statements capture better the ultimate ends of our pursuits. The phrase also appears as (and is associated in my mind with) the title of a seminal study of international organization by Inis L. Claude, Jr. First published in 1959 and updated in three subsequent editions, Swords Into Plowshares: The Problems and Progress of International Organization offered more than a historical and institutional account of the League of Nations and the United Nations, the world's two universal-membership organizations. It offered as well an extraordinarily insightful analysis of the broader issue of the organization--the structuring--of the world. It was my privilege to study with Professor Claude at the University of Virginia, and so the title of this blog is not only a reflection of my faith in the prophetic vision of a world at peace but also an homage to a mentor who pushed me to develop a clear-eyed understanding of what the realization of a such a vision might entail.