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American Academy Scrutinizes "Just War" Doctrine

December 10, 2001

House of the Academy
136 Irving Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Click here for complete transcript.

George Bush has cast the war in Afghanistan as a fight between good and evil. What claims to a "just cause" can the United States make? How are U.S. actions perceived in the Muslim world? How are Islamic texts being interpreted in response to the September 11 attacks and the war in Afghanistan? Internationally renowned authorities J. Bryan Hehir and Roy Mottahedeh will address these questions in a discussion sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Alan Berger, editorial writer at the Boston Globe, will moderate the conversation.

The event is the first in a series of forums to address the issues of national and global security that have arisen in the aftermath of September 11th. Drawing upon a diverse and interdisciplinary membership, these Academy-hosted conversations will examine the social and cultural factors influencing terrorism and the consequences of the American reaction. In response to religion's prominent role in the current world crisis, the Academy has invited two of its leading Fellows to discuss the concept of a "just war" from Islamic and Judeo-Christian perspectives.


Roy Mottahedeh, Gurney Professor of History, Harvard University. Professor Mottahedeh is a scholar of the pre-modern social and intellectual history in the Islamic Middle East. His publications include Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society, and The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran. He is the faculty adviser of The Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review, as well as chair of the Committee on Islamic Studies at Harvard.

J. Bryan Hehir, Chair of the Executive Committee, Harvard Divinity School Professor Hehir engages issues of ethics, foreign policy, and international relations, as well as Catholic social ethics and the role of religion in world politics. From 1973 to 1992, he served in Washington at the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops and at Georgetown University. He will shortly assume the role of president & CEO of Catholic Charities and currently serves as a counselor for Catholic Relief Services.

The American Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams and other scholar-patriots "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people." The current membership of over 3,700 Fellows and 600 Foreign Honorary Members includes more than 150 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners. Drawing on the wide-ranging expertise of its membership, the Academy conducts thoughtful, innovative, non-partisan studies on international security, social policy, education, and the humanities.

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