The following refl ections have been written from the conviction that it is of critical importance that we take responsibility for the question whether we have become the dupes of violence. This question is of particular urgency when it takes the form of our need to understand war. Violence is of course not limited to war, nor is the phenomenon of war reducible to its violence, but the question of violence becomes particularly acute when we refl ect on the meaning of war, on whatever scale or symmetry. It is a basic fact that in the case of war the danger of becoming the dupes of violence is especially grave. This is compounded by the fact that, when we talk seriously about war, whether to fi ght a war or to look to the wars of the past to understand our history, there is an all-too common tendency to pass over the task of articulating the problems of violence. In part, this results from the fact that wars themselves, which normalize violence, seem to be premised on taking violence for granted.