The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies presents

“The American Way of Warfare: Science, Liberalism, and the Quest for Humanity in Conflict”

Michael John Williams

Director, International Relations Program, New York University

in discussion with

Jason Healey

Senior Research Scholar, SIPA and member, SIWPS

Moderated by Stuart Gottlieb, International Affairs Professor, SIPA, and member, SIWPS


Seating is Limited. Advance registration strongly encouraged via the Columbia or SIPA calendars. Register here.


Founded and rooted in Enlightenment values, the US is caught between two conflicting imperatives when it comes to war: achieving security through the annihilation of threats; and a requirement to conduct itself in a liberal and humane manner. In order to reconcile these conflicting requirements, the US has often turned to scientists and laboratories to find strategies that are both decisive and humane. This approach has yielded many success, but it has also resulted in some disastrous errors. In this lecture Professor Williams will explore the relationship between technology, law, and liberalism in America’s approach to warfare and how this national style stacks up against current and future strategic challenges.


Michael John Williams is Clinical Professor of International Relations, Director of the International Relations Program and Affiliate Professor of European Studies & History at New York University. Dr. Williams is a Stephen M. Kellen term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Fellow of the Inter-University Seminar on the Armed Forces and Society and he was a Fellow at Oxford University and at the Bundeswehr Center for Military History and Social Science in Potsdam, Germany. From 2012-2013 he was a Robert Bosch Fellow working as a special advisor in the German Ministry of Defense.