Those who write and think about war are a motley bunch – journalists and social scientists, ethicists and economists, legal scholars and military historians – who all too often talk past one another. There are ample jargon-laden journals in each of their respective disciplines devoted to the study of war, but none that digests and disseminates the ideas, theories, and analyses beyond their respective silos for a lay audience.
Cicero is a magazine devoted to bridging these disparate communities, to enhance our understanding of war – at a time of seemingly intractable conflict – and in prose legible to a general readership. The magazine puts a premium on good storytelling, objective analysis, and original opinions outside the mainstream. Its pages are open to anyone with a fresh viewpoint, not just published authors or tenured professors. We are less interested in publishing insiders with nothing to say than outsiders with something to say. After all, Rome’s best orator – and the magazine’s namesake – was not Roman.
Our aim is not to be snarky or cynical, edgy or ego-driven. Unlike other online magazines, we are not interested in sensationalism or search engine optimization. Nor are we interested in wiping war from the planet, just in providing a public sphere of sorts for the honest exchange of ideas, reportage from the field, and innovative research from the ivory tower on a subject few of us fully understand. Moreover, we seek to prevent the discourse in this country on how, when, and whether to use military force from being hijacked by what our commander in chief, upon taking office, termed “childish things.”
Why the title? One of the original founders of “just war” theory, Cicero was not naïve to think that we could outlaw war, but rather sought ways to curtail its practice. “[T]he only excuse … for going to war,” he wrote, “is that we may live in peace unharmed.” Some years later, an American president would echo these same words during his acceptance of a Nobel Peace Prize. This magazine is committed to the ideal of peace, but acknowledges that conflict is sometimes required, and yes, even “just” in some cases.
Who is our target audience? Anyone, educated and uneducated alike, regardless of political affiliation, young or old, hawk or dove, who cares about independent thought and intellectual discourse and is irritated by the echo chamber of the mainstream media, is put-off by the poor quality and polarization of the blogosphere, or is flummoxed by the arcane language of academics. To quote the magazine’s namesake again: “A mind without instruction can no more bear fruit than can a field, however fertile, without cultivation.” We couldn’t agree more.
With that, we introduce Cicero. We welcome your opinions, thoughts and suggestions, and sincerely hope you enjoy our magazine!