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COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Equating war with individual evil has become ubiquitous — if not universal — in contemporary international politics.

Wars are fights against evil tyrants and the illegitimate governments they control. Such rhetoric makes wars easier to justify, easier to wage, and easier to support, especially for elected leaders who must respond directly to swings in public opinion. Such language works equally well for any society in today’s media-obsessed age.

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