The idea of the just war is in danger of becoming one of the political clichés of the new century. From an object of neglect and indifference, just war has been transformed into the dominant image of war, in the post-cold war age. Realism is no solution to the problem of the restraint of war. The solution lies not in a rejection of the very idea of just war, but in a conception of just war that recognises its threat as well as its promise. The real choice is between two radically different concepts of just war, with opposing logical structures and divergent effects. The complex structure of just war theory embodies its 'negative' or restraining role. Ostensibly, the mechanisms of restraint in just war theory are the various principles or criteria that the theory articulates and upholds.