Just War Theory

War is said to occur when one state declares hostility against another by which it places the people and resources under its authority to enmity against their adversaries as well as their resources (Gardam J, 1993). According to broadminded ed war historian and theorist Jeffrey Rodgers Hummel, there is an implication of the above definition.

In placing its people as well s resources to hostilities, each state is in reality declaring war on three phases; first and foremost as to the other state; second as to the people of the other state; and thirdly as to its own dissenting citizens, should they fail to act in accordance with the State’s demand for manpower and resources (Gardam J, 1993).

Going by the above definition offered by Jeffrey R. Hummel, just war would comprise that the war should have a just beginning. That is, it must be declared in reaction to violent behavior; the response has to be reasonable and according to the level of aggression, it has to be begun by an appropriate authority in opposition to appropriate enemy; it has to be conducted in proper manner that is justly…that is no harming of innocent people knowingly or intentionally (Gardam J, 1993). The war must have a just origin

The just war theory asserts that war should originate only if there is violation of rights and only in self-defense. These rights should be individualistic rights as opposed to those that lead to war, for instance breach of a country’s sovereignty on a realistic altitude. Nevertheless, a difficulty arises at once. The fundamentals necessary to judge the justness of the war’s origin for instance, time and relevant information are not often available at the point war is declared.

In deciding the idea of German Catholic participating in war during the Nazi period, it was once remarked by a publisher that “A scientific judgement concerning causes and origins of the war is absolutely impossible today because the pre-requisites for such a judgement are not available to us. This must wait until a later time when the documents of both sides are available” (Allen C, 1966). The war must be a reasonable response As per the theory, it is grimacing for a provoker to be shot whether he acted on purpose or accidentally.

While exercising self-defense the level of force utilized has to be proportional to the force used by the aggressor, while the aim of the responsive force should be articulated on the tenets of protection or restitution. Thus, a war with a just origin should have first exhausted all lesser force employment that could have consummated the desired objectives. It becomes crucial to elucidate one idea that the war should be left with the people with, that the state has consigned their rights of defense with.

The question is whether States’ declaration of war places all its citizens to take part in hostilities even though a small proportion of them have been aggressed. Secondly, does aggression directed towards those consigned with the right of defense bind all others under declaration of war? If so, the contract appears to be calculated to enhance the level of violence of any differences as opposed to providing protection or restitution. The war has to be declared by a proper authority and against a proper enemy.

Under this theory, the proper authority to exercise a right of self-defense against an aggressor is an agent or individual upon whose rights have been violated. Thus, under this heading a state is interpreted to be a proper authority. Here the assumption is

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that the war is declared against a state that is proper enemy. Just war should have a just ending On the ordinary observation, a just war (precisely since, it is not a campaign) should finish with the reinstatement of the status quo ante. The model case is a war of hostility, which ends justly when the provoker has been conquered, his attack repulsed, the old boundaries reinstated.

Conceivably this is not quite enough for a just ending: the wounded state might merit compensations from the aggressor state, so that the damage the aggressor’s forces meted out (Gardam J, 1993). In considering the atomic bombing of Japan, Was the bombing just? Was it moral? The use of atomic bombs was not meant to be confined to military targets, as these are obviously weapons mass destruction and could not fail to terrorize the civilians. From point of view of justice, discarding the rule that excludes civilians from deliberate attack represented a grave injustice from which the world requires to recover.

If the aim was to end the war this could have been achieved without dropping those bombs on civilians (Gardam J, 1993). Appearing in the Nation, an article by Richard Falk titled “Defining a just war” in issue of Oct 29, he asserted that the war in Afghanistan qualified to be the first just war since World War II (Roberts A, 1993-1994). Although in the issue Falk went on to warn that the justice of the cause could be “negated by the injustice of improper means and excessive ends”, he did not relinquish his original affirmation.

This utterance came from one of the prominent and respected advocates of international peace and justice. How true was his assertion about just war in Afghanistan (Roberts A, 1993-1994)? Interpreting Falk’s position as saying US war could be just, as long as it adhered to the ideologies he articulated, his argument nevertheless was manifestly wrong. First, on the ground that the principles were broken as of the start of the war and secondly, on the dismissal of alternative action that could have solved the impasse through the United Nations.

How could this war be justified if the bombings lead to starvation of many millions of Afghanistan’s due inability of aid agencies to deliver their services to the civilians prior to the felling of the first bomb? On the other hand, prior knowledge of humanitarian crisis that could be occasioned by bombing serves to negate it from being construed as just war. First, the war did not meet the criteria of discrimination (not to harm civilians). Secondly, on the proportionality of the force (force should not be greater than the provoking cause), the force employed was greater compared to that of the aggressor (Roberts A, 1993-1994).

The war in Afghanistan largely did not meet the criterion of necessity that calls upon force not to be applied if there are other non-violent means available. Before the onset of the bombing, Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan had proposed that they were ready to try Osama bin Laden if America provided evidence connecting him to the attacks in the New York and Washington. Going by the words of this ambassador, it is clear that this war could have been avoided if US offered the evidence they were demanding in order to prosecute the culprit (Mintz A, 1993).

In addition, the ambassador had indicated that under Islamic law legal proceedings could begin. Thus, infact trial could begin pertaining to the raised allegations followed by evidence being provided in court. However, what happened is that Washington refused to offer evidence, declared its demands were not subject to negotiation and started bombardment of Afghanistan (Mintz A, 1993). Whether Taliban’s offer was serious or not, Washington never bothered to follow, conversely going to war faced with such conditions eliminates the criterion of necessity.

Vietnam War first assumed the aspect of political dimension with many at last being pressed towards moral arguments. Of course, the war was seen to be completely irresponsible, and one that could not be won. Its costs, even if the Americans were egoistic, were above the normal. The war was fought unjustly since it involved a lot of brutality by the Americans, a factor that was seen by many as the one that led to the defeat. In a war for “hearts and minds” as opposed to land and resources, justice stands out to be the main aspects to victory.

Vietnam War served to educate states that there was a need for state to fight justly and to crown it all, justice has become military necessity. Vietnam was the first war that saw the need for emphasizing the jus in belle principle. It enumerated that Wars unpopular at home should not be fought in addition to wars whereby the state is unwilling to commit its resources. As mentioned earlier Vietnam War was based on doubtful justice and the war was fought unjustly, as it irritated the civilian population. By losing the hearts and minds of the civilians led to the loosing of the whole war.

Modern warfare requires that there be support from different civilian populations, expanding past the population facing instantaneous risk. Nevertheless, moral regard for civilians at risk is crucial in winning great support of the war. America has in the past-confused just wars as crusades, as if a war can be just only where the forces of good outweigh those of evil. However, as for George Bush (elder) he appeared to understand that war, is properly a war of armies, a combat between combatants, through which the citizens should be protected.

In good faith, there was nothing of a just war in Iraq bombing in 1991. The civilians there were not protected, since there was destruction of electricity networks as well as water purification plants (Mintz A, 1993). Demolition of infrastructure, that is, significant for civilian existence was rampant during the Gulf War. Nevertheless, American approach in Gulf War was due to compromise among what justice would have necessitated. There was no controlled bombing and collectively as opposed to Korea or Vietnam, targeting was far more unlimited and selective.

Conclusion Many people acknowledge that we are faced with moral duty to avoid the evils of war. However, this realization poses many difficult questions, when as responsible individuals we witness tormenting injustices for instance, ‘ethnic cleansing’ (Gardam J, 1993). With millions of lives being risked by war, one is bound to consider if war should ever be justified and if so, for what purpose? In answering the above, it is first important to consider principles of just war theory and finally correlate these principles to historical as well as ongoing conflicts.

On the just cause, figures like Ronald Reagan are seen to assert that whether in self-defense or defense for others, remain the only classified cause that justifies waging war. There is a need to justify military intervention in secessionist or revolutionary wars. The conduct of war should also be in accordance with the principles of discrimination and proportionality. Civilians should not be directly targeted ad costs of military action should be proportionate to the expected advantages of ruining military targets. Reference

Allen C. Isbell, (1966). War and Conscience Abilene, Texas: Biblical Research Press, p. 82. Gardam, Judith Gail. (1993) Proportionality and Force in International Law. American Journal of International Law, Volume 87, Issue 3, 391-413. Mintz, Alex. (1993). The Decision to Attack Iraq: A Noncompensatory Theory of Decision Making. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Volume 37, Issue 4, 595-618. Roberts, Adam. (Winter, 1993-1994). The Laws of War in the 1990-91 Gulf Conflict. International Security, Volume 18, Issue 3 134-181.

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