Military Action

Last Updated: 16 Feb 2017
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In my essay I will investigate the phenomenon of war, starting with its theory and definition, and going to its factors and the principles of its justification, and then finishing with its costs. In particular, I will point out the factors of a just war and support each of them with the necessary argumentation. Also, I will describe the factors that must be considered when military action is justified.

And finally, I will mention direct and indirect costs of war. On the whole, the purpose of my essay is to explore on the concept of just war, using the terms: just war and the theory of just war and applying the concepts: concepts of sovereignty, state and nation. In order to provide a necessary scientific ground for my investigation, I will cite the information from reliable sources:  The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Just War Theory" and the War on [T]error by Brian Moresonner, and others.

First, according to Brian Moresonner, the roots of the term “Just War” go back to the Ancient times of Greeks and Sumerians and throughout the history of mankind the concept of just war has been developed [3], eventually growing up into a separate theory with its own principles and traditions. Moresonner in his "Just War Theory" and the War on [T]error (2004) points out that meaning of "Just War" “usually evolves when two or more similarly cultured peoples engage in combat over and over, as they share the same cultural values the two or more peoples set up conventions and perhaps even codes of what is acceptable in combat with each other.” [3].

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At the same time, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy  (2005) holds that the theory of just war “deals with the justification of how and why wars are fought.” [4]. This justification can be of two kinds: historical or theoretical. [4]. Theoretical justification deals with ethics of forms of warfare and war. [4]. On the other hand, the historical aspect justifies rules and agreements applied in different wars across the ages. [4].

Second, due to The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2005), every just war is characterized with a list of factors, which generally should contain the following:

-  Just cause, which means a cause of aggression can be considered just if it is a response to “a physical injury (e.g., a violation of territory), an insult (an aggression against national honor), a trade embargo (an aggression against economic activity), or even to a neighbor’s prosperity (a violation of social justice).” [4].

-  Proclamation of war made by a proper authority. This factor implies the relationship between government and people, and is closely connected with the concepts of sovereignty, state and nation. In simpler and more general terms, government, as an organ of authority in a state, can declare war. [4].

-   The possession of right intention. This factor forbids pursuing self-interests or aggrandizement for the sake of justice in the war. [4].

-  A reasonable chance of success. This factor means that just cause and right intention are insufficient for a just war. The sides involved should calculate al the benefits and the costs of the campaign.

-  Proportion in the means which are used. This factor requires that the goal of the war “must be proportional to the other principles of just cause.” [4]. For example, if a nation A invades a land which belonged to the nation B, nation B has right to take the land back. It will be a just cause. But at the same time, the counter attack of B should be proportionate and aim only at retrieving the land. [4].

Third, in case when the factors of a military action are taken into consideration, those ones, which will justify it, should be based on the right of self-defense. This right was established by the UN Charter, Geneva and the Hague conventions and it states that a nation can start a war is its sovereignty is endangered.  So, to my mind, justifying factors should involve :

1) Direct aggression against the country, or its allies, or those countries which are not able to protect themselves against a direct aggression. Thus, in the U.S.A. current ideology suggests self-defense as a right response to direct aggression. The main concerns of U.S. ideology here are freedom and safety of its citizens, and proportional intervention against the defender. For example, such war in self-defense against Japan was declared by American policy on December 7, 1941.

2)  Indirect aggression against the country. However, this premise is the most difficult to evaluate. This difficulty comes out of ideological divergences of all the countries in the world. In other words, to understand how a particular country would be engaged in a war based on this premise, one must really know the ideology of this country. For instance, all the military actions of the U.S.A. initiated after the World War II are considered to be based on U.S. response to indirect aggression. In this case the term ‘indirect aggression’ implies the controversy between capitalist and communist regimes and the opposition of American democracy to dictatorship of the former U.S.S.R. and its allies.

Finally, each war has its direct and indirect costs. To my mind, direct costs of war concern its human casualties and money spent by the parts involved. For example, it was estimated that during World War II 20 million o soviet people died, and the cost of Iraqi war or America has already overreached 2 million dollars. On the other hand, there are indirect costs of wars, which generally can be seen in postwar period. Among such costs I can mention: refugees and immigration, poverty, collapse of economic and political systems, epidemics, pollution of environment, etc.


1)  Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, George Schwab, trans., Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996, p. 26.

2) Mark Osiel, Obeying Orders: Atrocity, Military Discipline, and the Law of War, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1999, p.100.

3) Moseley Alexander. Just War Theory. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2005. 28 Aug. 2005 <>

4) Plaff Tony. Peacekeeping and the Just War Tradition. US Army War Colege. September, 2000

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