Is There Such A Thing As A Just War Essay Example
Is There Such A Thing As A Just War Essay Example

Is There Such A Thing As A Just War Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (1065 words)
  • Published: October 10, 2016
  • Type: Essay
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The media and scholars of history never fail to capture, through images, symbolism, or words, the unspeakable capability of war to turn human beings into animals of violence. War involves the deaths and killing of so many innocent people and soldiers from opposing parties, which fundamentally renders any war, even the just ones, unjust. Politicians and scholars, nevertheless, argued that there is such a thing as a just war, according to Just war theory and its doctrine of jus ad bellum. This paper takes the side of the just war theory, because it is better to have guidelines for a just war than having none at all.

There is a thing as a just war, because states have a duty to protect their people from unjust aggression, but they should follow the requirements of jus ad bellum, in order to assure that the


concerned states are pursuing a war that can be morally justified. States have a duty to protect their people from unwarranted acts of aggression. Moseley (2009) provided an intense and convincing definition of a war: “War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities. ” Using this definition, war extensively destroys human lives and injures even their economic and social capabilities.

With these vast and potentially long-term consequences, states cannot realistically adopt a “clean hands policy” and watch its citizens killed by another state. Pacifism is not an option, when the dead are already piling up in one’s own land. On the other hand, states cannot just go to war with no rational and moral justification. War’s widespread impacts caution political leader

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to deeply analyze the justice of waging war. Just war theory provides compelling reasons for going into war, because it considers intrinsic, Kantian, and consequentialist ethics (Moseley, 2009; Orend, 2005).

Intrinsicists argue that there is a “good” or “bad” war, wherein an “argument of righteousness” can justify war (Orend, 2005). Kantian ethics demands the duties of states to respect each other, before, during, and after the war, which is why there are also principles of engagement, although in reality, these principles are often violated during the war, for the sake of winning it immediately and cutting back the costs of a protracted war (Orend, 2005). Consequentialist ethics is also considered by the Just war theory, because the latter considers the widespread effects of starting, continuing, and ending the war (Orend, 2005).

The first and most important doctrine, because it provides the fundamental bases of staging war, is the doctrine of jus ad bellum. Just war theory argues that a war can only be just, if it fulfils six requirements. First, a war must have a just cause. Some of the most common causes are “self-defence from external attack; the defence of others from such” (Moseley, 2009; Orend, 2005). Examples of wars that are waged for self-defence purposes are the wars that involved the retaliation against Nazi Germany’s attack into Poland in 1939, and Iraq into Kuwait in 1990.

On the other hand, the 2003 U. S. -led pre-emptive attack on Iraq is often a contentious issue of justness. The U. S. has pre-empted the attack on its soil, by starting aggression itself, which for the international community, has not become an entirely

convincing point of its justness. A just war also means that the state must have the right intention (Moseley, 2009; Orend, 2005). There must be a morally and rational intention for the war, because having a cause is not enough. For instance, the most recent U. S. ar with Iraq is often criticized as not having the right intention- political and economic power through oil. If the intention is not moral, then war is not a just course. War must also be done through public declaration and through the right authorities (Moseley, 2009; Orend, 2005). A state may go to war only if the proper authorities have made the decision and publicly expressed it. The “appropriate authority” is normally designated by the country's constitution. This makes sense because no one can call a country into war, without the proper power vested in him or her.

This makes political leaders accountable for their wars. War should be considered as the last resort (Moseley, 2009; Orend, 2005). A state may resort to war only if it has performed all reasonable, peaceful alternatives to resolving the conflict in question, specifically through diplomatic negotiation. Clausewitz already pointed out the “fog of war,” “a moral haze in which truth and trust are early casualties,” so it should be never be too easy for political leaders to wage war (Orend, 2005). The effects of war are too ruinous and pervasive that it should only be seen as the last course of action.

A state must also consider the probability of success (Moseley, 2009; Orend, 2005). A state cannot go to a war that can sacrifice thousands or millions of

people, if the chances of winning are small. This requirement seems to be discriminatory against smaller states, but the personal understanding is that it is possible that even small states can see a probability of success. For instance, Sparta was a small state when it fought back the Persians in ancient times. As long as Sparta thinks and believes it can win, its cause to war is just also. War is also just if it is proportional.

Moseley (2009) stressed: “A state must, prior to initiating a war, weigh the universal goods expected to result from it, such as securing the just cause, against the universal evils expected to result, notably casualties. ” For instance, if another state grabbed a piece of one’s territory, a proportional attack is to retrieve this land and nothing more. The state cannot use an overwhelming amount of force or weapons that will not be proportional to the transgression. This is a scary requirement, however, in light of biological and nuclear weapons.

When all states go to war using these weapons of mass destruction, the justness of war is severely questioned. The jus ad bellum compels state leaders to analyze the moral implications of going into war. The doctrine of jus ad bellum uses consequentialist, intrinsic, and Kantian ethical frameworks, which balance the different principles of justifying war. All states should satisfy all six requirements, before they can go to war, so that their wars can be fully justified. Through jus ad bellum, wars can be just. Wars will be imperfect, which is realism, but at least, they can be essentially just.

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