Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Just(us) for Dave - Just war...

Dave, it took about 15 seconds to get this.

Just War theory is the attempt to distinguish between justifiable and unjustifiable uses of organized armed forces. Just War theories attempt to conceive of how the use of arms might be restrained, made more humane, and ultimately directed towards the aim of establishing lasting peace and justice. (Source: JustWarTheory.com)

Just War tradition addresses the morality of the use of force in two parts: when it is right to resort to armed force (the concern of jus ad bellum) and what it is right to do in using such force (the concern of jus in bello). (Source: [1] Just Cause Revisited])

In more recent years, a third category - Jus post bellum - has been added, which governs the justice of war termination and peace agreements, as well as the trying of war criminals.

Just War theory has ancient roots. The so-called Song of Deborah in the 5th chapter of the Hebrew Bible's Book of Judges discusses late Bronze Age conceptions of what distinguishes a "just" holy war. Cicero discussed this idea and its applications. Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas and Hugo Grotius later codified a set of rules for a just war, which today still encompass the points commonly debated, with some modifications.

So, there is the answer to the first bit - the principle of "Just War" does go back a long way. Korea was not the first by a long shot.

WW2 - Definitely.

WW1 - Hmm, probable though not certain.

Boer - No

Crimea - Probable no.

Maori Wars - Definite no.

That is as far back as I go...


Dave Justus said...

Of course the concept of 'Just War' has been around for a long time.

A body that can (theoretically) apply this concept under the concept of International Law and thus declare certain wars to be 'Just' has only existed since the end of WWII with the formulation of the U.N. You seem to place great stock in International Law and that only the U.N. can justify a war. If so, there are only two wars in which that has happened that I can think off.

Before that it was left to God to judge such things.

I am confused somewhat about your consideration of WWII as 'just' given that usually the onus of being 'just' is placed upon the initiator (it is typically assumed by most that a defensive war is 'just') and I don't know how one arrives at the notion that the Germany and Japan were justified in their actions.

The probligo said...

Strange history here as well, Dave.

As I recall it, Germany did not declare war on anybody. In fact, as I recall, Germany (Hitler if you will) tried very hard to sign non-aggression pacts with all those seen as potential rivals.

WW2 started, as my history tells me, with Hitler ignoring Chamberlain's demands that Poland not be invaded, and that such an invasion would be an act of war. Hitler did invade, and Britain declared that they were at war with Germany. So, within hours, did NZ.

Now, out of that history, you imply that I think Germany "declared a just war"? How?

Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. There was no declaration of war in advance of the act. And here am I teaching you American history. And you seem to think I put the Japanese in the same "declared a just war"? How?


Yes, I hold the principles of the UN Charter and International Law in very high regard. That despite the fact that (here as in everyday life) there are some that regard themselves as being "above" or "outside" that Charter and Law.

Again here as in everyday life, those who are smaller and weaker require some protection (no matter how illusory it might be) from the doings of the mighty. As I have posted recently, the reality is that that principle applies even to NZ, and the manner in which we interact with the small nations of the South Pacific.

I do not believe the UN or International Law to be perfect, but even in its imperfections it is far more concrete than relying upon the prayed-for judgement of a mystical father-figure.

It is not perfect, but when it is made to work then it will be (in my mind at least) the flower of all modern civilisation.

Yep, idealism at its best!

The probligo said...

Hmm, while I am thinking about this Dave, instead of the monthly reconciliation I am supposed to be doing after it got out of control while I was swanning up and down live volcanos...

Is Iraq2 in the nature of a "just war"? What are your thoughts?

Dave Justus said...

You claimed WWII was just in your post. I quote: "WW2 - Definitely" I was trying to figure out how you got there, whether you were saying the aggressors in that war (which were in fact the Axis powers) were justified or not. I certainly don't think they were.

And for the record, Germany did in fact declare war on the U.S. after Pearl Harbor. It of course signed a non-agression pact with Russia, but then violated it. Certainly it declared war or simply invaded Chechoslovokia, Poland, Belgium, The Netherlands.

I never claimed that we should 'leave it up to God to judge' I merely pointed out that before the U.N. that was all that there was to judge such things. I also, as you are well aware, do not think that the U.N. is able to effectively differentiate between a just war and an unjust one.

I also think that failure to go to war can be just as wrong as going to war when it is unjust. Rwanda being exhibit 'A' in that category.

As for Iraq, clearly I think it just.