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Defense of Just-war Theory



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Defense of Just-war Theory

Just war theory is always evolving and self-correcting – controls conduct during wars and allows for speedy resolution


DiMeglio 5 (Major Richard P, Judge Advocate, US Army, 2005, “The Evolution of the Just War Tradition: Defining Jus Post Bellum”, Military Law Review, Vol. 186, p. 116)//LD

The just war tradition has been in perpetual evolution for nearly two thousand years; indeed, the very essence of the tradition requires constant scrutiny, appraisal, and refinement. Its origins were in early Christianity as a means to refute Christian pacifists and provide for certain, defined grounds under which a resort to warfare was both morally and religiously permissible. In the fifth century A.D, Augustine of Hippo (Saint Augustine) searched for a means to reconcile traditional Christian pacifism with the need to defend the Holy Roman Empire from the approaching vandals by military means.13 From Saint Augustine's initial writings providing for a limited justification for war, philosophers, theologians, theorists, and scholars including Saint Thomas Aquinas, Francisco de Victoria, Francisco Suarez, Hugo Grotious, and Immanuel Kant, have developed and advanced the theory, principles, and criteria over the course of nearly two millennia.14 The expansion continues today as just war scholars continue to apply moral reasoning within historical and contemporary perspectives to the issues of war and peace.15 This progression of ideas and debates, manifested today throughout religious writings, international laws, treaties and conventions, is collectively known as the just war tradition.16 Brian Orend, a professor of philosophy at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and a prominent contemporary just war theorist, describes the just war tradition in the following manner: Just war theory . . . offers rules to guide decision-makers on the appropriateness of their conduct during the resort to war, conduct during war and the termination phase of the conflict. Its over-all aim is to try and ensure that wars are begun only for a very narrow set of truly defensible reasons, that when wars break out they are fought in a responsibly controlled and targeted manner, and that parties to the dispute bring their war to an end in a speedy and responsible fashion that respects the requirements of justice. Michael Walzer, a Professor at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton University, and author of the 1977 seminal work on just war theory, Just and Unjust Wars,18 remarks on the enduring nature of the just war tradition: "Just war theory is not an apology for any particular war, and it is not a renunciation of war itself. It is designed to sustain a constant scrutiny and an immanent critique."19 As an international paradigm, just war theory finds its niche squarely between the alternate extreme perspectives of realism and pacifism.20 A realist believes that war "is an intractable part of an anarchical world system; that it ought to be resorted to only if it makes sense in terms of national self-interest; and that, once war has begun, a state ought to do whatever it can to win."21 From a realist's vantage point, "if adhering to a set of just war constraints hinders a state in this regard, it ought to disregard them and stick soberly to attending to its fundamental interests in power and security."22 In short, for a realist, "[t]alk of the morality of warfare is pure bunk."23





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