Monday, January 24

On Just War: Conclusion

For my final post in the Just War series I've been running, two tasks remain. First, to run through my short list of historical conflicts and evaluate them with respect to my criteria and make sure that matches up with my common sense impression of the war. Second, I want to reflect how we might use these principles now established.

The Historical Wars in question were:
  • The assault by Agamemnon and the host against Ilium. This war was enacted and run by a number of Kings, so sovereign authority is correctly used. For all the kings except Menelaus, the cause was in order to honor contractual obligations. For that to be just, Menelaus cause must be just. Menelaus went to War seeking to have his spouse Helen, who was stolen from him, returned. Diplomatic efforts failed. In fact, diplomatic efforts were still being tried 9 years into the war, given a duel between Paris and Menelaus which was sought to end the conflict. As for the conduct of the war, a strict system of honor seemed to be in place regulating behavior of the combatants. Thus in conclusion, the Trojan War was just.
  • Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars. This war was engaged by Caesar on behalf of Rome, by legal authority. It was a war of expansion. I don't recall all the particulars of the conduct of the war, but the Roman army did have standards, rules of conduct, and discipline. But, since the "Why?" was not a just reason, this war was not just.
  • Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, which was an unjust aggression, as it fails the first two criteria, Who? and Why? Caesar was not a sovereign and was engaging in Civil War for personal reasons.
  • The American Revolution. The American Revolution was engaged by a Continental Congress consisting of members selected from state governments, which did in fact provide civil government, so it was a sovereign body. It was a war to redress wrongs, and standards of conduct of war were followed. This was a just war.
  • The French Revolution. I'm going to have to read more about this war, as I can't recall enough of the particulars to judge. If any readers have any thoughts I'd welcome them.
  • Napoleon tramping around Europe. Napoleon's ventures were for territorial gain, which is not one of the just reasons for engaging in war. This was not a just conflict.
  • The American Civil War. Two sides to this conflict, North and South. Both sides were run by sovereign authority, both sides had just cause, and had rules and regulations in place regulating the behavior of their soldiers. Both sides had just cause to enter into war.
  • The Great War (WWI). The causes of this war are (if I recall) quite complicated. Like the French Revolution, I will have to study further to venture an opinion. Readers?
  • World War II (Hitler's aggression), which was unjust.
  • World War II American entrance. As for the American entrance into the War, the engagement was legally instituted by Congress, it was to redress wrongs, to redress charitable needs of the conquered, and to prevent injustice. The military followed codes of discipline and did not seek civilian life. It was a just war.
  • The Korean War (American involvement). This was a war enacted by a sovereign body, to redress wrong (naked aggression by North Korea) and to protect our Nation against the spread of global communism which was seen as a threat to our people. It was a just war.
  • Soviet aggression in Afghanistan. I again, beg ignorance of the details.
  • American involvement in Kosovo. This was a legal war, which was engaged for charity. It was a just war.
  • Iraqi War(s). In the course of the earlier essays I touched on the 2nd Iraq war as it is the one in contention today. This war (and the earlier) where just wars.
  • The Iraqi insurgency. The Iraqi insurgents are not a sovereign body, their "Why?" is just, but their "How?" is not. They do not wage a just war.
So where does this lead us. Many wars in the past were just. In the American Civil War, we see two armies facing each other both with a just cause. It is not a requirement that one side be just, and the other unjust. Because a war might be just does not necessarily mean that it is either prudent or required. It is just that in the light of my reasoning, the argument that the Iraqi war is not just does not pass inspection. One still may argue that it was not in our best interest or unwise. However, it is for a just cause and is a "Just War".