Monday, January 17

On Just War (part 1)

I'll start by collecting my thoughts. I promised a commenter (Mr Larson) a essay on Just War. I am not ready yet form a coherent essay, but I thought in preparation I'd jot down a few thoughts while I get organized, and perhaps elicit a few comments in the meantime. As I ponder this topic I realize it is a much bigger topic than the typical blog post, although I don't either count my "words" nor tend to write particularly short essays. So here's my plan. Today, I'm just going to bang a lot of short points out. Then tomorrow, I'll look at it and decide how I need to organize my thoughts and plan the layout of the "rest" of the posts on this topic. Then, I'll get down to work and start banging them out. So, on to random thoughts:

  • Aquinas theory on just war makes a good starting point. It is concise, to the point and can be applied to many situations. It also has the added benefit, from my particular political persuasion, of being easily applied to the current Iraq war and reconstruction and justifying those actions. On the other hand, I don't think it does apply very well to the Revolutionary War, which I would tend to also support. Or to restate, if Aquinas theory is taken as correct, a War may be un-Just, but still gain my personal support which makes no sense so I may have to revise my opinion of Just War. Aquinas theory take three main points
    1. The War must be started by legal governmental authority
    2. It must be done for "legitimate purposes", i.e., not for personal gain.
    3. The war must be conducted correctly
  • However, some of the other theories of war I've recently encountered find it hard to justify acting against Germany for example in World War II while at the same time describing the Iraq war as unjustified (these justifications also tend to ignore the fact that technically we were not at peace with Iraq when commencing with the 2nd Iraq offensive).
  • To my current understanding, having never read the actual charter, the UN is a malformed organization. As I've stated before, when we as citizens enter into social contract to form a state, we give up some of our individual rights for our collective good. The nation states in forming the UN wanted to have their cake and eat it too. They formed a UN, pretend that it has authority, but also state emphatically that they are not giving up any individual rights to that organization. Because they did not give up those rights, the existence of the UN is something of a collective fiction. To be honest, with the fact that perhaps a majority of the states which belong to the UN represent individuals holding sway over repressive regimes, that is probably a good thing.
  • Why am I discussing the UN in a essay on Just War. Well, the UN is a multinational organization which is in conception is supposed to regulate and legitimize such actions. The ethical/moral status of the UN does enter in as a factor in that regard. To whit, as currently constructed can the UN legitimately play a role in determining whether a war is just or not.
  • Aquinas conditions for Just War depend somewhat crucially on the motivations of the "leader". In this case, that would be the Senate for Presidents do not have the authority to declare war. How do we determine such a thing?
  • In light of the first point, lets make a list of some of the past Wars, which I will use in my future considerations on Just War. I won't comment on just/unjust today I have a strong opinion.
    • The assault by Agamemnon and the host against Ilium.
    • Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, .
    • Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, which was an unjust aggression.
    • The American Revolution
    • The French Revolution
    • Napoleon tramping around Europe
    • The American Civil War.
    • The Great War (WWI)
    • World War II (Hitler's aggression), which was unjust.
    • World War II American entrance
    • The Korean War
    • Soviet aggression in Afghanistan
    • American involvement in Kosovo
    • Iraqi War(s)
    • And the toppling of the Taliban Regime in Afghanistan
  • I agree with C.S. Lewis that the position of the complete pacifist is not tenable. War is "hell" as they say, but it is not always the worst alternative. While I may turn my "other cheek" it is a different thing entirely to turn my child's cheek.
  • The discussion Abram has with YHWH prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis is a political lesson about the death of innocents sometimes being required for a greater good to be accomplished.