Tuesday, February 1

Redhunter on War

Over at Redhunter, had asked a number of questions (spread out in comments) from my five essays on Just War. I thought I'd just put my reply in one place. He asked,
  • What about Actions in War, and Proportionality
  • What about Israeli reprisals (revenge?) against terrorist camps after attacks?
  • And what comments I might have on his series (so far)
So to my replies:
  • In my (in retrospect) abbreviated post on the question "How?" we should wage war, I stated that a Just war is one which attempts to avoid civilian casualties (and damage to civilian property) and that the military has a set code of conduct which is enforced. I feel those two items directly address how soldiers are to behave in combat and that more specific directives don't add anything more.

    Questions of proportionality of response are a little more subtle. War is not a sporting event. The object of war, is to remove the capability of the enemy to resist. Proportionality in one regard is misnamed. You don't bring a "fair" sized army into your enemies country to engage in war, you bring one which will win with the least cost to your side while respecting the civilian enemy population as much as possible. I may have a poor understanding of the discussions on proportionality, but I as yet fail to see how it enters into the discussion of Just War with one exception. Raiding the enemies country as part of a reprisal action, to prevent him from performing an action often requires some sense of proportionality to the offense to which one is responding. However, I think in the large, the justice of these operations are not germane, but that those issues are more in the practical political venue. Just War theory in these cases speaks to enacting those reprisal raids specifically on the military targets of the enemy.
  • This moves nicely into the next point, the Israeli reprisals against terrorist targets in response to homicide bombings on their soil. This has an additional wrinkle in that the opponent is not by any measure waging Just War. This does not give the Israelis an "out" in I would not in any way justify not being required to wage a Just War just because your opponent isn't following suit, however in this case it often makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to avoid inflicting civilian casualties. If the opponent was waging Just War, raids of reprisal (to redress wrongs) are permitted. To avoid accusations of and giving into the inclinations to revenge it would be of course better if the consequences and response to wrongs committed were laid out in advance. Since the situation in Palestine has been ongoing sometime this could be done. I am not well informed enough with respect to the current situation to know whether this has been done.
  • As for Mr Redhunter's series, he starts from a later more well developed theory of Just War than Aquinas, but which used Aquinas as a starting point. In his theory of Just War, retaliation for past actions is not Just, but which I allow as "redress of wrong", likewise Aquinas did not put many restrictions on the sovereign in decisions of for what causes one might go to War, restricting only that it not be for gain or glory.

    Also, I might ask Mr Redhunter in his section of Competent Authority to examine revolution. It could be argued (and in fact was argued) during our American Revolution that the colonies did not have authority to undergo their revolt. I would argue that by undertaking the civil justice system in the colonies and that other sovereign nations recognized them this made them a sovereign authority. But at the outset America was not and individual country for that was the point of the war. But I would be curious to hear Mr Redhunter's take on that conflict.