Justifying War

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We live in the constant threat of war, that the media substantiates daily. Considering the political unrest, we currently reside, it has become increasingly important to understand how our government comes to making the decisions they make on our behalves that we ultimately need to abide by. The purpose of this paper is to explore the approach and interpretations used by past and current governments and religious leaders to substantiate or disavow the justification for engaging in battle. Based on the consequences we know of; the tremendous loss of life, property damage, financial strain on the winning government, and the fact that the leaders or organizations who ordered the attack rarely pay for any wrongdoing, can any war truly be justified? Just War Religious leaders throughout time often reference Romans. They use this as proof in their belief that God ordains the act of war. However, since the bible was inspired by the holy spirit and written by men, passed down through time, and different dialects, how can one know for sure if the act of waging war is truly a justifiable cause? What is unknown to many is the fact that Paul, the writer of the book of Romans was quoting scriptures from earlier books of the bible.

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These books talked about how in the first century, God decided and permitted wars to end oppression, wickedness and to avenge his servants. So, if God made the decision in the first century, has the choice now been bestowed upon man? Jus ad Bellum Jus ad Bellum is a Latin term, that means right to war or justice of war. It is a list of conditions that need to take place to sanction the physical act of war. Only when this specific criterion is in place will a government power allow the engagement in war. So, what is this criterion? First and foremost, you must have exhausted all other options before making the decision to wage war. Next, it can only be initiated by an authority of power such as a King, President, or Prime Minister. For example, the United States Congress is the part of our legislative branch as a check and balance system to assist in the governing of our country. Governing the country is a huge responsibility and yet, Congress does not have the power to initiate a war. Another rule is that there must be a good reason for the war.

Is it in defense of a country or people who need assistance? Do we as a country need to defend ourselves to deter future attacks? Take, for example, the United States invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11th attacks took place on American soil. The fight was then engaged on their land rather than risk harm to any more American civilians. Chance of success, can the battle be won? Is there evidence to support a successful outcome. Another point that is heavily considered due to the important fact that war can cause the extinction of whole empires, this makes what one stand to gain extremely important. Some wars are fought to gain land or money. Take, for example, The Great War of 1914 also known as World War I. The United States participated in that war and gained no materials or land. What it did gain was the ability to trade with Great Britain. From a financial standpoint, it was a good gain, but those who disagree would ask, was it worth human lives? Lastly, weapons equality, the weapons that will be used must be fair. For example, it would be unfair for one group of soldiers to have rifles and their enemy, pocket knives. This would give the group with guns an unfair advantage. Another example is guns vs. bombs. They opponent with the bombs would have the advantage.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: REVISITING CIVIL RESISTANCE IN ROMANS IN LIGHT OF THE NOAHIC COVENANT

The Journal of Law and Religion. So where did these principles come from? History points to Saint Augustine of Hippo, a Christian bishop, and theologian as the founder of Just War doctrine. St. Augustine used bible principles to create his criteria. As a Christian one would think that St. Augustine would teach against war since Christians carry that name because they are followers of Christ, right? Christ directed his followers to “Continue to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. And although Augustine was aware of Christ’s teachings, he believed that war was a reality. He also believed that governments were put in place by God, therefore we must obey the laws of the government in power and to do the opposite, is in effect being disobedient to God. He supported this belief with bible scripture found at. Augustine views on war by all accounts were conflicted. Which approach? late twentieth-century interpretations of agustine’s views on war. Journal of Church and State, soon others decided to expound on Augustine’s criteria one such person was Thomas Aquinas his belief was for a war to be just, “the authority of the prince by whose command war is to be waged is required.

For it does not pertain to a private person to declare war, because he can prosecute his rights at the tribunal of his superior.” So, we now know the criteria a government should consult when making the decision to go to war, what happens if war is waged? The international humanitarian law also called jus in bello is the set of principles used when warfare is conducted. It states that the UN does not sanction the use of chemical or biological weapons, civilians are innocent and should not be intentionally harmed. In other words, it spells out the methods that can and cannot be used. For example, The US sent military air strikes to Syria back in April 2018 to stop their use of chemical weapons on their civilians. It also states that excessive force cannot be used. This is called proportionality. Prisoners of war cannot be treated cruelly or tortured, the human rights violations inflicted on the prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison back in 2003 is an example of this type of violation. One cannot use means that are evil such as attempting to wipe out a whole race of people, the way Hitler tried to kill all Jewish and other people during the Holocaust and lastly, you cannot break the rules because the enemy did, no reprisals. So, if we have all these rules in place, we shouldn’t have any problems, right? As the times changed, so has Just War Doctrine. In the sixteenth and seventeenth century the reasons presented in that time has begun to be questioned by political thinkers. As the years progressed more people began to wonder who truly held the authority to decide the rules of war. The doctrine once rooted in religion has now become political. Proportionality regarding jus in bello once centered around the means and the ethical consideration of attempting to do as little harm as possible. Today, it is centered around eradicating the threat of the enemy, to eliminate the need to deal with a losing government.

Does who matter? legal authority and the use of military violence. Just war in the 21st century: Reconceptualizing just war theory after september. International Politics. Justice after war criteria states that all resolutions need to be public and not about revenge, the reasons that began the just war should be corrected, civilians should not be discriminated against once the war has ended, war crimes should be punished on both sides, it also states that the winning government must help to rebuild the damaged country and rehabilitate if necessary. The American government has spent into the trillions helping to rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq after their wars. American soldiers have the task of training the Afghan army. They also rebuilding and stocking schools as well as teaching its students English, and it is all done publicly. It is something that did not take place until the Obama administration. But why? Opponents of these wars maintain that the Bush administration had not planned to honor the criteria because the true reason for mounting the attacks in both countries was false. Alleging that Saddam Hussein was linked to Al Qaeda and that he held weapons of mass destruction he had planned to use on the United States. The fact that these weapons were never found did make the Bush administration look guilty, however not honoring the jus post bellum made what transpired look much worse.

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S STRATEGY IN AFGHANISTAN

International Journal on World Peace. In conclusion, the illogicalities of the just war issue are many. So many that one can’t discuss it in a manner that would be agreeable to all. There will always be opposing views. Can any war ever be justified? Personally, I believe that governments while fully understanding the rules of war decide to pick and choose which aspects of the doctrine they would feel most comfortable following. While I would like for the decisions being made by our world leaders to be in the best interest of the people they are governing, history has shown that time and time again, personal preferences and vendettas usually determine the true reasons for war. Since the start of the Iraq war in 2003. American soldiers have died. To learn that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found is saddening due to the loss of American soldiers who were blindly following orders. On the opposition part of the Muslim just war, criteria the Holy Qur’an instructs to “not miss an opportunity for peace even if they doubt their enemy’s sincerity”. To end the war before it has a chance to begin. However, to date, this criterion is rarely seen. We trust our government officials to make the hard choices for us and many Americans feel that our trust has been misplaced. The just war standards are complex and every situation is not going to fit, however, if followed there would less loss of unnecessary civilian and soldiers lives. Is killing to defend your country justified?

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