View Full Version : Jus ad bellum
March 23rd, 2011, 02:40 PM
I have been away on my Grand Canyon hike, so I don't know if there has been a discussion of Jus ad bellum or not. Jus ad bellum sets forth the principles of "Just War."
It bothers me that all of the discussion I have heard on the tv relates to "legality" or "politics." I have not heard one commentator address whether or not the bombing of Lybia is "just."
At this point, I don't know enough to have a strong opinion, but it concerns me that no one seems to be asking the right questions. Is the U.S. justified in engaging in a war?
The well established principles of a "just war" are:
Probability of success.
Proportionality of projected results.
My biggest concern is "Comparitive justice." The U.S. seems to have sided with a group of rebels that we know nothing about. We know we don't like the current government of Lybia, but are we confident that the rebels are clearly better? Some reports suggest that they may be even worse.
I also have a concern about "probability of success." There don't seem to be clearly defined goals, so how can we be confident of success? It seems to me that we are engaging in more "hope and change." We are rocketing and bombing another country in hopes that things will turn out better. Engaging a "just war" requires more than that.
March 23rd, 2011, 02:57 PM
Further, this is just one part of Just War theory. Even if the criteria you list are satisfied, then Just War Theory requires the war be fought justly (jus in bello) -- distinction, proportionality and necessity -- and that the war must be ended justly (jus post bellum) regulating treaties, reconstruction/reparations, and war crimes.
March 23rd, 2011, 03:08 PM
I agree, these are questions that should be asked.
March 23rd, 2011, 07:42 PM
It is my supposition that our administration did so in response to the UN action and the result was that NATO agreed to do so in league with some Muslim nations for the humanitarian purpose of countering the forces of a tyrant from creating a blood bath of his own people. However there has been no statement as to the end purpose whether it is to remove Quadaffi and turn the governing over to a coaliton, junta, or will it degenerate into a civil war among some 20 tribal war lords ala Somalia. The action taken was somewhat delayed to be effective as soon as many would like to have seen.
May 25th, 2011, 07:07 AM
I'm reading a book on the Crusades and thought this was an interesting quote:
"As for the claim that the pope’s idea of penitential warfare was nothing new, he did not propose it in a theological vacuum. Penance and pilgrimage had been linked for many centuries. Nor was the idea of a “just war” anything new; it had been assessed at length by Saint Augustine (354–430), among many other theologians. But putting these notions together was creative. And as we have seen, again and again Urban explained in the most direct ways, unadorned by theological quibbles or qualifiers, that anyone who went on the Crusade in the proper spirit would have their sins forgiven. That idea was so new that many theologians opposed it at the time as inconsistent with previous Christian doctrines on violence, which held that fighting always was sinful. Indeed, the “idea of penitential warfare was revolutionary…because it put the act of fighting on the same meritorious plane as prayer, works of mercy and fasting.”
Stark, Rodney - God's Battalions, page 108.
May 25th, 2011, 08:07 AM
We pretty much sacrificed the debate of Just War in our foreign policy during the run up to the Iraq invasion. While some lip service was played to it at the time, there essentially was no reason for the invasion under the principles of Just War. After we went into Iraq, there was a subtle but telling change in how we discussed Just War in our military education system. Prior to the war, the classes were usually led by chaplains, with some input from military lawyers, and they were held at the policy level of why and when a country can and should go to war. After the invasion chaplains were no longer involved in the classes and it was only military lawyers*. The content of the discussion changed as well, while we still discussed the principles that Dave listed, the emphasis was jus in bello, during which the instructor emphasized that even if a conflict doesn't meed the criteria of jus ad bellum, soldiers fighting an unjust war are still obligated to adhere to just war principles under jus in bello.
The Iraq War, which was supported by most of the current opposition, established a recent precedent in which a president can essentially ignore jus ad bellum in taking the country to war, that makes it difficult for a presidents opponents to voice discomfort with his decisions under these principles and the political climate makes his supporters hesitant to speak out against his decisions for fear of giving fodder to challengers in upcoming election campaigns. After all, those in opposition today argued in 2003 that the man in the White House is the President, and we should support him in his decision, the same argument would hold for this action as well.
* I have heard privately a large percentage of chaplains had reservations about the legality of the war in Iraq. I think that reservation may have made them uncomfortable giving classes on Just War theory after we went into Iraq.
Charles W Christian
May 25th, 2011, 11:29 AM
Yeah - It seems a little late to be bringing some of this discussion, and I find it particularly interesting that staunch conservatives want to NOW talk about Just War Theory, when the response to the Just War critiques regarding Iraq were: "Well, this is a different KIND of war," etc.
I'm not the biggest fan of war all around, but if you're going to have one or endorse one, at least be consistent. Based upon Republican response to Iraq, here's the answer to the Libya question: He's a mad man; he could get his hands on weapons of mass destruction, he supports terrorism and has attacked his own people.... Done. So, Libya's attack is OK.
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