The Theory of Just War: Meaning and Examples
Human history is full of different processes and events which occurred in different times. There were the cases of war and the peace times, sometimes people were right and sometimes wrong. All people’s life is interconnected with the philosophical sciences which were developed mostly in ancient times. Even war has its own philosophy. The Theory of Just War appeared in the ancient times and may be referenced to some wars which were held during different periods of modern history. The Vietnam War, war on “terror” and Kosovo War may be criticized from the point of view of the ancient philosophy of Theory of Just War.
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The Theory of Just War
The Theory of Just War has the close interconnection with military ethics of Roman philosophy and direct influence of the Christianity. Focusing the attention on the international laws as the guarantees of the national interests, state relations and sovereign protection, it is crucial to turn to just war theory’s concept of justice. The main idea of the Theory of Just War conception is that the war is held to protect people or when the power forces are used with the aim of justice, not to capture or occupy the lands of other countries. “The goal of a just war is a just peace” (Evans 2005-9) and it is impossible to disagree with this. The Theory of Just War has two major headings, jus ad bellum (‘the justice of a war’ that asks whether one state has the right to violate the other) and jus in bello (‘justice in war’ that is the criticizing of the methods of victory achievement) (Mattox 2006-8).
War in Kosovo had international value as the interests of a lot of countries came into conflict with the Kosovo War. The Kosovo war has another name, operation Allied Forces, and has two stages, 1998 – 1999, when the war was actually between Yugoslavia and Kosovo, and 1999 when NATO interfered and the American forces entered the country. The reasons for the war are different, but the push for NATO to start was the incident in Racak, where Yugoslavian forces attacked the peaceful citizens. This was the main reason for NATO to start the war against Yugoslavia in order to maintain order on the territories. NATO tired to decide the conflict diplomatically with the demand to take out Serbian forces from Kosovo and to locate there NATO forces with peacemaking aims. This demand was ignored and the result was obvious (Buckley and Cummings). Considering the results of the war, it is possible to say that the Kosovo status remained unresolved and the territory is ruled by the United States. A lot of interests were involved in the war and this war did not solve all of them.
Vietnam War is a war that took place in 1959 – 1975, where North Vietnam and South Vietnam were in conflict and the American forces supported the ideas of the South part of the country. Considering the relations between Vietnam and the United States, it seems ironic to imagine that the war took place as America helped and supported Vietnam politics and provided material aid. The reason for the war was the rise of nationalism in the country and its supportive communist ideas. America viewed the this war as” the part of a new global conflict against communism” (Hall 2007-3) what seemed very actual during the time of Cold War. The Communist North Vietnam, in its turn, understood this war as “the latest phase of a long fight for independence” (Hall 2007-3). The United States tried to solve the problem diplomatically, but it did not help, and as Johnson sais on May 20, 1964 “if diplomacy failed to solve the Vietnam problem, then the United States would hit North Vietnam targets” (Moyar 2006-307), what had happened as the peace consideration of the problem was impossible. The Vietnam conflict involved a lot of other countries as the war had not the regional character and the aim was the struggle against Communist system in general, not just in North Vietnam.
War on “Terror”
The modern War against terrorism is one of the main wars of the whole mankind which is mainly concentrated and guided in the United States. The problem of terrorism existed for a long time and the antiterrorism operations were provided many times in different times, but the main antiterrorism action was organized after a great American disaster, September 11, 2001. The war against terror continues till now and America provides more and more programs to provide the security of the country and its citizens. The war operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries to struggle against al Qaeda are the operations which are provided with the aim to protect the people of the whole world from the terrorism. The reasons and causes of the war are always the same, to help people live peaceful lives and not to afraid to visit different public places, as public place is one of the main targets of the terrorists. This Long War continues and nobody knows when this is going to end as there are always people who want to be powerful without considering the fact that simple people suffer and that somebody’s blood is shed for it.
The named three conflicts may be “just wars” from the point of view of their goals. The American intentions were to meet the justice and to free people from oppression and release them from sufferings. It is obvious that different situations may be valued differently and there is always one side which is against this just and consider situation from their point of view as injustice. The international intervention in the other country is usually considered as justice as the population is released from the oppression which is maintained on them.
The Kosovo War is the most difficult to consider from the point of view of its justice. The American intervention aimed to protect basic human rights. David Luban, investigating this problem, said that Kosovo took one unhappy lesson from that war, “that practical and political limitations on effective warfare can amount to moral limitations as well – and limitations on effective warfare can weaken the humanitarian rationale for interest in the first place” (2002-79). In general, considering the American intentions and the actions it had provided there, the war was just, but the situation was not solved till the end. Buckley and Cummings (2001) consider this war not so just as it may seem from the very beginning.
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Vietnam War may also be considered as the just was according to the theory principles as the main aim of the war was the rejection of the oppression of communist regime in the Vietnam society. There are always people who are ready to argue this or that aspect and Stephen Spiro was one of them. He is the main opposes to Vietnam War who argues that this was just war (Cornell, 2008).
Considering the War on “Terror” it is crucial that almost all scholars consider this situation as supporting to the Theory of Justice War, as people’s deaths in the terrorist campaigns cannot be justified. In this case war is the only instrument which may maintain justice in the world. Terrorists are people who put their aims on the highest level and it is impossible to construct any other ideas to convince them but to use their ideas. The Theory of Justice war claims that war can be used only to release the nation from the oppression and the war against terrorism is the release of the whole world from constant fear and depression.
War is always war, even if it has the just intentions. Innocent people die in wars, children and women, old people, and it is in no way justice. The conflicts should be decided diplomatically without military power involvement. If the war is inevitable, so it must be just, without any desire to capture or occupy the country, to robber it and destroy. The global experience in wars (World War I and World War II), the disaster and the privation which follows it had to form the negative attitude to wars in general. The just intentions for the war appearance should be only after long and influential negotiations, as one of the countries is always dominant and it is its obligation to provide the case in such a way that to exclude the war by all means.
Buckley, Mary E. A. and Sally N. Cummings. Kosovo: perceptions of war and its aftermath. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001.
Cornell, Tom (2008). “Stephen Spiro, 1940-2007”. Catholic Worker LXXV: 6.
Evans, Mark. Just war theory: a reappraisal. Edinburgh University Press, 2005.
Hall, Mitchell K. The Vietnam War. Pearson Education, 2007.
Mattox, John Mark. Saint Augustine and the theory of just war. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006.
Moyar, Mark. Triumph forsaken: the Vietnam war, 1954-1965. Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Luban, David. Intervention and Civilization: Some Unhappy Lessons of the Kosovo War. In Global justice and transnational politics: essays on the moral and political challenges of globalization eds. Greiff, Pablo and Ciaran Cronin. MIT Press, 2002.