Theories Of A Just War

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I. DEFINING A JUST WAR

"The term 'just war' is employed to refer in a shorthand way to the set of norms or criteria for assessing whether a government's recourse to force is morally justified. The just-war tradition is expressed in many forms: in international law, in the codes of conduct of national military forces, in moral philosophy and theology, in church teaching. The just-war norms embrace two sets of criteria. One, the ius ad bellum, identifies criteria for judging whether the resort to force is justified. These are sometimes called the 'war-decision' rules. The second set of criteria, ius in bello, regulates and limits the use of force in combat. These are sometimes called the 'war-conduct' rules."   READ ON

   -- From "Just War Principles," New Catholic Encyclopedia (2003), vol. 14.

 

II. A FEW THOUGHTS ON WAR

"We must not conceal from ourselves that no improvement in the present depressing situation is possible without a severe struggle; for the handful of those who are really determined to do something is minute in comparison with the mass of the lukewarm and the misguided. And those who have an interest in keeping the machinery of war going are a very powerful body; they will stop at nothing to make public opinion subservient to their murderous ends."

-- Albert Einstein, Mein Weltbild

"The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one's mind, is the condition of the normal man. Society highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal. Normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years [c. 1917-1967]."

-- R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience

 

III. THEORIES OF A JUST WAR & OTHER LINKS

1. Just War Theory

2. Catholic Catechism On A Just War

3. Carl Von Clausewitz, On War

4. William James: "The Moral Equivalent of War"

5. Immanuel Kant: "Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch"

6. Passages On War

7. Einstein On Life, Politics, And War

8. Discussing War: A Key Distinction

9. War In All Its Concreteness

10. Propaganda (From The Man Who Wrote The Book)

11. A General's Famous Words

12. Noam Chomsky On Just Wars

 

IV. PEACE, WAR, AND PHILOSOPHY -- An Article From The Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

 

V. OTHER LINKS ON WAR

13. Mark Twain's War Prayer

14. Dorothy Day On Pacifism And War

15. Albert Einstein And The Atom Bomb

16. Universal Declaration Of Human Rights

17. The Press And The Myths Of War ("If we saw what wounds did to bodies, how killing is far more like butchering an animal than the clean and neat Hollywood deaths on the screen, it would turn our stomachs," writes Chris Hedges (The Nation: 4/3/03). "If we saw how war turns young people into intoxicated killers, how it gives soldiers a license to destroy not only things but other human beings, and if we saw the perverse thrill such destruction brings, we would be horrified and frightened.")

18. Robert Jay Lifton, "American Apocalypse," The Nation, December 4, 2003

19. Jurgen Habermas, "The Fall Of The Monument" (An editorial in The Hindu, June 5, 2003)

20. 15 Famous Quotes About War

 

VI. PRINCIPLES & PREMISES OF CATHOLIC TEACHING

1. Catholic teaching begins in every case with a presumption against war and for peaceful settlement of disputes. In exceptional cases, determined by the moral principles of the just-war tradition, some uses of force are permitted.

2. Every nation has a right and duty to defend itself against unjust aggression.

3. Offensive war of any kind is not morally justifiable.

4. It is never permitted to direct nuclear or conventional weapons to "the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their populations..." The intentional killing of innocent civilians or non-combatants is always wrong.

5. Even defensive response to unjust attack can cause destruction which violates the principle of proportionality, going far beyond the limits of legitimate defense. This judgment is particularly important when assessing planned use of nuclear weapons. No defensive strategy, nuclear or conventional, which exceeds the limits of proportionality, is morally permissible.

     -- From The Challenge of Peace, a pastoral letter on war and peace from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, May 3, 1983, p. iii.

 

VII. SCHOLARLY RESOURCES

Hannah Arendt, On Violence (Harvest Books, 1970)

Aristotle, Politics, trans. by Benjamin Jowett (Modern Library, 1943)

LL Bernard, War And Its Causes (Henry Holt & Co., 1944)

Geoffrey Blainey, The Causes of War (Free Press, 1988)

Bernard Brodie, War and Politics (Pearson Education, 1974)

Carl von Clausewitz, On War (London, 1940)

John Dewey, Characters and Events, 2 vols. (London, 1929)

Chris Hedges, War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning (New York, 2003)

James Hillman, A Terrible Love of War (New York, 2004)

John Hobson, Imperialism (George Allen & Unwin, 1938)

Harold Lasswell, Psychopathology And Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1930)

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. by George Bull (Penguin, 1961)

Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations (Alfred Knopf, 1954)

National Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response (U.S. Catholic Conference, 1983).

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Children of Light And The Children of Darkness (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1945)

Polybius, The Histories, trans. by W.R. Paton, 6 vols. (William Heinemann, 1922-1927)

Karl Popper, The Open Society And Its Enemies (Princeton University Press, 1959)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. See also Rousseau's A Project of Perpetual Peace (London, 1927).

 Jacques Rousseau, ed. by C.E. Vaughan, 2 vols. (Cambridge University Press, 1915)

Bertrand Russell, Political Ideals (Century, 1917)

George Santayana, Dominations And Powers (Transaction Publishers, 1995)

William Graham Sumner, War And Other Essays (Yale University Press, 1911)

Sun Tzu, The Art of War (many editions, translations)

Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (Bantam Books, 1962)

Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Rex Warner trans. (Penguin Books, 1954)

Robert Tucker, The Just War: A Study In Contemporary American Doctrine (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1960).

Gore Vidal, Perpetual War For Perpetual Peace (Nation Books, 2002)

_________  Dreaming War (Nation Books, 2002)

Kenneth Waltz: Man, The State And War: A Theoretical Analysis (Columbia University Press, 1959).

Michael Walzer, Just And Unjust Wars (Basic Books, 2000)

Howard Zinn: The Power Of Nonviolence: Writings By Advocates Of Peace (Beacon Press, 2002).