Scrutinizing the legitimacy of authority is a basic foundation of any discourse on whether or not war is justified.
I’ve been a frequent participant in an online community, Conservative Punk, for close to five years now. Just like any online community, the quality of discussion fluctuates, but the long-term participants are generally well-intentioned, well-informed and civil.
In a thread titled, “Justification for War?“, the original poster humbly asks: “What are valid, just reasons for one nation to go to war with each other? Beyond that which wars that the U.S. has been in would you consider justified and why?” The second question is one for a wealth of posts singling out each war and the first is one for a 10,000-word journal article–one which I might attempt at thoroughly combating in the near future. Of course, before answering the latter, one must reasonably answer the former. In doing so, I see a massive flaw in reasoning diluting the capability at answering either.
Not an end-all-be-all statement on Just War Theory; just my quick reply:
“Just War Theory”, as a concept, could be a long, enlightening thread in itself. Every war can be intriguingly discussed in their own threads, but there’s a flaw in some general reasoning I see with the word “justification”:
Results with improvements upon the status prior to a war aren’t the sole justification for war. Sure, the use of arms mustn’t produce evils worse than those to be eliminated, but this could justify an aggressor. The mistake in this rationale is that it would absolve the possibility of richer, more resourceful powers to ever be unjust as long it exercises its capability of producing a point B generally more favorable than point A.
A just war, as I understand Just War Theory, is that with: (a) a just cause; (b) defensively waged by a legitimate authority; (c) as a last resort; (d) correctly distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants; (e) targeting the aggressors; with—not “or resulting in”, but with—(f) a termination reducing the evil aggression in proportion greater than those “necessary evils” used by the legitimate authority that; (g) produces a resolution with chances of future aggression being less than those chances prior to and during the war, itself; and (h) all implied “necessary evils” strictly scrutinized by the legitimate authority.
I’ve studied many theories—mostly St. Thomas Aquinas and the modern Professors Noam Chomsky, Murray Rothbard and Zbigniew Brzezinski [with some of those from which they derived and derivations of]. None of these theories set forth are flawless, but these are the most rational common threads, as far as I understand “Just War Theory”.
Now, a war can be favorable to a group of individuals, with means ‘less evil’ than the cause and ends, but still be unjust; ‘unjust’ meaning that post bellum, the ends don’t absolve the victor from immorality in breaking any of the prior points. In other words, the use of force is only just when justice itself isn’t compromised, if that makes sense.
Leniency after scrutiny should be differentiated from immunity from legal scrutiny post bellum. If the force is just and the authority is legitimate, it is always just for that authority to scrutinize—and hold liable with all things weighed—injustice within its own ranks. That’s the minimal basis of what legitimizes the authority.
- Murray Rothbard–“America’s Two Just Wars” (text)
- Noam Chomsky–“On Just War and the Invasion of Iraq“