08 December, 2008

Foundations Blog on Just War Theory

According to Alexander Hamilton “the first duty of society is justice”. Justice is an idea plaguing the human race since the beginning of time. When we are attacked, we have an impulse of wanting justice. Just wars are one major part of this idea plaguing the human race. Albert Einstein summed it up in one quote very well "So long as there are men there will be wars." According to Einstein the human race will always have to decide whether or not to go to war. In other terms is the reason to go to war justify the cost of the war. If the idea of just war is valid then can it be applied to the possible wars to come to the human race?
Justice can only have a base if your ethics or morality is objective. In subjective morality you can never be unjust in an action. Somehow a person, who does not believe in objective morality, still has the feeling that something unjust was done to the United States and its citizens on September 11, 2001. The only reason for this is there is an objective morality within every person it just needs a trigger to set it off.
Natural law is the idea that people have an objective moral view within themselves also called a conscience. It also refers to a legal theory that can be used in court (usually for military tribunals) that every human being has objective moral views and even if given an order they have the requirement as a member of the human race to disobey the order if they feel that it breaks the natural law within them. The following quote can shed more light on the topic,

“The term 'natural law' is ambiguous. It refers to a type of moral theory, as well as to a type of legal theory, despite the fact that the core claims of the two kinds of theory are logically independent. According to natural law ethical theory, the moral standards that govern human behavior are, in some sense, objectively derived from the nature of human beings. According to natural law legal theory, the authority of at least some legal standards necessarily derives, at least in part, from considerations having to do with the moral merit of those standards.” (Natural Law)

The Nuremburg trials had to use natural law to convict people for the crimes against humanity because to the German’s established laws stating anyone who disagreed with their laws was an enemy of the state. The German’s were not breaking any laws of their state and because they could not be tried by any other state’s laws they were not guilty under positive law. “One great lesson the world needs to learn form the Nuremburg trials is that positive law cannot provide the logical or moral basis for the protection of human rights; only natural law does.” (221 Geisler)
Justice must have an objective moral basis or a basis of natural law. The search for true justice still eludes the human race. The human race has yet to find a perfect just response to unjust actions. The only way there is perfect justice is if you apply God’s Justice. The only way to know there is injustice is if we have some idea in our head with which to compare it. C.S. Lewis put it very well in this quote, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got his idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
Natural law has enough moral law to sustain order and suppress chaos. In order to live well and have the good life you must use the perfect definitions of morality in the special revelation that God has given the human race. In order for an action to be just it must, at a minimum, be equivalent to natural law. This would only meet the stand of what a non-Christian would say is just. Christians should be more critical then the non-Christians because they are blessed with more knowledge so they should find more things unjust.
Justice only exists if you have objective morality. Natural law exists in every human being. This law becomes necessary when you are talking about international law and human rights. Every human being is responsible for the knowledge of natural law. Natural law does not have the capacity to create a perfect person unlike the perfect definitions in the special revelation. Natural law is very instrumental in the definition of what is just and what is unjust.
To determine if any of the armed conflicts the United States has participated in has been just or not will be up to natural law and its roll in justice will be instrumental. The theory of a just war has been around for thousands of years. Even before this was a theory talked about in the philosophical arena it was in every person’s mind whether or not an action was just due to their knowledge in natural law.
War brings out four main ideas within people. The first is realism; people who hold this view think “war is essentially a matter of power, self-interest and necessity, thereby making moral analysis largely irrelevant”. (1 Symposium) This loosely fits the view the Germans’ held during World War II. This view cost those who were on trial, at Nuremburg, their lives. Their view of wanting to remove the Jews and to create the prefect race was in their own self-interest; therefore it was a realism view of war. The second view of war is the main thorn in the side of the United States and its allies which is the concept of a Holy War. Holy war is the concept that some sort of Supreme Being ordered the destruction of unbelievers. The third idea is pacifism; it is the idea that war can not be justified morally. The forth idea is just war; this idea says that it must meet a criteria to become a just war. (Symposium)
Just war theory exists only to establish if a war is morally correct. It also includes the “thought that nations could rightly punish outlaw nations to achieve retributive justice”. (4 Symposium) There are two different aspects to this theory. The theory tries to preserve human life while giving justice to those who deserve justice. The first aspect to this theory is “jus ad bellum”. The second aspect of the theory is “jus in bello”. (Wikipedia)
“Jus as bellum” determines if the reasons for going to war are justified. This does not include the actions during the war only the reasons for justifying the war. Seven to eight requirements exist depending on who you ask. Just cause, legitimate authority, right intention, probability of success, proportionality, and last resort are the main six requirements needed to fulfill a just reason to go war. The two lesser reasons, then these six are; comparative justice, and emergent peace.
A just cause for going to war would be military action taken against your country. A violation of natural law (human rights), like the Germans did during World War II, against the Jews, or like Saddam did after Operation Desert Storm, against the Kurds. A just cause must be in defense or in correction of a violation of populations’ rights as human beings.
Legitimate authority, must be established before any military action is set into motion. Thanks to the United Nations Security Council (U.N.S.C.) this is much clearer to the international arena when nations have the permission to attack a nation who has violated the human rights of a population. Of course if you are attacked by a military force you do not need the U.N.S.C. to give you permission to counterattack.
Right intention must be in mind on the part of the intervening force. This is required to avoid starting a war for natural resources, like Japan did in World War II when they went into China and the surrounding countries.
The probability of success for the intervening force must be high otherwise there is a higher chance of leaving the problem in worse chaos then when you began the intervention. If you have been invaded as a country and foreign troops are on your soil you attack no matter what the probability of success.
Proportionality is pertaining to the response of the intervening force; the destruction done by attacking must be less then the good that would become of the attack. If you are being attacked the only standard you must abide by are the international treaties your country signed before the war began.
Last resort is self explanatory, is military action the last option, have you exhausted all other options. Every diplomatic option must be used, before you even consider military action. You must try referring to the Security Council, warning, sanctions, and time limits to stop their proactive actions.
One of the two requirements, considered by some or most but not all, is comparative justice. Comparative justice is the idea that all of the injustice suffered must outweigh the cost exponentially. This idea is close to proportionality but it is dealing with the losses you sustained and not the innocent in the vicinity of the action.
The other requirement, not supported by all, is emergent peace. When you proceed with military action you must have the goal of peace in mind for the end of the conflict. This idea is written in the natural law so some would consider it an unwritten requirement. The people who put it down just cover all of the bases.
“Jus in bello” is pertaining to the actions of a military force once they are in the war. It governs the actions of those combatants while they are fighting the war. These actions, if violated, will make the war unjust. Even if the reasons for going to war are just the war will still be viewed as unjust while it is being conducted.
The why this standard works is all of the personnel are trained not to intentionally harm any non-combatants. Even in wars, with extremely good weapons designed to prevent harm to those who are non-combatants, this will happen when there is no one to blame. This includes but is not limited to terrorism tactics. The principle of minimum force is a very big factor in the role of limiting the number of non-combatants killed. This principle is more or less self explanatory, if you can get the job done with a platoon, instead of a company, then use the platoon. When possible use the native forces because the citizens of the country like to feel they are capable of taking care of themselves. The torture, of both combatants and non-combatants breaks “jus in bello” theory. Prisoners of war must be treated respectfully. The better the intervening force is at this the more it will give credit to the reasons for the war.
For there to be a just cause to go to war you meet the criteria set up earlier, and follow through with it in the actions committed by the intervening force. This is just a theory until you test it, so to take this theory out for a “test drive” the current war in Iraq is a great vehicle.
The present war in Iraq was started by the United States and its’ coalition forces. This coalition was comprised of forty-nine nations as of March 23,2003 Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Spain, Tonga, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uzbekistan. The involvement of these countries is not necessarily military troops as explained by the White House in this quote, “Contributions from Coalition member nations range from: direct military participation, logistical and intelligence support, specialized chemical/biological response teams, over-flight rights, humanitarian and reconstruction aid, to political support.” (White House)
According to President Bush Iraq had; WMDs (weapons of mass destruction). The term WMDs is pertaining to the ABC (Atomic, Biological and Chemical) weapons. When talking about the chemical weapons according to Hans Blix in a BBC news article Saddam had unaccounted for “The destruction of about 2,000 unfilled munitions remain uncertain, 550 filled munitions remain unaccounted for” along with “6,000 chemical warfare bombs” Saddam was to destroy these weapons in compliance of the Security Council.
Saddam has also overseen the government of Iraq during the Kurdish uprising. He suppressed the Kurds by force using Helicopters armed with chemical nerve agents. The actions Saddam took against his own people in 1991 were terrifying. Including the actions taken, supposedly, by the Iraqi air force in the city of Halabja in 198, where several hundred to seven thousand Kurds were gassed. According to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International there was a campaign which started in 1986 and lasted until 1989, and is said to have lost the lives of 182,000 civilian Kurds. These attacks were done with a chemical weapon cocktail which is a mixture of mustard gas and VX gas. This combination makes the gas harder to track. The combination of the missing weapons and the usage of these weapons tell us he is not afraid to use them. Saddam’s government governed through fear, his citizens were tortured and executed under his rule. According to an episode of 20/20, “human rights groups estimate that at least 290,000 Iraqis have disappeared since Saddam took power”.
Just cause is covered by the massive amounts of Iraqis that had disappeared and had been gassed under Saddams’ rule. This is defiantly a just cause to go to war. Right authority is established by the roll of the United States, and Great Britain in the world. We are the world leaders and as such have an oblation to stop a monster like Saddam. This gives the coalition the right authority. The intention of the coalition was to liberate Iraq from Saddam, this is a right intention. There were sanctions in place on Iraq since before the 1991 war. We gave him a forty-eight hour window to leave the country. These two were about the only things that would have convinced Saddam to stop and he did not so we came to an armed conflict. Proportionality was satisfied when we sent in ground forces, to take out specific targets, and using state of the art laser and GPS guided bombs, to reduce the collateral damage. The final goal was a free and democratic Iraq. This satisfies the emergent peace standard. Comparative justice is satisfied when we have the goal to free these people from a life of fear, to a life of freedom, the innocent were in mind the whole time because this was for them.
According to the “Jus as bellum” part of the theory the coalition had just intentions for starting Operation Iraqi Freedom. The second part of the theory “Jus in bello” is a different story. The coalition failed miserably when it came to the just actions during the war in part of one Pfc. (Private First Class) Lynndie England who posed in photographs which show prisoners mistreatment on the part of the U.S. Army. This is a shame because the intentions were right but due to her actions many people will not forget and Iraq will be called an unjust war on this basis. This is the one part of the theory that is not stated is whether or not an action during the war unjustified the reasons for going to war.
As for the topic of the wars the United States could be faced with in the future, it may be difficult to explain the reasons why those wars are just. The present Bush policy is preemption; this makes it hard to prove a just war because we would be going to war before we were hit by a military action. This is a radical shift from the cold war containment policy. The use of a war against terrorism is justifiable because terrorism is recognized by most of the world to be illegal and immoral. Terrorism also breaks the “Jus in bello” due to its aggression towards civilians or killing of non-combatants. Going to war against the terrorists is justified but the policy of preemption will make it difficult to determine if the wars we enter into in the future will be just or not.
So in order to have a just war you must meet the requirements of the just war theory. This theory is rooted in the foreknown knowledge of natural law. This law is a base for objective morality which helps keep the world form slipping into chaos. Just war says the reasons for going into Iraq were justified but the actions of the coalition troops were not justified and did not abide by the natural law. If just war theory is a big portion of justice then the whole idea of justice has to be based on natural law. This means that natural law is the hub of all true justice, that takes place within the world, and the idea of a just war are becoming harder to apply as the world is getting more complex in its issues.