‘Just War’ Doctrine Abandoned. Ron Paul Objected. Here’s Why
Throughout the last 2000 years, humanity has been violent, many wars have been fought for many reason, and also much of humanity has adhered to Christianity. The very fact that wars occur, even among Christian nations, was a horrible thought, as Christianity is SO CLEAR that its adherents were to be peacemakers.
This dreadful dichotomy between the ideals and goals of peace, and the reality and harshness of life and the ‘necessity of war’, has meant that Christian thinkers from very early on had to grapple with the issue. We are commanded that murder is wrong by the Ten Commandments. Yet we also know that we have a responsibility to defend our families, communities have a responsibility to protect the citizens in them and, of course, that governments have an obligation and responsibility to protect and defend their people and enforce justice among the members. The taking of human life is wrong.
Therefore, Christianity worked out the Just War Doctrine, that laid out the various issues related to justice and war, and even though its foundation is Christian in origin, it is such a useful doctrine that any country can use it whether Christian or not, and it is extremely helpful in many areas of human relationships, not the least of which is foreign relations.
It is a set of ‘ethics’ when deciding about using violence, and it has been accepted and practiced; when it is violated humanity faces grave dangers in the violence, and justification for war, getting way out of hand.
Once you read this doctrine, you will see clearly how important, and how useful. It NEVER ‘justifies’ war, which is ALWAYS an evil. It seeks to limit the damage and actions of a war that cannot be avoided in any way.
Wikipedia’s entry on the Just War Doctrine is useful for further information.
The Seven Tenets of the Just War Doctrine:
1. A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.
2. A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority.
Even just causes cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society deem legitimate.
3. A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause (although the justice of the cause is not sufficient–see point #4).
Further, a just war can only be fought with “right” intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury.
4. A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success.
Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable.
5. The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace.
More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought.
6. The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered.
States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered.
7. The weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants.
Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians.
The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.
By these principles, that build upon one another, you can begin to see in how many ways our current foreign policy and reasons for war have violated the tenets that Americans, people of western civilization and Christians in general have held for years.
The VERY FIRST THING that is made PLAIN: There is NEVER a justification for PRE-EMPTIVE war. All of America’s friends, allies and even the enemies TOOK NOTE that America had abandoned tradition and history and decided to go to war pre-emptively. That means that ANY COUNTRY, any leader, any provocation of any type could bring war down on their heads without recourse to diplomacy, negotiations, third party interventions. It made America DANGEROUS AND UNPREDICTABLE. It made our enemies step up their preparations for protective and possibly aggressive warfare. It also gave other countries an out and out justification to strike at us without warning, by any means they may choose.
It has put America and Americans in the greatest danger we have EVER been in.
The Just War Doctrine holds human life, and the well being of societies, to be of primary importance, and that the only point to war is to address damage that has been done already to a people and to return everyone to a state of peace as rapidly as possible.
The Constitution of the United States actually embodies the Just War Doctrine, implicitly if not explicitly. According to that document, the ONLY legitimate authority in our government for declaring war is Congress, NOT the President. One valid objection against ‘Desert Storm’ was that by the time President GHW Bush approached Congress for authorization, it was much too late.
Furthermore, the United Nations approval of war is NOT sufficient, according to our Constitution, for us to go to war and does nothing to legitimize it when we do. Tenet #2 tells us: A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority.
Therefore, a war that is waged outside of approval by Congress, with a corresponding and legal ‘declaration of war’ can NEVER be a legal war according to the Constitution, and therefore, it can NEVER be a ‘Just War’ based upon our traditional doctrine.
What of approval by the UN? It says: “Even just causes cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society deem legitimate.”
Even if it is in a proper cause, according to the doctrine, if it is NOT properly authorized, it makes no difference. Even in a good cause a war only approved of by the United Nations and/or our allies, can NEVER be legal OR just.
Other issues are self-explanatory- civilians and civilian areas are NEVER to be targeted. There must be a reasonable chance of success, and success must mean that the situation must end up better after fighting that it would have been without fighting. If not, then the war is not Just.
This Just War Doctrine also, by its very existence, totally rules out one other thing. Nuclear war is ALWAYS ruled out as an absolute evil. There is NOTHING proportional about using nuclear weapons, and it is impossible to prevent the damage and fallout from nuclear weapons from inflicting death, illness and disease upon civilian populations. It causes extreme damage to the environment. It is impossible to make nuclear weapons discriminate.
It could also be said that the Just War Doctrine rules out biological and chemical warfare. As we have seen from the children of Agent Orange victims, even though the offspring is utterly innocent of any part in the Vietnam War, they suffer horribly from disease and malformations because of the potent and even lethal chemicals used in warfare.
I believe that most people in the entire world are finally convinced that the wars America are currently fighting are over oil and profits for the military industrial complex, their owners and investors, and in the interests of the global bankers. There is NO CIRCUMSTANCE imaginable, either under the Just War Doctrine or the Constitution of the United States, that make profits an acceptable reason to go to war.
If America does not require our government to adhere either to the Constitution OR the Just War Doctrine; if principle and law cannot stay the hand of our officials, then all of the world is at grave risk of violence sweeping over everyone with nothing to stop it except more violence.
We have already been mislead and lied to repeatedly, and the Constitution has been abandoned. If our leaders won’t obey the law because of the favor they hold among other global interests, then our own government has no reason to obey the law in respects to how it treats and protects its citizens, how it respects our rights, how it operates all of its functions.
Without the Constitution and Just War Doctrine, America is nearly at a horrifying end.