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The War Drums are Banging Louder than Ever

Kim Jong -Un and Donald Trump are banging the war drums. Is this just another war or is it a just war.

In the 13th century St Thomas Aquinas presented the outline of the present day, traditional, Just War Theory.

The six conditions for a Just War are:

  • The war must be for a just cause.

  • The war must be lawfully declared by a lawful authority.

  • The intention behind the war must be good.

  • All other ways of resolving the conflict should have been tried first.

  • There must be a reasonable chance of success.

  • The means used must be in proportion to the end that the war seeks to achieve.

A war that starts as a Just War may stop being a Just War if the means used to fight it are inappropriate.

  • Innocent people and non-combatants should not be harmed.

  • Only appropriate force should be used. This applies to the type of force used, and how much force is used.

  • Internationally agreed conventions regulating war must be obeyed.

Many people would emphasise that war should be a last resort.

The Just War Theory has been criticised as being too general and imprecise and open to a variety of interpretations.

The key to understanding and applying The Just War Theory is to tease out what the key words and phrases in the theory mean.

  • What is a just cause? Is it protection? Is it retaliation? Is it to improve living conditions? Is it to provide rights? Is it to increase power or wealth?

  • What is a lawful authority? Can a recognised authority become unlawful or unjust? What about Nazism?

  • What makes an intention good?

  • At what point does war become a last resort? Is this open to interpretation?

  • What is a reasonable chance of success? Who decides this?

  • What constitutes reasonable force?

  • When do a means to an end become unreasonable?

The war drums are banging but are they banging for justice?

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