Friday, November 11, 2011

Post #66 - Just War Doctrine

First Afghan War, 1842

In Special Report 98: Would an Invasion of Iraq Be a “Just War?,” published in January 2003 by the United States Institute of Peace*, the director of the Religion and Peacemaking Initiative, David Smock, offered the following summary of the basic principles of Christian “just war” doctrine:

Jus ad bellum (“justice on the way to war”)

  • Legitimate Authority: Requiring that only legitimate officials may decide to resort to force is one way to protect against arbitrariness.
  • Just Cause: The three standard acceptable causes are self-defense, recovery of stolen assets and punishment for wrong-doing.
  • Peaceful Intention: The intention is to use force to achieve peace, using force to restrain and minimize force.
  • Last Resort: Before turning to war, all reasonable approaches to a peaceful resolution need to be employed.
  • Reasonable Hope of Success: In going to war, there must exist the reasonable expectation of successfully obtaining peace and reconciliation between the warring parties.

Jus in bello (“justice in the midst of war”)

  • Proportionality: The suffering and devastation of war must not outweigh whatever benefits may result from war.
  • Discrimination or Noncombatant Immunity: The means of warfare must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants.

*The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan federal institution created by Congress to promote the prevention, management, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts; it was established in 1984. The Institute’s Board of Directors is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate.

[Note: A recent addition to just-war theory, promulgated by Franciscan Naval Chaplain Louis Iasiello, newly-named head of the Washington Theological Seminary, has drawn some attention. Father Lou talks not only about the justice of war and justice in war, (jus ad bellum and jus in bello) but also the justice after a war (jus post bellum).]

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