War & Peace

  • Created by: MattyLew
  • Created on: 01-05-18 16:37

Just War Theory Context

Introduced by Augustine - focused on legitimate authority and just cause, writing at a time whent here is a new Christian empire, so does not want them to lose there new found power.  Aquinas then developed this not long after the crusades (Christian campaigns during the Holy Land in the medieval period, Christians massacred many Muslims in Jerusalem). Richard thE 1st of England used Aquinas's JWT to support the third crusade, which he went on.

  • Adapted it to fit with his idea of Right Intention from NML - if the intent is good but the outcome bad, it is still moral. 
  • makes war morally justifiable if it meet's certain criteria 


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Just War Theory - Aquinas - Jus in Bello

How the war should be fought 

1. Proportionality - proportional force to achieve the end you seek, meaning only do what is necessary e.g. nuclear weapon is not proportional

2. Discrimination - who you are attacking. Must distinguish between innapropriate and appropriate targets. Meaning avoid killing innocent civillians. 

+ Cannot use warfare that are evil in themselves e.g. **** 

+ Treat prisoners of war fairly e.g. Aquinas thought you should not torture people

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Just War Theory - Aquinas - Jus Post Bellum

what to do after the war is done

1. Proportionality - the peace treaty should be reasonable, we should not be seeking to humiliate the other country

2. Discrimination - must distinguish between the leaders and the innocent civillians of the country

3. Right's Vindication - the settlement that is made must secure the right to life and liberty

4. Punishment - to people who have engaged in humans rights violations should be, war crime tribunals but not innocent civilians. 

5. Compensation - country that has been defeated may have to be given financial aid to help it rebuild

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Jus Ad Bellum - Aquinas

Jus Ad Bellum - criteria concerning what makes it right to go to war, what makes us resort to war

1) Just authority - can only be started by a legitamate authority (responsible for public order e.g. Government)

2) Just cause - the people you are attacking must deserve it (in order to protect innocent life)

3) Just Intention - have to have a good motive "the advancement of good or the avoidance of evil"

4) Comparative Justice - both sides must be fairly considered (e.g. if you are an economically strong and large country, it would not be just to go to war on a poor and small country)

5) Proportionality - injustice that lead to the war must not matched or higher, must be proportionate 

6) Last Resort - all peaceful attempts have been tried and exhausted 

7) Has to be a reasonable chance for success - if the end result will likely be hopeless, then you are causing more destruction than necessary 

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Examples of Just War Theory

Jus ad Bellum: WW2

  • JI: Hitler led Gemrnay with the racist national Socialist Worker's part. The allies wanted him removed for this reason.
  • JC: In 1939 Germany made an unprovoked attack on Poland. Britan and France wanted to protect their ally which was treated unfairly.
  • JA: Winston Churchill. 
  • P: the allies were desperate for success, were willing to try anything including bombing large civilian areas such as Dresden (does not fulfil this!)
  • RCOS: Germany had superior military technology, allies were unsure as to whether they would win
  • LS: Britain did everything to avoid war, including intensive peace negotiations; even though hitler signed an agreement with Britain, he continued to invade Poland anyway!

Jus in Bello: Geneva Conventions - 20th century -these aim to protect POW, outlawing torture 

Jus post Bellum: Paris Peace Treaties, 1947 - these included war reparations and allowed some countries to regain sovereignty + public agreement 

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  • Modern Warfare is very different to the time this was conceived - the potential consequences of going to war today means war is perhaps never justified
  • Terrorists or dictators don't follow the principles of JWT - if you are going to war against a country that is a dictatorship, or terrorist led then why you should follow JWT? It may lead to weakening your defense or attack, and cause you to lose. 
  • Pacifism: violence is never justified 
  • Nuclear Weapons - impossible to discriminate who is being killed, as this kind of weapon of mass destruction kills everything in it's path
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Realism (alternative for JWT)

JWT is too idealistic, a nation has to look after it's own interests instead. 

The theory argues that the morality of the individual is different, and does not apply, to the morality of the state. You may personally believe murder is wrong; but this does not apply to the country as a whole.

War is not a moral activity, we cannot mix our own personal ethics with war. 

Reinhold Nibuhr: war is invetible because of human nature so we have to embrace it.

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The belief that violence is always wrong (often associated with Christianity because Jesus had a pacifist attiude and action towards though who were violent to hime.g. NT: "turn the other cheek" + "love your enemies"). First developed as a theory in the 16th century by Conrad Grebel. 


  • Absolute - partaking in war is never right because nothing can justify the killing of human beings (even if someone is trying to kill you). Does not mean doing nothing e.g. Ghandi - do peaceful demonstrations, hunger strikes
  • Conditional - depends on the seriousness of the war. An individual may be a pacifist, but if a group of people is being oppressed by e.g. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, famous christian theologian, was a prominent pacisifm. Was a German, and alive during WW2. But was part of a secret group that tried to assasinate Hitler. 
  • Selective/Nuclear Pacifism - using nuclear weapons is never a just war, it always in every circumstance unjustifiable because using such weapons are inwinnable.
  • Active Pacifism - engaging in political activity and campaigns to promote peace
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Religious Approaches to Pacifism

Religious approaches -

  • Quakers - denomination of Christians who are pacifist. Came to prominence during WW1 and WW2, and were known as concientious objectors. 
  • Conscientious Objectors - if war is declared and they are called up they feel killing people is against their conscience so do not partake e.g. Desmond Doss, who was a combat medic and saved 75 men in the battle of Okinawa (only concientious objector to recieve medal of honour). Refused to even touch a gun on religious grounds. 
  • Jesus - on the cross he forgave his crucifiers
  • Based on the principle of sanctity for life, war would be immoral
  • NML: one of the five primary precepts is to preserve all human life
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Pacifism - Evaluating + religious approaches

Weaknesses -

  • allows evil to dominatw; leads to acceptance of tyranny and oppression (why Bonhoieffer felt he was morally justified)
  • would lead a country to be defenseless if attacked by a non-pacifist country
  • in theory if everyone was pacifist, it would work, but most people aren't - human nature, someone will always want power and will use force to get this.
  • Orwell: to be a pacifist during hitler's rule was like being a collaborator with Nazi ideology
  • Pacifism can never be a national policy as it would leave the country open to attack and invasion. States have a moral obligation to protect their citizens.

Strengths -

  • places an absolute value on life (religious: sanctity of life), war is highly immoral, might prevent suffering and damage caused by war, a non-violent attitude can lead to change, any other view is an implicit endorsement of war

Alternatives to violence - civil disobediance (MLK montgomery bus boycott), vigls (for Syria), hunger strikes (Jewish POW's), diplomacy

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Religious Views on War

OT: portrays god as revengeful, who brings destruction to the enemies of his people "Joshua spared everyone was put to death. This was what the Lord God of Israel had commanded" vs "Nation will not take up sword against nation"

NT - warfare seen a s aspiritual battle against evil "the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms"

Jesus: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him your other also"

Paul: "overcome evil with good"

Emperor Constantine (312CE): had a vision of jesus who promised victory in battle if he converted to Christianity - felt violence was therefore okay in certain circumstances --> Holy War = to achieve a religious goal, authorised by a religious leader, spiritual reward 

Augustine: "Christians make war with tears in their eyes"

Jon Stott: in modern society war may be defended as "the lesser of two evils...regarded by the Christian mind as a painful necessity in a fallen world"

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Case Study: Iraq War

Cost the US more than $3 trillion (Bush administration estimated it would have cost $60 million in 2003)

4,4000 US military lost there lives, 32,000 were wounded

Easy to justify because of the 9/11 attacks (defnese/retaliation) 

1 million Iraqi's died (including innocent civillians!) as a result of the US's decision to liberate them from tyrant Saddam Hussein 

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Developments of War

Drones: don't have a human pilot (are un-manned) so no death of a soldier is risked. However they cannot differentiate between soldier (considered the enemy) and an innocent civilian)

Autonomous Weapons - either from a human operator or a computer system 

Nuclear Weapons: large explosive device which causes exponential devastation to anywhere it hits. Used only twice in history

Hiroshima: US against Japan, WW2 1945. "Little Boy" in Hirsohima and "Fat Man" in Nagasaki 3 days later - resulted in the death of 200,000 people and caused japan to surrender (the war was won due to the atomic bomb)

South Africa is the only country to have independtly develop, then dismantle a nuclear weapon.

Modernisation of weapons continues to this day.

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