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  • Created on: 31-05-12 12:49

Wars can be waged for a wide variety of reasons:-


In response to armed invasion (e.g.  The Falklands War, where British

Armed Forces regained the Falkland Islands from an Argentine force).


To support a less powerful nation in its struggle against a superior military

force (

e.g.  The Gulf War, where a coalition of military powers went to war

against Iraq to reclaim Kuwaiti territory. It is arguable that the Gulf War

was waged to protect western access to oil).


To try to gain territory from a neighbouring nation (e.g.  The wars waged

by the English against the French throughout most of the Medieval



To counter a threat to peace and stability (e.g.  Israel’s war in the



Because a treaty exists which obliges a nation to go to war in support of

another nation (

e.g.  The various treaties that were in operation in 1914,

which led to most of Europe going to war).

In the case of World War Two, most of these reasons applied!

Philosophy has had a varied relationship with armed struggle:


Plato’s opinions of Athenian politics were formed during the disastrous

Peloponnesian War.


Augustine wrote Civitas Dei  (The City of God) after the Visigoths sacked

Rome in AD410.


Hobbes wrote Leviathan, in which he characterised life as being “nasty,

brutish and short” after the English Civil War.


After the horrors of the First World War, most of the intellectual map of

Europe was altered completely (

e.g.  Compare Elgar’s music pre-war, such

as his Cockaigne overture, and the Pomp and Circumstance marches, with

the desolation of his post-war Cello Concerto). In some cases,

philosophers were enlisted to justify militaristic and nationalistic

standpoints, as the various nations struggled to redefine themselves in

the aftermath of the war.

For most religious people, war is a difficult issue because it is often a very

complex one. The rules of international politics and of sovereign statehood

make an opinion on the justification of war rarely a straightforward opinion.



The Notion of a Just War


The different religions have different interpretations of the justification

of war.


Islam - the Jihad . Jihad is spoken of on two levels, the


spiritual struggle against evil, and the external struggle

against the forces that represent evil. Jihad is the duty of all

Muslims. There are four ways they may fulfill a jihad: by the

heart, the tongue, the hand, and the sword. These refer to the

inner, spiritual battle of the heart against vice, passion, and

ignorance; spreading the word of Islam with one's tongue;

choosing to do good and avoiding evil with one's hand; and

waging war against non-Muslims with the sword



Christianity –

 Various Christian philosophers have tried to

identify the conditions in which it could be justified to enter an

armed struggle. Unlike Islam, Christianity has never supported

the notion of


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