Outline the concepts of just war and pacifism

Topics: Peace, Pacifism, Just War Pages: 5 (1943 words) Published: September 21, 2013
Outline the key concepts of Just War and Pacifism. A01 [21] The Just war theory maintains that war may be justified if fought only in certain circumstances, and only if certain restrictions are applied to the way in which war is fought. The theory that was first propounded by St Augustine of Hippo and St Ambrose of Milan ( 4th and 5th centuries AD) attempts to clarify two fundamental questions: ‘when is it right to fight?’ and ‘How should war be fought?’. Whereas Pacifists are people mainly Christians who reject the use of violence and the deliberate killing of civilians but claims that peace is intrinsically good and ought to be upheld either as a duty and that war can never be justifiable. However, Realists agree that, due to the nature of humans, force is a necessary action to be used to maintain a just and ordered society. Therefore, since the Second World War, people have turned their attention to Just War again establishing rules that can serve as guidelines to a just war- the Hague and Geneva conventions. Many Christians had taken the view that war may be justifiable under certain circumstances, and only if fought observing certain rules of conduct. Wars against the Muslim control of Jerusalem in the 11th-13th centuries were sometimes seen as holy wars which were popularly regarded as Crusades. Some philosophers based their justifications on the stories in the Bible. For example, St Paul in Romans 13:4 wrote that rulers are servants of God ‘…for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil’. In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas gave an outline (the first three criteria of a just war) on the Justification of war and the kinds of acts that are allowed in a war in Summa Theologica. His ideas became the model of later scholars such as Franciso Suarez and Francisco de Vitoria. The first three conditions necessary for a just war were listed by Aquinas which included right authority, just cause and just intention. These and the three additional conditions that were later included, were referred to as ‘Jus ad Bellum’-rules about when it is right and just to go to war. Aquinas asserted that just authority meant that war could only be started by legitimate authority: ‘the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged’. He wrote that sovereign authority which has been elected legitimately has the sole authority to declare war. This meant that, there can be no private armies of individuals who can start a war and, equally, an incompetent government or sovereign does not have the authority to initiate war. Just cause, is considered to be one of the most important conditions of jus ad bellum. Aquinas once stated that, ‘…those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault’. It was considered that self defence against physical aggression was the only sufficient reason for just cause. Finally, Aquinas wrote that the war fought with just intention, was to be for ‘the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil’. Kant once said that sovereigns could not fight wars for immoral intentions only for good motives. During a state of conflict, right intention should mean for peace and reconciliation. Therefore, soldiers cannot use or encourage a hatred of a minority in war. Their intentions must always be virtuous. In the 16th and 17th century, Suarez and de Vitoria added three additional conditions: proportionality in the conduct of war, only entering war as a last resort, and only fighting when there is a reasonable chance of success. Hence when dealing with proportionality, a state should never wage war that causes relatively more suffering and destruction than the actual wrong done by the enemy. Therefore, in any case, excessive violence, death and damage should be avoided. For example, it was not proportionate for the atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan that were conducted by the United States during the final...
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