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Is War Justifiable?

 
 
bigstew
 
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 01:49 am
And if so, under what conditions?

If not, why?

Further, is pacifism a coherent notion?
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Type: Question • Score: 11 • Views: 6,399 • Replies: 68
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 03:30 am
Notions about the justification of war have changed considerably in the last century or so. Today, it seems, the world community deplores wars of aggression, for any cause other than a clear-cut case of preemption of a threat to one's national security. Wars of self-defense continue, of course, to be considered justified. The wars of the administration of the younger Mr. Bush are a case in point. The world community, largely, seems to have considered the invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001 to have been justified in light of the attacks upon the United States on September 11th. Very few members of the world community, however, considered the invasion of Iraq a year and half later to have been justifiable. The "if not" would appear to be based on the concepts embodied in the United Nations charter with regard to national self-determination. Chapter VI of the Charter deals with the pacific (i.e., peaceful) settlement of disputes. Article 33 reads:

1. The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.
2. The Security Council shall, when it deems necessary, call upon the parties to settle their dispute by such means.


It is in the obvious interest of the great majority of nations to subscribe to this statement of principle give that, militarily, only a handful of nations can be considered "superpowers" who may ignore these concepts with impunity. Regionally, of course, other nations have tried to ignore them, but that is not always successful, either. When Libya invaded Chad, they were humiliated militarily. France provided aid to the forces of Chad, most notably in the area of control of the skies, but the army of Chad insisted upon fighting the ground war on their own, and with French logistical support, drove the Libyans out of their territory. That was in the late 1980s, and was the culmination of twenty years of Libyan interference in the internal affairs of Chad. The entire history of those wars over 20 years is interesting, and especially the final phase, known as the Toyota War, because the Chadian forces had united against the Libyans and used modified Toyota pickup trucks to achieve mobility, a mobility the Libyan forces could not match.

The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990 is another example of the reaction of the world community to a war of aggression. Hussein's claims about Kuwait being "the 19th province of Iraq" were ignored by the entire world community, and even nations such as Syria, with a long history of antipathy to the United States, were willing to contribute forces (albeit more for cosmetic purposes) to the alliance against the Iraqi dictator.

So, the contemporary view would seem to be that wars of aggression are not justified.

Pacifism in a wonderful thing among those who are not called upon to make difficult decisions about their national security. But the world remains a far too dangerous place for nations to adopt pacifistic attitudes. An at least token resistance to invasion is needed to justify calling upon world support to defend one's nation from invasion. Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter (which you may read by clicking here) is entitled "ACTION WITH RESPECT TO THREATS TO THE PEACE, BREACHES OF THE PEACE, AND ACTS OF AGGRESSION." However, given the history of concerted efforts by the United Nations, it behooves a nation to look to their own defense. Obviously, a national policy of pacifism is not commensurate with defending one's nations against external aggression (i leave aside internal insurrection and civil war). The old colonial powers, most notably England and France, continue to intervene, either directly or by providing material support, in their former colonies when the situation warrants an intervention and the intervention is welcomed by at least one party to the dispute. In Africa, for example, this had been more effective than anything the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly have been able to do.

No, i don't think pacifism by nations is a very good idea.

Now, let us hope this satisfies the requirements of your homework assignment.
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 01:37 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

1. The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.
2. The Security Council shall, when it deems necessary, call upon the parties to settle their dispute by such means.


In just war theory, we call this condition "last resort"

Setanta wrote:

So, the contemporary view would seem to be that wars of aggression are not justified.


Really? What about cases of humanitarian intervention in response to genocide? Hypothetically, if one were to have intervened on behalf of the Tutsis, wouldn't such an intervention, by definition, violate Rwanada's legal territorial integrity and political sovereignty? But we would still want to say such an intervention was justifiable, morally of course. And if so, wouldn't such a case constitute justifiable aggression? Maybe you disagree.

I appreciate the reference to international jurisprudence pertaining to war, and the moral questions I raise perhaps imply problems for our traditional legal notions of what permits, or does not permit war.


Setanta wrote:

Now, let us hope this satisfies the requirements of your homework assignment.


Funny, this had nothing to do with a "home work assignment" at all. I am merely interested in other views on whether or not war is justifiable. I welcome debate by both pacifists and realists.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 02:30 pm
@bigstew,
Quote:
Setanta wrote:

Quote:
So, the contemporary view would seem to be that wars of aggression are not justified.



Really? What about cases of humanitarian intervention in response to genocide? Hypothetically, if one were to have intervened on behalf of the Tutsis, wouldn't such an intervention, by definition, violate Rwanada's legal territorial integrity and political sovereignty? But we would still want to say such an intervention was justifiable, morally of course. And if so, wouldn't such a case constitute justifiable aggression? Maybe you disagree.


I fail to see how any humanitarian mission could be described as a war of "aggression." If I save a child from being seriously harmed, perhaps killed, by a rabid dog, am I guilty of "agrgression" toward that dog, even if I had to kill said animal?
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 04:08 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Merry Andrew wrote:

I fail to see how any humanitarian mission could be described as a war of "aggression." If I save a child from being seriously harmed, perhaps killed, by a rabid dog, am I guilty of "agrgression" toward that dog, even if I had to kill said animal?


Aggression, taken in the traditional legal sense, refers to the violation of a states territorial integrity and political sovereignty. Though a humanitarian mission for whatever the reason, it is a violation of a states borders if we refer to the traditional definition.

You may think the Tutsis may have OK'd such an intervention, but I'm sure the ruling Hutu's would disagree. So in cases of genocide there is no clear consensus as to whether the collective state authorizes intervention, or not (common sense tells us those in power who perpetrate genocide would never authorize intervention). I am merely suggesting that the traditional notion of aggression as a absolute unjustified action, is wrong given the nature of conflict today.

When you refer to a "war of aggression," it seems to me you are reffering to the traditional notion of the crime of aggression as well. But humanitarian interventions violate the traditional notion of aggression, yet seem justified. Thus, we end up with cases of "justified aggression."
Merry Andrew
 
  0  
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 04:57 pm
@bigstew,
Semantics again. That's all it adds up to -- semantics. If I intervene in a situation where a 250 pound bully is beating the living daylights out of a 95-pound weakling with the clear intention of at least maiming, and perhaps killing, his victim, am I guilty of agggression as well ? Perhaps, in some legal sense. But, certainly, there is no jury on this planet that would convict me, is there?
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 05:04 pm
@bigstew,
You are unrealistic. The question should be is war avoidable? Wars have been a part of history and in every continent just as there are arguments between humans between family members, friends, co-workers, enemies,,etc.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 06:19 pm
@talk72000,
Quote:
Really? What about cases of humanitarian intervention in response to genocide?


The question, like in the case of Iraq, would be 'is the war for a humanitarian cause, or are there other reasons for the war, and 'humanitarian reasons' are just being used as the justification'.

Most of America's war's have arguably been for other than the official reason.

Further, in the case of 'humanitarian intervention', will the outcome be worse than the current conditions. Eg. Do you remove one despot only to have an even worse despot take over when you leave.

Do the conditions allow a humanitarian intervention? (ie. does the prevailing Culture, economics, politics / ideology / beliefs allow for intervention, and a stable govt afterwards?). If not, you may be setting in motion events that lead to more deaths than those you are trying to save.
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 07:12 pm
@vikorr,
You are quoting setanta and replying to me. Funny! Laughing
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 07:16 pm

The Bertrand Russell-Albert Einstein Manifesto

Issued in London, 9 July 1955


Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein
IN the tragic situation which confronts humanity, we feel that scientists should assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction, and to discuss a resolution in the spirit of the appended draft.


We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings, members of the species Man, whose continued existence is in doubt. The world is full of conflicts; and, overshadowing all minor conflicts, the titanic struggle between Communism and anti-Communism.

Almost everybody who is politically conscious has strong feelings about one or more of these issues; but we want you, if you can, to set aside such feelings and consider yourselves only as members of a biological species which has had a remarkable history, and whose disappearance none of us can desire.

We shall try to say no single word which should appeal to one group rather than to another. All, equally, are in peril, and, if the peril is understood, there is hope that they may collectively avert it.

We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps; the question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties?

The general public, and even many men in positions of authority, have not realized what would be involved in a war with nuclear bombs. The general public still thinks in terms of the obliteration of cities. It is understood that the new bombs are more powerful than the old, and that, while one A-bomb could obliterate Hiroshima, one H-bomb could obliterate the largest cities, such as London, New York, and Moscow.

No doubt in an H-bomb war great cities would be obliterated. But this is one of the minor disasters that would have to be faced. If everybody in London, New York, and Moscow were exterminated, the world might, in the course of a few centuries, recover from the blow. But we now know, especially since the Bikini test, that nuclear bombs can gradually spread destruction over a very much wider area than had been supposed.

It is stated on very good authority that a bomb can now be manufactured which will be 2,500 times as powerful as that which destroyed Hiroshima. Such a bomb, if exploded near the ground or under water, sends radio-active particles into the upper air. They sink gradually and reach the surface of the earth in the form of a deadly dust or rain. It was this dust which infected the Japanese fishermen and their catch of fish. No one knows how widely such lethal radio-active particles might be diffused, but the best authorities are unanimous in saying that a war with H-bombs might possibly put an end to the human race. It is feared that if many H-bombs are used there will be universal death, sudden only for a minority, but for the majority a slow torture of disease and disintegration.

Many warnings have been uttered by eminent men of science and by authorities in military strategy. None of them will say that the worst results are certain. What they do say is that these results are possible, and no one can be sure that they will not be realized. We have not yet found that the views of experts on this question depend in any degree upon their politics or prejudices. They depend only, so far as our researches have revealed, upon the extent of the particular expert's knowledge. We have found that the men who know most are the most gloomy.

Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war? People will not face this alternative because it is so difficult to abolish war.

The abolition of war will demand distasteful limitations of national sovereignty. But what perhaps impedes understanding of the situation more than anything else is that the term "mankind" feels vague and abstract. People scarcely realize in imagination that the danger is to themselves and their children and their grandchildren, and not only to a dimly apprehended humanity. They can scarcely bring themselves to grasp that they, individually, and those whom they love are in imminent danger of perishing agonizingly. And so they hope that perhaps war may be allowed to continue provided modern weapons are prohibited.

This hope is illusory. Whatever agreements not to use H-bombs had been reached in time of peace, they would no longer be considered binding in time of war, and both sides would set to work to manufacture H-bombs as soon as war broke out, for, if one side manufactured the bombs and the other did not, the side that manufactured them would inevitably be victorious.

Although an agreement to renounce nuclear weapons as part of a general reduction of armaments would not afford an ultimate solution, it would serve certain important purposes. First, any agreement between East and West is to the good in so far as it tends to diminish tension. Second, the abolition of thermo-nuclear weapons, if each side believed that the other had carried it out sincerely, would lessen the fear of a sudden attack in the style of Pearl Harbour, which at present keeps both sides in a state of nervous apprehension. We should, therefore, welcome such an agreement though only as a first step.

Most of us are not neutral in feeling, but, as human beings, we have to remember that, if the issues between East and West are to be decided in any manner that can give any possible satisfaction to anybody, whether Communist or anti-Communist, whether Asian or European or American, whether White or Black, then these issues must not be decided by war. We should wish this to be understood, both in the East and in the West.

There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.


Resolution:

WE invite this Congress, and through it the scientists of the world and the general public, to subscribe to the following resolution:

"In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons will certainly be employed, and that such weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind, we urge the governments of the world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purpose cannot be furthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them."


Max Born
Percy W. Bridgman
Albert Einstein
Leopold Infeld
Frederic Joliot-Curie
Herman J. Muller
Linus Pauling
Cecil F. Powell
Joseph Rotblat
Bertrand Russell
Hideki Yukawa
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Dec, 2009 07:40 pm
@edgarblythe,
Quote:
We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps; the question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 04:24 am
@talk72000,
talk72000 wrote:
You are quoting setanta and replying to me. Funny! Laughing


What is even funnier is that he was not quoting me, he was quoting Bigstew.
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 04:48 am
@bigstew,
Quote:
Really? What about cases of humanitarian intervention in response to genocide?


That might at least theoretically depend on whether the "genocide" was real or, as in the case of Serbia and Kosovo, fictitious and altogether created by NATO/Clintonista PR and spin machines.
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 01:45 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Merry Andrew wrote:
Semantics again. That's all it adds up to -- semantics. If I intervene in a situation where a 250 pound bully is beating the living daylights out of a 95-pound weakling with the clear intention of at least maiming, and perhaps killing, his victim, am I guilty of agggression as well ? Perhaps, in some legal sense. But, certainly, there is no jury on this planet that would convict me, is there?


If you re read my post, you will note that I argue for justifiable aggression. Your domestic analogy is relevant, but when we are talking about war involving both state and non state actors (which are quite different in some respects than individuals in the domestic analogy), so you have to keep in mind that aggression in both the legal and moral sense have different connotations. Again, I argue there could be morally justifiable acts of aggression, which however violate the legal definition, and thus could constitute a crime (which is absurd).

*note: I'm new to this and somehow selected your answer as the right one. It is in some ways, but that was an accident. But you do imply important aspects, such as individual responsibility in war.
0 Replies
 
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 01:48 pm
@talk72000,
talk72000 wrote:
You are unrealistic. The question should be is war avoidable? Wars have been a part of history and in every continent just as there are arguments between humans between family members, friends, co-workers, enemies,,etc.


If war can be avoidable, then it should be avoided. I agree with that. But in some cases, it is arguable that war is a necessary last resort. It is hard to imagine anything but violence which could have stopped WWII.

War has been a significant part of history. It is about time we start talking about the conditions that would make a war justifiable, if you agree with my position.
0 Replies
 
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 02:07 pm
@vikorr,
Since you quoted me, Ill take it you are responding as such.

vikorr wrote:
The question, like in the case of Iraq, would be 'is the war for a humanitarian cause, or are there other reasons for the war, and 'humanitarian reasons' are just being used as the justification'.


Determining the causes of war is crucially important to whether a war is in fact, just.

vikkor wrote:

Most of America's war's have arguably been for other than the official reason.


Yes they have been, since some war planners will always take advantage of whatever pre text they can for war. But if jurisprudence for a just war can be defined and accepted in international law, even these war planners would have to comply.

vikkor wrote:
Further, in the case of 'humanitarian intervention', will the outcome be worse than the current conditions. Eg. Do you remove one despot only to have an even worse despot take over when you leave.


What is done after a war is finished, is just as important as what is accomplished through a war. If anyone has watched Charlie Wilson's War, they will know what I mean.

vikkor wrote:

Do the conditions allow a humanitarian intervention? (ie. does the prevailing Culture, economics, politics / ideology / beliefs allow for intervention, and a stable govt afterwards?). If not, you may be setting in motion events that lead to more deaths than those you are trying to save.


These constraints are relevant, to some extent. The point of an humanitarian intervention is not to disrupt the prevalent cultural norms, it is to prevent the systematic killing of people. Within such a state of affairs, cultural norms are irrelevant. Only by bringing a forcible end to such killing, can culture even flourish.

It sounds to me like you are attempting to make analogies to cases of war like the Iraq invasion of 2003. In that war, it is not a matter of different cultural norms, political ideologies etc. That war was unjustified to begin with, since it was predicated on the existence of WMD's. Nor was it a viable case of humanitarian intervention. Nor was it a necessary last resort even if the Saddam did have WMD's. So I'm not sure whether the populace support for the United States was even there to begin with. Further, I would argue the widespread resentment has more to with how the US actually conducted the war e.g. asymmetric warfare. Innocent civilians will die in war, but in this case, the US didn't seem to do much at to constrain targeting innocent civilians. Because of that, no one should be surprised why many Iraq's hate America so much. These are friends and family that are being killed. That is perhaps one reason why things seem so unstable.
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 02:15 pm
@gungasnake,
gungasnake wrote:
That might at least theoretically depend on whether the "genocide" was real or, as in the case of Serbia and Kosovo, fictitious and altogether created by NATO/Clintonista PR and spin machines.


Of course, how could one morally justify a case for humanitarian intervention against genocide, if it is not in fact, genocide?

0 Replies
 
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 06:51 pm
@bigstew,
Quote:
Determining the causes of war is crucially important to whether a war is in fact, just.
How do you determine the causes of an international war? Where are you going to get your information from? What is a reliable source? Is it complete, or are you only getting part of the picture?
Quote:
Yes they have been, since some war planners will always take advantage of whatever pre text they can for war. But if jurisprudence for a just war can be defined and accepted in international law, even these war planners would have to comply.

If I recall right, most Americans, and most Australians (where I live)and most Brits supported the war in Iraq. Apparently at the time it started, most thought it was justified (not as many in Australia as in America, but the point is the same)
Quote:
These constraints are relevant, to some extent. The point of an humanitarian intervention is not to disrupt the prevalent cultural norms, it is to prevent the systematic killing of people. Within such a state of affairs, cultural norms are irrelevant. Only by bringing a forcible end to such killing, can culture even flourish.
Disrupt the systematic killing by systematically and indiscriminately killing? Well, there’s some argument for that...if the prevailing culture/beliefs/politics/economy of the country allow it. Otherwise your actions can contribute to many more deaths than the deaths you are trying to prevent.

So how many people is it justifiable to kill (directly + indirectly), to prevent systematic killing?
Quote:
It sounds to me like you are attempting to make analogies to cases of war like the Iraq invasion of 2003.

Iraq would be a good case in point, but only a single case.
Quote:
In that war, it is not a matter of different cultural norms, political ideologies etc. That war was unjustified to begin with, since it was predicated on the existence of WMD's.

Odd, most people thought it was very justified. It’s only hindsight that made those people change their minds. Funnily enough, most people still believe that our governments wouldn't lie to us about such things, even while believing that all politicians are liars...go figure.
Quote:
Nor was it a viable case of humanitarian intervention.

I heard lots of people sprouting stuff about regime change, removing a murdering dictator etc.

It's odd that there was never any outcry when Suharto (Indonesia) murdered 500,000 of his own people when coming to power...but America wanted a united Indonesia so that major shipping channel would be safe. Funnily enough, they also murdered 200,000 East Timorese before that poor country got independence, and they're still murdering thousands of West Papuans, but that poor country has some of the biggest mines in the world (which contribute huge amounts to Indonesia's GDP and therefore stability), so little chance America (or Australia) will get in an uproar bout that particular genocide.
Quote:
Nor was it a necessary last resort even if the Saddam did have WMD's. So I'm not sure whether the populace support for the United States was even there to begin with.

Easy enough to convince oneself of the fact long after the fervour has died down that there wasn't popular support.
Quote:
Further, I would argue the widespread resentment has more to with how the US actually conducted the war e.g. asymmetric warfare. Innocent civilians will die in war, but in this case, the US didn't seem to do much at to constrain targeting innocent civilians. Because of that, no one should be surprised why many Iraq's hate America so much.
Ummm...hatred for Americans in the Middle East precedes Iraq by about 40 years now...back to about the CIA lead coup in Iran (your own CIA documents do acknowledge this btw " read a pulitzer prize winner from 2007 called ‘Legacy of Ashes’).
Quote:
These are friends and family that are being killed. That is perhaps one reason why things seem so unstable.
Ummm...that would be because the drastic economic collapse (no guesses the cause of that - and any economic collapse causes destabilisation), the prevailing culture, beliefs (the islamic brotherhood, patriotism etc), and politics (who is strong enough to rule a people divided?) didn’t truly allow for the sort of ‘intervention’ the US made. Same thing is happening in Afghanistan.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 07:50 pm
@gungasnake,
This is typical Gunga Dim bullshit, and it is crap like this that convinces me that he first appeared at this site as SWolf, a self-appointed apologist and propagandist for the Republika Srpska.

Apparently, in Gunga's bizarre world, events such as the slaughter of more than 8000 Muslim unarmed, defenseless men and boys at Srebrenica in July, 1995, doesn't count as genocide. Obviously, the Dutch troops there as UN observers were all just making it up, because the Clinton spin machine had suborned them.

Gunga is pathetic.
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 07:52 pm
@Setanta,
well common, i mean they were foreigners Razz
0 Replies
 
 

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