Of course there is such a thing as a just war. The Second World war against Hitler was a just war.
I disagree that the Second World War was a just war. There was nothing of justice in the aggression of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and nothing just in the pusillanimous responses of world powers when these two jingoistic regimes began their brutal campaigns of conquest.
To call the ultimate intervention of allied powers, which only occurred after their own interests were at stake rather than the interests of some other nation, a just response is to ignore the not insignificant lack of justice in their early mishandling of bellicose Japan and Germany.
I specifically mentioned the first two world wars as instances of expanding a war in order to end a war being pragmatic responses to war. However pragmatic, however reasonable, there is nothing in this to assert a moral justification (which is justice) for war in the first place. Instead, there is a moral justification for ending
the war, which often requires the expansion of war as in the case of both world wars.
But the issue here is not whether the war itself was just. The issue here is whether the war was justly conducted, and, specifically, whether the dropping of the bomb was just.
And I contend that it is impossible for there to be a justly conducted war because war, by definition, is unjust in the first place.
This notion of justly conducted war is a chivalric ideal hangover, and a dangerous one. It allows each side to claim glory and righteousness in acts of unmitigated brutality when, instead, each side should recognize the absolute barbarism of violent practices and feel shame for being forced into such a situation by some earlier lack of understanding and proper handling.
It is wrong to lump all wars together and just condemn them all. There are important differences, even if all wars are bad.
Reread your own words: all wars are bad
, right after it is wrong to condemn all wars
. But you know quite well yourself that all wars are rightly condemned as bad.
Sure, each war is unique, but each war is also similar. And the most significant similarity is that all wars are actually avoidable - that we humans neglect to avoid them is a fault of our own. Trying to add justice as an element of this faulty behavior is no more than an attempt to make ourselves feel better about our own inability.
The American Civil War, fought partly to end slavery is another case in point of a just war.
First, the American Civil War was not fought to end
slavery, but fought in order to maintain
slavery as an institution in the southern states. Again, the war was avoidable, but pusillanimous politicians refused to adequately address the problem of slavery - a lineage of politicians running back to those present or influential at the First Constitutional Convention. This includes great heroes Jefferson and Madison and so many others. By the 1850's, war was eminent unless the problem of slavery was solved. Instead of solutions, mild compromises put off the looming conflict, inflating the conflict into a death match for the southern way of life.
No, the Civil War was not a just war.