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Fact Sheet on Just War Theory

The BreakPoint answer includes this observation (from St. Augustine): war was a logical extension of the act of governance. And governance itself was, as St. Paul wrote in Romans 13.1-7, ordained by God.

The problem with war is that it is initiated by a central government. The war will be worse when that government is run by someone that does not feel responsible for those being killed, so it becomes a total war, with many civilians being killed and with massive destruction.

It is interesting to note this Breakpoint observation: The history of modern warfare is characterized by "total warfare," the expansion of targets beyond strictly military ones. That's why, of all the requirements of just war theory, proportionality is the most likely to be violated, even by governments with the most just of causes.

That same observation about contemporary total warfare is in the book by Mr Hoppe - Democracy, the God that Failed. Before the 20th century, most Western governments were monarchies. Though not democratic, the hereditary leaders recognized that the killing of innocent civilians was not right and such tactics could potentially result in a revolt (and their own abdication). The prevalence of democracies in the 20th century resulted in leaders that had been elected. Democracies are run by caretakers - anyone that can convince the electorate that they can manage the country’s affairs. Because their elected terms are definite, their short-term thinking condones total warfare because it will, in theory, achieve more power and territory faster than just letting the soldiers do battle.

As stated by so many authors (especially those coming from a Libertarian worldview), governments exist at the behest of those governed. When a government becomes intolerable, the governed will find a way to get rid of it. Though medieval monarchs often claimed to have been ordained by God, their arrival at the seat of power was usually through the actions of men - perhaps including the overthrow or removal of the previous ruler. With democracies, the progression of power is via elections, not by divine intervention in the affairs of man.

The ‘cause’ of any war is suspect, even one considered to be ‘just’. The invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration included comments that we are enmeshed in a global cultural war, between Christianity and Islam. This cultural conflict has been mentioned in connection with a ‘just war’ rationale (though I have not yet found the Chuck Colson Breakpoint article containing what I heard on the radio). The terrorist attack on 9/11/2001 was orchestrated by a small group of radical militants, seeking revenge on America for its policies in the Middle East. Our unprovoked invasion of Iraq (which had no WMD - the official rationale for the invasion) might have created a global cultural war - due to our irrational policies in the Middle East (including the torture of innocent civilians and the practice of ‘total war’ that destroy cities (Fallujah) and the lives and livelihoods of thousands).

The only justification for doing battle is when being attacked. Before that attack, people should always be looking for political solutions to whatever problem exists. Governments are run by leaders, not by the people. People do not make war; their governments do. The common form of government changed from monarchies in the 19th century to democracies in the 20th. Mr Hoppe has suggested this change is a decline in civilization, not advancement. To prevent more wars in the future, mankind must prevent further decline and seek a rational structure for such interactions among cultures and economies.

The original link in case the article ever returns to Breakpoint:

(http://www.pfm.org/Content/ContentGroups/BreakPoint/Other_Content/ Miscellaneous/A_Fact_Sheet_on_Just_War_Theory.htm)



created - Feb 2005
last change - 02/27/2005
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