Is War Justifiable? The purpose of this paper is to explore the justification of war. Unfortunately, in the real world, there are hardly any black and white scenarios. There are often many shades of gray. The problem with the justification of war is that it is usually based on circumstances that are beyond our control. For example, the 9/11 attacks were a surprise to the United States. The Bush Administration had to make a decision about how to react. The decision was made to go to war in Afghanistan and then later in Iraq. In retrospect, some people argue that the

When is War Justifiable? Axiomatic Justification of War

The purpose of this paper is to explore the axiomatic justification of war. Unfortunately, in the real world, there are hardly any black and white scenarios. There are often many shades of gray. The problem with the justification of war is that it is usually based on circumstances that are beyond our control. For example, the 9/11 attacks were a surprise to the United States. The Bush Administration had to make a decision about how to react. The decision was made to go to war in Afghanistan and then later in Iraq. In retrospect, some people argue that the decision to go to war was not justified. Others argue that it was necessary in order to protect the United States from future attacks. The truth is that we will never really know if the decision to go to war was justified or not. All we can do is look at the evidence and make our best judgment.

In order to explore the justification of war, we must first understand what a just war is. A just war is one that is fought for a just cause and waged in a just manner. The just cause must be significant, have a reasonable chance of success, and be the last resort after all other options have been exhausted. The just manner must take into consideration the innocent lives that will be lost and only use as much force as necessary to achieve the desired outcome.

There are two main theoretical justifications for war: self-defense and humanitarian intervention. The self-defense justification says that a state has a right to defend itself from an aggressor. The humanitarian intervention justification says that a state has a responsibility to protect civilians from genocide, ethnic cleansing, or other mass atrocities.

The self-defense justification has been used throughout history to justify wars. Plato (429–347 BCE) famously argued that it is always better to suffer injustice than to do injustice (Republic, 1.351d). This principle was later codified in the deontological ethical theory known as the exception clause which says that it is sometimes permissible to break moral rules in order to prevent a greater evil from occurring (Frankena, 1963). For example, if someone were about to kill an innocent person, it would be permissible to kill the aggressor in self-defense even though killing is normally considered wrong.

The humanitarian intervention justification has also been used throughout history to justify wars. One famous example is when Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798 in order to stop the Ottoman Empire from massacring Coptic Christians (Coleman, 2007). Napoleon justified his invasion by saying that he was “saving” the Copts from certain death.

There are several problems with using these two justifications for war. First, they are often used retroactively after the fact in order to justify wars that were actually motivated by other factors such as nationalism or imperialism. Second, they tend to focus on the intentions of those who started the war rather than on the consequences of the war itself. For example, even if a war is started for self-defense or humanitarian reasons, it can still result in civilian casualties and suffering which may outweigh any good that was achieved by waging the war.

It is important to remember that no matter how justified a war may seem, there is always going to be some degree of uncertainty involved. We can never know for sure whether or not
a war is truly justifiable. All we can do is make our best judgment based on the evidence that is available to us.

FAQ

The main principles of just war theory are that a war can only be fought for a just cause, that it must be fought with the right intentions, that all other peaceful options must be exhausted before resorting to war, that the force used in war must be proportional to the threat, and that civilians must not be targeted.

These principles have been applied in past conflicts such as World War II and the Gulf War.

Just war theory provides a clear moral framework for evaluating the justice of wars by taking into account the principles of jus ad bellum (the justice of going to war) and jus in bello (the justice of conduct during war).

There are no circumstances under which war is never justified according to just war theory. However, some pacifists argue that there are never any circumstances under which violence can be justified.

Just war theory has implications for contemporary military interventions such as the need for a clear justification for going to war and the need to limit civilian casualties.