Justifying A Just War Against Terrorism
What is a "Just War.?"  Can America "justify war" under the ancient principles of the "Just War?"   How does Terrorism change the theory of a "Just War?"   How can the Principles of Vigilance be applied to justifying war?  When do we have the right to decide whether a war is just or not?



Thursday--November 14
, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 428
What Is A "Just War!"

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, Nov. 13 -- Today is the 1,648th birthday of St. Augustine, the 4th Century author of the "Just War Theory."  Augustine was born on Nov. 13, 354,  in Tagaste (modern Souk Ahras, Algeria).   He died almost seventy-six years later in Hippo Regius (modern Annaba) on the Mediterranean coast sixty miles away. 

Saint Augustine of Hippo

          Augustine's moral war compass still swings as the sabers of war rattle in the 21st Century.
           This past week (Tuesday, Nov. 11)  the Catholic Bishops meeting in Washington D.C. drafted a statement questioning the moral authority of a preemptive attack on Iraq.  It was framed from Augustine's "City of God" writings on the issue of what constitutes a "Just War."   Next month the United Church of Christ pastors and theologians are meeting to issue a "Just Peace Theology" they have been working on since 1980.
       The moral scramble is on to squeeze the War On Terrorism into former slots where conventional wars were either approved as "moral" or denied as "immoral."    The slots were carved by St. Augustine thousands of wars ago.
         Nailing Augustine's  Just War Principles to the wall in the 21st Century battle against Terrorism is not unlike trying to nail Jell-0 to it.  Revisions and adaptations are being sought in hopes they won't impinge on Augustine's core principles
that sanction a war as moral if it involves just causes, right values, right intention, exhaustion of alternatives probability of success, and, a touch of modern adaptation, limiting civilian casualties, it is considered "immoral."     

Mary Lyon 1797-1849
School teacher from Massachusetts.
An American Pioneer.
A remarkable woman who founded the worldwide model of higher education for women - Mount Holyoke College.

         Mount Holyoke College, a higher education forum established on November 8, 1837 for women by Mary Lyon, offers a modern look at the principles.  Ms. Lyon established the college in the face of much fury that women should "stay at home and cook" rather than venture into the world of liberal education.   Her creed was:  "When the desire to do the greatest possible good becomes firm and unshaken, I know not what may not be attempted.  Go where no one else will go.  Do what no one else will do."   Here are the Principles of the Just War from Holyoke, take from St. Augustine's writings in the "City of God":




Principles of the Just War

bulletA just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.
bulletA war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority. Even just causes cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society deem legitimate.
bulletA just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause (although the justice of the cause is not sufficient--see point #4). Further, a just war can only be fought with "right" intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury.
bulletA war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success. Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable.
bulletThe ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought.
bulletThe violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered. States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered.
bulletThe weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians. The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.

Jousting over war and peace

        There are a number of viewpoints about the need for making war morally "just."
         University of Chicago ethicist, Jean Belhke Eistain says that Just War Theory "...accepts human wickedness.  It acknowledges that humans sometimes do very bad things to each other." She also reaffirms Augustine that a "Just War" cannot be launched on the basis of realpolitik--pure national interests.  She added it must have universal benefits to the global community.
         David Davenport of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University notes that dark clouds hover over Just War Principles.   "The global village," he says, "cannot agree on who has the authority to sanction warfare--any sovereign nation?  The United Nations alone?"   He also says that in many circumstance an army acts as "more like a high-level police force," negating the need for a declared war, a core to the principles of a Moral Just War.
         Quaker activist Annie Tunstall in admonishing war says, "I don't believe there is a just war.  War is just left over from another age, and we haven't learned to live without it."
          The oxymoron, "just war," continues to thrive despite its critics.  It is the attempt civilization offers to not only question war but also to condone it as part of human behavior.  Some suggest the "moral war game" perpetuates conflict by giving it moral justification, however flighty or diaphanous that justification may end up being.

        That's why I propose there is only one true test of a Just War--when it provides the world security for the children's children's children.   If it does not erase a threat to the universal children's rights for peace and prosperity, then such a war is unjust and immoral.
          While this is a simplistic approach, it cuts through the fodder flacking the issue.  The sharp blade of the question--"What's right for the children's children's children?"--underscores the heart of St. Augustine's Just War Principles:   The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought.
Peace means only one ultimate measure--more security and prosperity for the children.   And not just some of the children, all of them.   A nation seeking to selfishly protect only its own siblings cannot qualify, but if that intention is universal, and its rippling effect washes over all the globe to all the children, and has a firm grasp to the future generations--the children's children's children--then it must be more just than unjust.  Justice can only be served to the innocent--those who have not yet been victimized by war. 
          There is another factor, however, that is more important than justifying a war's moral authority.   That factor is preventing the war from growing into one in the first place.
           War is the result of society's Complacency.  It can only exist when others turn their heads to malignant growth of power and its misuse.   When the world turned its head from Hitler's buildup of weapons in violation of arms limitations treaties following World War I, that Complacency led to the eruption of Terror unequaled in the 20th Century.   When Saddam Hussein used biochemical gases to indiscriminately kill upwards of 100,000 Kurds, including men, women and children, it was a clear statement of his despotic nature to wage war at "children's expense."    No action was taken then.
           Similar examples in Rwanda and other parts of Africa where bodies of men, women and children clogged the rivers met with blank stares from the world community. 

           Few can argue that if the world reacted to Acts of Terrorism within nations against their own people, and, were to monitor the growth of weapons and massing of power within nations aimed at overpowering others rather than defending just their own borders, that war would be severely limited.
           Vigilance is the art of snuffing out the sparks of war before they turn into a conflagration.  
           War cuts its fangs on the principles of injecting Fear, Intimidation and Complacency on others.   It is about the strong becoming stronger and the weak becoming weaker.   As a nation or state grows in power and the rest of the community cowers in its shadow, war looms.  
            Vigilance, on the other hand, recognizes the presence of the Beast of Terror in all of us, and that unless it is checked and managed, it can be unleashed upon the innocent.
            As ethicist  Eistain stated, "Just war accepts human wickedness."  
           Societies that ignore a Beast of Terror who waits in us all to be fertilized with Pride, Anger, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony and Sloth, will never pick up the Shield of Vigilance or use the Pledge of Vigilance to protect themselves from Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   They will wait until the shadow of the Beast looms so large they are powerless to fight it.  The reason--Complacency.  
            However, when one recognizes that each of us has the "power of wickedness," and to protect that power from rising to the surface it must be disarmed, he or she will be the first in line to take the Pledge of Vigilance and use the Principles of Vigilance to protect himself or herself and his or her loved ones from Terrorism's threats.

 Maypole Dance

           Pure peace advocates ignore the need for Vigilance.   They want everyone to put down their weapons and dance around the maypole.    Idealistically, this is a beautiful.   However, it only feeds the Beast of Terror, allowing it to rise up unexpectedly to enslave the peaceful in Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.  Jim Jones exercised that "wickedness within" when he ordered the poisoning of his followers in Jonestown, Guyana in the '70s.   Drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide, members of his People's Temple killed themselves and their children.  In all, 914 died, 638 adults and 276 children.
           Wars and wickedness go hand-in-hand.
           Had Vigilance been instilled in the congregation of the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, they might never have been swayed to go with Jim Jones to Guyana in the first place, and, more importantly, the 638 adults would never have even  considered their suicides nor the killing of their 276 children.
           The Iraqi general population does not want its children killed, or wish death and destruction on other children.   Despite politics, human survival and the need to protect our children rises above our selfish motives when our children are put in harm's way.   But, unfortunately, it is often too late to defend them after the war has started.  It is the pre-war Vigilance that is necessary to stave off the dangers of war itself.

          When war looms as it is today, we must first point our fingers at ourselves.  We must ask:  "Was I as Vigilant as I could have been?   Or, did I turn my head and ignore the smoke that led to fire?"
          The truth of the human condition is that we are at war daily with Terrorism.  We always have been.  We always will be. The Beast of Terror never sleeps, he just naps.   He's doing pushups all the time, waiting to spring into action when we let our guard down.
          We have with Iraq.  We didn't cry out as Parents of Vigilance when Hussein killed the women and children.   He should have been charged with crimes against humanity then, and the jury should have been the Mothers and Fathers of Vigilance.
          Only when society has practiced the art of Vigilance prior to a war, and that Vigilance fails to stop the Beast of Terror, can the resulting war be called "just."    Wars that are the result of society's Complacency to be Vigilant cannot suddenly be judged "moral" on the eve of their destructiveness.  
          Terrorism doesn't fall outside the parameters of Augustine's principles of a just war.    If we study war, its conception occurs with Terrorism.   It gestates in the mind of a child, is fed by Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.   As the child grows, he or she seeks power to feed his or her Beast of Terror.   The evolution of such a child is a Terrorist, one who uses his or her power to bully others to his or her will.
          A Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Jim Jones are the result of not bridling the Beast of Terror within.   A Pledge of Vigilance and a Mother, Father, Grandparent of Vigilance could have stopped the growth of Terror in the child.  Courage could have replaced Fear, Conviction overpowered Intimidation, and Right Actions  would have taken hold over moral Complacency to benefit the children's children's children.

Howling Beast of Terror

        Today, when we seek to find the answer to justify any "moral war," we must look in the mirror for the answer.    Are we Citizens of Vigilance or not?   If we are, then we will act to stop the seeds of Terrorism first within ourselves, secondly within our children, and thirdly we will promote Vigilance to the world.
          If we do this, when it comes time for us to vote on a moral war, we will have the credibility of Vigilance to justly cast our vote.  But until we vow to be Vigilant, and to teach our children to be Vigilant, we should back away from the voting poles and stop dancing around the maypoles.


Nov. 13--The Pharaoh Of Terrorism--bin Laden-- Returns To Center Stage

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