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10/01/2005

JUST WAR PART 7: JUS AD BELLUM & JUS IN BELLO

PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
JUST WAR PART 1: THE TIMES OF AUGUSTINE
JUST WAR PART 2: THE THEORY OF AUGUSTINE
JUST WAR PART 3: AQUINAS BUILDS
JUST WAR PART 4: UNDER THE INFLUENCE (Crusades)
JUST WAR PART 5: UNDER THE INFLUENCE (Natural Law)
JUST WAR PART 6: CHIVALRY

Once these major contributions to Just War thinking by warriors (knights) and the Church (Augustine and Aquinas) were made and largely accepted among Catholics of the Middle Ages, the tradition of Just War was taught as having two components: the right to go to war and the right conduct of war. These were labeled in Latin as "jus ad bellum" and "jus in bello."

The criteria of jus ad bellum were:
1.War had to be declared by a "legitimate" authority.
2.War had to be declared with right intention, for a just cause
3.War had to be the last resort.

These criteria limited war somewhat but also made it possible, though exceptional, for a just war to exist. A just war had to meet these criteria. Most wars, because of the severe requirements of these criteria, were viewed as unjust. In addition to meeting the criteria of jus ad bellum, a war had to meet the requirements of jus in bello, further decreasing the possibility of a war being deemed "just".

The criteria of jus in bello were:
1.The immediate objective of force couldn't be to kill but to restrain.
2.Soldiers who surrendered could not be killed.
3.Non-combatants (civilians, the unarmed) could not to be attacked directly.
4.Indiscriminate force and weaponry could not be used (indiscriminate meaning without a specific limited target)
5.Unnecessary suffering was prohibited.

"While in a formal or technical sense this doctrine is essentially medieval and Catholic, in more loose and diffuse terms it remains to this day the dominant military ethos of the Western world."(1) Those are the words of an ethicist in the 1960's, a time when these criteria influenced our thinking on war but obviously did not reign supreme over it. Something must have changed in our understanding of these criteria, between their authoring in the Middle Ages, when wars declared "just" were exceptions, and the twentieth century, when just wars were often waged by and approved of by the majority of American Evangelical Christians as "just".

For now it suffices to point out that in time the criteria for just war has obviously loosened, losing much of the original restriction of force found in the jus ad bellum and jus in bello. These criteria evolved in some way allowing for the killing of "non-combatants" and use of "indiscriminate force" at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for example. What I'll contend in my next post on Just War is that the evolution or erosion of these criteria is not a modern American phenomena but instead began shortly after the ink dried on the words "jus in bello" and "jus ad bellum." It began when Christopher Columbus brought war to the Americas in the sixteenth century.

SOURCES:
1. Paul Peachy, "New Ethical Possibility," Interpretation 19 (January 1965): 26-27

8 Comments:

Blogger Fruitcake said...

The definition of "just" is no longer based on absolute auhtority (which is only from the Bible). To declare war "just" is based only on the views of the auhtoritative figure who must claim it to be so.

Too bad war and violence is now seen as the first resort.

And just to let you know, Shaun, periods and commas ALWAYS go inside the quotes, whether single or double. You're kinda doing half-and-half which I guess is better than not at all.

10/01/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I know the rule I guess I just got lazy. Thanks. Now, being the OCD weirdo I am about writing, I'll have to go back and fix it all!

Tell me more about your first point, the one about "just" and authority. Is that opinion, based on something? Where'd it come from? Your brainy head? Just an observation? Tell me more. Teach me.

SG

10/01/2005  
Blogger Fruitcake said...

My first point about "just" was based primarily on my experience with my English prof who quite obviously didn't believe in absolute truth and grieved me throughout my entire first semester. Truth and all that is right and just is no longer based on what God says; it's merely whatever someone who has authority says it is - the root of our problem in America and all throughout the world. And, yes, it's just an observation that I sometimes voice coming from my "brainy head."

10/01/2005  
Blogger Kathryn said...

i could say something about the 'war' in Iraq. . but i'm not gonna go there. What's the point?

War stinks. . people can debate its origins and analyze it and try to tack ethics onto its ugliness. . all i guess to fool ourselves into justifying our own brutality and 'man's inhumanity to man'. I feel conflicted. . I realize that my grandparents and parents' lives were directly affected by one of the greatest wars of modern history and I realize that my entire life's course was impacted by that war. . blah. . . its hard to think about war.I have no argument to make, i just have internal conflict and mixed up feelings. Conflict can bring out things in people - good and bad - that they were unaware of.. conflict can bring about much needed good change, sometimes. Other times it just makes everything worse.

These instalments have been interesting.

10/01/2005  
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