The concept of a "just war" has been around for ages. Even the devout Christian Reinhold Niebuhr in the early half of twentieth century wrote about the concept. The idea of a war waged for the purpose of justice and peace has been an idea that has motivated leaders and diplomats since the dawn of war itself. However, when so much power is placed in the hands of mere mortals, i.e. the power to decide what exactly just means, catastrophe is always a possibility.
I will start by giving some examples of what I think "just war" is, and why this is so:
The Allies role in WWII was not entirely correct or righteous, but on many levels it was self-defensive and heroic. With the cantankerous and cruel Germans invading their neighbors and performing genocide within their borders, the forces which protected themselves from attack and went as far as to halt and cease the holocaust were in my view, righteous. Thus, WWII in many aspects involved the principle of a "just war".
The Revolutionary War, the fight to establish and protect this country was also just war in many aspects. The role the Americans played was defensive in nature, while the role the French played was heroic. Regardless of the many atrocities against Native Americans, Africans and esoteric religious sects, the main premise of this war, truly was for that of freedom. What America did with that freedom (as far as horrific actions against native peoples and etc.) is not what we are discussing.
The Herodean Jews at Masada, the fortified compound during the Roman campaign to eliminate Judaism. Atop a mesa in the Judean Desert, the Jews assaulted the Roman Infantry from above, until the overwhelming numbers broke through their defenses, leading the surviving Jews to commit mass suicide "again the role was defensive.
As you can see from my examples, I have equated acts of self-defense and heroism with just war". The new question becomes: Is the war in Afghanistan just as Obama has declared it to be? I think the solution to this problem has become very convoluted. If we had shot down the hijacked planes on 9/11 this would have been a perfectly "just war" action. However, the ensuing conflict was not. A war on two fronts, and then focused on people (Iraq) who were not responsible for the 9/11 attacks "this is not just war". But now that it is started, grown and matured to such levels, what is justice, what is truth?
I see both sides, I hate war and I dearly would like the fighting to stop. But, both sides are at fault. In a conflict like this, only a mutual peace treaty would be effective. When Bush Jr. started the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he was at least partially informed by his own extremist religious views. Terrorism is justified by similar views surrounding Islam. Now that extremist religious views are not piloting American statecraft as much, what can we do to stop the fighting? It seems, that diplomacy is lacking to a certain extent, the nature of terrorism does not permit traditional diplomacy (imagine a peace conference with Osama bin Laden) on the one hand, so compromise and peace is even more difficult.
The only thing we can do at present; is rectify our own country, make it less greedy, less violent and make it so justice within our own boundaries is a prime concern. As the world`s superpower we have the responsibility of leading the best example. Perhaps our mistakes and evangelization of politics in the last fifty years has made the situation even more difficult we have more inner American problems to rectify. Yet, if we were to fix some more of these inner problems, perhaps the war in Afghanistan could stop, or at least be fought more righteously.
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