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About the Just war theory
DVBenz 
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Posted 8/18/12
I had a discussion on this theory with an old friend of mine from high school, who cited one of St. Thomas Aquinas' works - in particular, certain criteria for a just war, heavily summarized below:

(1) Just cause — The war must confront an unquestioned danger.

(2) Proper authority — The legitimate authority must declare the war and must be acting on behalf of the people.

(3) Right Intention — The reasons for declaring the war must actually be the objectives, not a masking of ulterior motives.

(4) Last resort — All reasonable peaceful alternatives must have been exhausted or have been deemed impractical or ineffective. The contentious parties must strive to resolve their differences peacefully before engaging in war, e.g. through negotiation, mediation, or even embargoes.

(5) Proportionality —The good that is achieved by waging war must not be outweighed by the harm.

(6) Probability of success — The achievement of the war's purpose must have a reasonable chance of success.

My friend and I were caught up by the idea of civilian casualties in a "just war." Do any of these criteria matter if a significant number of civilians are killed in the process? What makes it morally permissible/impermissible? What justifies it?
Posted 8/18/12 , edited 8/18/12

DVBenz wrote:

I had a discussion on this theory with an old friend of mine from high school, who cited one of St. Thomas Aquinas' works - in particular, certain criteria for a just war, heavily summarized below:

(1) Just cause — The war must confront an unquestioned danger.

(2) Proper authority — The legitimate authority must declare the war and must be acting on behalf of the people.

(3) Right Intention — The reasons for declaring the war must actually be the objectives, not a masking of ulterior motives.

(4) Last resort — All reasonable peaceful alternatives must have been exhausted or have been deemed impractical or ineffective. The contentious parties must strive to resolve their differences peacefully before engaging in war, e.g. through negotiation, mediation, or even embargoes.

(5) Proportionality —The good that is achieved by waging war must not be outweighed by the harm.

(6) Probability of success — The achievement of the war's purpose must have a reasonable chance of success.

My friend and I were caught up by the idea of civilian casualties in a "just war." Do any of these criteria matter if a significant number of civilians are killed in the process? What makes it morally permissible/impermissible? What justifies it?
I highlighted that particular criteria, because proportionality is a problem we humans had yet to understand throughout our history of war, and we still make the same mistake even in today's modern warfare.

First, I would like to present this segment(33m45s) regarding the firebombing of Japan near the end of the Pacific War from the awarded documentary called "Fog of War", on the reason why "proportionality should be the guideline of war". Below is a comprehensive read on just the firebombing of Tokyo alone.

The Tokyo Fire-Bombing:
"The night of March 9, 1945, began typically enough for war-weary Tokyo residents. They went to bed hungry, the distant wailing of air-raid sirens lulling them to sleep.

But World War II was about to rouse them violently from their fitful dreams into a waking nightmare. Before the new day dawned, a United States air-raid killed or injured as many as 200,000 people. It obliterated a quarter of all Tokyo's buildings, leaving more than a million people homeless.

The Americans dispatched the first wave of more than 300 bombers from Guam, Saipan and the Tinian Islands, 2,500 kilometres south of Tokyo. Each plane dropped 180 oil-gel sticks, less than a metre long, on the tightly knit neighbourhoods of wooden houses. Then two waves of planes emptied their bays of a lethal cargo: napalm. The resulting inferno unleashed hell on earth.

Kiyoko Kawasaki, then a 36-year-old mother, remembers running into the street with two buckets on her head for protection, walking into a sea of fire and seeing burning bodies floating in the Sumida River. "The prostitutes who hung out by the riverbank jumped into a nearby pond," she recalled. "But the pond was boiling so they all died."

Kyoko Arai was just a middle-school student when she witnessed her neighbourhood burn to the ground in the firebombing. She watched people perish when dancing fireballs set their hair alight. Worse, she remembers mothers running into the air-raid shelters with babies in their arms. "They would try to breast-feed the babies, but actually the babies were dead," Arai said. "Some of the mothers went crazy from the shock."

For survivors, the misery was just beginning. Takae Fujiki, then a 15-year-old high-school student, recalls being "chased" by the bombers. She says they hunted down fleeing civilians to deliberately drop bombs on them. And they napalmed the rivers to cut off an escape route, Fujiki says. "It was obvious they were trying to kill as many of us as possible.""


11 weeks later, on May 23, 520 giant B-29 "Superfortress" bombers unleashed another 4,500 tons of bombs on Tokyo obliterating Tokyo's commercial center and railway yards, and the Ginza entertainment district. Two days later, on May 25, a second strike of 502 "Superfortress" planes rained down some 4,000 tons of explosives. Together these two B-29 raids destroyed 56 square miles of the Japanese capital.

Tokyo Fire-Bombing killed many more people than did the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Even before the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombing, American air force General Curtis LeMay boasted that American bombers were "driving them [Japanese] back to the stone age."

[Note: In a bizzare act of recognition, in 1964, the Japanese government conferred the First Order of Merit with the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun upon Gen. Curtis LeMay (the father of Strategic Bombing) - the same general who, less than 20 years earlier, had incinerated "well over half a million Japanese civilians, perhaps nearly a million"... And who as the Chief of Staff of US Air Force in 1964, had warned Vietnam that "we're going to bomb them back into the Stone Age."... A phrase repeated again recently during the bombing of Afghanistan]

Gen. Douglas MacArthur's aide, Brigadier Gen. Bonner Fellers, called Tokyo-Bombings "one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of noncombatants in all history."(citation)

And to further illustrate how even with the progress on modern military's technological achievements, we're still far from ourselves overcoming this failure since the beginning of our history with war. How little our technological achievement and good intention means, considering the size and scale of failures they had caused.

So why do we talk about the Norden bombsight? Well because we live in an age where there are lots and lots of Norden bombsights. We live in a time where there are all kinds of really, really smart people running around, saying that they've invented gadgets that will forever change our world. They've invented websites that will allow people to be free. They've invented some kind of this thing, or this thing, or this thing that will make our world forever better.

If you go into the military, you'll find lots of Carl Nordens as well. If you go to the Pentagon, they will say, "You know what, now we really can put a bomb inside a pickle barrel at 20,000 ft." And you know what, it's true; they actually can do that now. But we need to be very clear about how little that means.

In the Iraq War, at the beginning of the first Iraq War, the U.S. military, the air force, sent two squadrons of F-15E Fighter Eagles to the Iraqi desert equipped with these five million dollar cameras that allowed them to see the entire desert floor. And their mission was to find and to destroy -- remember the Scud missile launchers, those surface-to-air missiles that the Iraqis were launching at the Israelis? The mission of the two squadrons was to get rid of all the Scud missile launchers. And so they flew missions day and night, and they dropped thousands of bombs, and they fired thousands of missiles in an attempt to get rid of this particular scourge.

And after the war was over, there was an audit done -- as the army always does, the air force always does -- and they asked the question: how many Scuds did we actually destroy? You know what the answer was? Zero, not a single one. Now why is that? Is it because their weapons weren't accurate? Oh no, they were brilliantly accurate. They could have destroyed this little thing right here from 25,000 ft. The issue was they didn't know where the Scud launchers were. The problem with bombs and pickle barrels is not getting the bomb inside the pickle barrel, it's knowing how to find the pickle barrel. That's always been the harder problem when it comes to fighting wars.

Or take the battle in Afghanistan. What is the signature weapon of the CIA's war in Northwest Pakistan? It's the drone. What is the drone? Well it is the grandson of the Norden Mark 15 bombsight. It is this weapon of devastating accuracy and precision. And over the course of the last six years in Northwest Pakistan, the CIA has flown hundreds of drone missiles, and it's used those drones to kill 2,000 suspected Pakistani and Taliban militants. Now what is the accuracy of those drones? Well it's extraordinary. We think we're now at 95 percent accuracy when it comes to drone strikes. 95 percent of the people we kill need to be killed, right? That is one of the most extraordinary records in the history of modern warfare.

But do you know what the crucial thing is? In that exact same period that we've been using these drones with devastating accuracy, the number of attacks, of suicide attacks and terrorist attacks, against American forces in Afghanistan has increased tenfold. As we have gotten more and more efficient in killing them, they have become angrier and angrier and more and more motivated to kill us. I have not described to you a success story. I've described to you the opposite of a success story.

And this is the problem with our infatuation with the things we make. We think the things we make can solve our problems, but our problems are much more complex than that. The issue isn't the accuracy of the bombs you have, it's how you use the bombs you have, and more importantly, whether you ought to use bombs at all.

There's a postscript to the Norden story of Carl Norden and his fabulous bombsight. And that is, on August 6th, 1945, a B-29 bomber called the Enola Gay flew over Japan and, using a Norden bombsight, dropped a very large thermonuclear device on the city of Hiroshima. And as was typical with the Norden bombsight, the bomb actually missed its target by 800 ft. But of course, it didn't matter. And that's the greatest irony of all when it comes to the Norden bombsight. the air force's 1.5 billion dollar bombsight was used to drop its three billion dollar bomb, which didn't need a bombsight at all.

Meanwhile, back in New York, no one told Carl Norden that his bombsight was used over Hiroshima. He was a committed Christian. He thought he had designed something that would reduce the toll of suffering in war. It would have broken his heart.

-Malcolm Gladwell: The strange tale of the Norden bombsight
Finally, we really need to understand just exactly what constitute as harm, considering we humans as just another species of social animals, and how the politics of war can harm our most basic evolutionary survival advantage.

Okay, so that's the warm up. That's the warm up. Now we're going to have the real radical experiment. And so for the remainder of my talk, what I want you to do is put yourselves in the shoes of an ordinary Arab Muslim living in the Middle East -- in particular, in Iraq. And so to help you, perhaps you're a member of this middle class family in Baghdad -- and what you want is the best for your kids. You want your kids to have a better life. And you watch the news, you pay attention, you read the newspaper, you go down to the coffee shop with your friends, and you read the newspapers from around the world. And sometimes you even watch satellite, CNN, from the United States. So you have a sense of what the Americans are thinking. But really, you just want a better life for yourself. That's what you want. You're Arab Muslim living in Iraq. You want a better life for yourself.

So here, let me help you. Let me help you with some things that you might be thinking. Number one: this incursion into your land these past 20 years, and before, the reason anyone is interested in your land, and particularly the United States, it's oil. It's all about oil; you know that, everybody knows that. People here back in the United States know it's about oil. It's because somebody else has a design for your resource. It's your resource; it's not somebody else's. It's your land; it's your resource. Somebody else has a design for it. And you know why they have a design? You know why they have their eyes set on it? Because they have an entire economic system that's dependent on that oil -- foreign oil, oil from other parts of the world that they don't own.

And what else do you think about these people? The Americans, they're rich. Come on, they live in big houses, they have big cars, they all have blond hair, blue eyes, they're happy. You think that. It's not true, of course, but that's the media impression, and that's like what you get. And they have big cities, and the cities are all dependent on oil. And back home, what do you see? Poverty, despair, struggle. Look, you don't live in a wealthy country. This is Iraq. This is what you see. You see people struggling to get by. I mean, it's not easy; you see a lot of poverty. And you feel something about this. These people have designs for your resource, and this is what you see?

Something else you see that you talk about -- Americans don't talk about this, but you do. There's this thing, this militarization of the world, and it's centered right in the United States. And the United States is responsible for almost one half of the world's military spending -- four percent of the world's population. And you feel it; you see it every day. It's part of your life. And you talk about it with your friends. You read about it. And back when Saddam Hussein was in power, the Americans didn't care about his crimes. When he was gassing the Kurds and gassing Iran, they didn't care about it. When oil was at stake, somehow, suddenly, things mattered. And what you see, something else, the United States, the hub of democracy around the world, they don't seem to really be supporting democratic countries all around the world. There are a lot of countries, oil-producing countries, that aren't very democratic, but supported by the United States. That's odd.

Oh, these incursions, these two wars, the 10 years of sanctions, the eight years of occupation, the insurgency that's been unleashed on your people, the tens of thousands, the hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, all because of oil. You can't help but think that. You talk about it. It's in the forefront of your mind always. You say, "How is that possible?" And this man, he's every man -- your grandfather, your uncle, your father, your son, your neighbor, your professor, your student. Once a life of happiness and joy and suddenly, pain and sorrow. Everyone in your country has been touched by the violence, the bloodshed, the pain, the horror, everybody. Not a single person in your country has not been touched.

But there's something else. There's something else about these people, these Americans who are there. There's something else about them that you see -- they don't see themselves. And what do you see? They're Christians. They're Christians. They worship the Christian God, they have crosses, they carry Bibles. Their Bibles have a little insignia that says "U.S. Army" on them. And their leaders, their leaders: before they send their sons and daughters off to war in your country -- and you know the reason -- before they send them off, they go to a Christian church, and they pray to their Christian God, and they ask for protection and guidance from that god. Why? Well, obviously, when people die in the war, they are Muslims, they are Iraqis -- they're not Americans. You don't want Americans to die. Protect our troops. And you feel something about that -- of course you do. And they do wonderful things. You read about it, you hear about it. They're there to build schools and help people, and that's what they want to do. They do wonderful things, but they also do the bad things, and you can't tell the difference.

And this guy, you get a guy like Lt. Gen. William Boykin. I mean, here's a guy who says that your God is a false God. Your God's an idol; his God is the true God. The solution to the problem in the Middle East, according to him, is to convert you all to Christianity -- just get rid of your religion. And you know that. Americans don't read about this guy. They don't know anything about him, but you do. You pass it around. You pass his words around. I mean this is serious. You're afraid. He was one of the leading commanders in the second invasion of Iraq. And you're thinking, "God, if this guy is saying that, then all the soldiers must be saying that." And this word here, George Bush called this war a crusade. Man, the Americans, they're just like, "Ah, crusade. Whatever. I don't know." You know what it means. It's a holy war against Muslims. Look, invade, subdue them, take their resources. If they won't submit, kill them. That's what this is about. And you're thinking, "My God, these Christians are coming to kill us." This is frightening. You feel frightened. Of course you feel frightened.

And this man, Terry Jones: I mean here's a guy who wants to burn Korans, right? And the Americans: "Ah, he's a knucklehead. He's a former hotel manager; he's got three-dozen members of his church." They laugh him off. You don't laugh him off. Because in the context of everything else, all the pieces fit. I mean, of course, this is how Americans take it, so people all over the Middle East, not just in your country, are protesting. "He wants to burn Korans, our holy book. These Christians, who are these Christians? They're so evil, they're so mean -- this is what they're about." This is what you're thinking as an Arab Muslim, as an Iraqi. Of course you're going to think this.

And then your cousin says, "Hey cuz, check out this website. You've got to see this -- Bible Boot Camp. These Christians are nuts. They're training their little kids to be soldiers for Jesus. And they take these little kids and they run them through these things till they teach them how to say, "Sir, yes, sir," and things like grenade toss and weapons care and maintenance. And go to the website. It says "U.S. Army" right on it. I mean, these Christians, they're nuts. How would they do this to their little kids?" And you're reading this website. And of course, Christians back in the United States, or anybody, says, "Ah, this is some little, tiny church in the middle of nowhere." You don't know that. For you, this is like all Christians. It's all over the Web, Bible Boot Camp. And look at this: they even teach their kids -- they train them in the same way the U.S. Marines train. Isn't that interesting. And it scares you, and it frightens you.

So these guys, you see them. You see, I, Sam Richards, I know who these guys are. They're my students, my friends. I know what they're thinking: "You don't know." When you see them, they're something else, they're something else. That's what they are to you. We don't see it that way in the United States, but you see it that way. So here. Of course, you got it wrong. You're generalizing. It's wrong. You don't understand the Americans. It's not a Christian invasion. We're not just there for oil; we're there for lots of reasons. You have it wrong. You've missed it. And of course, most of you don't support the insurgency; you don't support killing Americans; you don't support the terrorists. Of course you don't. Very few people do. But some of you do. And this is a perspective. Okay, so now, here's what we're going to do.

Step outside of your shoes that you're in right now and step back into your normal shoes. So everyone's back in the room, okay. Now here comes the radical experiment. So we're all back home. This photo: this woman, man, I feel her. I feel her. She's my sister, my wife, my cousin, my neighbor. She's anybody to me. These guys standing there, everybody in the photo, I feel this photo, man. So here's what I want you to do.

-Sam Richards: A radical experiment in empathy

So just how universally important is proportionality as a guideline of war? Well it's the inner strength for us to fight against bullying, without ourselves reduced down to mere thugs by the social process of organized violence as a result.

And so I got some training and went and worked in Africa during most of my 20s. But I realized that what I really needed to know I couldn't get from training courses. I wanted to understand how violence, how oppression, works. And what I've discovered since is this: Bullies use violence in three ways. They use political violence to intimidate, physical violence to terrorize and mental or emotional violence to undermine. And only very rarely in very few cases does it work to use more violence.

Nelson Mandela went to jail believing in violence, and 27 years later he and his colleagues had slowly and carefully honed the skills, the incredible skills, that they needed to turn one of the most vicious governments the world has known into a democracy. And they did it in a total devotion to non-violence. They realized that using force against force doesn't work.

So what does work? Over time I've collected about a half-dozen methods that do work -- of course there are many more -- that do work and that are effective. And the first is that the change that has to take place has to take place here, inside me. It's my response, my attitude, to oppression that I've got control over, and that I can do something about.

And what I need to develop is self-knowledge to do that. That means I need to know how I tick, when I collapse, where my formidable points are, where my weaker points are. When do I give in? What will I stand up for? And meditation or self-inspection is one of the ways -- again it's not the only one -- it's one of the ways of gaining this kind of inner power.

-Scilla Elworthy: Fighting with non-violence
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Posted 8/26/12
the honor code justifies war!
Posted 8/27/12 , edited 8/27/12

TheRealEscargotpudding wrote:

the honor code justifies war!
Is it still "justifiable" for war profiteering? Wherein a free market capitalistic world, the only thing that's "honorable" is the corporate bottom-line.

The Shock Doctrine 2009
A documentary adaptation Naomi Klein's 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine. An investigation of disaster capitalism, based on Naomi Klein's proposition that neo-liberal capitalism feeds on natural disasters, war and terror to establish its dominance.

Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism -- the rapid-fire corporate re-engineering of societies still reeling from shock -- did not begin with September 11, 2001.

The films traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today.

New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, shock and awe warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.

The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas through our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet's coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
There's costly consequence when you oversimplified the reality of harm, by yourself justifying organized violence with some sorta honor system. Especially when the system you're defending isn't just to begin with.

The One Percent
This 80-minute documentary focuses on the growing "wealth gap" in America, as seen through the eyes of filmmaker Jamie Johnson, a 27-year-old heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune. Johnson, who cut his film teeth at NYU and made the Emmy®-nominated 2003 HBO documentary Born Rich, here sets his sights on exploring the political, moral and emotional rationale that enables a tiny percentage of Americans - the one percent - to control nearly half the wealth of the entire United States. The film Includes interviews with Nicole Buffett, Bill Gates Sr., Adnan Khashoggi, Milton Friedman, Robert Reich, Ralph Nader and other luminaries.
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Posted 8/29/12

DVBenz wrote:

I had a discussion on this theory with an old friend of mine from high school, who cited one of St. Thomas Aquinas' works - in particular, certain criteria for a just war, heavily summarized below:

(1) Just cause — The war must confront an unquestioned danger.

(2) Proper authority — The legitimate authority must declare the war and must be acting on behalf of the people.

(3) Right Intention — The reasons for declaring the war must actually be the objectives, not a masking of ulterior motives.

(4) Last resort — All reasonable peaceful alternatives must have been exhausted or have been deemed impractical or ineffective. The contentious parties must strive to resolve their differences peacefully before engaging in war, e.g. through negotiation, mediation, or even embargoes.

(5) Proportionality —The good that is achieved by waging war must not be outweighed by the harm.

(6) Probability of success — The achievement of the war's purpose must have a reasonable chance of success.

My friend and I were caught up by the idea of civilian casualties in a "just war." Do any of these criteria matter if a significant number of civilians are killed in the process? What makes it morally permissible/impermissible? What justifies it?


A war is just when the highest authority declares it just. The highest authority legitimise itself with its power, legitimise a threat by declaring it to be so, legitimise its intention by its own fiat, makes war the first and last resort, declare itself working for the good, declaring its harvest as a greater good than the sacrifice made for it, and, in the event of losing, it can justify its defeat as a success to its people. There is nothing needed for a just war but power.
Posted 9/7/12
When Aquinas started blabbing and blabbing about something about some mythical city on a hill, I knew to stop listening.
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Posted 9/8/12

Fear-and-Hope wrote:

When Aquinas started blabbing and blabbing about something about some mythical city on a hill, I knew to stop listening.


That is St. Augustine, not St. Thomas Aquinas.
Posted 9/8/12

longfenglim wrote:


Fear-and-Hope wrote:

When Aquinas started blabbing and blabbing about something about some mythical city on a hill, I knew to stop listening.


That is St. Augustine, not St. Thomas Aquinas.


Provide proof for the rest of the forum goers, please.
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Posted 9/9/12

Fear-and-Hope wrote:


longfenglim wrote:


Fear-and-Hope wrote:

When Aquinas started blabbing and blabbing about something about some mythical city on a hill, I knew to stop listening.


That is St. Augustine, not St. Thomas Aquinas.


Provide proof for the rest of the forum goers, please.


Quite right, it was neither, St. Augustine wrote 'The City of God', and St. Thomas Aquinas did not mention a City upon a Hill at all, he wrote the Summa Theologica, (concerning the nature of God, his Angels, and man's relation to both, and everything that can ever be asked to a Theologian), Summa Contra Gentiles, amongst other works. The quote 'A City upon the Hill' is actually derived from the Bible as a metaphor for righteousness acting as an inspiration to others:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14)

Which was latter appropriated by the Puritan John Winthrop, to suggest his American colony as a model of emulation amongst the English Puritans.
Posted 9/11/12

longfenglim wrote:


Fear-and-Hope wrote:


longfenglim wrote:


Fear-and-Hope wrote:

When Aquinas started blabbing and blabbing about something about some mythical city on a hill, I knew to stop listening.


That is St. Augustine, not St. Thomas Aquinas.


Provide proof for the rest of the forum goers, please.


Quite right, it was neither, St. Augustine wrote 'The City of God', and St. Thomas Aquinas did not mention a City upon a Hill at all, he wrote the Summa Theologica, (concerning the nature of God, his Angels, and man's relation to both, and everything that can ever be asked to a Theologian), Summa Contra Gentiles, amongst other works. The quote 'A City upon the Hill' is actually derived from the Bible as a metaphor for righteousness acting as an inspiration to others:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14)

Which was latter appropriated by the Puritan John Winthrop, to suggest his American colony as a model of emulation amongst the English Puritans.


My source of thinking Aquinas wrote of that led me to think he did, which was the first Deus Ex video game, in which the billionaire Bob Page seemed to suffer grandiose delusions of attaining godhood.
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