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What About War? - 2006 July 30

What About War? - 2006 July 30

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Published by John Partridge
What should we think about war? Is it ever right" to go to war? How do we decide?
A discussion of "just war" theory and practice from the time of Augustine until now.
What should we think about war? Is it ever right" to go to war? How do we decide?
A discussion of "just war" theory and practice from the time of Augustine until now.

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Published by: John Partridge on Jun 09, 2014
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“What About War?

July 30, 2006
By John Partridge

Scripture: Romans 3:3!" #eter 2:3!$
On March 13, 1964 in a quiet neighborhood of Queens, Ne !or", #itty $eno%ese as attac"ed in the ear&y
hours of the 'orning by a 'an ho intended to ra(e her) *hen she ran toard a &oca& bar to find
'en ho ou&d he&(, her attac"er decided to "i&& her instead) +n the (rocess of "i&&ing Miss
$eno%ese, 3, (eo(&e re(orted&y sa or heard the attac" or her cries for he&() On&y one (erson e%er
ca&&ed (o&ice and then on&y after #itty had co&&a(sed in the ha&&ay of a nearby bui&ding) -he (o&ice
arri%ed 'inutes &ater but too &ate to (re%ent her attac"er fro' finder her and finishing hat he had
started) *ho cou&d ha%e sto((ed this attac". *ou&d &oca& citi/ens ha%e been right to attac" and
subdue #itty0s attac"er. *ou&d the (o&ice ha%e been 1ustified in using &etha& force if they had
arri%ed in ti'e to itness the attac".
*e are o%er forty years fro' the attac" on #itty $eno%ese but today our nation is e'broi&ed in a ar on
terroris' and has in%o&%ed its 'i&itary in se%era& nations that ha%e been accused of aiding and
abetting terrorists) -he questions that e raise today are not that different than those raised by the
attac" on Miss $eno%ese a&though they are different in sca&e) 2id our nation 3or any nation4 ha%e the
right to attac" another so%ereign nation. 5nder hat conditions is such an attac" &ega& or 1ustifiab&e.
6o &ong is it 'ora&&y (er'issib&e to occu(y such nations.
7&so a'ong the questions that e as" ourse&%es are ho 8hristians shou&d understand internationa& %io&ence
and arfare, and hether scri(ture is of any he&( in understanding such a conf&ict) -he anser is
yes, but e%en 'ore infor'ati%e is that this is a sub1ect that has been debated by 8hristians for
&itera&&y to thousand years and there is a great dea& of 8hristian thought and tradition that has been
handed don to us) +n the fie&d of ethics, and in 8hristian tradition, the study of this sub1ect is ca&&ed
91ust ar):
Before e go too far don that road, + ant to bac" u( and re'e'ber that there are four basic 8hristian %ies
on ar that ha%e been discussed and he&d ith to 'a1or ones sti&& funda'enta&&y in e;istence today)
<irst, there is the conce(t of 8rusade) 8rusaders are 'uch &i"e hat you ou&d e;(ect, be&ie%ing
that %ictory 'ay be gained by any 'eans necessary as &ong as the cause is good and that it is
acce(tab&e to bring our ene'y to our (oint of %ie through the use of %io&ent action) =ince the
disastrous crusades of the 'idd&e ages + su((ose fe ou&d acti%e&y es(ouse this %ie, but e 'ust
be cautious because e&e'ents of this (oint of %ie ha%e a ay of seducti%e&y cree(ing into 'odern
thin"ing) =econd, Non%io&ent >esistance has been occasiona&&y (ro'oted, (erha(s 'ost notab&y by
Mahat'a $andhi, but this ay of thin"ing is 'ore of a 'ethod of (rotest than a s(ecific fie&d of
thought) Non%io&ent resistance, as a 'ethod, can be used by 8rusaders or by Pacifists a&i"e if it suits
their (ur(oses) Of course Pacifis' historica&&y, is that scri(tura& understanding that e'(hasi/es
Jesus0 teachings of (eace, (articu&ar&y those of the =er'on on the Mount) Pacifis' recogni/es the
rea&ity of sin, e%i& and %io&ence but ho&ds that the cross and resurrection is ho 8hristians shou&d dea&
ith the or&d)

<ina&&y, e ha%e beteen these %ie(oints the conce(t of Just *ar) Just *ar ho&ds
that in so'e cases, under certain conditions, that the use of force, %io&ence or arfare can be
1ustified and in fact, hi&e it is regrettab&e, must be used in order to (re%ent an e%en greater rong
7&&en Be%ere, c&ass notes 8hristian ?thics, =(ring @AA6, 7sh&and theo&ogica& =e'inary)
fro' occurring) -he conce(t of 1ust ar as forarded by 7'brose and &ater by 7ugustine, his
student) Both Pacifis' and Just *ar theories ha%e so&id scri(tura& bac"ing and &ong histories of
serious inte&&ectua& and theo&ogica& thought but both of these %ies cannot be he&d at the sa'e ti'eB
Just *ar and Pacifis' are 'utua&&y e;c&usi%e ays of thin"ing)
Pacifis' ho&ds that under no circu'stances shou&d a 8hristian e%er "i&& another hu'an being and in its0
e;tre'e that they shou&d re'ain non%io&ent) -his as the %ie of the =iss refor'ation and it
re'ains the %ie of those ho ha%e fo&&oed the (ath of that tradition (articu&ar&y the Brethren,
Qua"ers and Mennonites) -here are 'any difficu&ties ith this (osition not the &east of hich is that
no nation that subscribed to a (acifist ideo&ogy cou&d sur%i%e as it ou&d be unab&e to defend itse&f
against any attac") =econd&y, indi%idua& (acifists 'ay acce(t 'artyrdo' for the'se&%es but a
(acifist nation ou&d a&so a&&o suffering and death to co'e u(on those ho did not subscribe to
their ideo&ogy) + ha%e a great dea& of res(ect for our friends ho ho&d to a (acifist %ie but n the
interests of ti'e i&& not discuss this further today)
-heo&ogians and hea%y thin"ers for generations ha%e considered the scri(tura& basis for (acifis' and hi&e it
is e&& thought out and can (resent an array of scri(tura& argu'ents, the 'a1ority of scri(ture can be
genera&&y understood to be in fa%or of a&&oing states and nations to use force in their on defense
and for other &egiti'ate (ur(oses) <ro' Pau&0s &etter to the >o'ans e find thisC
For rulers hold no
terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the
one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.
For he is God's servant to do
you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's
servant, an agent of wrath to bring unishment on the wrongdoer.
Therefore, it is necessary to
submit to the authorities, not only because of ossible unishment but also because of conscience.
This is also why you ay ta!es, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to
Give everyone what you owe him" #f you owe ta!es, ay ta!es$ if revenue, then revenue$
if resect, then resect$ if honor, then honor. 3>o'ans 13C3DE4
Nations that bear &egiti'ate authority are understood to bear the sord, to be the bearer of &egiti'ate %io&ence,
and to be the agent of $od0s (unish'ent on those ho do rong) Peter further co''end us in this
%ubmit yourselves for the &ord's sa'e to every authority instituted among men" whether to the
'ing, as the sureme authority,
or to governors, who are sent by him to unish those who do wrong
and to commend those who do right.
For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the
ignorant tal' of foolish men. 31 Peter 13D1F4
7ugustine, Guther and 'any others outside of the =iss tradition ha%e a&ays 'aintained that the go%ern'ent
had a &egiti'ate authority to (rotect itse&f and to (rotect its citi/ens through 'eans that inc&uded the
use of force if necessary) <urther, since the beginning of 8hristianity it has been argued that being a
so&dier, a 'agistrate or other ho&der of 'i&itary or (o&itica& authority ere correct and e%en essentia&
1obs or careers for 8hristians) ?%en in those cases here ear&y 8hristians ere discouraged fro'
ho&ding such (ositions, they ere not (rohibited fro' ho&ding the' and ere not threatened ith
e;co''unication) Pri'ari&y, Just *ar e'(hasi/es the scri(tura& teaching of the necessity of 1ustice
as e&& as the (rotection of the innocent, hich is a&so an issue of 1ustice) Pau& >a'sey (oints out
that Jesus0 direction to turn the other chee" is (ersona& and hi&e it 'ay a&&o you to forgo se&fD
defense, 1ustice requires that e 9are not free to ignore the (&ight of the innocent third (arty):
2ary& 8har&es, Between (acifism and )ihad, 2oners $ro%e, +G, +nterHarsity Press, @AAF, E3
7ugustine0s criteria for Just *ar has been re%isited and c&arified by 'any thin"ers during the &ast to
thousand years as history has dea&t ith atershed e%ents &i"e the 8rusades, to or&d ars, nuc&ear
ea(ons and the rise of terroris') Princi(a&&y e can understand Just *ar as to distinct sets of
criteria, first under hat conditions a nation 'ay go to ar and second, in hat ay a nation 'ay be
(er'itted to age ar) 74 +n 7ugustine0s thin"ing, ar 'ay on&y be aged by a &egiti'ate
authority, hat e ou&d refer to as a recogni/ed go%ern'ent) -his a((&ies to de'ocracies as e&&
as dictators but ou&d not a((&y to those trying to o%erthro a "ing, (irates or to robber barons
ea&thy enough to hire a 'i&itary) -his require'ent of &egiti'ate authority a&so ou&d not a&&o
%io&ent re%o&ution such as the one that se(arated the thirteen co&onies fro' the contro& of ?ng&and)
B4 +n a 1ust ar there 'ust be 1ust cause, a nation 'ust be ab&e to c&ear&y identify an in1ury or
in1ustice that has been inf&icted u(on the' but ar can a&so be 1ustified in cases here des(ots and
ic"ed ru&ers inf&ict suffering on their on sub1ects) +n short, this 1ustification can co'e fro' a
nation rising to defend itse&f fro' attac" but a&so to defend a&&ies and others fro' their o((ressors)
-his authority to use %io&ence is a&so the 1ustification for (rotecting the citi/ens of a nation for'
interna& ene'ies such as %io&ent cri'ina&s) 84 <ina&&y, in order for a nation to go to ar there 'ust
be a right intention, that is, it is not &egiti'ate to use ar to (rotect the (ride of a (resident or "ing or
for the (ur(ose of nationa& e;(ansion) 2ary& 8har&es notes that 9ithin 1ustDar thin"ing the goa& of
ar is to sto( the strong'an, not "i&&ing) -herefore "i&&ing in ar is not 'urder):
*ithin these three 'ain criteria are se%era& secondary conditions that gro out of a serious discussion of the
first three) 14 *ar 'ust be a &ast resort and a&& reasonab&e 'eans ha%e been atte'(ted to reach a
non%io&ent so&ution through di(&o'acy, econo'ic or (o&itica& so&utions) @4 7 1ustDar 'ust ha%e a
reasonab&e chance of success and is not ho(e&ess or strategica&&y unise) 34 7 1ustDar 'ust be
(ro(ortionate in that the goa& 'ust be equa& to or greater than the &osses that are antici(ated fro' the
ar itse&f) Pro(ortiona&ity a&so necessitates that the ar i&& not e;(ose the nation to ne dangers
that are equa& or greater to those origina&&y (resented and inc&udes for consideration the &osses that
are e;(ected for both sides) 44 7 1ustDar 'ust (roceed fro' the beginning ith the u&ti'ate goa& to
estab&ish (eace and (o&itica& and socia& stabi&ity) +f all of these criteria can be 'et, then, 7ugustine
argues, that a ar can be dec&ared to be a 1ustDar) 7 fai&ure in on&y one of these hoe%er casts
significant doubt u(on hether the ar shou&d be fought or not)
Once a 1ustDar has been dec&ared and the so&diers ha%e ta"en the fie&d, there are considerations as to ho the
ar 'ay be fought and these considerations ha%e &arge&y been ado(ted into internationa& &a) 14 *ar
'ust be fought discri'inate&y, that is to say so&diers are to fight against so&diers and other &egiti'ate
'i&itary targets but nonco'batants 3such as ounded so&diers and 'edica& (ersonne&4 and the
innocent 'ust be (rotected as 'uch as is (ossib&e) @4 *ar 'ust be fought (ro(ortionate&y I the
degree of force that is used 'ust not be greater than the degree of force that is necessary to 'a"e the
ene'y co'(&y)
Natura&&y, because 'any 3if not a&&4 of these criteria are sub1ecti%e, there i&& be differing o(inions o%er hat
constitutes a 1ustDar e%en if e are in agree'ent as to the criteria for a 1ustDar) 7s + noted, under
these criteria the 7'erican >e%o&ution cou&d be dec&ared to be an un1ust ar but 7'ericans ou&d
argue that e ere rebe&&ing against a tyrant) -he dro((ing of ato'ic bo'bs on 6iroshi'a and
Nagasa"i ou&d ha%e difficu&ty (assing the require'ent of (ro(ortiona&ity hen con%entiona&
arfare cou&d e&& ha%e acco'(&ished the sa'e ob1ecti%e) 5ndoubted&y 7'ericans as e&& as others
ou&d ha%e so'e sy'(athy for the decisions 'ade by President -ru'an hen e understand that
the casua&ty esti'ates for an in%asion of Ja(an ere in the neighborhood of si; hundred thousand)
2ary& 8har&es, Between (acifism and )ihad, 2oners $ro%e, +G, +nterHarsity Press, @AAF, 134)
=o as e (artici(ate in our on 'odern debate, does the ar in +raq qua&ify as a 1ustDar. Gi"e it or not, our
(resident and the 5nited =tates go%ern'ent do constitute a &egiti'ate authority) *as there a 1ust
cause. -he argu'ent gi%en to 7'erica regarding ea(ons of 'ass destruction re'ains in serious
question but a case cou&d certain&y ha%e been 'ade that +raq0s &eader as a des(ot and a tyrant that
as abusing 'any innocents ithin his on nation) -hat this argu'ent as not 'ade 'ore c&ear&y
to the 7'erican (eo(&e and to the or&d is, in itse&f, distinct&y curious) *as the intention of the +raq
ar to sto( a tyrant and to sto( the "i&&ing or to feed the ego or the (o&itica& (oer of those in
7'erican go%ern'ent. *hi&e so'e 'ay disagree, it ou&d see' that the 7'erican (eo(&e and their
e&ected re(resentati%es ere con%inced that ar as in the best interests of both the 7'erican and
the +raqi (eo(&e as a ho&e)
8ertain&y e be&ie%e that our 'i&itary does its best to &i'it the b&oodshed on the (art of innocents and of those
not direct&y in%o&%ed in batt&e, and e do not e;(ect that a significant o%erDuse of force is genera&&y
used, but e begin to ha%e significant inte&&ectua& difficu&ties ith the +raq ar as e consider those
secondary consideration e discussed ear&ier) 6as the u&ti'ate goa& a&ays been to estab&ish (eace
and (o&itica& and socia& stabi&ity. !es, it ou&d genera&&y see' so) 2id the 5nited =tates ha%e a
reasonab&e chance of success in fighting and re'o%ing the threat of ea(ons of 'ass destruction and
of de(osing +raq0s des(otic &eader. !es, that a&so ou&d see' to reasonab&y fa&& ithin the
ca(abi&ities of our 'i&itary) But the &ast to criteria 'ust be rest&ed ith a bit 'ore, and e%en those
of us ho tend to be (roD'i&itary and de%out&y (atriotic 'ust question hether these criteria ere
adequate&y addressed) *as this ar a &ast resort and ere a&& (ossib&e so&utions atte'(ted (rior to
going forard on a course of %io&ence. 8ertain&y 'any o(tions ere atte'(ted and &itt&e or no
success as re(orted) Many a%enues ere e;(&ored through di(&o'acy and through the 5nited
Nations but e%en the ins(ectors ho cou&d ha%e confir'ed the &ac" of re(orted ea(ons of 'ass
destruction ere refused entry and sent (ac"ing) *ere other o(tions o(en that ere not tried or
e;(&ored. Many ou&d argue that this is distinct&y (ossib&e) <ina&&y, ere the goa&s of the ar equa&
or greater than the antici(ated &osses. Probab&y this can a&so be ansered yes, but did this ar
e;(ose the nation or the or&d to ne dangers that are equa& or greater than those origina&&y
(resented. -hat is a (articu&ar&y thorny (rob&e') +t is indeed quite (ossib&e that dangers of
increased terroris' ha%e gron out of the 5nited =tates in%o&%e'ent in 7fghanistan and in +raq but
it is a&so (ossib&e that by fighting terrorists and re&igious e;tre'ists 9o%er there: has (re%ented 'any
of these sa'e e;tre'ists fro' ha%ing the ti'e, resources or (ersonne& to bring their threat to our
ci%i&ian (o(u&ation at ho'e)
7s e e;a'ine the actions of our go%ern'ent e see" the safety of our 'en and o'en in unifor', as e&&
as our on, and e do not desire to unfair&y i'(ose our syste' of go%ern'ent on others, but neither
do e ish to beco'e a nationa&i/ed %ersion of that neighborhood in Queens, Ne !or", seeing and
hearing the screa's of #itty $eno%ese echoing in the %oices of +raq0s o((ressed 'inorities and
doing nothing about it)
+ don0t c&ai' to ha%e a&& the ansers to our foreign (o&icy debate or to hether out go%ern'ent as 1ustified
in doing hat it has a&ready done, but + suggest to you that it is usefu& to understand the ay in hich
e can discuss ar and the &anguage that is used to deter'ine hether or not a ar is 1ust) Jean
?&shtain (oints out that 8hristians 9must 'a"e 'ora& 1udg'ents that distinguish beteen %icti' and
%icti'i/er, beteen 1ust and un1ust (o&icies, beteen hu'an beha%ior that is to&erab&e and that hich
is into&erab&e): *hi&e this 'ay be difficu&t for those of us in our 'odern cu&ture, these issues are far
too i'(ortant to be decided by any go%ern'ent or (o&itica& theorists a&one)
8hristians 'ust be
2ary& 8har&es, Between (acifism and )ihad, 2oners $ro%e, +G, +nterHarsity Press, @AAF, E9)
infor'ed and 'ust (artici(ate in the go%ern'ent decisionD'a"ing (rocess) >egard&ess of our
(o&itica& affi&iation, e 'ust be i&&ing to s(ea" out hen our go%ern'ent e;ceeds the boundaries of
'ora&ity) +f e do not, ho i&&.

!ou ha%e been reading a 'essage (resented at Johns%i&&e $race and =tea' 8orners 5nited Methodist 8hurches on the date
noted at the to( of the first (age) >e%) John Partridge is the (astor of the Johns%i&&e Parish) 2u(&ication of this 'essage is a
(art of our Media 'inistry, if you ha%e recei%ed a b&essing in this ay, e ou&d &o%e to hear fro' you) Getters and
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otherise noted)

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