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Does a declaration of war justify behaviour that would be unacceptable in peacetime?

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Does a declaration of war justify behaviour that would be unacceptable in peacetime? Whether or not the declaration of Just War justifies behaviour that is morally or legally unacceptable in peacetime depends firstly on the sort of behaviour we are talking about. There are a number of behaviours that are legally permitted in peacetime that many people would and do reject as morally unacceptable. This includes abortion, euthanasia and animal rights. The legal acceptability of these issues depends on the government, and varies from state to state. In this country, during peacetime it is acceptable to kill in self defence - for instance, if one's house is being robbed and the burglar threatens the owner, the owner would not be penalized for shooting and killing the burglar. Pacifists object to all kinds of killing in both war and peacetime, whereas just war supporters try to draw parallels between civil justice and international justice in the attempt to justify certain behaviour. ...read more.


Therefore a declaration of just war would not be able to justify any unacceptable behaviour such as murder and violence - this would only further divide men, who are already divided by sin. Nevertheless, those who support the Just War theory believe that killing in the name of resisting an unjust oppressor is justifiable. The declaration of just war must be a proportionate response, and must discriminate between the guilty and the innocent. Oliver O'Donovan suggests war is an act of armed judgment and must be carried out by an unbiased judge to ensure its fairness. This judge must have a clear perspective on the gains and losses this act would entail and the final aim must be to bring about peace. In theory, military aggression is not defined by killing and violence. For instance, British troops that entered Iraq do not kill unless attack. Therefore killing is still self defence and this is no different to peacetime. ...read more.


Propoganda can lead to disproportionate warfare and killings, therefore it cannot be justified. Human rights have always been an issue, for it is no certain whether it is morally right to deny someone the right to life in favour of another objective. From a utilitarian perspective, it would depend on whether the war was successful. If more people than soldiers killed are able to lead happy and fulfilled lives after the war ends, then it is acceptable to justify military confrontation in wartime. However, The High Court has recently decided that it soldiers human rights should not be overlooked either. This means the Ministry of Defence has to ensure the soldiers are not subjected to combat in intolerable heat or cold, and have functioning equipment. Certain equipment would be forbidden entirely, such as Nimrod planes. Of course, this would affect the damage potential of British troops, and possibly extend the war and subsequently take more lives. A utilitarian critic would ask whether in the long term this court order is going to cause more death and pain. ?? ?? ?? ?? Anna Grinevich (c) ...read more.

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