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Does the "War on Terror" mean the just war doctrine is dead?

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´╗┐The aftermath of the two counter terror wars waged by the Bush administration at the turn of the twenty first century has brought up the question; if a just war is dead. To assess that assertion, we must first considered what is a just war by looking at the just war tradition. Then using that as our basis of a just war, we will compare if the two wars fought in Afghanistan and Iraq abide by the just war tradition to determine if they were just. The principles of just war originated with classical Greek philosophers like Plato and Roman philosophers like Cicero. Principles of just war was later refined by Christian philosophers saint Ambrose and Augustine in the fifth century and later reinterpreted by Suarez, Vitoria and Grotius in the seventeenth century to what we know now was just war theory. Just war theory aims to provide a framework for the right way to proceed in a potential military conflict, it is not intended to justify wars, but to prevent them by showing that going to war except in exceptional circumstances is wrong. It was written so that states will reflect on our moral and political practices before and during the use of force, so that there is some humanity in the business of war. Like with any frameworks of action, the original documentation are adapted and evolved by different schools of thought throughout time and so is the case with just war theory. The just war theory has traditionally revolved around two criteria?s; jus ad bellum, which stands for justice before going to war that lists out a number principles a nation must meet before going to war, and jus in bello, which stands for just conduct during war and lists out a number of principles a nation must follow to conduct a just war. For a war to be considered just, a nation must satisfy to a large degree most if not all of the principles of just war theory, ...read more.


Furthermore, on October 5 and 7, Zaeef changed their stance and the Taliban would ?detain Osama if someone comes forward and provides us with a copy of formal charges against him? to put him on trial and the evidence to be provided later. But the Bush administration rejected the offer because his original terms are non negotiable or open to discussion, and Operation Enduring Freedom?s bombing campaign against Afghanistan began. A week after the start of the bombing campaign, the third highest Taliban official said it was willing to turn Osama over to a third country for trial and they were willing to discuss which country if the United States stop bombing and present evidence, and again Bush rejected the offer stating ?there?s no need to negotiate?. Given that the United States did not pursue non military methods before the use of force, it has violated the principle of last resort. The Taliban on numerous occasions was willing to discuss the options before going to war and even willing to turn over Osama to another country after the bombings started. It is very clear that there were methods that the United States could pursue without the use of force or even stop the bombings when the Taliban was willing to turn Osama over, but the Bush administration rejected all forms of diplomatic resolutions by cutting off dialogue with the Taliban government. The proportionality principle of jus ad bellum advocates us to consider the good it will achieve by going to war and eliminating the injustice and weigh it against the cost that may arise, only when the good outweighs the costs, can the proportionality be considered just. The Bush administration advocated that the worst case scenario was the death of millions of people in the western world that could be killed by weapons of mass destruction, if that was the case, the benefits of going to war would outweigh the costs and deemed proportional. ...read more.


Then the United States also used cluster munitions, which is an air dropped explosive weapon with parachutes attached that releases sub munitions and some of these sub munitions are coloured yellow, the same colour as food aid packages. In essence these are airborne landmines that are not capable of distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants, and there have been numerous accounts of civilians being killed or badly mutilated from these bombs. The United States have thus violate the proportionality criteria of jus in bello by not taking into account the potential civilian casualty whilst pursuing military targets and not taking adequate care to avoid collateral damage to civilians. Also to a larger extent the United States violated customary international humanitarian law set out in the additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions by attacking non military targets that posed no impending threat. Just war theory stipulates that a nation may conduct war justly if all of the principles are met. Admittedly, since just war theory has its roots in Christian theology, there is a bias towards not going to war and to avoid it at costs if possible, but it does allow war in exceptional circumstances. So it could be argued that the theory itself is ridiculous to follow since there are too many sets of rules and if a state follows all the rules then war will be impossible. But let us not forget that just war theory was created to bring moral reflection of one self and bring humanity into the business of war. Even if we do not accept that we have to follow all the principles, surely if a state violating at least half of the principles of just war theory, cannot justify that their war is just. Therefore I state to you that the counter terror war at the turn of the twenty first century is not only an unjust war, but also the Bush administration has scrapped all the rules pertaining to a just war and consistently misled the international community into a war that should never have been, hence just war is dead. ...read more.

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