Thursday, February 02, 2012

Just Just War?

I'd like to know what war is or was truly just. I'm especially asking fellow Christians. What would qualify as a just war?

Bombing of Chinese City

And by just, I mean it follows these three guidelines:

  1. It is fought for just cause - meaning for protection of vulnerable peoples, not for, say, property or value.
  2. It is inevitable. It could not have been avoided, nor could there have been a non-violent solution.
  3. It is limited in it reach and only goes as far - only - as absolutely necessary. Ie, no civilian deaths.

Under these guidelines, I'd like to know what conflict could ever have qualified as a Just War.


  1. Anonymous8:52 PM

    none, ever...... first amendment Thou shalt not kill.... says it all

    1. Assuming you meant commandment, right? ;-)
      Thanks. It's pretty simple, eh?

  2. I believe it was Pope Paul VI (though maybe it was John XXIII) who pointed out that, whatever may have passed for a just war in the past was impossible in the modern era given the horrific mechanization of modern warfare. He was speaking primarily of nuclear conflict, but when one considers that since WWI, civilian casualties have grown to the point where they far outnumber combatants, how can anyone argue that any modern war "just" by these criteria.
    Civilian to combatant casualty ratio:

    WWI: 2:3
    WWII: 3:2 (the advent of modern "total war")
    Korea: 36:10
    Vietnam: 2:1 (not including Cambodia & Laos)
    Lebanon ('82): 5:1)
    Chechen Wars: 76:10
    NATO in Yugoslavia: between 1:10, 4:1, or 10:1, depending on who is doing the reporting (as could be expected, NATO reported the lower, Serbia the higher).
    Iraq: Unclear; civilian casualties put between 60k and a million, depending on the metrics used by a particular source. As a veteran of that war who had some access to intelligence reports, I'd go with the higher numbers. But even taking the most conservative estimate of civilian casualties--60k, which I find laughable--it would come to a ration of about 12:1 compared to coalition casualties).

    It's hard to imagine any moral, rational person arguing that modern warfare can ever be just. A nation's reasons for engaging in warfare has to be measured by other means; consequently, traditional Christian morality cannot be evoked for supporting war in any way.

    Of course, Christians have turned a deaf ear to the words of Christ and the more righteous (as opposed to self-righteous) of His followers for 2000 years, and I imagine will go on doing so. We are flawed creatures. But to USE His words to justify the wholesale slaughter of innocents is blasphemy.

    1. Oops: I meant "ratio", not "ration"

    2. That's incredible! Thanks, Andy!


Be kind. Rewind.