Just War Theory | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

To show that just war theory does not apply in the modern era, it is insufficient to claim that no twentieth-century war met the conditions for a just war. Rather, the claim needed is that no conceivable twentieth-century war could have met the conditions for a just war. This would involve analyzing the conflicts to which the wars of the twentieth century were responses, and showing that any possible military action addressing them would have been unjust by just war theory’s criteria. This is a tall order, and needless to say, it has not been done.

Basic Principles of the Just War Tradition « Levellers

In most cases this will be World War II, but the other two will work just as well.

-ESSAY: The Gulf War: Just or Unjust? - Grose

However the case of the Korean War includes a number of complicating factors which will illustrate for students the difficulties of applying just war principles in a way that really seeks to serve a higher purpose.Difficulty of defining aggression -- This problem would naturally apply to any act of war that is deemed by some an unprovoked attack.

Just War theory - Mount Holyoke College

The notion of just cause is inherent in the portions of the UN Charter which confers on the Security Council the power to take such action: the prohibition on the aggressive use of force in Article 2(4), the responsibility of the Security Council to maintain “international peace and security” articulated in Article 24(1), and Article 39 which provides that the coercive powers of the Council were to be triggered by a determination of “any threat to the peace, breach of peace, or act of aggression.”15 It would appear then that the United Nations was playing its proper role as the duly appointed protector of peace.

Begins with an extensive discussion of the development of just war concepts in international law.

Rethinking the 'Just War,' Part 1 - The New York Times

Even political leaders sometimes appeal to the Theory for guidance or justification. Ten days before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Jimmy Carter argued in The New York Times that an invasion would be wrong because it would violate the just war requirements of last resort, discrimination, proportionality and legitimate authority — though he regrettably managed to misinterpret all four. When Barack Obama delivered his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, he too made reference to the concept of a just war, citing the Theory’s principles of last resort, proportionality, and discrimination. More recently, one of Obama’s aides sought to explain the president’s close involvement in acts of targeted killing by suggesting that his study of the writings on just war by Augustine and Aquinas had convinced him that he had to take personal responsibility for these acts.

Landmark Vatican conference rejects just war theory, …

As I mentioned, the consensus on the Theory has recently begun to break down. The cracks first became visible when a few philosophers challenged some of the assumptions of Walzer’s “Just and Unjust Wars” shortly after its publication in 1977. But over the last 15 years the cracks have widened into gaping crevices. There are two reasons for this.

Is Just War Theory Obsolete? - Crisis Magazine

Walzer points out that while a surrendering soldier is not to be killed, a fleeing one is a legitimate target (Walzer 1977). Walzer then questions the reasoning of this fact because the basic theory behind killing a fleeing soldier is to prevent him from returning to the fight. It ends up soldiers who fled did return to fight, rather slaughter, during the Kurdish rebellion after the war. But Walzer sees that as an internal issue and therefore because the soldiers were not going to return as combatants against coalition forces, killing them was not morally correct. The facts are that a state of war still existed and during a time of war, the killing of enemy soldiers, even if in retreat, is an acceptable act. While the atrocities they committed as an occupying force in Kuwait would seem to warrant the destruction of the convoy, that mentality falls too close to raw revenge. As distasteful and horrendous as the Iraqi conduct in Kuwait was, destroying their convoy as they fled solely for revenge would not hold up under jus in bello (Justice in War). But not only were they legitimate targets, they were also thieves. They had plundered Kuwait and were attempting to return with the ill-gotten booty. As part of just-war theory, the legalist paradigm states that aggression justifies two kinds of violent response: a war of self-defense by the victim and a war of law enforcement by the victim and any other member of international society (Walzer, p.62). Because the war was still in effect at the time and just-war theory dictates that a member of international society can respond violently when enforcing laws, the "Highway of Death" was a just act in a just war.