Friday, December 04, 2009

Criteria for a Just War

A recent article in Associated Baptist Press by Bob Allen reported on a speech by Robert Parham in which he outlined five criteria for a war being “just.” I agree with some, but with some of his listed criteria, I take issue. What are your thoughts on the matter?

The first standard necessary for a “Just War,” he said is a “Just Cause.” I must agree with this standard. The use of force to protect America, her allies, her citizens, and those unable to defend themselves seems a legitimate criteria. Whether of not popular opinion considers it “Just” is not the issue. Those who stand on the side of justice often must swim upstream against the ever increasing tide of those who, when they begin to experience personal hardship abdicate their moral responsibility.

Parham lists the second standard as property authority. Again, I agree with this criteria. However, he includes the UN as such an authority. I do not believe the UN has any kind of moral authority to wage war. I do not believe in a one-world governing entity, which such authority will inevitably bring about.

The third standard which must be met according to Parham, is “last resort.” That is to say that a country should attempt to mediate through peaceful means before turning to war. I agree with this point in a limited way. The United States kept giving Japan chance upon chance to turn back from her treacherous course. Time and again, the Japanese were caught in their web of lies, yet the desire to try one more time eventually left us ill prepared for the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. There must be a firm time table with tangible positive response. In the case of overt attack as in the 9-11 assault, reaction must be swift and comprehensive.

Parham lists the fourth standard as “probability of success.” I think this is a terrible criteria for war. There can be nothing but victory in war. Anything less than the total commitment of the people to the success of the endeavor will spell eventual disaster. One man suggested that Gideon would never have gone forth with his 300 hearty men had probability of success been a criteria. George Washington’s heroic stand against the greatest military power of its day would never have gotten off Long Island if probability of success had been a consideration.

The fifth standard listed by Parham is “proportionality.” This is the most absurd of the criteria listed. Proportionality means that the nation attack with only the amount of force necessary to eke out a victory. It is the concept of “proportionality” which resulted in the loss of Korea and Vietnam. It is proportionality which has kept our troops bogged down in the Middle East for nearly nine years. When a nation goes to war, she should unleash the power necessary to bring a quick end to the conflict. Untold tens of thousands of American lives were spared by the unleashing of the Atom bomb on two Japanese Cities. Do you really believe that the last fifty years of privation suffered by the people of North Korea would have occurred if American leadership had demonstrated the resolve to unleash MacArthur on the Communist giant growing on the Korean Peninsula and the Chinese mainland.

While I regret the loss of so-called non-combatants, I doubt the existence of many such. Those in war torn areas are already involved. The Vietnamese peasants were NOT non-combatants. They either supported the Allies or the Viet Cong. I suspect that is the case in most areas. That folk can live in the midst of war without taking sides is something for the movies, but doesn’t exist in reality.

© 2009 Mike Rasberry

1 comment:

Bro. Don said...

Mike, I just want to concur with your analysis of Bob Allen's article on what constitutes a "Just War." I have the same reservations you express about his perspective on the justification of the use of the tool of war to resolve human differences. Warfare is extreme, and it should be the tool of last resort. The difficulty comes in determining when it is time; but pre-emptive strikes must be kept as an option on the table.