The Criteria for a Just War
Taken from the Old Testament
- “At the same time we captured and destroyed every town and put everyone to death – men, women and children. We left no survivors.” (Deut. 2:34)
- “Joshua spared no-one, everyone was put to death. This was what the Lord God of Israel commanded.” (Joshua 10:40)
Augustine laid down two conditions:
- It had to have a legitimate authority
- Had to be a just cause
Q: What is the purpose of war? Aquinas added a third:
- There has to be a right intention
At the Nuremberg trial, two problems came through:
- When is it right to go to war ?- Jus ad Bellum
- How should war be fought ?- Jus in Bello
Catholic Bishops in America set out conditions for a just war in 1983: Jus ad bellum –
- There must be a cause.
- war must be declared by a competent and legal authority.
- Comparative justice – the justice of the claims of both sides must be compared.
- There must be a right intention in going to war.
- War must be a last resort.
- There must be a reasonable probability of success.
- There must be a reasonable proportion between the injustice suffered and the death and suffering of war.
Jus in bellum –
Objections to just war theory
- Tyrannicide – Bonhoeffer
- High Moral standard of government. Walter Wink argues that war can never be just as justice requires fairness on both sides and war can never deliver.
Question: If people in country S are starving to death for lack of food and those in country M have a large surplus of food, could it be just for S to go to war with M if all attempts to obtain relief through negotiation have failed?