Beginning with Ezekiel’s imagery of a field filled with dry bones in the aftermath of war, Mark J. Allman and Tobias L. Winright approach the burgeoning question of how best to establish a just peace following violent conflict. As theologians committed to the Christian tradition’s emphasis on restoring peace following warfare, their project develops jus post bellum categories that have thus far been considered more by philosophers, political scientists, and international law scholars than by theologians. The authors see themselves as extending the work of Glen Stassen and other just peacemaking theorists. Where just peacemaking provides theologically rooted criteria for jus ante bellum, Allman and Winright want to root theologically jus post bellum. “We believe that expanding the just war tradition to encompass jus post bellum will actually ‘close the loop’ or make for a more honest just war theory by bringing us back to the practices of just peacemaking” (55–56).
The book is presented in two parts. The first part offers an overview of the history of the just war tradition and of the emerging discussion of jus post bellum. Despite its brevity, a key strength of this overview is its comprehensiveness. Allman and Winright illustrate the tradition’s roots in Hellenistic philosophy, its development by patristic and medieval theologians, and finally its adoption in the secular sphere. The authors then uncover nascent elements of jus post bellum throughout the just war tradition. Here they pay particular attention to Immanuel Kant before turning to contemporary philosophers, including perhaps the most well-known jus post bellum theorist, Brian Orend, with whom the authors dialogue extensively in the second part.
The second part constitutes the book’s major constructive contribution to the theological ethics of warfare and conflict resolution. The authors posit four “categories” that they argue are “consistent with the Christian just war tradition” and necessary for a just peace following war (85). First, they contend that the just cause, which prompts the war, must be reconsidered jus post bellum. “The logic is simple and clear: the end of a just war must be accomplishing the objectives that served as the grounds for going to war in the first place” (100). Second, the authors explore the need for postconflict reconciliation, arguing [End Page 223] for restorative forms of justice alongside retributive forms. This chapter would benefit from more extensive dialogue with theologians such as John de Gruchy, Robert Schreiter, and Charles Villa-Vicencio, who have devoted themselves to the topics of reconciliation and restorative justice from the Christian perspective. Third, the authors discuss the value of punishment in establishing justice. Their discussion of the symbolic importance of reparations is especially insightful. The authors suggest that “reparations require a reversal of power. Those who once were dominant are now in a submissive/vulnerable position” in relation to those who were once powerless (130). Finally, the authors propose a “restoration phase” following warfare wherein basic security must be established and political reforms enacted to preclude any return to the status quo ante bellum. The victors must ensure the economic recovery of the vanquished; provide for the needs of the war’s most vulnerable victims, such as children; and clean up environmental hazards that resulted from fighting.
The book is most impressive in that it conjoins multiple postconflict endeavors (e.g., reconciliation and war crimes tribunals) that are frequently separated or seen as oppositional in other literature. This strength indicates that the book may continue to yield serious contributions to the ethics of conflict resolution, especially as scholars accept the authors’ challenge to “develop and further refine” the categories they propose.