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Just War

Authority, Tradition, and Practice

Anthony F. Lang Jr., Cian O'Driscoll, and John Williams, Editors

Publication Year: 2013

The just war tradition is central to the practice of international relations, in questions of war, peace, and the conduct of war in the contemporary world, but surprisingly few scholars have questioned the authority of the tradition as a source of moral guidance for modern statecraft. Just War: Authority, Tradition, and Practice brings together many of the most important contemporary writers on just war to consider questions of authority surrounding the just war tradition.

Authority is critical in two key senses. First, it is central to framing the ethical debate about the justice or injustice of war, raising questions about the universality of just war and the tradition's relationship to religion, law, and democracy. Second, who has the legitimate authority to make just-war claims and declare and prosecute war? Such authority has traditionally been located in the sovereign state, but non-state and supra-state claims to legitimate authority have become increasingly important over the last twenty years as the just war tradition has been used to think about multilateral military operations, terrorism, guerrilla warfare, and sub-state violence. The chapters in this collection, organized around these two dimensions, offer a compelling reassessment of the authority issue's centrality in how we can, do, and ought to think about war in contemporary global politics.

Published by: Georgetown University Press


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p. C-C

Title page, copyright PAge

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

This book, the yield of an interdisciplinary workshop held in Washington in the summer of 2010, is an attempt to shine new light on an old topic: the just war tradition. This tradition has long served as a framework within which to explore matters of war and communal violence. It not only structures moral reflection on these matters but also informs the political and legal institutions that govern and...

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Introduction: The Just War Tradition and the Practice of Political Authority

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pp. 1-16

THE JUST WAR TRADITION is the predominant moral language through which we address questions pertaining to the rights and wrongs of the use of force in international society. Boasting a lineage that is typically traced to the sunset of the Roman Empire, it furnishes us with a set of concepts, principles, and analytical devices for making sense of the moral-legal questions that war raises. Contemporary accounts of...


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1 The Right to Use Armed Force: Sovereignty, Responsibility, and the Common Good

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pp. 19-34

THROUGH MOST OF THE HISTORY of the just war tradition, writers on just war,when listing the requirements for just resort to armed force, followed the example of the summary provided by Thomas Aquinas: first the authority of a sovereign ruler; then just cause, defined as retaking that which has been wrongly taken and punishing evildoing; and then right intention, defined negatively as avoiding...

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2 Just War and Political Judgment

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pp. 35-48

THE AIM OF THIS CHAPTER is to defend the position that while the categories associated with just war thinking may help us to exercise judgment in particular cases,we should avoid just war theorizing altogether. The intended distinction here is best,if somewhat crudely, summarized by saying that whereas those who look to just war theory expect to be given answers, those who prefer to talk of just war thinking...

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3 Natural Flourishing as the Normative Ground of Just War: A Christian View

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pp. 49-62

WE MIGHT ACHIEVE a universal language about the ethics of war. It might be that warrior cultures will vanish from the world, and that no one will ever again suppose that the ecstasy of violence is its own justification, or that domination is war’s obvious and intrinsic end. It might be that the terms in which the just war tradition speaks will become the global lingua franca. I doubt it, but it might be. If it were...

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4 ‘‘Not in My Name’’? Legitimate Authority and Liberal Just War theory

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pp. 63-80

THIS CHAPTER AIMS TO EXPLORE one aspect of the massive controversy generated by the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The war, occupation, and postwar political fate of Iraq and Iraqis have occasioned enormous debate on a whole range of important political questions and still cast a lengthy shadow over the political reputation of the two leaders most closely associated with the invasion, George W. Bush and Tony Blair,...

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5 The Inseparability of Gender Hierarchy, the Just War Tradition, and Authorizing War

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pp. 81-96

WHEN US PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH justified the US military invasions of Afghanistan and then Iraq in part by proclaiming that ‘‘brutality against women is always and everywhere wrong’’ and mixing that proclamation with the language of just cause in the just war tradition,1 the gendered nature of his justifications was neither coincidental nor aberrant to the tradition itself.2 Instead, the just war ...

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6 Legitimate Authority and the War against Al-Qaeda

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pp. 97-114

SINCE THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY, irregular and nonstate actors have demonstrated not only their political relevance but also increased levels of military capability and sophistication.1 Such developments have spurred a reexamination of the legitimate authority criterion, leading certain theorists to argue that this criterion—as it serves to determine the justice of wars—ought to be reconsidered or...

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7 Problems of Legitimacy within the Just War Tradition and International Law

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pp. 115-134

‘‘JUSTICE REMOVED, THEN, what are kingdoms but great bands of robbers?’’1 Augustine’s question does not go away. It calls forth the problem of the ‘‘just war’’—when can a human kill without sin, what separates a legitimate act of killing from murder, what separates the violence of maintaining public ‘‘order’’ and ‘‘security’’ from mere banditry? The just war tradition, first as a theological...

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8 Narrative Authority

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pp. 135-154

HOW CAN CITIZENS OF democratic states engage in moral deliberation about war?Public discourses about war in democratic states tend toward the nationalistic or even jingoistic. This tendency is exacerbated in such states by the assumption that democracies only use force for good purposes and never resort to war for self-interested reasons. That is, any judgments about war tend to be ones that reinforce...


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9 Culpability and Punishment in Classical Theories of Just War

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pp. 157-180

‘‘JUST WARS ARE USUALLY DEFINED as those which have for their end the avenging of injuries [ulciscuntur iniurias].’’ This phrase from Augustine, cited in Gratian’s Decretum, was repeated approvingly by successive generations of canon lawyers and theologians.1 For these early authors in the just war tradition, punishment was intimately connected with the issue of legitimate authority. Most assumed that waging...

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10 The Necessity of "Right Intent" for Justifiably Waging War

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pp. 181-196

THE MAINSTREAM WESTERN CHRISTIAN TEACHING about just war, as it had developed up to the 1270s, was succinctly summarized by Thomas Aquinas. His summary included three conditions for justifiably waging war.1 In referring to waging war or war-making (‘‘bellare’’ in Latin), Aquinas appears to be discussing the complex social act of a group of people. His initial moral concern was about whether...

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11 Revenge, Affect, and Just War

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pp. 197-212

IN THE LATE HOURS OF May 1, 2011, city streets around the United States filled with people celebrating the announcement by the US media, and the president of the United States, that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed in a targeted operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, by a team of Navy SEALS. The quotations given above capture some of the confusion over these celebrations....

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12 Just War and Guerilla War

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pp. 213-230

ALTHOUGH IT IS CRUCIAL TO ASK how state armies should fight nonstate guerrilla organizations justly, it is equally important to ask whether guerrillas can wage just war. It is often thought that they cannot—that guerrilla armies violate the principles of just war in the most egregious way and leave state armies to wring their hands in frustration and debate the price of violating the same principles that their...

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13 Bugsplat: US Standing Rules of Engagement, International Humanitarian Law, Military Necessity, and Noncombatant Immunity

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pp. 231-250

THE JUS IN BELLO GUIDELINES of the just war tradition—discrimination and proportionality— infuse international humanitarian law and the contemporary US understanding of ethical conduct in war. There is nothing new in that: The rhetoric of the US military since the middle of the nineteenth century has reflected both the just war tradition’s articulation of the justice of going to war and its articulation of limits on...

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14 Just War and Military Education and Training

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pp. 251-264

COMBATING TERRORISM AND counterinsurgency warfare pose novel challenges to the system of professional military education and training. Indeed, the many dimensions of the changing nature of war is a theme that unites many of the chapters in this volume. Further, because, as the editors point out in their introduction to this volume, so much of just war theory in recent centuries has been formed in...


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15 The Triumph of Just War Theory and Imperial Overstretch

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pp. 267-282

I BEGIN WITH SOME COMMENTS on this chapter’s title. As many will recognize, the first words are borrowed from Michael Walzer’s 2004 essay, The Triumph of Just War (and the Dangers of Success).1 Walzer’s concern is shared by all those engaged in interpreting the just war idea. If we do our work well, the vocabulary of jus ad bellum and jus in bello becomes better known. More people refer to the idea, and...

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16 The Wager Lost by Winning? On the ‘‘Triumph’’ of the Just War Tradition

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pp. 283-298

THE PERIOD SINCE THE END of World War II, and most especially from the 1970sto the present, has seen a revival of normative theorizing about war unparalleled since the seventeenth century. And in the main, such theorizing has tended to fellow relatively well-worn paths. Both explicitly religious and, especially, secular theorizing have focused to a very large extent on working broadly within the parameters...

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Conclusion: Reclaiming the Just War Tradition for International Political Theory

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pp. 299-304

WE OPENED THIS VOLUME with a brief discussion of President Obama’s remarks upon the receipt of his Nobel Peace Prize in December 2009. These remarks, the reader will recall, challenged members of the international community to find new ways of thinking about ‘‘just war’’ and how it should apply to the battlefields of the twenty-first century. It was in light of these remarks that we, the editors and various...


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pp. 305-310


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pp. 311-328

E-ISBN-13: 9781589016811
E-ISBN-10: 1589016815
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589019966

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 1 figure
Publication Year: 2013