restricted access 1. Moral Responsibility After Conflict: The Idea of Jus Post Bellum for the Twenty-First Century
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c h a p t e r 1 MORAL RESPONSIBILITY AFTER CONFLICT The Idea of Jus Post Bellum for the Twenty-First Century james turner johnson Just war thinking is commonly described today as having two main elements: the jus ad bellum, which deals with the question of moral responsibility in the resort to the use of force, and the jus in bello, which deals with moral responsibility in how such force is actually used during an armed conflict. It may be argued that this way of sorting the issues leaves out another important question: that of the nature of moral responsibility after an armed conflict has ended. Some recent writers have accordingly argued that a third element is needed and should be developed in just war thinking, to which many of them have given the name jus post bellum. This line of analysis and argument raises three distinct issues, all of which are important: the connection between concern for the post bellum environment and just war thinking; the relevant history of moral, political, and military thought and practice regarding responsibilities after the end of an armed conflict; and the question of how to think about such responsibilities not only in the narrow context of the parties to the conflict but in the larger frame of the common good of the region in which the conflict has taken place, of other societies related to those involved in the conflict by cultural ties, and of the international order as a whole. This chapter addresses these issues. 17 18 james turner johnson Understanding the Just War Frame Correctly First, what of the connection between concern for the aftermath of the use of armed force and just war thinking? Is the problem of moral responsibility after an armed conflict a new problem for just war thinking? To answer this sort of question requires attention to the nature of the idea of just war in itself. Recent discourse on morality and war includes many contemporary varieties of thinking with deep differences among them but which nonetheless are all advanced as forms of just war reasoning, as well as various positions critical of just war reasoning, each of which has its own conception of what such reasoning is. It is clearly important to make sure that thinking about morality and the use of armed force be focused on the realities of contemporary armed conflict and the contexts within which contemporary uses of armed force arise, but if such thinking is to be considered as just war reasoning, it is best to calibrate it by reference to the parameters defined and carried in the historical just war tradition. This historical tradition has taken shape around a robust and longlived definition of the idea of just war in terms of three fundamental moral requirements: that armed force must be undertaken only under the authority of a person or persons in a position of sovereign rule, and thus with responsibility for maintaining and protecting the goals of political community of order, justice, and peace; that armed force be used only when there is a just cause, understood in terms of defense of the common good as defined by such order, justice, and peace, for the redress of wrong done, or for the punishment of wrongdoers; and that armed force be used only with a right intention, avoiding the desire to dominate, unyielding animosity, the love of destruction and killing, and so on in favor of restoring peace or establishing it anew where there had been no peace. This understanding of just war—more properly, this understanding of when it is justified for a sovereign to employ armed force, and the responsibilities entailed—coalesced in Western thinking between the canonist Gratian’s Decretum, from the mid-twelfth century, and Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae, roughly a century and a quarter later. This conception remained robustly intact right up into the era of the Reformation, and it was on its basis that such thinkers as Grotius laid the foundations of the modern understanding of international law.1 The best way to conceive moral responsibility after conflict 19 what the idea of just war is about—its fundamental content and implications for moral conduct in the use of armed force—is by reference to this historical tradition of just war. Let us be sure to observe that while today’s familiar typology would label these moral requirements—sovereign authority...


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