The Myth of the Just War

The notion that war can be just is almost entirely utopian. The arguments used to justify wars seem morally sound in a vacuum, but when put into practice, the justifications fall apart. Justifying war becomes a slippery slope, especially when considering that those whom are most capable of waging war can do so asymmetrically. The rules for the use of force (AKA rules of engagement) and the Geneva Conventions have been enacted (and modified with alarming exceptions) to paint war as being more humanitarian (as ironic as that may sound), and when coupled with actions sanctioned by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the United Nations, and the United States, these rules and actions are subsequently utilized as means to justify engaging in armed conflict to further the geopolitical agendas of the most powerful and corrupt institutions with which humanity has ever been burdened. War is only justified as an act of self-defense in the face of an imminent threat, but this term, “imminent,” must be further defined in light of the rampant abuse and perversion of the concept of “imminent threat” for the U.S. Empire’s Global War on Terrorism. Furthermore, due to the contemporary nature of limitless war on the idea called “terrorism,” the definitions of the terms “noncombatant/combatant” and terrorism must also be revised.

It is imperative that a very specific definition for imminent threat be established, for this would eliminate all of the slippery slopes offered by just war theory. A threat is imminent if a foreign state or group formally declares war and expresses or proves intent to wage war on the state or people which it threatens; this would warrant self-defense. This definition can be amended by noting that it would not be morally impermissible for a third party (e.g. an ally) to come to the aid of the state or people being threatened. However, to eliminate this amendment from becoming a slippery slope, the third party can onlyact indefense of those facing an imminent threat, and must not wage an offensive war against the aggressor. An offensive war, though strategically sound, is never just due to the inevitable deaths of innocents.

Last, to eliminate the mildest justification of offensive war, it must be noted that even when the utmost of care is taken to ensure that no innocent lives are lost, the common people whom are subject to the will of an entity (e.g. their own government) who initiated a threat against another group, when invaded or faced with conflict by any outside force acting preventively, will inevitably find themselves engaged in warfare as an act of self-defense of an imminent threat – even if that threatening force is acting with “good intention.” This act of being thrust into armed conflict by virtue of being invaded by an otherwise benign outside force renders the outside force (acting preventively or on behalf of a weaker party) unjust in its actions.

Even the most seemingly reasonable arguments can have slippery…

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