Essay, Research Paper: War Justification


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The justification of war has been an ideal that has caused much debate and
controversy for humanity throughout all time. It has been studied and
interpreted by many theologians, philosophers, and politicians. There have many
manuscripts documenting the correct use of war and the proper means of
exercising force. Within the western tradition two main principles, the
Christian and Islamic, have appeared that attempt to explain just war in
relation to maintaining a peaceful society. Both of these traditions have
similar main premises of a constant battle between a split society, one of good
and the other of evil. However, there are many differences within each of the
two respective religions view on the ideas of the conception of a well ordered
society, the religious and secular influences on each ideology, and the
justification and authorization of war. The Christian conception of a
well-ordered, peaceful society, the City of God, was maintained and influenced
by the ideal of just war. The City of God theory was created by St. Augustine of
Hippo in the 4th century. His motivation for his writing was fueled by the
decaying Roman Empire. St. Augustine felt that the collapse of the western
empire to the invading barbarians resulted from the peaceful Christian ethic.
“The charge was the traditional Christian pacifism had helped create untenable
military circumstances for the western empire, the Church’s concern to prepare
it’s members for the next life, had led to an ahistorical and socially
irresponsible approach to the inescapable problems of individuals and societies
in history (Tranquillitas Ordinis, Weigel).” Within his writings, he made a
clear distinction between two cities, one that was based for Earthly living
(City of Earth) and one that was based on love for God (City of God). He
believed the City of Earth was capable of doing good, however was fundamentally
evil because the only pure good is God. There is a direct correlation between
the City of Earth and the Roman Empire. Augustine pointed out the many
achievements of the Roman State, but felt it did not give God his due (Holy War
Idea, Johnson). In order to correct this situation God created salvation for the
inhabitants of the City of Earth through grace. By altering human motivations to
become properly ordered through the love for God (Holy War Idea, Johnson). With
this love for God, the City of God will become a reality. This entire society
stemmed from individual motivation, and for love of neighbor. Augustine felt
that a selfish motivation was a sign of a sinner. Only a good person would have
right motivation, which is expressed as love towards God. To maintain this
peaceful society it would have to have the following three characteristics:
Justice, Order, and Peace. To uphold these ideals, there existed a positive
attitude towards just war. Just war aided the transformation from the presently
evil world to the benevolent City of God. The Muslim concept of a well-ordered
society, dar al-Islam, developed their ideals of jihad. Classical Islamic
thought partitioned the world into two separate societies. The Dar al-Islam was
considered the territory of peace, and the dar al-harb was literally the
“territory of war”. The dar al-Islam is an area that promotes and signifies
the supremacy of Muslims beliefs. The dar-al Islam is the area of peace and
justice, it is considered to be the most secure place for all humans. The people
of this territory need not be Muslims, they have to acknowledge the Muslim rule,
and they need to be of a monotheistic religion. Jews, Christians and
Zoroastrians were all allowed to live within the Dar al-Islam peacefully. The
important aspect of non-Muslims living within the dar al-Islam is their
behavior. Right action, not right thought was used to define which inhabitants
can exist within the Dar al-Islam. By Contrast, the dar a-Harb was the state of
unrest and war. It is characterized by strife and internal disorder (Islam and
War, Kelsay). This disorder, if mobilized correctly could become a threat to the
dar al-Islam. The peace of the world could only occur if it was all part of the
dar al-Islam. These two areas were constantly in a state of war with each other.
For Muslims to carry out their submission to God, they must attempt to destroy
the dar al-harb. “Muslims are charged with extending that obedience over the
entire Earth, thus eliminating this perpetual state of war and instituting a
universal reign of peace (Holy War Idea, Johnson).” This struggle leads to the
concept of the jihad. Literally translated jihad means to “struggle” or
“strive”. It was the struggle of one’s own heart, the attempt to bring
oneself into accord with God (Islam and War, Kelsay). The jihad was used to
extend the boundaries of the dar al-Islam, thus spreading the Islamic values and
beliefs. The wars that were fought under the cloak of the jihad were used to
bring the ignorant to the ways of God, and transform humanity to the way of
peace. The rightly guided Dar al-Islam concept leads Muslims to use the jihad to
bring the world under its blanket of peace and righteousness. The Augustian
formulation of the City of God conception explicitly states the justification
and authorization of war. Augustine left his strict belief in pacifism and
acknowledged the inevitability of war. He believed that war could be used in
punishment of evil that poisoned the City of God. As a result, war became an
instrument in maintaining peace. He proceeded to establish which wars were
“just” and thus allowed morally. This just war tradition concerned itself
with the moral issues of waging war. The basic premise for all just war is the
concept of love for neighbor. The unselfish motivations fueled the inhabitants
of the City of God to protect their neighbors from evil. The ideals for waging
just war are: when it is right to resort to armed force (Ius ad bellum) and what
is right when using force (Ius in Bello). Ius in bello includes the moral
necessities that armed force should be discriminate and proportionate. Ius ad
bellum included the following requirements: 1) just Cause 2) authorized by a
competent authority 3) motivated by right intention 4) pass four prudential
tests: it must a) be expected to produce a preponderance of good over evil, b)
have a reasonable hope of success, c) be a last resort d) have peace as its
expected outcome (Just Cause Revisited, Johnson). In Augustine’s theory three
kinds of war were morally justified: a defensive war against aggression, a war
to gain reparations for a previous wrong, and a war to recover stolen property (Tranquillitas
Ordinis, Weigel). Another key concept in his theory was that of proper
authorization of war. Once a properly constituted authority had declared the
necessity of war, the Christians duty was to obey (Tranquillitas Ordinis, Weigel).
The choice for a moral authority figure was not described at length by
Augustine, however at this time it was usually a monarch of sovereign authority
“by the grace of God (Competent Authority Revisited, Rostow).” Augustine
believed that these ideals of just war would punish evil correctly and transform
the City of Earth into the City of God. The classical Islamic jurists defined
the justification and authorization of war through interpretations of the Koran
and the Hadith. The justification of the war had two main ideals, the offensive
jihad and defensive jihad. The continuing threat of the Dar al-harb provided the
use defensive jihad, and the promotion of the dar al-Islam ideals lead to the
use of the offensive jihad. Any Muslim can authorize the use of defensive jihad,
against the dar-al harb. It is also required of every Muslim to participate in
the defensive jihad. The leader of the Muslim society, the caliph, can only
bring about the offensive jihad. The purpose of the jihad is to subdue the dar
al-harb, and to bring it into the dar al-Islam. Not every Muslim is required to
participate in the offensive jihad on an individual level, but as an entire
community. The jihad leads to a clear definition to the rules of armed conflict.
They are: 1) There must be a just cause, to extend the territories of the dar
al- Islam. 2) An invitation and declaration of the Muslim Intentions by the
Muslim Ruler 3) The war must be conducted with correct Islamic values, Muslims
should fight to extend God’s will, not for personal glory. Using these
criteria, Muslims used the jihad to extend their conceptual peaceful society,
dar al-Islam. The City of God forced the Church to use secular means to enforce
their religious ideals. The Church's peace movement took the form of protecting
innocent people who were being attacked by brigands and bullying militias (Quest
for Peace, Johnson). As a result, the Church had to align themselves with
secular powers to end this type of violence. The religious righteousness of
protecting the innocent had to be carried out with secular forces. This mixture
and the just war criteria of “right authority” caused the need for a sole
ruler to protect the City of God from evil. Consequently, the existing communes
of Cities of God became a more universal ideal. “So that the community of
those already living the life of heaven on Earth was no longer composed of small
enclaves, might expand to include everyone touched by the gospel (Quest for
Peace Idea, Johnson). The religious foundation of the City of God became less a
personal ideal, but the right to use force became vested in a single power of
that civil society (Quest for Peace Idea, Johnson). This secular City of God
carry’s the original religious purposes but adjusts the carry out of
implications through the long term. The City of God finally recognized and
accepted the inevitability of evil in history, and the further need that force
employed to protect and preserve these religious values (Quest for Peace Idea,
Johnson). There had been a negative attitude towards secularization of purely
religious ideals in both the classical and contemporary Muslim theorists. “For
many devout Muslims, secularism indicates an orientation that fails to respect
religiously sanctioned norms, including those governing resort to and limitation
of war (Islam and War, Kelsay).” Muslims believe that a secular government
lacked a sense of morals innate to the Dar al-Islam. The lack of a religious
presence as the leader of an area leads to an aggressive behavior. For example,
the Iraqi attack on Iran was not of religious behavior, and would not have been
sanctioned under the rule of a rightly appointed Caliph. The Koran covers a
large realm of ideas, including political, religious, social, and economic
fundamentals. A secular rule is not needed, when a religious rule would be
enough to satisfy all the needs of the community. Only a religious rule would
promote the dar al-Islam, while a secular rule would be superfluous and
ineffective. These two religious traditions give much insight into the
justification of war. The constant battle between good and evil generated much
of the ideals for justification of armed conflict. Both the Christian and
Islamic beliefs in their own concept of a well-ordered society directed their
attitude for just war, and their methods in maintaining a world of bliss and
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