11/22/2019

Can War Really Be Just or Unjust?

"The first question this poses for me is: has any of this mattered? I am the son of a professional soldier, and the father of another; I have written at length about war, and one American war in particular, and have lived all of my life in a country that has been imbrued in war for almost every year I have been conscious. And so I come to the tradition of just war thinking to ask whether this thinking—Augustinian, Thomistic, pacifistic, and so on—has made any measurable difference in shaping the conduct of war, especially when compared to the influence on war made by technology and civilizational conflict. Or is the language of just war a way of excusing the inevitable complicity of citizens and subjects in the wars to which their nation-states commit them? In other words, what purpose does the just war tradition actually serve?"