Our War Against Terrorism is Justified
This essay will address the question whether the war against terrorism declared by President George W. Bush is a just war.
According to the September 22nd edition of Star-Ledger, Professor Richard Falk, of Princeton University said “the mainstream media have turned into a 'war-mobilizing mechanism' leading to intense indoctrination of the public in support of a military response." "We are living in a society that is so convinced of its own innocence that it is ready to embark on its own 'holy war,'" Falk said. He said that if and when the United States decides to use force, it should do so only in conformance with international law and according to the principles of a "just" war. "These would include making it illegal to target non-military sites or people, making sure the response is proportionate and ensuring that no unnecessary pain is inflicted. "In Bush's address (Thursday night) I saw no signs of sensitivity to any of these limits, no deference to the authority of the United Nations," Falk said.
Contrary to what Prof. Falk suggested, our country does consider before undertaking such actions whether it complies with the description of a "just war." We had such a discussion, for example, before moving to turn back Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. There was a good interview on the CNN website on the topic of a just war.
I don't believe there is any disagreement that non-violent methods of resolving conflicts must always be used when they are possible. But this is not always possible. Therefore the first thing to note is that there is such a thing as a "just war." The tradition goes back to St. Augustine and has been highly developed over the centuries: initially among Catholic theologians, but the principles have become generally accepted, as Prof. Falk's own statements imply. It rests on the lawful right to self-defense when other methods have failed.
A just war must meet four criteria, not just the one cited by Prof. Falk. First, the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be grave, lasting and certain. Second, all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective. Third, there must be serious prospects of success. Finally, the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders greater than the evil to be eliminated. I believe that the war on terrorism declared by this country does meet the criteria for a just war.
It's interesting to note that the Catholic Church, in a document known as Gaudium et Spes, after noting that it is the responsibility of all citizens and all governments to avoid war, goes on to say: "as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed." The United Nations, which existed when...