Just War Theory is a centuries old philosophical perspective on the ethics of war based largely on hypocritical Greco-Roman Christian values. It is an ideological morality that has subconsciously and consciously contributed to shaping and influencing the behavior of international state actors and international organizations for centuries, in earnest fashion and also on behalf of hidden motives. The three levels of the Just War Theory are boisterous moral justifications deduced from long ago crumbled empires and states which, throughout history, were led by casts of actors comprised of religious zealots, imperialist and colonial expansionists, military dictators and aggressive predators dressed in humanitarian democratic guise. A review throughout the history books of the world show us that no evil nation-state, alliance or empire has ever won a great war, which only verifies to a rational mind that it is the winners of conflicts that write the histories and shape the theories. Just as all codes of moral ethics, the Just War Theory has been, and will continue to be, empty rhetoric which is propagated by the most powerful to justify shifts in international relations caused by their pursuit of, expansion of and protection of economic, military, and territorial power by nation-states and their mutually beneficial allies.
Jus Ad Bellum
The first, and most important, portion of the Just Law Theory, the justification of entering into a state of war, is a list of conditions aimed toward heads of nation-states to morally justify conflict. These ethical categories can be easily manipulated to the masses in order to justify aggression or military actions of ulterior motive. The first principal requirement is just cause, a very ambiguous term. In 1939 when Germany invaded Poland, could their actions have been justified by overpopulation and regaining land stripped by the Treaty of Versailles? Was the British, French and American response to that invasion due to sincere concern for the Polish people or was this a repetition of pre-WWI European balancing of power? The actions of Germany can be justified just as the actions of the Allied forces can be justified; it just depends on who is writing the justification. Considerations of morally appropriate intentions for war can also be easily twisted. In 2003, the United States invaded and toppled the government of Iraq on the allegations that Saddam Hussein was producing nuclear weapons. By 2006, videos of Saddam Hussein’s death by lynching, an immoral event itself, and news reports of the Central Intelligence Agency admitting that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq were all over the internet. Was this just an honest mistake? When considering the unilateral action of United States’ aggression of the Iraq war, the proper international authority was never given by the United Nations Security Council. In a 1994 news interview, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the invasion an illegal act according to UN charter and was “without UN approval and much broader support from the international community”. Even with UN approval, the majority of Americans, still in frenzy from the newly unveiled “War on Terror”, were told by their government that it was a just military invasion and most Americans believed it.
Jus In Bello
The codes of proper conduct during conflict and the assumption that all violators will be held accountable is more philosophical theory without substance, especially on the modern international stage. When the nation-state of Israel, using the tired justification claims of self-defense, rains down scores of bombs on crowded civilian population centers in Gaza, murdering women and children, who holds that government accountable for such human rights violations? Is the answer the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council? The same permanent member-states such as Britain, France and the United States who have to plead with Israel before the international community to stop building illegal settlements and then remain silent or even worse use their Security Council veto, when Israel is condemned before the United Nations for their unilateral actions which result in human rights violations? The United Nations is clearly a hypocritical and hollow international front for a collective hegemon that expertly utilizes ideologies from the Just War Theory as international propaganda. The United Nations has never placed pressure on Israel for unilateral aggressions, or for human rights, against Gaza and Lebanon, or Israeli unilateral strikes against Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007. The same United Nations stood limp when the United States undercut Security Council authority and invaded Iraq unilaterally with no factual evidence of nuclear weapons outside of what the American Israel Public Affairs Committee whispered to Congressional members.
Nations will quickly act their international role and deem nation-state leaders human rights violators, especially if the nation-state in question is endowed in natural resources like oil, just as the UN Security Council did to Libya’s Gadhafi because he would not step down from power in the midst of an inorganic “Arab Spring” as Egypt’s Mubarak had. Yet, when economic interests do not coincide amongst the hegemonic collective of the UN Security Council, civilian blood runs thick in the streets of Syria while Security Council permanent member-states secretly fund rebels against government, or government against rebels, as they silently shrug. Jus in Belo, with all its magnificent moral rules and perspectives, in the nation-state format, is nothing except further empty rhetoric. When an individual or group of soldiers commits an atrocity, those events are politically meaningless enough to the big picture that those individual soldiers can be sacrificed up by their nation-state within the collective hegemony to the altar of United Nation hypocrisy. From a nation-state perspective, Jus In Belo is an ideology that is unrealistic in nature because there is no morality among the United Nations Security Council permanent member-states, as these nation-states are simply powerful nation-states with powerful friends and their international interests determine what human rights violations are, and when and where they have occurred.
Jus Post Bellum
The third and last philosophical rhetoric of the Just War Theory is the termination of conflict and the seven rules of moral redemption during the exit stages of military occupations or so-called peacekeeping missions. When has this type of morality ever truly occurred in a post-war or military occupation withdrawal? In South Korea and Japan where there are still permanent U.S. military bases? The collective hegemony learned from their flaws of leaving Germany intact after WWI, which resulted in the reemerging challenging factors of WWII. For the past sixty years, military occupations or UN peacekeeping forces have been left on the ground to solidify puppet governments propped up in the void of the toppled regime. The moral Jus Post Bellum methods can be seen in Afghanistan and Iraq, with international banking systems and international corporations growing fat off the military occupation, being applied by the same forces that caused the destruction in the first place. In addition, the failures of Jus Post Bellum, when UN Security Council permanent member-states, such as Britain and France, have shallow interests that are not worth the expense of peacekeeping or nation-rebuilding efforts, can be recalled in the so-called peacekeeping missions in Somalia and Rwanda which were results of European colonialism and imperialism.
Augustine, Aquinas, Grotius, Suarez, Vattel and Vitoria were priests, philosophers and theorists. We have all dreamed of a just world and we have all, from mightiest coalition of nation-state powers down to the most unimportant individual man, morally justified actions. The modern principals contained in the Just War Theory are no more than antiquated thoughts from the age of philosophers. These moral principles no longer truly exist, if indeed they ever did, among the modern international nation-states on the international stage where world power has become consolidated. In honor of those long ago idealists with pen and theory, the powerful international hegemony has certainly adopted their theory as propaganda and put it to use for their own political benefits.
BBC News, “Iraq War Illegal, Says Annan”, BBC News, September 16, 2004 (accessed on December 1, 20012 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3661134.stm
Borger, Julian, “There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq”, The Guardian, Oct 7, 2012 (accessed on December 1, 2012 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/oct/07/usa.iraq1)
CBS News, “Israel’s assault on Palestinian Militants in Gaza Takes Rising Toll on Civilians”, November 18, 2012 (accessed on December 1, 2012 at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57551631/israels-assault-on-palestinian-militants-in-gaza-takes-rising-toll-on-civilians/)
Kirkpatrick, David, “Egypt Erupts in Jubilation as Mubarak Steps Down”, New York Times, February 11, 2011 (accessed December 1, 2012 from (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/world/middleeast/12egypt.html?pagewanted=all)
Treaty of Versailles, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library, (Accessed on December 1, 2012 from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/versailles_menu.asp)