The Realism Behind the Concept of Just War

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War: The bane of civilization’s existence. War is often characterized by the absence of peace, but war’s nature extends beyond that very characteristic. Its definition is widely disputed and this is partly because those who have undertaken the task of delving into the subject of war, have been baffled by the complexities of its dynamic nature. War within itself is a brutal affair and it has raised questions with regard to the justice that governs it. These questions have been condensed into a single question: Is there any such thing as a just war? Empirical reasons will be provided along with prime examples drawn from war and other sources. All assessments will be divided into several paragraphs. Each paragraph will concisely discuss an aspect of war from the perspective of those who advocate for war and those who advocate against war. A wholesome conclusion will be drawn from the arguments brought forward by both sides

The injustices of war are seldom subtle, and this is confirmed by how they reverberate throughout all of society. This has prompted some people to express their disapproval of war, in the efforts of ridding the world of war altogether. In order to advance their cause they have attempted to shed light on the darker aspects of war. Carl Von Clausewitz, who was an army general and a military thinker, describes war as, “An act of violence intended to compel our opponents to fulfill our will.” Those who advocate against war, argue that the violent nature of war is unable to be justified, as it continually blurs the line between right and wrong. Insurmountable evidence to support the aforementioned statement has been found in many instances usually involving soldiers―the men and women who are meant to fight for justice. Certain groups of soldiers have spoken out against the atrocities that they personally committed, which further illustrates the point of those who are against war. They also add that the violence incited by war can continue even after the war is over. In most cases this is a result of ‘Warlords’ or ‘War Heroes’ who take advantage of the climate of violence that war creates in order to elevate their status and secure unjust power. The advocates of this particular argument, conclude that war encourages blatant disregard for human life and the rights thereof which is not excusable.

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However, the necessity of war cannot be overlooked by reason of its injustices. War is multifaceted; to judge it based on a singular facet (violence), would be unfair. This is illustrated by the example of many nations that have gone to war for their independence. It is further illustrated by countries that have gone to war in order to genuinely defend themselves; to place this act of war under the banner of injustice is an injustice within itself. The image of war is only marred by the acts of those who either forget why they have gone to war in the first place, or those who have gone to war for the wrong reasons altogether.

The arguments stated above are found to be unsatisfactory by those who advocate against war. They believe that the idea of the necessity of war is open to much abuse. In order to support this argument they draw attention to historical wars such as, ‘The Hundred Years War,’ ‘The Hundred Years War,’ could have been solved by simple diplomacy. The option of diplomacy was not explored; instead the war was exploited by the Monarchs who sought for power and control. Another example found in history is the early onset of World War II. In this case, the necessity of war served as a shroud for propaganda. Adolf Hitler with the support of the National Socialist Party (commonly known as the Nazis), riled up the Germans for war when in truth they had no justified reasons to go to war. As a result of the misconception towards the necessity of war, many lives were lost with more than half of the casualties being civilians.

Abraham Lincoln, who was President at the time of the American Civil War stated that, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” When power falls into the wrong hands, it is susceptible to abuse, and certain measures must be put in place to make sure that it does not happen. Should it fall into the wrong hands, measures―which may lead to war, must be taken in order to bring it back into the right hands. The American Civil War serves as a testament for those who advocate for war. The American Civil War had a number of causes, but its epicenter was the injustice of slavery. The men who sought to seize power to enforce this great injustice were willing to go to great lengths. Therefore, the war was vindicated because its outcome was that of justice.

Yet another argument is raised against war. This argument is based on the long-term effects of war. The instruments of war such as bombs―the likes of atomic bombs and land mines, cause catastrophic damage by taking life on a large scale, whilst destroying vital infrastructure. After war, has ended certain types of bombs and mines are often neglected and left unchecked. In certain cases the effect of these residual instruments has proven to have mortal repercussions. This robs future generations of their safety, security, and the immense task of rebuilding and dealing with such predicaments, and judgment for these actions is seldom passed. Fortunately, the work of men such as Henri Dunant―founder of the Red Cross, paved the way for the formation humanitarian and international laws, that went against the atrocities mentioned above. After the heinous acts of World War II and previous wars, it was evident that something had to be done to prevent such actions in the future. The enforcement of these laws ensures justice.

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