Principles of the Just War
- A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must
be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.
- A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority. Even just causes
cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute
an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society
- A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example,
self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause
(although the justice of the cause is not sufficient--see point #4). Further,
a just war can only be fought with "right" intentions: the only
permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury.
- A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success.
Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable.
- The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically,
the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would
have prevailed if the war had not been fought.
- The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered.
States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited
objective of addressing the injury suffered.
- The weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants.
Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken
to avoid killing civilians. The deaths of civilians are justified only if
they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.
Shaw, "A just pre-emptive attack? Morality of U.S. strike option on
Iran debated," Catholic Online, 3 May 2006
Steinfels, "The Brutality of War, and the Innocents Lost in the Crossfire,"
New York Times, 20 November 2004
Garry Wills, "What
Is a Just War?," New York Review of Books, Volume 51, Number
18, November 18, 2004, review of Arguing About War by Michael Walzer
Yale University Press, 208 pp.
George Weigel, "Moral Clarity in a Time of War," First Things,
Wilton D. Gregory, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Office
of Social Development & World Peace, Letter to President Bush on Iraq,
September 13, 2002
DeForrest , Gonzaga University, "JUST WAR
THEORY AND THE RECENT U.S. AIR STRIKES AGAINST IRAQ"
Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, and DAN SMITH,
International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, "Humanitarian
Intervention and Just War," Mershon International Studies Review
(1998) 42, 283-312
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of Philosophy, "Just War Theory"
Public Radio, "A Just War? Asking the Age-Old Question about the Pursuit
of Terrorism," 25 January 2002
Hehir, "What Can Be Done? What Should Be Done?" AMERICA for Oct.
of Catholic Bishops, "The Church's Teaching on War and Peace," 17
Jean Lopez, "Justice in War: Just-war theory," National Review
Online, 15 October 2001
The Pew Forum on Religion and
Public Life, "Just War Tradition and the New War on Terrorism,"
5 October 2001
"Defining a Just War," The Nation, 29 October 2001
Howard Zinn, "A
Just Cause, Not a Just War," The Progressive
"Questioning the Morality of Military Attacks on Civilians," New
York Time, 6 April 2002
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