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« Protective coloration | Main | "Fair and balanced" for me, but not for thee? »

July 10, 2004

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A just war is determined by how the victors act afterward. I believe that Machiavelli advised his king to kill his enemies and then behave like a goodly prince afterward. That appears our current leader's goal against those who wish us dead.

Aquinas's writings on war can be read at:

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/304001.htm

A lot of people have used just war theory to criticize the war in Iraq on the grounds that the war was not one of self-defense and that it was not the last resort. Note, however, that Aquinas does not make self-defense a necessary requirement for going to war. Rather he approvingly quotes Augustine:

"A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly."

Self-defense is _one_ reason for going to war, but it is not the only one.

Nor does Aquinas formulate a doctrine of last resort; a war is prima facie just if the reason for war is just, and we can have such a reason even if there are other things that we can do against a nation, e.g., economic sanctions, resolutions.

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