Research Paper on Theory Of Just War

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1400 Words
Date:  2022-07-11


The theory of just war gives conditions by which a war may be judged to be just thus authorizing people to go to war and how it should be fought. The theory's main aim is to guide states on the way to act when faced by conflicts and it does not apply to individuals although they can use it to judge whether a certain war was just or unjust (Perez and Delahunty 86) . It was to a great extent developed by Christian theologian but it can be immensely be applied by people of different denominations. However, it is important to note that the conviction of just war can deceive people that because a war is justified, it makes it a good thing. Yet, behind this doctrine, there is already a conviction that war is evil (Zupan 62). This theory is therefore permissible because it makes war a lesser evil but it still promotes evil to a great extent.

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The moral reality of war according to the theory of just war is divided into two parts. The first part refers to the reasons that a state give for wanting to fight and the second part references the means adopted by the said state in the actual war (Zupan 65). The reasons given for going to war are referred to as jus ad bellum, which provides directions for evaluating whether a war is just or not while the actual means adopted is referred to as jus in bello, which outlines the most effective guidelines to war. It is important to put in mind that jus in bello does not make it necessary for jus ad bellum and jus ad bellum does not implicit jus in bello. This is to mean that it possible for a state to fight a just war in an unjust manner just as it is possible for a state to fight an unjust war justly (Perez and Delahunty 90) . Therefore, since some wars that were fought for honorable reasons were considered unjust because of the means used to fight, a war can only be declared just once it is both rationalized and fought in the right way.

It is very difficult to classify and entire war as either just or unjust based on particular measures of just war theory. However, the theory can be applied in most wars fought in the 20th century to justify them. For instance, World War 1 contained a series of complicated events and it involved many countries, each of them having their own motives and intentions thus each of them acted in a way that preserved its best interests (Zupan 71). Generally, the intentions and the actions taken by these countries were so predominantly unjust that their motives were sometimes contentious. The war led to deaths of millions of civilians and soldiers and it is very hard to pint out the benefits of this war up to date. Therefore, following the just war criteria, this war was unjust. The way this war started, the means used to fight in the war and the way it ended were all unjustifiable (Zupan 76). Although to some extent the Allie's actions were just, when one assesses the entire war, it does not meet the principles set by the just war theory to justify a war. Just ad bellum, which literally refers to the justice of war deals with the ethics of the beginning of war and World War 1 fails its standards. The most important norm of jus ad bellum is a just cause and Germany together with Austria-Hungary, the main assailants of this war stirred the war for unjust causes. This is because when Austria- Hungary declared war against Serbia, the main reasons stated for this cause of action was to punish Serbia for assassinating a Serbian nationalist known as Archduke Franz Ferdinand. His assassination was not authorized by Serbian government and it was not executed by Serbian people, which makes it an unjust cause (Zupan 77). Also, Austria-Hungary responded too fast without enough evidence to support their claims thus they entered into an unjustified war.

On the other hand, World War 2, which was fought between the years 1939 and 1945 and being the world's most extensive war to ever occur in the history of time can be explained using just war theory (Henderson 57). This particular war involved thirty countries and more than 100 million people. As seen earlier there are certain principles that guide a war to determine its justness and unjustness. However, this war did not adhere to just in bello principles especially in a particular dispute between Japan and America. There was immense cultural differences between the two and they influenced the way in which both japan and America treated its civilians as well as prisoners. Both countries agreed to the Geneva conventions that sought to protect people who were no longer patriating in the war for certain reasons including sicknesses, civilians, prisoners and wounded people among others (Perez and Delahunty 90). However, these countries refused to honor these conventions and they blatantly used force against these groups of people. According to jus in bello, fair actions are used to determine whether a war is just or unjust and in this case, both America and japan failed to treat each other in good faith during the war. The two countries applied excessive force towards civilians and prisoners and they did not honor any agreements made to protect the countries that participated in the war. This is just an example to illustrate that World War 2 was indeed an unjust war.

Besides, America's Vietnam War is another serious war that happened in the 20th century and it can also be assed using just war theory. Some scholars have criticized this war and termed it as unjust based on the fact that it started off in an unjust manner and that the social, political and economic costs accrued to prolonging this war were so immense that at some point people started questioning its morality (Henderson 50). On the other hand, just war thinking issues clear moral guidelines for going to war, most specifically a just cause, the right intention and political authority. Each of these principle was followed I the Vietnam War starting with the aim of the president of the united states during this war. First, the president righteously argued that the west should have been more responsible to resist against communism and its effects. The United States had made commitments related to security through the Southeast Asia treaty organizations back in 1995 as well as in the Geneva conventions that it was going to protect Asian countries (Henderson 54). At the time these countries were dealing with issues related to communism thus they wanted Vietnam to take a strong stand and end it. Since Vietnam did not comply, the US government allied with Southeast Asia to resist communism and this meets the principles of just war theory. The United States intentions to start the war were pure because it was in honor of a commitment they made in a treaty. The US was also just to make these commitments because it was not a colonial overcharge and its actions were based on the best interests of global kindness to prevent the destruction of communism.


In conclusion, the moral reality of war according to the theory of just war is divided into reasons that a state give for wanting to fight and the means adopted in the actual war. jus ad bellum provides guidelines for evaluating whether a war is just or not while the actual means adopted is referred to as jus in bello, which outlines the most effective guidelines to war. However, jus in bello does not create need for jus ad bellum and jus ad bellum does not imply jus in Bello. For this reason, it is possible for a war to be just but be fought in an unjust manner and it is possible a war to unjust but fought justly. That is why although some wars in the 20th century were intended for a good cause, they were termed unjust.

Works Cited

Henderson, Christian. The Persistent Advocate and the Use of Force: The Impact of the United States upon the Jus ad Bellum in the Post-Cold War Era. Routledge, 2016.

Perez, Antonio F., and Robert J. Delahunty. War: International Law, International Relations and Just War Theory-An Interdisciplinary Approach. Vandeplas Publishing, 2017.

Zupan, Daniel S. War, morality, and autonomy: an investigation in just war theory. Routledge, 2017.

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