War & Peace, The 'Just' Way

'Mankind must end the wars, or the wars will end mankind'

A “Just War”, is a concept that is based around the idea that wars can be justified and reasonable.

The ideals and concept of a 'just war' basis around the theory of one man, St Thomas Aquinas, who was a Christian Theologian, and based this vision of his around the concept of medieval-type wars who used face-to-face contact to deal with their confrontation or dispute. This face-to-face contact was very direct and straight forward, with the only way to determine who was the winner, was to see which side had the most men left, or had a remaining king after the battle. Today, the Modern Catholic conditions for a 'Just War' are set out in retrospect to the American Catholtic Bishops 1983 statement titled: 'The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and our Response'.

Over the years weapons, technical aspects and machine experiments were conducted, developed and then brought out onto the battle field. However, World War 2 was the first major war where the opposing sides did not always directly face each other when they were fighting. New tactics that had developed over the years included air fighting, bombing of cities, submarine attacks, naval ships and the targeting of civilians. These factors together all contribute and link to the reasons why wars are becoming more unjust and unfair.



“SINCE 1945, THERE HAS NOT BEEN ONE MINUTE OF TOTAL WORLD PEACE.”

Causes for War

Greed, Racial Problems, Religion and Land are four key and main aspects that target and trigger the ‘need’ for a war or battle to begin. However, when groups or countries fight in a war purely on behalf of god, it is known specifically as a ‘Holy War’. In the twenty-first century, Jews and Arabs still fight over land in Jerusalem and surrounding areas, while Christians continue to fight in Northern Ireland.


• There are 5 main rules of a just war. The rules developed as war tactics changed.

The five foremost principles:

St Aquinas is credited for writing three clear criteria pieces for a ‘Just War’, that outline what a war must have and conduct for it to be considered 'justified'. However, since another two have been added over the last 500 years, directly due to the constant and ongoing debate between Christian philosophers, in regard to whether those three pieces of criteria adequately covered all that needs to be considered for a war to be just. as a result, and despite these additions, the Christian/Catholic Church are still divided on the topic of whether a Just War can be achieved with only one or two of these aspects, or whether every single rule is compulsory and needed.


In addition, it can also be debated (and has been debated) that there are in fact 7 key principles that are in need to provide for a just war. However, i personally believe that these 5 key and important features are the only means necessary to ensure that justice is found from war.


1- The war must be called by a legitimate ruling authority:

The First relates to the fact that the war must be started and controlled by the state and/or its ruler. This condition appears to rule out most civil wars and terrorism campaigns because there is no process for determining the people's will regarding the war.

An example of this is if the UK were to go to war with another country, it must be the government that decides as it is the legitimate ruling authority.



2- The Cause must be just:

There must be a cause or reason, such as in defence of an attack, with a chance of the country/countries winning. This means that the reaosns for going to war must be good in themselves, as they must not be conquest for the sake of exploiting the enemy's territory or people, but as self-defence against a real and present threat.

For example, In World War 2, the Allies decided the cause was just, and defended countries from German attack.



3- War must be the last resort:

War must be a last resort after all other options have been exhausted, and have a good chance of success. this means that all terms of securing justice, short of war should be tried first, such as negotiations, statements of intention, and police actions.

For example, In World War 2, the Allies believed they had tried all means of negotiation and mediation before they engaged in war conduct.



4- The war must involve comparative justice and promote good:

The war must promote good and overcome evil, with the surety that peace and justice will be restored quickly. This involves wighing any justice of the cause against the evils of violence, destruction, suffering and death that could result from the war, to ensure that the good will outweigh the evil in the battle.

For example, In World War 2, the Allies believed that Hitler himself was evil, aiming for a ‘super race’, and therefore they were overcoming evil by depressing him out of his power.



5- There must be proportionality between means and ends:

Only enough force should be used as is absolutely necessary to achieve peace. Innocent civilians should not be attacked nor targeted, to ensure the security of the majority. To explain briefly, the good to be achieved must never be out of proportion to the means used, especially if similar means can be achieved with fewer casualties in a different way.

For example, in World War 1 this aim was completely upheld, however, in World War 2, civilians were targeted and cities were bombed, providing that this rule of a ‘Just War’ was not abided by or followed. This was then further seen in the Gulf War, when Hussein rounded up civilians and locked them into bases threatening the use of laser-guided missiles and bombs on them rather than just military forces/units.



• The aim of the five rules is to make the cause of war acceptable and morally right.

X Factor AUS 2011- Emmanuel Kelly- Iraqi warfare survivor- Imagine there's no heaven

Effects of War:

· Children suffer- they see horrific events, many are orphans, some are even injured



· Many children become child soldiers who kill and fight



· Environmental- the cost to the environment and wildlife will probably never be known, for example, in the gulf war oil refineries were burnt



· Shellshock- In World War 1 many soldiers were shot for cowardice or going AWOL (absent without leaving) when, in fact, they were mentally ill; many such soldiers have now been pardoned



· Gulf War Syndrome- many men and women who fought in the Gulf War claim serious long-term health problems, possibly due to mass vaccinations against diseases and chemicals



· Ill Health- Some soldiers suffer for years from the effects of gas bombs’ others suffer loss of limbs, horrific burns and other long-term effects



· Landmines- many people want to go home but fields and farmland are riddled with landmines, designed to maim and kill



· Psychological- some children and adults will never get over the brutalities they have witnessed or what has been done to them



· Refugees- there are estimated to be 15 million refugees worldwide; they flee their homes and have to live in another country due to the harsh circumstances.



Ella Bilton-Gough

Year 11 2013

Religion & Society- UNIT 2

"A Just War for a Just World".

Bibliography: Red Booklet- Peace and War/ To Know Worship and Love: Chapter 9