May 4, 2010
I’ve been suspicious of Just War theory for quite a while now. Some of it has to do with the pacifistic inroads Hauerwas and others made on my thinking, and some of it just has to do with the theory’s terrible historical track record. The Just War theory has much more often served as a way of providing a justification for desired wars than as a criterion for refusing wars. By reducing the requirements of justice in war to a convenient little list of criteria, the just war tradition has made it all too easy for politicians to spin the facts and stoke up the rhetoric so as to give a passable imitation of having met the criteria. And so the most absurd prideful bloodbaths get whitewashed as “just wars”--the Civil War, World War I, the Iraq War.