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War Is Never Just: The End of "Just War" Theory

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Several weeks back I was invited to speak this coming October at a U.S. university on ending war and making peace. As I often do, I asked whether the organizers couldn't try to find a supporter of war with whom I could debate or discuss the topic, thus (I hoped) bringing in a larger audience of people not yet persuaded of the need to abolish the institution of warfare.

As had never happened before, the event organizers not only said yes but actually found a war supporter willing to take part in a public debate. Great! I thought, this will make for a more persuasive event. I read my future interlocutor's books and papers, and I drafted my position, arguing that his "Just War" theory could not hold up to scrutiny, that in fact no war could be "just."

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Rather than planning to surprise my "just war" debate opponent with my arguments, I sent him what I had written so that he could plan his responses and perhaps contribute them to a published, written exchange. But, rather than respond on topic, he suddenly announced that he had "professional and personal obligations" that would prevent his taking part in the event in October. Sigh!

But the best event organizers ever have already found a replacement. So the debate will go forward at St. Michael's College, Colchester, VT, on October 5th. Meanwhile, I have just published as a book my argument that war is never just. You can be the first to buy it, read it, or review it here.

Part of the reason for advancing this debate now is that back on April 11-13th the Vatican held a meeting on whether the Catholic Church, the originator of Just War theory, should finally reject it. Here's a petition you can sign, whether or not you are Catholic, urging the church to do just that.

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An outline of my argument can be found in my book's table of contents:

What Is A Just War?
Just War Theory Facilitates Unjust Wars
Preparing for a Just War Is a Greater Injustice Than Any War
Just War Culture Just Means More War
The Ad Bellum / In Bello Distinction Does Harm

Some Just War Criteria Are Not Measurable
Right Intention
Just Cause

Some Just War Criteria Are Not Possible
Last Resort
Reasonable Prospect Of Success
Noncombatants Immune From Attack
Enemy Soldiers Respected As Human Beings
Prisoners Of War Treated As Noncombatants

Some Just War Criteria Are Not Moral Factors At All
Publicly Declared
Waged By Legitimate And Competent Authority

The Criteria For Just Drone Murders Are"Immoral, Incoherent, And Ignored
Why Do Ethics Classes Fantasize About Murder" So Much?
If All Just War Criteria Were Met War Still" Wouldn't Be Just
Just War Theorists Do Not Spot New Unjust" Wars Any Faster an Anyone Else
A Just-War Occupation Of A Conquered Country "Is Not Just
Just War Theory Opens the Door To Pro-War Theory

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We Can End War Without Waiting For Jesus
Who Would The Good Samaritan Carpet Bomb?

World War Two Was Not Just
The U.S. Revolution Was Not Just
The U.S. Civil War Was Not Just
War On Yugoslavia Was Not Just
War On Libya Is Not Just
War On Rwanda Would Not Have Been Just
War On Sudan Would Not Have Been Just
War On ISIS Is Not Just

Our Ancestors Lived In A Different Cultural World
We Can Agree On Just Peace Making

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)

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