Was World War Ii a Legitimate War? in the Context of Just War Theory

Was World War II a legitimate war? in the context of just war theory. ‘In war some sorts of restraint, both on what we can legitimately fight for (jus ad bellum) and on how we may legitimately fight (jus in bello), are morally required’. 1 However, recent theorists also add the responsibility and accountability of warring parties after the war (jus post bellum) to the main two categories of just war theory. From Christian perspective the function of the JWT was simply an excuse of making war morally and religiously possible writes Michael Walzer.

He also agrees with its defendants, that it made war possible in a world where war was, sometimes, necessary. JWT is therefore to be used as a sort of moral rule-book from which legitimate instances of the use of force can be read off whenever needed. 2 That said this essay aims to investigate and legitimate World War II by examining jus ad bellum’s predominant principles – just cause, rightful authority and right intention, further by examining jus in bello’s essential principle of non-combatant immunity and discrimination, and finally, looking closely at two peculiar moral events of closing days of World War II.

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The jus ad bellum consisting of six principles: (i) the just cause, (ii) rightful authority to wage war, (iii) right intention, (iv) exhausting all other reasonable resolutions before waging war as last resort, (v) reasonable hope of state to win else they should not opt to wage war and (vi) proportional means of military force to objectives sought; of which first three are predominant both in the development of the theory and in its historical application as stated by Johnson. 3 First, just cause evaluates the use of force as means of self-defence or defence of third party against wrongful attack and punishment of the acts against humanity.

Second, rightful authority legitimises only states as rightful to wage wars not criminals, corporations or individuals who are deemed/seen illegitimate states Shapcott. And thirdly, right intention implies military action to possess either peacekeeping or justice-building efforts. By applying these fundamental principles to the beginning of World War II, shows Britain, France and later other Allied powers as legitimate to wage war against Germany – who started the invasion on Poland before even formally declaring ar – and other Axis powers (Italy and Japan; albeit the non-aggression pact with Soviet Union, she was merely an ally of Germany who later joined the Allies) because they (1) defended themselves and other failed states4 who were not able to protect themselves in long term war period; (2) the declaration of war was issued by competent state authorities and (3) their efforts in waging war were to restore status quo, maintain peace, and to undo injustice by stopping Axis powers from doing evil acts against humanity which were not in accordance to moral nor ethnic codes of JWT as their goals were territorial acquisitions and at times cruelty and vengeance. Furthermore Nazis’ Jews hate which later led to genocide.

If a government begins a systematic campaign of killing members of an ethnic group, then military action by another state can be justified as a defensive rightful act to rescue the innocent; then this validates the rights of legitimate governments to drive the invader back, summarizes Hoekema. 5 Now this work embarks to look at one uncertain case that falls under the principle of justice in war but before it does so it explains justice in war generally; and later turns theory to practice to further defend its legitimate stance. From justice before war to the Jus in bello two criterions are the principle of (i) proportionality of military force used to the end they seek in combat and (ii) non-combatant immunity and discrimination to use weapons to target only those who are, in Walzer’s words ‘engaged in harm’.

Therefore soldiers must discriminate between innocent civilians morally immune from direct and intentional attack, and those legitimate military, political and industrial targets involved in rights-violating harm. 6 Here, as the most important point to make is to mention the strategic aerial bombing campaign of German cities that took place during WWII which goes directly against the morale of non-combatant immunity. The case of Walzer’s subject of Churchill’s description of Britain’s predicament in 1939 as a ‘supreme emergency’ which to Walzer also contains an argument. As Allies thought Nazi’s victory in years 1940-1 was ever so close, Britain changed their policy about bombing.

British leaders issued bomber crews in early 1940 to bomb German city centres and residential areas (of no military bases, shipyards, factories etc. ). The intent was to destroy German civilians’ morale instead of military. Clearly, as he says, the intention was wrongful, the bombing criminal, the victims were innocent people; if soldiers or munitions workers were hit, it was just accident, a morally defensible side effect of an immoral policy. But if there was no other way of preventing German victory, then the immorality of killing innocents was also, morally defensible. This is in Walzer’s words ‘the provocation and the paradox’. However he claims these acts are defensible only for these years, further bombings which took place, according to him, cannot. Many, especially in churches, had severe doubts about this policy, particularly the legitimacy of this bombing campaign against German cities. Led by Anglican Bishop George Bell of Chichester, the opponents against bombing campaigns lodged and based their sets of objections heavily on the JWT criteria. They did not succeed in derailing the policy but at any rate succeeded in embarrassing the government. 8 This is to be further discussed in the next part, as it extends to the events which took place after WWII. Having examined WWII from the perspectives of first two categories, this work turns to the last category of justice after war to complete this legitimacy investigation.

Above are already discussed first two categories of JWT so now the time has come for the youngest category jus post bellum which is well summarized by Orend: (i) the principle of discrimination should be employed to avoid imposing punishment on innocent people or non-combatants; (ii) the rights or traditions of defeated deserve respect; (iii) the claims of victory should be proportional to the war’s character; (iv) compensatory claims should be tempered by the principles of discrimination and proportionality; and, controversially, the need to rehabilitate or re-educate an aggressor should also be considered. 9 Let this essay return to where it left off discussing. The area bombings that took places from 1942-5 were masterminded by Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, during which time hundreds of thousands German civilians were killed in the bombing raids planned by himself. During all this time British citizen were told that only military and industrial facilities were being targeted in Germany but in reality Harris resisted every attempt to target these facilities instead of civilian with improved technologies. What were the real targets became evident after the war when the true nature of bombings became known. 0 Most famous is the bombing of Dresden because it had no military significance at all but records speak of at least 100,000 people dying in the fire-storm. Likewise, the Americans did the same during the closing stages to Tokyo and other Japanese cities rather than targeting military sites. This clearly showed that this tactics went again the principle of jus in bello. 11 Not one person who ordered or participated in the Allies’ bombings of Axis cities was tried for war crimes. Conversely, Air Marshall Harris who was responsible for German bombings was honoured with a statue outside London church, and in USA WWII is now commonly called ‘good war’. 2 Probably because the after war occupations, and political reconstitution of Germany and Japan, even though still debated, is by theorists and lawyers who regard the treatment of the Nazi regime, as justified. 13 This demonstrates how JWT legitimises and justifies WWII, although public finds some of the events (bombings) as crimes; but from justice of, during and after war makes this essay to come to its end of investigation. In conclusion the World War II can be the legitimate war the world sought it to be. Its legitimacy is however standing on the decision-makers of those who decided on waging the war, and on how they acted during and after.

This essay looked at WWII from before – that Allies’ authorities were in right to declare war on Axis powers to defy themselves and other states against wrongful acts. In second part by grasping Britain’s changed policy which is justifiable in 1940-1. Finally in the third part it sought deeper into the events that took place near the end and had its postludes after. So at the end of the day, through the sovereign eyes of Allied victors, it is nonetheless, a legitimate war. Since this work was not able to thoroughly examine WWII but only events it considered crucial, it is important to state that rather of calling it a fully legitimate war, it is to a higher degree, in this world, considered legitimate in the just war theory. Essentially, the legitimacy lies within the rule-book of JWT which it is. In The Globalization of World Politics Richard Shapcott states that just war tradition is often wrongly reffered to as just war theory, albeit it is the set of guidelines. 1 Nicholas Rengger p. 354……… 2 p. 360 N. Rengger 3 Butler, U. S. …. pp232 4 Why ‘failed’? State’s primary role is to protect its people, however states with not enough military power can’t protect themselves and look for protection in other countries. Good example is Poland described in the book Britain, Poland and the Eastern Front, 1939 by A. Prazmowska. Poland was able to protect itself for few weeks but relied on Britain’s defense word as soon as possible. This didn’t happen and Germany and Soviet Union divided Poland. On the contrary D.

Rodin hesitates this in War and Self-defense whether going to war was the right decision, Oxford University Press, 2002. 5 David A. Hoekema, pp. 131 in There Are No Just Wars, 2008 6 http://www. seop. leeds. ac. uk/entries/war/ 7 Walzer, Michael, the essay ‘Emergency Ethics’ in Arguing About War and Chapter 16 in Just and unjust wars 8 Rengger, Nicholas, p. 355 9 http://www. iep. utm. edu/justwar 10 http://www. bible-researcher. com/dresden/harris. html 11 Shapcott in The globalization of world politics…. p202 12 Williams Jr. , Robert E. in book review of Fiala, Andrew’s The Just War Myth: The Moral Illusions of War. However public vilified him as war criminal and demonstrated against the statue.

In 1953 Harris returned to England from South Africa with impunity. 13 Walzer, Michael in The triumph of just war theory References: Michael Walzer, The triumph of just war theory – and the dangers of success – International Justice, War Crimes, and Terrorism: The U. S. Record at http://findarticles. com/p/articles/mi_m2267/is_4_69/ai_97756584/? tag=content;col1 http://www. windsofchange. net/archives/supreme_emergency_and_the_doctrine_of_just_warfare. html#comment-51224 Ch16 of J and unjust wars Bibliography: ‘annonymous’ (2001) ‘ICISS’, The responsibility to protect, http://www. iciss. ca/report-en. asp Baylis, J. , Smith, S. and Owens P. (eds) (2008), Shapcott, R. n ‘The globalization of world politics: An introduction to international relations, 4th edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Butler, M. J. (2003) ‘U. S. Military Intervention in Crisis, 1945’, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 47(2): 226-248. Daddow, O. (2009) International Relations Theory, London: Sage. Hoekema, D. A. (2008) There Are No Just Wars, Ars Disputandi, 8: 126-145. Marlowe,M. D. (2001-2010) ‘Sir Arthur Harris’, Bible Research (2001-2010) http://www. bible-researcher. com/dresden/harris. html Moseley, A. (2009) ‘Just War Theory’, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www. iep. utm. edu/justwar Orend, B. (2005) ‘War’ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www. seop. leeds. ac. uk/entries/war Orend, B. 2002) ‘Justice after War’, Ethics &International Affairs, 16(1) Prazmowska, A. (1987) Britain, Poland and the Eastern Front, 1939 Cambridge University Press. Rengger, N. (2002) ‘On the just war tradition in the twenty-first century’, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), 78(2): 353-363. Rodin, D. (2002) War and Self-defense, Oxford University Press. Walzer, M. (2004) ‘The Triumph of Just War Theory (and the Dangers of Success)’ and ‘Emergency Ethics’, Arguing About War, Yale University Press. Walzer, M. (2000) from ‘Supreme Emergency’, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations http://www. windsofchange. et/archives/supreme_emergency_and_the_doctrine_of_just_warfare. html Williams Jr. , R. E. (2009) book review of Fiala, A. ’s The Just War Myth: The Moral Illusions of War, Springer Science + Business Media B. V.. (Answer in the context of just war theory. ) ‘In war some sorts of restraint, both on what we can legitimately fight for and on how we may legitimately fight, are morally required’. 1 However, recent theorists also add the responsibility and accountability of warring parties after the war to the main two categories of just war theory*. From Christian perspective the function of the JWT was simply to make war morally and religiously possible writes Michael Walzer.

He also agrees with its defendants, that it made war possible in a world where war was, sometimes, necessary. JWT is therefore to be used as a sort of moral rule-book from which legitimate instances of the use of force can be read off whenever needed. 2 That being said this essay aims to investigate and legitimate World War II by examining jus ad bellum’s predominant principles, further by examining jus in bello’s essential principle of non-combatant immunity and discrimination, which extends to third and final part, where this work continues looking closely at the peculiar moral event from the closing days and its aftermath after World War II.

The jus ad bellum consists of six principles: the just cause, rightful authority to wage war, right intention, exhausting all other reasonable resolutions before waging war as last resort, reasonable hope of state to win else they should not opt to wage war and proportional means of military force to objectives sought; of which the first three are predominant both in the development of the theory and in its historical application as stated by Johnson. 3 First, just cause evaluates the use of force as means of self-defence or defence of third party against wrongful attack and punishment of the acts against humanity. Second, rightful authority legitimises only states as rightful to wage wars not criminals, corporations or individuals who are deemed illegitimate states Shapcott. And thirdly, right intention implies military action to possess either peacekeeping or justice-building efforts.

By applying these fundamental principles to the beginning of World War II, shows Britain, France and later other Allied powers as legitimate to wage war against Germany – who started the invasion on Poland before even formally declaring war – and other Axis powers (Italy and Japan; albeit the non-aggression pact with Soviet Union, she was merely an ally of Germany who later joined the Allies) because they (1) defended themselves and other failed states4 who were not able to protect themselves in long term war period; (2) the declaration of war was issued by competent state authorities and (3) their efforts in waging war were to restore status quo, maintain peace, and to undo injustice by stopping Axis powers from doing evil acts against humanity which were not in accordance to moral nor ethnic codes of JWT, as their goals were territorial acquisitions and at times cruelty and vengeance; furthermore Nazis’ Jews hate which later led to genocide.

If a government begins a systematic campaign of killing members of an ethnic group, then military action by another state can be justified as a defensive rightful act to rescue the innocent; then this validates the rights of legitimate governments to drive the invader back, summarizes Hoekema. 5 Now this work embarks to look at one uncertain case that falls under the principle of justice in war but before it does so, it explains justice in war generally; and later turns theory to practice to further defend its legitimate stance. From justice before war to the Jus in bello two criterions which are the principle of proportionality of military force used to the end they seek in combat and non-combatant immunity and discrimination to use weapons to target only those who are, in Walzer’s words ‘engaged in harm’.

Therefore soldiers must discriminate between innocent people who are supposed to be morally immune from direct and intentional attack, and those legitimate military, political and industrial targets involved in rights-violating harm. 6 Here, as the most important point to make is to mention the strategic aerial bombing campaign of German cities that took place during WWII which directly goes against the morale of non-combatant immunity. This is the case subject of Churchill’s description of Britain’s predicament in 1939 as a ‘supreme emergency’ which to Walzer, also contains an argument. As Allies thought Nazi’s victory in the years 1940-1 to be ever so close, so Britain changed their policy about aerial bombing. British leaders issued bomber crews in early 1940 to bomb German city centres and residential areas (of no military, naval, aerial etc. use, whatsoever).

Their intent was to destroy German civilians’ morale instead of military one. Clearly, as he says, the intention was wrongful, the bombing criminal, the victims were innocent people; if soldiers or munitions workers were hit, it was just an accident, a morally defensible side effect of an otherwise immoral policy, explains Walzer. But if there was no other way of preventing German victory, then the immorality of killing innocents was also, morally defensible. This is in Walzer’s words ‘the provocation and the paradox’. However he claims these acts are defensible only for these years, further bombings which took place, according to him, cannot. Many, especially in churches, had severe doubts about this policy, particularly the legitimacy of this bombing campaign against German cities. Led by Anglican Bishop George Bell of Chichester, the opponents against bombing campaigns weighed and based their sets of objections heavily on the JWT criteria. They did not succeed in derailing the policy but at any rate succeeded in embarrassing the government. 8 This is to be further discussed in the next part, as it extends to the events which took place after WWII, too. Having examined WWII from the perspectives of the first two categories, this work turns to the last category, the justice after war to complete its legitimacy investigation.

Above are the already discussed first two categories of JWT, so now the time has come for the youngest category jus post bellum which is well summarized by Orend: the principle of discrimination should be employed to avoid imposing punishment on innocent people or non-combatants; the rights or traditions of defeated deserve respect; the claims of victory should be proportional to the war’s character; compensatory claims should be tempered by the principles of discrimination and proportionality; and, controversially, the need to rehabilitate or re-educate an aggressor should also be considered. 9 Let this essay return to where it left off discussing. The area bombings that took places from 1942-5 were masterminded by Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, during which time hundreds of thousands German civilians were killed in the bombing raids planned by himself.

During all this time British citizen were told that only military and buildings of otherwise military useful were being targeted in Germany but in reality, Harris resisted every try to target such places instead of civilian with the now more improved technologies (which were able to aim more precisely and avoid unnecessary killings). What were the real targets became evident after the war when the true nature of bombings swam to the surface. 10 Most famous is the bombing of Dresden because it had no military significance at all but records speak of at least 100,000 people dying in this fire-storm. Likewise, the Americans did the same during the closing stages to Tokyo and other Japanese cities rather than targeting military sites; later followed by dropping atomic bombs. This clearly showed that this tactics went against the principle of jus in bello. 1 Not one person who ordered or participated in the Allies’ bombings of Axis cities was tried for war crimes. Conversely, Air Marshall Harris who was responsible for German bombings was honoured with a statue outside London church, and in USA WWII is now commonly called ‘good war’. 12 Probably because the after war occupations, and political reconstitution of Germany and Japan, even though still debated, is by theorists and lawyers who regard the treatment of the Nazi regime, as justified. 13 This demonstrates how JWT legitimises and justifies WWII, although public finds some of the events (bombings) as crimes; but from justice of, during and after war makes this essay to come to its end of investigation.

In conclusion the World War II can be the legitimate war that world sought it to be. Its legitimacy is however floating on those decision-makers who decided on waging the war, on how they acted during and after. This essay looked at WWII from before – that Allies’ authorities were in right to declare war on Axis powers to defy themselves and other states against wrongful acts. In second part by grasping Britain’s changed policy which is justifiable in 1940-1. Finally in the third part it sought deeper into the events that took place near the end and had its postludes after. So at the end of the day, through the sovereign minds of Allied victors, it is nonetheless, a legitimate war.

Since this work was not able to thoroughly examine WWII but only events it considered crucial, it is important to state that rather of calling it a fully legitimate war, it is to a higher degree, in this world, considered as legitimate war in the just war theory. Essentially, that legitimacy lies within the rule-book of JWT which it is.

Bibliography: ‚annonymous‘ (2001) ‚ICISS‘, The responsibility to protect, http://www. iciss. ca/report-en. asp Baylis, J. , Smith, S. and Owens P. (eds) (2008), Shapcott, R. in The globalization of world politics: An introduction to international relations, 4th edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Butler, M. J. (2003) ‚U. S. Military Intervention in Crisis, 1945‘, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 47(2): 226-248. Daddow, O. 2009) International Relations Theory, London: Sage. Hoekema, D. A. (2008) There Are No Just Wars, Ars Disputandi, 8: 126-145. Marlowe,M. D. (2001-2010) ‚Sir Arthur Harris‘, Bible Research (2001-2010) http://www. bible-researcher. com/dresden/harris. html Moseley, A. (2009) ‚Just War Theory‘, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www. iep. utm. edu/justwar Orend, B. (2005) ‚War‘ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www. seop. leeds. ac. uk/entries/war Orend, B. (2002) ‚Justice after War‘, Ethics &International Affairs, 16(1) Prazmowska, A. (1987) Britain, Poland and the Eastern Front, 1939, Cambridge University Press. Rengger, N. 2002) ‚On the just war tradition in the twenty-first century‘, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), 78(2): 353-363. Rodin, D. (2002) War and Self-defense, Oxford University Press. Walzer, M. (2004) ‘The Triumph of Just War Theory (and the Dangers of Success)’ and ‚Emergency Ethics‘, Arguing About War, Yale University Press. Walzer, M. (2000) ‚Supreme Emergency‘, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations, http://www. windsofchange. net/archives/supreme_emergency_and_the_doctrine_of_just_warfare. html Williams Jr. , R. E. (2009) book review of Fiala, A. ’s The Just War Myth: The Moral Illusions of War, Springer Science + Business Media B. V..