This essay will address the question whether the war against terrorism declared by President George W. Bush is a just war.
According to the September 22nd edition of Star-Ledger, Professor Richard Falk, of Princeton University said “the mainstream media have turned into a 'war-mobilizing mechanism' leading to intense indoctrination of the public in support of a military response." "We are living in a society that is so convinced of its own innocence that it is ready to embark on its own 'holy war,'" Falk said. He said that if and when the United States decides to use force, it should do so only in conformance with international law and according to the principles of a "just" war. "These would include making it illegal to target non-military sites or people, making sure the response is proportionate and ensuring that no unnecessary pain is inflicted. "In Bush's address (Thursday night) I saw no signs of sensitivity to any of these limits, no deference to the authority of the United Nations," Falk said.
Contrary to what Prof. Falk suggested, our country does consider before undertaking such actions whether it complies with the description of a "just war." We had such a discussion, for example, before moving to turn back Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. There was a good interview on the CNN website on the topic of a just war.
I don't believe there is any disagreement that non-violent methods of resolving conflicts must always be used when they are possible. But this is not always possible. Therefore the first thing to note is that there is such a thing as a "just war." The tradition goes back to St. Augustine and has been highly developed over the cent...
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... While moving against bin Laden and the ruling Taliban which protects him, Pres. Bush and his advisers have clearly stated that we have no quarrel with the Afghan people. Instead of dropping bombs on them, our government has started to airlift food to alleviate the acute distress caused by more than twenty years of uninterrupted war. There has not been any military action merely for the sake of taking action or assuaging any supposed public desire for revenge.
Thus I conclude that the war against terrorism meets all four criteria of a "just war." Sanity, virtue, and a sense of humor all depend, though in different ways, on having a proper sense of proportion. I suggest that early critics of the war on terrorism lack the necessary sense of proportion. They take themselves too seriously, and the situation and the ideas it contains not seriously enough.
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