Sunday, August 9, 2020

Rethinking the Just War Theory

A Jesuit priest, head of a peace center gives us some thoughts on maintaining peace and the difficulties faced. This article appeared in Now/Here Catholic Web Site.

At the time of the opposition to the Jeju Naval Base, some people said to those opposed to the base: "There must be a naval base to defend the country." In other words, a naval base is needed for national security. If the Jeju Naval Base was really the base for national security, then at that time, many people at home and abroad would not have objected to the construction. People objected because they thought the Jeju Naval Base was not a defensive base.

After liberation, the government national policy decisions used national security as its excuse and it wasn't just once or twice.  Was not this the case with the construction of the Jeju Naval Base? When it comes to national security, the citizens take it for granted the government will be doing the right thing. "That's why I have to follow what the state wants." He wants to call these people 'national security idolaters'. Those who unconditionally follow the government that uses national security to push for national projects.

Behind the idea of ​​national security idolatry, the writer acknowledges there is the legitimate just war theory. The Catholic Church's Saints Ambrose and Augustine, up to St. Thomas Aquinas even Luther, the author of the Reformation, supported the theory. The legitimacy of war, which has been raging in the Catholic Church for 1700 years, still holds a place in the Catholic Church's teaching.

In the Catechism of the Church # 2309, it lists several conditions for a just war.

"1. The damage the attacker has done to the country or the international community must be continuous, serious, and certain. 2. It must be revealed that all other means of restraining it are infeasible or ineffective. 3. Conditions of success must be established. 4. No evil and harm greater than the evils to be eliminated should be caused by the use of force. Judging from this situation, the destructive power of modern weapons must be carefully considered."

However, the writer thinks there has never been a war in the last 1700 years that has met these conditions. The wars that started from the theory of legitimate war crossed over to 'excessive defense' and became a war of aggression. In other words, legitimate war theory was used to rationalize the war of aggression.

In the 21st century, He thinks that the most representative war is the Iraq war by the United States. It is said that the United States called it a war caused by legitimate war theory. However, over time, more and more people think that the war on Iraq by the United States was not legitimate, but a war of aggression because of the interests in the Middle East. It is worth noting the phrase "the destructive power of modern weapons must be carefully considered" in the fourth condition of the just war of the Catholic Church teaching above. In the just wars of the past, there were survivors on one side or on both but in the current era of nuclear war, war will only lead to annihilation.

So, for the above reasons, the writer thinks the just war theory should be reconsidered.

In April 2016, the Vatican Justice and Peace Committee and Pax Christi International co-sponsored an international conference in Rome on the subject of "non-violence and just peace". More than 80 laymen, theologians, peace activists, priests, and researchers from around the world participated in the conference. Congratulatory remarks were given by Pope Francis, and Cardinal Peter Turkson chairman of the Justice and Peace Committee gave the keynote. Father Patrick Cunningham of the Columban Missionary Society, who attended the meeting, said  the conference adopted the final statement: "I believe there is no just war."

So now it is necessary to switch perspectives. The energy we once used for the just war theory now needs to be used to create just relationships between nations. Of course, this means we need to find the place of mercy in all of this. If we had just relationships between nations would not war be absent?  Would we not have peace?

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