"Just War Theory" Is Unjust to Americans
WASHINGTON, October 5, 2009--As U.S. military leaders continue to argue over troop deployments and tactics in Afghanistan, American soldiers continue to die and victory remains elusive. Why?
“The reason is that, despite their claims that they will do whatever is necessary to defend America, our leaders believe that it would be wrong--morally wrong--to do so,” write ARC’s Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein in a new book, “Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism.” “They believe this because they consistently accept a certain moral theory of war--one that has come to be universally taught in our universities and war colleges. The theory is called “Just War Theory.”
“Broadly speaking, Just War Theory holds that a nation can go to war only in response to the impetus of a ‘just cause,’ with force as a ‘last resort.’ And it holds that a nation must wage war only by means that are ‘proportional’ to the ends it seeks, and while practicing ‘discrimination’ between combatants and non-combatants.”
This means that “it is wrong for a nation to be exclusively concerned with its own well-being in deciding whether to go to war; it must demonstrate concern for the well-being of the world as a whole--including the well-being of the nation it is attacking." Such a policy, the authors argue, cannot lead to victory.
“To escape from the destructiveness of Just War Theory, we must embrace a moral approach to war that rejects altruism and fully upholds self-defense, thus providing the moral foundation for free, innocent nations to secure the lives and liberty of their citizens in the face of aggression.”
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Alex Epstein was a writer and a fellow on staff
at ARI between 2004 and 2011.