Opinion - "Just war" back in vogue?

Pacifists want to understand war as a lawless condition that should be abolished. But those who recognise that humanity won't succeed in stopping war seek, instead, to contain and "humanise" it. The medieval Popes practiced this wisdom when they limited permissible wars to certain times of year. But any "last stand" type of warfare refuses to recognise the possibility of a future war for which it may be a precedent. 

So the object of international law is not to ban "unjust" wars and permit "just" ones, but to assure that wars are waged for limited aims, so that they don't rage out of control. You have to be able to lose without losing everything. The language of justice and injustice, and demands of unconditional surrender and criminal retribution for the vanquished only promote, indeed provoke, total war.

Terrorism will prevail if its mentality infects the civilised world, and if state leaders resort to terror to fight terror. Fighting terrorism is not a war, because terrorism itself is not a warring party, but a means to an end. Terrorists, when caught, are subject to criminal sanctions and punishment under the law.

Countries unwilling or unable to prevent terrorist violence emanating from their territory forfeit their right to territorial integrity, and others can declare war on them to pursue the problem at its root. But those who adhere to the motto "Terror can only be countered with terror" should remember who coined that phrase: Adolf Hitler. - Robert Spaemann, The Malta Independent (click below for full article)


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