i rarely wax political, but this is what i've been busy with for the past few weeks now, my MA studies in Conflict and Reconciliation. 'thought to share a paper i recently did here, as it's an issue that actually goes beyond political and challenges the very foundations of how we live today--
The War on Terror/Terrorism
International terrorism has long existed before Sept. 11, 2001, and has, in fact, been documented by the U. S. Department of Defense since the beginning of the 1960s (U.S. Army, 09/09/04), but the scale and impact of Sept. 11, 2001 has prompted the U.S. Government, through its President, George W. Bush, Jr., to officially declare a “War on Terror” after the attack.
With the mastermind and financier of the Sept. 11 attack identified as Usama Bin Ladin and his al Queda group of Islamic extremists, the
A year after Sept. 11, President Bush, with the support of U. K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, pushed for a pre-emptive war against Iraq, on the grounds of suspicion that Iraq was heavily building up weapons of mass destruction, and that if not stopped pre-emptively, could hand over these weapons of mass destruction to Bin Ladin and his terrorist group (Falk, 09/27/02). Today,
The U.S. Defense Department reports that it has foiled many other terrorist attacks since then, because of the joint cooperation of nations in sharing intelligence information across borders. It says that this international cooperation has led to the hundreds of arrests in more than 50 countries and the detaining of around 1,100 people in the
Meanwhile, issues of concern arise, which mainly spring from President Bush’s using the state of war to justify the introduction of new legislation that widens his power and strengthens law enforcement, which includes, among many—the creation of military tribunals to try suspected terrorists who are not U.S. citizens, the expansion of powers of law enforcement agencies to detain people without trial on immigration violations or on grounds that they may be material witnesses in terrorism trials, and the tightening on the release of information to the public on ongoing investigations. It also includes the power to indefinitely imprison alleged Taliban and al Qaeda fighters at the military prison in
There is no deadline on the “War on Terror” and its boundaries are unlimited. President Bush has explicitly announced that his war on terrorism will not end until "every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated". (BBC News, op. cit.)
The Just War Theory
The Just War Theory evolved from the recognition that although there are ideal values to uphold, the realities of the real world as it is have to be contended with, too, and that there are times when it might be necessary to resort to violence to defend or pursue that which is good and valued. The thirteenth-century theologian, Thomas Aquinas, developed and refined the theory, by laying down three conditions for waging war:
1. that the decision to wage war should be made by a legitimate authority;
2. that war should be waged for a just cause; and
3. that combatants should resort to war with right intention, for the purpose of achieving peace and justice, not revenge.
Later on, other considerations were added by other scholars:
4. that the evils of war should be proportionate to the injustice to be prevented or remedied by war;
5. that the resort to war should be a last resort; and
6. there must be a reasonable hope of success. (Rigby, Coventry University)
In the light of the foregoing discussion on The War on Terror and the Just War Theory, let us examine whether the Just War Theory is relevant to justify the War on Terror:
1. The decision to wage war should be made by a legitimate authority. According to
The attack on
The attack on
2. The war should be waged for a just cause. According to Falk (8/27/02), in international law, a "just cause" for war can only be made under the following conditions--
To go legitimately to war in the world that currently exists can be based on three types of considerations: international law (self-defense as set forth in article 51, backed by a UN mandate as in the Gulf War), international morality (humanitarian intervention to prevent genocide or ethnic cleansing; i wonder now why the U.S. or any other super power didn't take advantage of this to wage war on the perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda in the mid-90s, the genocide that killed around 800,000 people in just 3 months!), and necessity (the survival and fundamental interests of a state are genuinely threatened and not really covered by international law, as arguably justified the Afghanistan War).
Still according to Falk, too,--
With respect to
Therefore, President Bush’s “just cause” for The War on Terror, is, at best, dubious, essentially based on scanty proof (Falk, 9/27/02) that indeed, weapons of mass destruction exist in Iraq and that they will be used on the United States soon or late.
3. Combatants should resort to war with right intention, for the purpose of achieving peace and justice, not revenge.
This is still open to a lot of debate. What is right intention? What is the concept of peace and justice for the
4. The evils of war should be proportionate to the injustice to be prevented or remedied by war.
Has the U.S. Congress even stopped to cautiously weigh this? Has it considered the human, social, cultural and economic costs of war in Iraq (not to mention Afghanistan) against the foreseen advantages of finding out if indeed, there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and if so, annihilating these weapons? What about the weapons of mass destruction presumably developed and stored elsewhere in the world, including the
5. The resort to war should be a last resort.
It appears now, that the move to declare war on
6. There must be a reasonable hope of success.
Obviously, on hindsight, the war on
However, the War on Terror still continues, apparently, because of President’s Bush’s pronouncements and what is actually happening in anti-terrorist operations all over the world.
The Just War Theory is still as relevant today in evaluating whether The War on Terror justifies itself, because it still springs from the same dilemma faced today—the tension between universal and global humane ideals and the demands of real global situations.
Examining The War on Terror against the light of the criteria of The Just War Theory, in fact, serves to illuminate the fact that The War on Terror is not a just war at all, and that its employed means dramatically highlight and make suspect its avowed ends of “ending terrorism all over the world” to achieve global peace, presumably. It points to other, more selfish suspicious ends, like global dominance at the cost of true peace and justice, instead.
The War on Terror has, in fact, not only been examined under the constraints of The Just War Theory in this paper, but even the constraints of international laws, and it fails both sets of criteria in more ways than it satisfies them.
MA-CRS 2005-06 Course Pack CD
Falk, Richard. “War on
___________. “Impending Constitutional Crisis: The Rush to War”. August 27, 2002. ( refer also to: www.transcend.org articles)
Rigby, Andrew. “Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Justice”.
“Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of
9/11 Commission Report. Nov. 20, 2005. America’s War Against Terrorism. July 22, 2004. University of
BBC News. Nov. 20, 2005. “Investigating al-Qaeda: An Overview”. March 4, 2003. http://new.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/2816381.stm
Leonnig, Carol D. Nov. 20, 2005. “Judge Questions Sweep of Bush’s War on Terrorism”, Washingtonpost.com. Dec. 2, 2004. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26448-2004Dec1.html
Milbank, Dana and Pincus, Walter. Nov. 20, 2005. “Asterisks Dot White House’s Iraq Agreement”. Nov. 12, 2005.