augustine Benozzo_Gozzoli_004a (1)

hey there its the groovy historian today i will be discussion

There have been many theories of the millennium about the just war theory, and in general there maybe just and unjust wars out there. Firstly, I will be talking about the brief history of the ‘just war theory’ and how it came about; the early forms of war theorists who played an important role in putting the rules together; then I will talk briefly about the different definitions and what different types of ‘just war theory mean. I will be focusing on the bombings that took place in world war one in japan by the Americans, and seeing if it was a justifiable cause for war. The second case study I will be talking about is the Nato intervention of Kosovo, and again I will explore whether or not it was a justifiable cause for war. Then the reason why I chose this question is because I found the ‘just war ‘theory interesting, and I wanted to see how the theory formed in the early years and developed over time. I found the case study examples interesting because they are both from twenty-first century history. Today the ‘just war’ theory is more relevant then ever because we live in an age of constant war, and we have to abide by its laws and rules in order to not abuse the system of war. We are also aware that there has to be a just reasoning for war.

Just war theory began to develop around 2 BC, and it was created to be the laws of war. The ‘reason’ for war, according to St Augustine of Hippo, was to have two types of theories within the just war theory – the ‘jus ad bellum’ and ‘jus in bello’[1] .To have a valid reason to go to war and a justifiable reason as a code of chivalry, one had to follow these laws strictly. St Augustine felt that these codes of conduct of war were necessary to have substantial protection for the military and civil populous.

The just war theory in its early forms came from the Christianity ideology about moral rules and codes amongst men. The idea of ‘righteousness’ had some moral imprints to protect fellow men at arms going to war, so his moral views and his mental paint not to go to had some moral imprints to protect the fellow men at arms going to war so his moral views and his mental paint not to go to misery. Just war theory has developed over time, and it has a rigorous amount of conditions to prevent and minimise the horrors that happen in war. The six conditions of jus ad bellum are that a just war only can be waged for the final ‘last resort’ [2]such as taking all the possible peaceful routes before taking action. The second stage is war can only be waged with a ‘legitimate authority’[3] such as the ruling body and the elected members of parliament. The third condition is that a justified war can only be fought to ‘redress a wrong’, such as self-defence against an aggressor. The fourth specifies that the ‘right intention’ to go to war is to have an objective. The fifth states that there must be a reasonable amount of ‘success’ to win the war and to reach the ultimate goal of ‘just war’ and re-establish peace.

The other development of just war is just in bello, according to which there are three principles – firstly the proportionality principle, to be able to decipher reasonable force and overwhelming force. Discrimination – where what is a legitimate target and non- legitimate target is called into question, and finally military necessity, which is meant to limit the amount of unnecessary death and destruction, and to have a military objective of minimal force.

The [4]universal moral judgement and the moral judgement the moral implication of war in the jus in bello thinking involves not to be allowed to attack civilians, and keeping the war to minimal proportions, as well as being able to distinguish the difference between combatants and non-combatants. This shows how important human life is, and how you would distinguish between the morals of warfare so there can be minimal wrong doing to the populous of the nation. According to the theorist Fotion, the role of proportionality should be keeping things intact. Discrimination of warfare should be kept to minimum, and the protection of the rights of warfare. The right amount of military necessity to keep the damage on building and warfare to a minimum, such as strategically positioning bombs? There is moral judgement of war and immoral judgement of war.[5] “They are simultaneously the historical product of and necessary condition for the critical judgements that we make every day; they fix the nature of war as a moral (and an immoral) enterprise.” This quote shows that war can get out of hand, with examples of high civilian casualties in war such as referring to the bombings in world war two in japan the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – two nuclear bombs killing excessive amounts of civilians to end a war. Historian [6]Micheal Walzer talks about this as an immoral judgement call and going against the rule of ‘just war’ this would live many people live in shatters and the aftermath for decades to come. So the Americans used more proportionality than they needed to so they could win the war. The case study of World War Two’s Japan bombings by America takes into consideration that the ‘atom bomb’ at the time was being made to attack Nazi regime in Germany. If at any time Germany was armed with the ‘’atom bomb’, in retaliation, America could have attacked them as a just moral reason. But, according to the just ad bellum theory, leaving it to the last resort to make the enemy surrender to any means to win the war, allows us to question that maybe the bombing of the cities where justifiable in a sense, or maybe they were immoral in a way, but the aggression of the Japanese was at a high level. So, in concluding the argument for the Japanese bombing by the Americans, they were left to the last resort of bombing to stop the Japanese, because the emperor would not give up and the military wouldn’t surrender and fight to the end. So, the morality of the war is not justifiable, but the means ends of the war may be because they brought peace at the end of the Second World War.

According to the second case study I will be talking about using the laws of ‘Just war theory’ and applying them to the U.N intervention on the war in Kosovo. Kosovo was similar in comparison to Bosnia, and the idea of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and to clear their lands of the non-Kosovon people. So the pre strikes the U.N said would only last only for a few days in Kosovo took more than a few weeks. The proportionality of how long it took for a resolution to be put forward meant that there was a justifiable reason for them to intervene. The argument of NATO for the intervention is that it was plausible to intervene because the stability of the religion would of destabilised within the Eastern European Balkan region. The idea of proportionality in ‘Jus in bello‘ because they both show the ‘last resort’ if its plausible to able to intervene and win or not , and the other idea of how ‘successful’ the campaign would have been. So the argument is jus bello and jus and bellum both played a part of how the role of this intervention of the war went. NATO kept using diplomacy in the long run because of how heated the ‘ethnic cleansing’ part of the process had become in terms of how many people where dying in a short space of time. As Fotion stated [7]“Had the NATO planes come in lower, fewer mistakes would have been made.” This indicates that the leadership and the ‘right authority’ was not put in place for the right tactics of this bombings taking place in Kosovo at the time. Another point to mention is that the duration of the bombing campaign by NATO took longer than anticipated in the long haul and the bombings were not precise on tactical and economical and military landmarks and bases. [8]According to Fotion there was an incident in talking about the incident that happened with 45 ethnic Albanians killed, and their sources of who killed but the Serbs claimed that they didn’t know who got caught in the cross fire – either the civilians or KLA due to this example . The Nato was able to intervene by using [9]‘right authority’, but arguably would they have been able to use their political means of diplomacy to stop the bloodshed between the Kosovans and the Serbs. The strike that they planned in the short term didn’t work, but in the long haul it ended the war and it may have been slightly justifiable because it ended the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the country and ‘peaceful’ negotiations could be resumed.


In conclusion, I chose to explore the justification of war, and how a war can be judged as just or unjust. The just war theory is too vast to be able to be defined in a small, confined essay, which is why I looked at it as briefly as possible. There is never a so called ‘just’ war, and the future effects of war on the memory and land will always be debated. They say the historian tools would able to pick and use this ideologies to see if there is such thing as a just cause war. However in the cases studies there is always a bias argument. The reason why I picked these two examples for the case study – Japan and Kosovo – is because they are interesting examples, and historians have used these examples repeatedly over the years, perhaps because aside from being intriguing, they are also very controversial topics. I think in the case of modern technology for warfare improves in the future and maybe the morality of war will be taken out and the rules for ‘just war’ may not be put in place evidently – you see more improvements in warfare and robotics armoury, and it is only a matter of time that the spill of blood will turn into robotic warfare.






Beiber Florian, Understanding the War in Kosovo.(London: Frank Cass Publishers,2003)

Fotion Nicholas, War and Ethics: a new just war theory (New York: Continuum, 2007)

The Summa Theologica part II, Question 40.

Seaton Philip, Japan’s Constested War (Oxon:Routledge,2007)

Walzer Micheal, Just And Unjust Wars (London:Basic Books,1992).

Elshtain Bethke Jean, Just War Theory (Oxford:Basil Blackwell Ltd,1992)

Wright Gordon, The Ordeal Of Total War 1939-45 (new York :Harper & Row,1968)

Journal Articles

Online resources

Bbc ethics war (accessed 2/11/12)

Bbc programmes in our time (accessed 3/11/12)

[1] Elshtain Bethke Jean, Just War Theory (Oxford; Basil Blackwell Ltd,1992).P.10

[2] Fotion Nicholas, War and Ethics: a new just war theory (New York: Continuum, 2007)P.10,11

[3] Elshtain Bethke Jean, Just War Theory (Oxford; Basil Blackwell Ltd,1992).P.212.213


[5] Walzer Micheal, Just And Unjust Wars (London:Basic Books,1992).P.22

[6] Seaton Philip, Japan’s Constested War (Oxon:Routledge,2007).P.16

[7] Fotion Nicholas, War and Ethics: a new just war theory (New York: Continuum, 2007)P.64,65

[8] Fotion Nicholas, War and Ethics: a new just war theory.P.67

[9] ibid.P.21