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Just War Augustine’s Contributions and Modern Expressions of the Theory.

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1 Just War Augustine’s Contributions and Modern Expressions of the Theory

2 Christians are very familiar with Scriptural commands against violence, and Jesus’ teaching about love, compassion and forgiveness: “You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13) “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9) “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment” (Mt 5:21-22) “When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” (Mt 5:39) “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Mt 5:43-44) However, what does Scripture show about how warfare is used throughout history? And what did Jesus say explicitly about the waging of war? Is it possible to reconcile a command to love your neighbor with war?

3 Augustine argued that a literal interpretation of Scripture is not always needed. In response to Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek, Augustine noted that, "What is here required is not a bodily action, but an inward disposition. The sacred seat of virtue is the heart." Because God judges the soul, the ultimate question is not "what the man does … but with what mind and will he does it." Augustine presents an example of a man caressing a child... So, one cannot do something directly forbidden by Scripture, but one may do something that appears to contradict Christian attitudes – if it is done for love. However, this is a very dangerous guideline to present, for it can easily be used wrongly. Hence, it needs to be carefully explained. And even if the general principle is explained well, one should not so easily ‘overturn’ what are clear and consistent moral attitudes taught by Jesus. The appropriate motive in all cases, Augustine rules, is love. What is done from love of God must be good.

4 For Augustine, there is no right to private killing. Because of Christian Charity, self defense is not justified to save life or goods. (Aquinas, however, does believe killing in self-defense is justified, if done to preserve one’s own life.) Augustine did believe, however, that nations may wage war because they have an obligation to maintain or restore peace. “The whole point of victory is to bring opponents to their knees – this done, peace ensues. Peace, then, is the purpose of waging war.” (City of God, Book XIX, Ch. 12) “We do not seek peace in order to be at war, but we go to war that we may have peace. Be peaceful, therefore, in warring, so that you may vanquish those whom you war against, and bring them to the prosperity of peace." (Ep. ad Bonif. clxxxix) Given our desire for peace, when is warfare just?

5 Legitimate Authority "The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority.“ (Contra Faust. xxii, 75) Who is the legitimate authority? Right Intent “The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such things, all these are rightly condemned in war." (Contra Faust. xxii, 74): A Just Cause “A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly." (QQ. in Hept., qu. x, super Jos.): Must a just cause involve ‘defensive’ wars only? Can one attack an enemy before the enemy attacks? Can one attack an enemy in order to restore the natural order that a foreign power unset in their nation? Augustine quotations provided by Aquinas (ST II-II.40.1)

6 Modern Just War Theory is concerned with both the justification for the war (Jus Ad Bellum) and the conduct of the participants in the war (Jus In Bello). In order for a war to be just, the following criteria must be met before using force: War can only be waged for a just cause. The damage inflicted by the aggressor must be lasting, grave, and certain. War can only be waged under legitimate authority. The sovereign power of the state is usually considered to be legitimate authority. This means that citizens at their own will cannot attack another country without the permission of the sovereign. War can only be waged with the right intention. Correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention, while material gain is not. War can only be waged with a serious prospect of success. It is considered unjust to meaninglessly waste human life and economic resources if defeat is unavoidable. War can only be waged as a last resort. War is not just until all realistic options which were likely to right the wrong have been pursued and shown to be impractical or ineffective.

7 Once war has begun, just war theory also directs how combatants are to act: The force used must be proportional to the wrong endured, and to the possible good that may come. This means that the use of weapons must not produce evils or disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The acts of war should be directed towards the inflictors of the wrong, and not towards civilians caught in circumstances they did not create. Torture, of combatants or of non-combatants, is forbidden. Prisoners of war must be treated respectfully.

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