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The Just War Theory

Waging war is consistent with being a person of peace for if evil got running riot and was not met with war there would be no peace.  This brings us to the concept of the just war. In reality, there is no such thing for it is always grey and such a huge complexity.  Kings and presidents act but only on the best advice they think they have.  To celebrate peace is to indirectly celebrate the war or wars that preceded it.

Some quotes:

Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it". - Noam Chomsky

"How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?" - Howard Zinn

"The violent subjugation of the Palestinians, Iraqis, and Afghans will only ensure that those who oppose us will increasingly speak to us in the language we speak to them-violence." - Chris Hedges

"There is no moral difference between a Stealth bomber and a suicide bomber. They both kill innocent people for political reasons." - Tony Benn

This is the Just War Theory. It is about countries that face attack that need to defend themselves by war. It demands that there be a just cause (broadly speaking it should be self-defence ONLY but it never is. Most want it to be about more than that!), that war be a last resort, that war be declared by a just and valid legal authority, that there be a probable chance of success, that no force must be used than deemed strictly necessary and that it must end as soon as possible.

The theory says that you can go to war for a just cause and only with good intention. Broadly speaking, war should only be about self-defence not punishment or about getting the assets of another country. For the believer being fair to God matters and being fair to man does not if you have to choose one or the other. So why are Christians not honest? If they were they would say, "War should be about self-defence not because self-defence benefits us but because God is good and wants us to do it!" If soldiers had to fight for God that would put them off. But if God comes first then it follows that their ungodly reservations are not even to be considered.

Christianity has never really been pro-life though it pretends it is. Christianity only kept out of the military in the first few centuries for the fear of being led into idolatry. Then it brought its teaching about war to fruition and rivers of blood began to run.  St Augustine was one of the major formers of the Church and influencer and he dared to say that a just war is "not merely excusable but also praiseworthy".   He said it is an act of Christian charity so he made it sacred as did the entire Church.  To celebrate an evil is the mark of an evil religion.  War should be seen as a horrendous thing even if necessary.  Praise and honours for fighting should be rudely rejected.

There are two sides to every story but your side must suffer the most before war in self-defence can be contemplated. This is the principle of comparative justice. The problem with this is that if you have to wait to the enemy do their worst then how do you know you can win the war? And what if you win the battle but not the war?

Every war seems to start with an idea that is emphasised. A nation may think it should own other nations as it is the best nation. Their patriotic idea makes them wage war. A war against Nazism is never really won. Winning a battle is not winning the war. A war against Islamism is a war against an idea and such a war cannot be won. If the idea vanishes it is not down to the war. Thus there is no such thing as a just war when war boils down to trying to fight an idea. The peace that comes after war is shallow for the idea is still there and people are waiting for the next opportunity to serve it even at the price of human life.

Valid authority must declare war for the war to have a chance at being just. Only public authorities who hold their office through justice can declare war. This excludes dictatorships. Monarchs would also be excluded for democracy despite its flaws is the best way to work within the framework of justice. Religion says it is ultimately God that puts governments in place to govern us. This does not sound very credible considering how most governments do not care about God and are secular. And if you fight for your nation you do fight for its right to govern itself meaning that if you think God sets up the government you are really fighting for God!

David Eller mentions in Christianity is Not Great how it is Christian teaching that to be justified "a war had to be authorised by a proper governmental authority". Who says the authority is a proper one? It is the Church and its moral theologians that decide what a proper authority is and they get it wrong just like everybody else. It is a political matter. Even today it is hard to get it right - in the past much of the time it was impossible but that did not stop Christianity encouraging war and blessing the arms.

Governments tend to create many laws just for their own sake - they are arbitrary laws. But these laws wreck lives and cause resentment and a sense of injustice among the people. It is insane to speak of a government that is trustworthy when it claims the right to send you to war.

The state has rights as a state. These rights depend on whether or not it upholds the basic human rights of its people and alien nations. The right to life implies a right to defend yourself against an unjust attacker. But if the Church is right that God and faith in religion and the Church is a basic human right and the state doesn't think so then what? It must follow that the state is not really legitimate and competent. It cannot fight not even in self-defence.

Probability of success is important. There is no point in declaring a war you will probably not win or which will make things far worse. And you cannot send people to die for nothing and to kill for nothing. If you believe in God is the probability of success doctrine sensible? Not if you believe that prayer has the power to change the course things are taking. Not if you believe in miraculous and supernatural intervention.

Everything must be done to avoid having to declare war. If you believe in God, can you be sure that war really is a last resort? No. He might intervene.

Considering that we have had only a few decades of peace in the last five millennia, war is really not about winning but fighting in some form indefinitely. And the times of peace have mostly been cold wars.

There must be an exit strategy - the war has to be fought fairly and with plans in motion to end it as soon as possible and with as little death and injury and destruction as possible. You can intend that but putting it into practice is impossible for you have to expect the unexpected. Fighting in self-defence is fighting violence with violence and violence is guaranteed to cause uncontrollable chaos. Wars are always about facing the uncontrollable and hoping to contain it and end up ending the chaos. You cannot really know all the outcomes - if you say you do you are appealing to some form of supernatural guidance. So fighting for God comes into it again! The Christian has to feel that God is calling him to war. Suppose self-defence is necessary. The Christian must realise it is called for. He sees this realisation not as justification in itself that war is needed. He sees it as a message from God to act. It is not really then about the self-defence.

The just war doctrine is official Christian teaching and is proof that religion is not without risks. It shuts up the liars who say that Christianity is harmless - it is not necessarily harmless. If you agree with the just war theory, you cannot agree with God or religion getting involved in the theory. Also, the believers in the just war theory allow for pre-emptive strikes. They allow or encourage you to attack a country that would invade you before it invades in the guise of self-defence. It does not bother them that this contradicts their claim that war has to be a last resort! There is no concern if the attacking country has its army made up of conscripted soldiers who are fighting against their will. Your war against them is proclaimed just despite the killings of those innocent men.

St Thomas Aquinas taught that killing another in self-defence is only right if you intend to defend and not to kill the attacker. This principle applies in war too. But it is hard to believe that Thomas who believed God commanded the murder of homosexuals and idol worshippers in the Bible really cared that much about human life!

Now just to list what makes a just war. Just cause. Right and competent authority. The end result in terms of justice must be worth it. The intention to be right and fair. Reasonable chance of success. Last resort. As little death and destruction as possible. For believers in Catholicism that has to be the sequence. They believe the first few are what matter most. They say the other criteria is not worth looking at if the first few in the list are not there. That is a Catholic scam to get you to think that just cause as understood by a competent authority (meaning one that is informed by the Church!) is what ultimately matters! And we are asked to believe Catholicism is a religion of peace? It is not for the just war doctrine is not about self-defence though it can be at times. It is about war.

The problem of how man teaches for "God"

We read in Christianity is Not Great concerning when Christians battled against Christians, "Each side was no less certain that justice - and God - was with them." War creates such intensive suffering and so much tragic and needless death that you would need something better and wiser than human authority to declare it. But you don't have anything else. The Bible speaks of God as being all wise and all good and thus being in a position to command genocide and war. True if he is all wise he would have more right than man to command them. No he has a full right to do it while man cannot for man can never be 100% if the war should happen. But even if God does command it, the problem then is we take it on faith that it is really God saying it. We are left trusting men who say that God commanded it. No matter what we do, we end up having to take a human authority's word for it.

The Church claims to be God's community which he guides. Thus it follows that a Christian nation loyal to the Church is more interested in justice than a secular one when it declares war! It has better potential for justice even if it is not acting very just.

Christianity says that we need to believe in God in order to be able to justify moral values. But in the most important things, we in fact go along with fallible human authority. If you are conscripted, it is the government that is conscripting you and not God. God is not as important to us in practical terms as they pretend. It is hypocrisy of them put so much emphasis on God or are they completely out of touch? And what about the problem that even if there is a God, that does not stop man pretending to have his message. God and religion are simply masks. Man cannot claim to be God so man does the next best thing - claim to be inspired to speak for God. Though we are not to condemn something just because it can be abused, we can condemn religion for the harm it has done because religion is an abuse. Let me explain.

Hearing a voice does not mean it is God’s and only God can know if he is really speaking. Even the person who hears cannot be sure but can only guess. If anyone claims to be hearing the voice of God and giving his message to others he is a liar. To think that you don’t know where the voice comes from means it is not from you is arrogant. It is, “I don’t know where this inspiration comes from so it comes from God.” It makes no sense. By spreading your message you inspire a worse arrogance in others. The arrogance takes the form of "X has a voice in his heart or head and doesn’t know where it comes from therefore it is from God." That is not logical. The more your faith in a prophet is based on hearsay the worse the problem gets.

It is better when men say on their own authority that war is necessary. Then you can check them out and challenge them. You cannot see what is really in the mind or heart of another but you will have some knowledge. But you cannot challenge God at all for God's motives and reasons are not up for examination. So men saying they were told by God whether by a direct revelation or indirectly through prayer and scripture to wage war is inherently fanatical and dangerous.

No political fundamentalist can seriously think that nothing can hurt them or their cause. You can only seriously think that you are invincible if you think God is on your side. Religion sows the seeds of fundamentalism. It might not control what kind of fundamentalism emerges though. The person who is inspired to be intolerant can use that inspiration to be a political bigot rather than a religious one. But a bigot is a bigot. However, it is possible to imagine a person who grew up with nobody to look up to only religious Christian fundamentalists to turn to some form of bigotry other than Christian later on in life. The faith is still to blame even if the person becomes an atheist bigot.

Eller in Christianity is Not Great talks about how St Augustine argued that we are to love all and that we can keep this command and exile and kill heretics because it is not personal and because we are punishing them not persecuting them. To me this teaching opens the door to excusing religious war or persecution by calling it something else. And Augustine indicates that it is bad for the soul to be heretic so putting them out of their misery is an act of love. The book tells us how Aquinas said that killing a self-defence is fine as long as you intend to keep safe and not to kill the other person. That way killing the person is really a side effect of self-defence - it is not intended. So killing is never licit. It is illicit as an end in itself or as a means to bringing about a greater good.

Augustine sanctioned the actions of those "who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws". A Christian country that fights seeks to fit in with God's laws even if it does not make this explicit. You cannot argue that it is not a holy war. Not all holy wars need to be explicitly about God.

The just war doctrine has merit but that merit is diminished by religion and by the concept of God. Bringing God and faith into war in any respect turns the war into a religious crusade and therefore necessarily unjust in outlook and intent even if the end result is for the best. It might be an implicit crusade but a crusade all the same.

If as Jacob Bronowski stated, war is a sign of how we act as a community in the interest of all, then a religious nation that wages war which considers faith in God to be in your best interest, is fighting a holy war even if this is not explicit.

If war is down to our survival of the fittest natural instinct and we cannot help it, then having religion around is dangerous for there are too many excuses for war as it is.

Secular man needs the just war concept. But only as a tragic and necessary evil. The concept is tragic and a necessary evil. It should not be honoured by saying that it comes with a divine sanction. Yes it is immoral to say that God gives you the just war concept and validates it. It is bad enough that man does it but to say a holy and good being does is disgraceful. It is making it sacred instead of treating it with revulsion. It is like reinforcing what does not need to be reinforced as if it were not really a necessary evil. It moves from accepting the need for the just war concept to embracing it. There is a terrible and telling difference.

Very few wars even when waged by nations that endorse the just war doctrine could be really classed as just wars. Overall, the doctrine has hurt not helped. And Christianity, its fan, refuses to take responsibility. It refuses to truly care. The casualties of war and the victims have been seen by the Church as opportunities to show off how good the Church is.

Reason says that a war needs to be self-defence in order to have any hope of being called just. But for many in the Church, the just war is not always about self-defence. It is worrying that such a view can be tolerated by leaders who pretend to be servants of peace.

The Church says nowadays that human life is the most important consideration in morality. Then why are most of its members who fight in a war unable to prove that they should be doing so? War is uncontrollable and can see how a war waged even for an “unjust reason” will turn out in terms of overall benefits. One would expect them to be sure if life is that important. If God loves us and has made his Church infallible like it claims then he would incline it to protect human life more than anything else. But its chief concern is trivial stuff like the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and the power of the sacrament of the sick to heal if God wills and I could go on for a month. The Church used to believe that life did not begin at conception and that heretics should be killed. Its claim to infallibility implies that God does not want to tell us if a particular war should be fought or not meaning human life matters little to him. Its Bible is liberal in commanding capital punishment. Conclusion: the Church practices hypocrisy in relation to human life and has no divine guidance in how to deal with its protection.
 
The Church has no real sympathy for the idea of human life being the supreme concern when it allows killing under some conditions and never allows sex outside marriage or lies or blasphemy. Obviously, the only thing that is really important is the Church and its rules. This is not about love or God at all but about men claiming to represent God. They had to invent a God to manipulate us with for they knew they could not set themselves up as gods to be served. How could a religion that has a Bible that encourages capital punishment mostly for minor crimes in the name of God care about human life? How can such a religion bless the police and private detectives who have to lie to catch criminals?

 

The Christian doctrine that all must be offered to God means you consecrate your being a killer soldier to God.  If you are in the middle of war you realise is unjust you still have to fight. So that is offered to God too!  Please understand how evil these doctrines are.

Can a just war be fought by a Christian nation that is founded on lies and hypocrisy? No. Lies and hypocrisy are the enemies of true peace.