ROOTS OF ORDER AND DISORDER:
AQUINAS AND AUGUSTINE ON WAR, PEACE AND POLITICS
Talk delivered at Thomistic Institute
John P. Hittinger
July 20, 2000
"The present historical situation of international conflict is unique. 'Never,' said Pius XII, 'has human history known a more gigantic disorder.' The uniqueness of the disorder resides, I take it, in the unparalleled depth of its vertical dimension; it goes to the very roots of order and disorder in the world - the nature of man, his destiny, and the meaning of human history." John C. Murray, "Morality and Modern War"
Part 1: Contemporary Interest in Just War Theory
The title of my paper is "Roots Of Order And Disorder: Aquinas And Augustine On War, Peace And Politics." I wish to explore what is called the "just war theory."(1)
The just war theory has a long distinguished pedigree. Its roots are in classical Greek and Roman philosophy; it was transformed by the Christian philosophy of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, of special interest to us at this Institute; and it has been developed by generations of philosophers hence. In the latter part of the twentieth century, the just war theory has been further refined and developed by a number of American theorists including Paul Ramsey, John Courtney Murray, James Turner Johnson, Michael Walzer, and others. The just war theory is an important part of the ethics curriculum of West Point, Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy.(2)
Most of these approaches are interested in recalling the origins of the just war theory.(3)
In 1996, the Carnegie Institute hosted a small conference celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of Michael Walzer's book, Just and Unjust Wars. A classic in the field, this work displays the fruitfulness of the just war approach. Although it also shows that not all just war approaches are Augustinian or Thomistic, representatives of these traditions are involved in the ongoing explorations of its meaning and the debates over its applications.(4) So it is timely indeed to look at Augustine as a source for Thomas's account of war.
It is the official position on the morality of warfare adopted by the Roman Catholic Church, including the documents of Vatican II.(5)
One finds there a nuanced and tightly reasoned piece of just war thinking. It says that a nation has a right and duty to defend its citizens by force, if necessary (Gaudium et spes #79). Thus, members of the armed services are making a genuine contribution to peace. This framework of the Just War Theory is also used by the U.S. Bishops' Challenge of Peace; it is not a pacifist document. This was reiterated at a Rome consultation and it was often repeated by the Bishops, but not often enough. A good explanation of these principles may be found in the pastoral letter. The duty of nation to defend itself and the declaration that pacifism is only an option for individuals makes the framework normative for public policy debate. A summary of the consultation in Rome stated that :"it was clearly affirmed that there is one Catholic tradition: the Just War Theory, but that this tradition was subject to inner tensions coming from an ever present desire for peace."(6) Cardinals Bernardin and O'Connor testified before the U. S. House of Representatives that: "The Church does not embrace pacifism as a public position; it believes that some uses of force are justified in the defense of freedom. The Church continues to employ the just war criteria to establish limits to the permissible use of force."(7)
Nevertheless, it is true that Vatican II called for "an entirely new attitude towards war." I shall not try to interpet this from the document itself, but simply say that the Just War Theory has been declared dead, bankrupt or irrelevant by a number of prominent philosophers and theologians. Their reasons include the development of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, the dysfunctional nature of nations states in a time of globalism, the rediscovery of authentic Christian pacifism, and the tendency to rationalize self-interest. Yet, the just war theory is topical once again after recent events in the Gulf and Kosovo. Major periodicals have devoted space to the issue of just war, with sidebars on Augustine and the terminology of the doctrine.(8) If now the Gulf war is forgotten new issues concerning the right use of force have emerged, especially that of humanitarian intervention in such places as Haiti and Bosnia.(9)
The just war problematic continues to provide a forum for the debate. No doubt public interest in the question will ebb and flow, but the perennial questions remain as an invitation to reflection and academic disputation. For the issue of war and peace raises important philosophical and theological questions. The debates about war and peace bring into play a number of important principles regarding the nature of politics, the conditions of justice, the nature of God's kingdom, the presence of sin, the role of authority, and the prospects for progress, to name but a few. John Courtney Murray has said that the threat of war and political disorder has an "unparalleled vertical dimension; it goes to the heart of the very roots of order and disorder in the world - the nature of man, his destiny, and the meaning of human history."(10) Thus, the challenges to the just war theory, particularly realism and pacifism, to which I view the just war account as a golden mean, are very much worth considering and perhaps even framing the issue for us. Let us start with pacifism.
Part 2: On Pacifism, Just War and Realism: Framing the Issues
War is an event of untold human suffering and loss: such as the deaths of many people, both military and civilian, the fragmentation of families, the consumption of valuable resources, and the destruction of the environment. At the outset of our consideration of the Just War Theory, it is important to feel the burden and weight of the case against war; and to register some incredulity at the very enterprise of justifying warfare. Erasmus, the great Christian humanist of the 15th century, challenged the Christian Prince to weigh the gravity of the decision to initiate warfare:
Shall I alone be charged with such an outpouring of human blood; with causing so many widows; with filling so many homes with lamentation and morning; with robbing so many old men of their sons; with impoverishing so many who do not deserve such a fate; and with such utter destruction of morals, laws and practical religion? Must I account for these things before Christ?(11)
And further, he reminds the Prince that:
It is more difficult, as well as more desirable, to build a fine city than to destroy it. But we see flourishing cities which are built by inexperienced and common people, demolished by the wrath of princes. Very often we destroy a town with great labor and expense than that with which we could build a new one, and we carry on war at such greater expense, such loss, such zeal, and pains, that peace could be maintained at one-tenth of these costs.
Erasmus makes a number of other criticisms of the just war theory, that in many respects anticipate the contemporary claims that the just war theory is dead.
War by any account is a terrible event that should be avoided if possible. One cannot be failed to move by Paul VI's plea to the United Nations, "War never again." Yet we must also affirm the order of justice, to be established and maintained, may require the use of force or the threat of its use. And further, such use of force is morally required if the commitment to a just peace is serious. This is the heart of the issue distinguishing absolute pacifism from the Just War Theory. First, there is an empirical/historical claim, that order requires force. Second, there is a moral claim, that there are goods worth the risk of war and that "peace at any price," is unacceptable. For example, Lincoln spoke as eloquently as Erasmus of the evils of war and admitted that the American Revolution "breathed forth famine, swam in blood and rode on fire; and long after, the orphan's cry and the widow's wail, continued to break the sad silence that ensued."(12) But he points to great blessings of liberty made possible by the American Revolution: "If the relative grandeur of revolutions shall be estimated by the great amount of human misery they alleviate, and the small amount they inflict, then, will this be the grandest the world shall have ever seen." As for the civil war, although Lincoln judged that slavery was an eternal wrong and unjust, he did not adopt that moral high ground as the major war aim; he did not share the abolitionist's sense of a just crusade against the south; rather, in a more sober Augustinian mode, he judged that the good of order required that force of arms be used to put down the anarchy of rebellion.(13) Looking back on the war, Lincoln, in his second inaugural address stated that: "both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish." Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is an attempt to establish the worth of the struggle: the dead shall not have died in vain if there is a rebirth of freedom. Are there things worth the risk of human life? Jacques Maritain, in an article on immortality, concludes that true civilization "knows the price of human life . . . but it does not fear death, it confronts death, it accepts risk, it requires self-sacrifice - but for aims which are worthy of human life."(14) Such goods are justice and honor, and human dignity. Given the horror of war, and given the precious value of human life, one may yet judge that force of arms is a risk necessary to engage for human aims. Vatican II warns statesmen to "conduct such grave matters soberly." The Just War thinkers, such as Augustine and Aquinas, set out the factors which come into play to ensure that such risk is not taken lightly or with rash spirit.
Why not realism then? Although the classical philosophers never used the rubric "the Just War Theory", their philosophy never ceased to be preoccupied with the questions of right rule: they clearly recognized the distinction between might and right, the superiority of persuasion to coercion, the limited claims of partisan politics, and the disorders of greed and ambition as forces animating moral and political life. An incident in Thucydides perhaps best exemplifies the problem as the Greeks saw it; in the so-called Melian dialogue the Athenian generals come to discuss the prospects for peace confronting the vastly outnumbered Melians. The Athenians tell the Melians that they have no hope but to surrender; that superior force will dictate the terms of justice: "you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."(15) The Melians refuse the terms of peace and they are subsequently destroyed and their villages plundered and population sold into slavery. The Athenians sent out a colony of 500 and occupied the territory. The incident can be interpreted as a critique of the Athenians. Compared to the previous debate about prisoners and hostages at Mytilene, where the Atehnian cruelty relented, Melos signals the decline of Athens, not its strength. Paul Rahe claims that Thucydides is a critic of real-politik:
Thucydides would no doubt have been willing to concede that "the human appetites" are "insatiable," that "by nature" human beings "desire everything" while 'by fortune they are allowed to secure little," and that, since "nature has created men in such a fashion" that they are "able to desire everything" but not "to secure everything," their "desire is always greater than the power of acquisition." The Athenian, however, was not for this reason willing to reject moderation and a sense of measure and proportion as folly on the grounds that there simply is not and cannot be "a middle road" Nor was he inclined to make the extreme situation normative. Thucydides is distinguished from Machiavelli and the most intrepid of his successors most obviously by the measured respect that he evidences for Spartan moderation, by the appreciation that he shows for piety as a restraint in times of peace on the human inclination to commit raw and savage deeds, and by his willingness to honor the linguistic, social, and political laws and customs and the conventional virtues that underpin civility. . . . One might even argue that, in acknowledging and coming fully to term with the fragility of civilized life and with calculating reason's dependence on the sense of measure and proportion embedded within a community's linguistic, social, and political norms, the Athenian was much more a realist than the Florentine and more recent proponents of Realpolitik. In his history Thucydides gives us every reason to reject as an illusion Machiavelli's utopian assertion that, through savage virtú, a "cruelty well-used," and an unleashing of the all too human lust for unlimited mastery, man can subdue fortuna and promote human ends.(16)
Perhaps it is this incident, as well as the disfunction of the Homeric heroic man, that led Plato to counter this supremacy of the warrior with the ideal of the philosopher king in the Republic.(17) As all of you students know from your reading of this great dialogue, Plato strove to refute the Sophistic claims of Thrasymachus that justice is the interest of the stronger. In addition, he argued against the claim of Polemarchus, the warlord, that justice is simply the doing of good to your friends and harm to your enemies. The critique of Polemarchus is complex; but it includes pointing out the paradox of the just man holding a double morality, able to lie cheat and kill the enemy and yet do good to friends. The just man, according to warrior's ethic, is a kind of thief. The challenge of educating the guardians becomes paramount in the best regime: how to combine the qualities of high spiritedness with gentleness, that is, how to form citizens who will be fierce in battle but just and kind with their fellow citizens. It is a challenge that requires replacing Homeric heroes with Socratic dialectic. Reason must rule over thumos, or spiritedness, which is akin to anger. The warrior's ethos, based upon a desire for victory alone, is clearly rejected as a disorder by Plato.
Briefly we can also gather from Aristotle some reasons for limit and moderation in the use of force. The first has to do with the proper ordering of human activity. Military affairs are subordinated to political judgment; or we can say that we make war for the sake of peace, or war is not an end in itself. (See Ethics I.1) Contemplation is higher than action (Ethics X.7). War should be for the sake of peace and leisure (Politics VII.14). Second, the best regime is not based upon expansion and empire because this entails continual concern over rule over others. (See Politics VII.2)
Using the Aristotelean notion of the mean, it may useful to view just war approach as a mean between the extremes of absolute pacifism, an excessive hope for temporal peace, and an extreme political realism, with its excessive despair of earthly justice. Elizabeth Anscombe has argued that pacifism and realism actually agree in some important respects, especially the very distinctions attempted by just war principles(18)
Part 3: Augustine and Aquinas on Just War Principles
Augustine and the Just War
Augustine's criticism of the pagan political order found fault with its aims and methods. The pagan order was dominated by pride. There was much to admire in it: the great virtues of courage, even justice in some cases. But the worm of pride corrupted its practical deliberations, the desire to dominate and rule over others, and also its philosophers who were driven to deceive the people through the noble lie and to posit an elitist difference between the philosophic few and the crowd. Of the roman political ethos and order he says:
Glory they most ardently loved: for it they wished to live, for it they did not hesitate to die. Every other desire was repressed by the strength of the passion for that one thing. . . . That eagerness for praise and the desire for glory is that which accomplished those many wonderful things, laudable doubtless, and glorious according to human judgment.(19)
Augustine's assessment of Rome is ambivalent; he clearly criticizes the corruption of pride and the lust for rule; without the love of God all the pagan virtues are deemed "splendid vices" (XIX.25). Moreover, it led to expansion of the Roman empire and required the Romans to "roll with dark fear and cruel lust, in warlike slaughters and blood" (IV.3). The glory of empire is likened to "glass in its fragile splendor." Thus a wiser state chooses for moderate wealth and status, rather than expansion. For all of this, Augustine did acknowledge that the pagan political order could establish a temporal good: the good of order and peace. The Christian could benefit from the temporal peace of Rome and contribute to the temporal peace. This temporal peace, Augustine says, is not "to be esteemed lightly." The temporal peace involves the goods of health and safety, food and shelter, and fellowship. But the good of peace imposes "stern and lasting necessities" (XIX.7), among which are the use of force. By the use of force the "lawless men are prevented from doing harm (XIX.21). The just war therefore, according to Augustine, is not due to the great or glorious righteousness of the cause, but the restraint of the wicked and lawless from harming others. Augustine is quite skeptical of the purity of the cause of justice and can live with an ambiguity of earthly claims to justice. The greatest evil in war, according to Augustine, is the opportunity for "love of violence, revengeful cruelty, fierce and implacable enmity, wild resistance and the lust of power."(20) He further says, "it is to punish these things," that "good men undertake wars, when they find themselves in such a position as regards the conduct of human affairs." For Christians, the temporal peace and temporal goods are used as by pilgrims and referred to the higher peace of Christ. As long as the use of force was aimed at the maintaining of just order and involved the right intention, it was accepted as part of the temporal duty of the Christian.
A crucial part of Augustine's account of "just war" lies in his interpretation of the scriptural passages which some Christians may take to prohibit Christians from participating in war. Augustine said that "If the Christian Religion forbade war altogether, those who sought salutary advice in the Gospel would rather have been counselled to cast aside their arms, and to give up soldiering altogether. On the contrary, they were told: 'Do violence to no man . . . and be content with your pay' [Lk. 3:14. If he commanded them to be content with their pay, he did not forbid soldiering." Or again that the precept to "turn the other cheek" means that our inner attitude should be not inclined to vengence and hence the precept "should always be borne in readiness of mind, so that we be ready to obey them." In his survey of just war in the middle ages, Jonathon Barnes says: "Augustine's scriptural exegesis may raise a sceptical eyebrow or an outraged hackle, but it was gratefully accepted and piously parroted by the medieval political theorists: by returning a negative answer to the question ''s soldiering always a sin?'' Augustine made room for a morality of warfare and a theory of just war."(21) I believe that we can be less cynical than Barnes about Augustine's exegesis.
Thomas Aquinas took over this Augustinian heritage and gave it a more precise and systematic formulation. In the major question on warfare (ST II-II q. 40), Thomas queries whether it is always sinful to wage war, reflecting an obvious suspicion about the morality of war. First, the practice of war appears to go against precepts of Christianity and common practice, as we can see from the objections in article one. But in addition, war wreaks havoc upon virtually every level or type of human good from life, to family, to truth and association. But before going to his answer a few things must be noted at the outset. First the treatment of war is not under the section of natural law, nor under the virtue of justice. It is part of the treatise of charity. This textual fact confirms Paul Ramsey's assessment about the just war theory, Augustine and Aquinas -- the just war theory is derived from the parable of the good Samaritan and not as precept of "natural justice."(22)
He means that the just war precepts were not simply derived from axioms of fundamental good, but elaborated in light of fundamental purpose and images of the good life. Father Heath makes some very interesting observations about just how war is fitted into the section concerning vices opposed to charity; Thomas takes a list from St Paul and then re-works it.(23)
So why is it not always sinful to wage war? For the hard punch of authority to use in the "sed contra" Thomas cites Augustine: Augustine says in a sermon on the son of the centurion [Ep. ad Marcel. cxxxviii]: "If the Christian Religion forbade war altogether, those who sought salutary advice in the Gospel would rather have been counselled to cast aside their arms, and to give up soldiering altogether. On the contrary, they were told: 'Do violence to no man . . . and be content with your pay' [Lk. 3:14. If he commanded them to be content with their pay, he did not forbid soldiering." Aquinas will cite or quote from Augustine seven more times in this article alone. It is clear what source we must consult for Thomas' teaching on just war. He argues that war is not sinful if it meets three conditions: the war must be declared by proper authority and not by private citizens or groups; second, a just cause is required; and third, there should be a rightful intention, such as the advancement of good or the avoidance of evil.(24) Now again before elaborating on each in turn we must observe the following points. First, Aquinas list three criteria, not the seven of much modern statements of just war; and as Barnes rightly points out Thomas differs from his predecessors such as Alexander of Hales who mentions seven and others who mention five. Second, note that Thomas does not at all make a distinction into jus ad bellum and jus in bello; that is he does not separate out the issue of non combatant immunity or proportionate use of tactical force. We shall provide some rationale for this below.
Proper authority, just cause, and right intention -- each criterion contains important philosophical content. Indeed, together they implicitly contain the more elaborate sets of criteria for just war that have been developed over the centuries to serve as points for critical reflection.(25)
I shall comment on the core three-fold criteria articulated by Thomas Aquinas. First, war must be an act by "the authority of a sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. . ." Thomas views strife as an opportunity for indulging "private feelings of anger of hatred." (II-II 41.1.ad 3) It is incumbent upon political leadership to follow reason, a public reason devoted to a measured good and a measured action. Competent authority is a criterion that prohibits the waging of private wars for personal ambition and with anarchic results. In the American context it may entail further questions about the separation of powers and congressional war powers. The Civil War saw the anarchy of private armies and bushwhacking across Missouri and Kansas. It is not for private individuals to assemble or summon the people. On Aquinas' account, authority is necessary for a community to act with unity; authority must make formal consideration about what is to the common good. Private individuals must act for individual or partial goods. The magistrate has "care for the common good" and a duty to "watch over the common weal." There is a profound political teaching contained in this requirement for proper authority. The nature and purpose of the political community are the terms which set the issue of war in perspective. Just war and proper authority are not first of all a matter of legalism, but rather a condition for political legitimacy.(26)
Barnes is incorrect to say that just war is a matter of legal reasoning.(27)
Paul Ramsey said that the use of armed force is part of the larger issue of the right use of force; force is part of the bene esse or well being of political life.(28) This acknowledgement of power distinguishes natural law just war teaching from pacifism.
Aquinas states that the magistrate must use the "sword" to defend against internal disturbances, as well as against external enemies. As stated above, a judgment is made that the order of justice, to be established and maintained, may require the use of force or the threat of its use and that such use of force is morally required if the commitment to a just peace is serious. This is a second issue distinguishing absolute pacifism from the Just War Theory.(29)
There is an empirical/historical claim, that order requires force and that such force be in the hands of the authority. There is also a moral judgment that there are goods worth the risk of war and that "peace at any price" is unacceptable. So indeed if war is prima facie evil because it destroys a large range of human goods and flourishing, so too must a magistrate protect such goods from destruction by others. War is therefore a political act, a deliberate act by a political authority for a political good. The pacifist misses this complex reality of the possibility and political conditions for human flourishing. By the same token, the political good sets a limit on what kinds of wars may be waged. The realist approach, by which the conduct of war is bound by no moral limit, undermines the very moral and political legitimacy of the regime.
Aquinas' second criterion follows as the next obvious point: a just cause is required, "namely that those who are attacked should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault." The judgment is left in general terms, referring to an underlying assumption of culpability or moral regard. For specifics, Aquinas cites Augustine:"when a nation or state . . . refuses to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects or to restore what is unjustly seized." Aquinas makes no distinction between offensive or defensive wars, as later just war thinkers do; he simply points to an order of justice and acknowledges the possibility of wrongful harm and unjust seizure. Such a response may perhaps be defined as inherently defensive insofar as it is a response to a wrong or a seizure. But this notion must not be initially interpreted in a legal sense, but morally/politically in the realm of human flourishing. Thus, the right of war is not simply the self-defense of physical life, although that is part of it; it is a defense of the very order of justice. As we noted above, Aquinas forms a reasoned judgment that the very goods of flourishing are at stake, perhaps requiring the sacrifice: "There is much more reason for guarding the common weal (whereby many are saved from being slain, and innumerable evils both temporal and spiritual prevented), than the bodily safety of an individual." (30)
In the Vatican II document, "Gaudium et spes," statesmen are warned to "conduct such grave matters soberly." It is finally a matter of prudential judgment. Prudence in the expanded sense of term, which includes a judgment of justice as an end, and selection of the appropriate means to that end.(31) Indeed, Thomas later list military prudence as a subjective part of prudence. At II-II art 50 art 4 Thomas quotes Proverbs about counsel: It is written (Prov. 24:6): "War is managed by due ordering, and there shall be safety where there are many counsels." Now it belongs to prudence to take counsel. Therefore there is great need in warfare for that species of prudence which is called "military." Note his full argument:
Whatever things are done according to art or reason, should be made to conform to those which are in accordance with nature, and are established by the Divine Reason. Now nature has a twofold tendency: first, to govern each thing in itself, secondly, to withstand outward assailants and corruptives: and for this reason she has provided animals not only with the concupiscible faculty, whereby they are moved to that which is conducive to their well-being, but also with the irascible power, whereby the animal withstands an assailant. Therefore in those things also which are in accordance with reason, there should be not only "political" prudence, which disposes in a suitable manner such things as belong to the common good, but also a "military" prudence, whereby hostile attacks are repelled.
Finally he responds to an objection that would reduce military activity to a sheer skill or techne by saying: "Military prudence may be an art, in so far as it has certain rules for the right use of certain external things, such as arms and horses, but in so far as it is directed to the common good, it belongs rather to prudence." Our military academies have courses in "military arts and science." But there is clear needto integrate these studies with ethics and political philosophy.
Prudence is deeply affected by the dispositions of the agent. So war is also about character -- of the leaders and the people of the nation. Aquinas next lays down a third criterion to ensure that such risk is not taken lightly or with rash spirit: rightful intention. The rightful intention is the advancement of good -- ultimately it is peace.(32)
So perhaps we should also say that right intention prevents the defect on the side of failing to do good because of sloth or apathy. Again citing Augustine, Aquinas excludes the intention of aggrandizement and cruelty: "The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, and unpacific and relentless spirit, lust of power" are "rightly condemned in war."(33) This demand for right intention not only establishes the proper disposition or frame of mind for conducting such "grave matters soberly," but must be woven through the other two criteria. The goal of peace, a just peace, is the intention after all of a magistrate in charge of a commonweal and is the order of justice for presupposed by a claim to a just cause. It would be a contradiction to intend in the name of justice an unjust goal, an excessive revenge or desire dominate others. The nation itself is in some way part of a larger community of nations. Lincoln rightly mentions in his Second Inaugural, the desire for peace in the nation and with all nations. The good of peace for itself, as well as the conditions of flourishing, are indeed goods for all human beings and all nations. Although the magistrate does not have direct responsibility for the conditions of flourishing in another nation or community, he can will it as a good for all and seek to do no harm to that other.
These three criteria -- rightful authority, just cause, and right intention -- form the core principles of the just war theory. The three can be unpacked into the longer list of the "jus ad bellum," but the simplicity of the three recommends them to our use. We are less likely to lose the political and moral origins of the just war effort and we can better avoid a checklist and casuist mentality. But where is the traditional criteria for the right conduct in war, the "jus in bello"? John Finnis is probably correct to say that the distinction between jus ad bellum and jus in bello is very misleading and "scarcely part of the tradition."(34)
It suggests that a statesman may posit an end which then comes into conflict with the means; the realist exploits this very distinction. For Aquinas, the limit on conduct follows from the very criteria for the "jus ad bellum." Aquinas does not allow a double morality for magistrate and another for private citizen, as Thomas indicates in his question on deception in war. The magistrate in care for the commonweal is bound by natural law and so is limited in the taking of life -- innocent life may never be taken. In fact, in his treatment of homicide, Aquinas allows the taking of life of an aggressor in self-defense only as a matter of double effect.(35)
Aquinas sees lethal force strictly as a "counter-force" measure; the humanity of other is always acknowledged. Thus, it is implied that a soldier who is wounded or who has surrended, is no longer a wielder of force and not an object for attack. Capital punishment may be directed against the non-innocent -- those noxious to the community. The non-combatant is not a noxious element to be removed or halted by use of force. The second criterion of just cause would also place some limitation on conduct of war. The presumed moral warrant for taking up arms for the order of justice is undermined by unjust conduct in war. As Paul Ramsey argues, the modern violations of non-combatant immunity are reflections of a totalitarian political principle insofar as such conduct reduces "everyone without discrimination and everyone to the whole extent of his being to a mere means of achieving political and military goals."(36) So too the third criterion of intention touches on the question of means. So often the attack on civilians is simply a matter of "cruel thirst for vengeance" or lust for power. Is there a true necessity to do so, one free of vengeance and libido dominandi?
Similarities and Differences
Has Thomas shown no creativity simply repeating like a parrott the sources; or has he even perhaps diverged from Augustine as some have said. Has Thomas made war a "natural feature of states" Paul Ramsey claims that Aquinas takes a different perspective than Augustine.(37) His greater respect for the integrity of natural virtue and activity and the emphasis upon reason over will in the natural law permits him to have a sharper concept of the just regime and a clearer determination of a just cause. But the essential outlines of the theory are traced by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Or does Vanderpol have it just right when he says that Augustine planted the seeds or basic principles which Aquinas formulated as conclusions?(38)
I believe a key to answering this question may require a more extended study of Thomas' analysis of peace to be found in the II-II q. 29. Peace is a fruit of charity; hence it requires the deppest ordering of the soul to God; and ultimately it derives from God's grace. In a remarkable series of replies to objections in q. 29, art. 3 Thomas shows his Augustinian colors. Thomas says that "Peace is the "work of justice" indirectly, in so far as justice removes the obstacles to peace: but it is the work of charity directly, since charity, according to its very nature, causes peace." (29, 3, ad 3) That is, Thomas is not taking the simple perspective of natural justice. He would not agree again with realist who say "if you want peace, prepare for war," or with the pacifist who may say that "if you want peace, work for justice." Neither is sufficient. At the end of the day, sin mars any attempt to establish a permanent peace; but human prudence and politics can fashion and "imperfect peace," the peace of the wayfarer. (29, 3, ad 2). Without sin no one falls from a state of sanctifying grace, for it turns man away from his due end by making him place his end in something undue: so that his appetite does not cleave chiefly to the true final good, but to some apparent good. Hence, without sanctifying grace, peace is not real but merely apparent." These passages should lay to rest the exaggerated claims about Thomas' divergence from Augustine in favor of natural justice.
Part 4: Why Continue to Use the Just War Tradition?
Although Vatican II reiterated the principles of the Just War Theory, it also said that we must develop a new attitude toward war. The modern world presents some new developments; There are at least four developments that require new thinking. The four developments are: first, the development of new scientific weapons which are capable of mass destruction; second, the exaggerated role of nation states in age of global inter-dependence; third, the tremendous outlay of expenditures on military spending when the tasks of development for humane purposes is such a pressing need; fourth, the prospects for non-violent resistance to injustice. The developments have been brought to head in the unfolding of the nuclear arms race and the paradox of deterrence. These developments, however do not nullify the Just War Theory, but highlight its internal strengths and resources. We must comment briefly on each development and see how it relates to the principles of the Just War Theory.
The invention of new weapons, capable of mass destruction, is the most frightening development of the last century. The Documents of Vatican II refer to scientific weapons as the general category, because this includes more than nuclear weapons, but also biological and chemical warfare. The threat of biological and chemical weapons in the recent war brought this home to many people. The central tenet of the Just War Theory, the non-combatant immunity from direct attack, clearly leads to a rejection of the use of these weapons which are indiscriminate in nature. The single condemnation issued by the Vatican Council was made just on this issue (Gaudium et Spes, #80). This does not spell the death of the Just War Theory, but reaffirms its relevance. It has lead many to become nuclear pacifists from within the Just War Theory; Catholic moralists like Grisez, Finnis, Anscombe have taken this approach. The goal of banning biological and chemical weapons, as well as nuclear ones, is encouraged. The nuclear threat is complicated by the threat of use of nuclear weapons as a means to avoid using them. There is a complex dilemma here, one of the most challenging in theory and practice. The deterrent force has established a kind of peace; but the threat to kill civilians is also immoral and not transformed by the greater intention of peace. One may resolve the dilemma through the concept of bluff or through a policy of not targeting civilian areas. The bluff deterrent is not credible. American policy makers claim that the targets are not directly on civilian sites. But the principle of proportionality must applied at this point; the extent of damage to civilian areas and the environment would be so great as to undermine its moral warrant. The Vatican and the U.S. Bishops have issued a "conditional acceptance" of deterrence, calling for good faith efforts at disarmament. Other thinkers have extended this concern about proportionality to cover any modern war, questioning whether any modern war can be just because of the extensive collateral damage done to civilians and the environment.
The second development points to the need for greater international cooperation to deal with the reality of inter-dependence. War has been a policy of nation-states or blocs of states engage in struggles with each other. On this view, then war must abandoned. Vatican II and the Challenge of Peace call for greater international cooperation and institutional arrangements for the prevention of war. But the need does not eliminate the right of defense; ironically, it simply places it on a new level. That is, an international authority would still require "effective power to safeguard" the security of all; international cooperation may still elect war as a means of policy, as we have seen. And as long as there is no sufficient international authority, then nations must still use the authority that is theirs to achieve the common good as best they see it.
The third problem, the tremendous military spending in contrast to the needs of human development is a constant theme of Vatican and U.S. Bishops. This pertains to the principle of proportionality; it is therefore a judgment call. It should force a nation to continually reassess its priorities and its sense of what is necessary. But as long as defense remains as a valid good of the nation, it equally requires an honest assessment of what means are necessary given military and political factors at work in the international community.
Fourth, the success of non-violent resistance to unjust rule and violence has raised the hopes for alternatives to war. Gandhi, King, Walesa and other great leaders of people under oppression have shown the power of truth and love in confronting evil. Their successes can be weighed in under the principles of last resort and probability of success for military action. In many cases, military action is futile, as in the cases mentioned. An alternative is necessary. In other cases, there is a possibility of alternative means. But in the latter cases, such proposals must be honestly assessed by probability of success and the last resort cannot be used as a means to indefinite delay. Moreover, in some cases, it is the balance of power of force that may allow certain movements to flourish and be maintained.
These contemporary challenges place us on the cutting edge of the debate and discussion within the Church, academia, and public policy. But it is the inner tensions within the very theory of just war as a framework for moral discussion that allows such a sharp focus to emerge and for fruitful developments and exchange. The Just War Theory endures and flourishes for many reasons. First, it is premised upon realism in the political order and the rejection of utopianism. That is, there is an ever present need for force and threat of force to maintain semblance of order. Vatican II traced the origins of war back to human sinfulness: "insofar as men are sinful, the threat of war hangs over them, and hang over them it will until the return of Christ" (378). Similarly Pope John Paul II stated that the prospect for a totally and permanently peaceful society is utopian, based upon a mistaken view of the human condition. Deceptive hopes, he says, would lead to the "peace of totalitarianism." The Just War Theory attempts to balance peace and justice, both as limited achievements in this life.
Second, the Just War Theory has the capacity to develop in new ways to meet new challenges; it can absorb the concerns of pacifism without illusions. Its principles focus the important issues of debate: imperialism or patterns of domination as unjust and nonjustifiable; unlimited warfare as an evil; the disproportionate use of resources or evil outcomes and the like. As we suggested above, the development of new weapons, the new international realities, non-violent resistance, and the priorities of spending can be well articulated from within this framework.
Third, the Just War Theory offers a superior framework for debate and discussion. It is not a mechanical system: there are real possibilities for differences here: on empirical claims as to effectiveness of non-violence and military solutions; historical judgments about the nation state and the alliances and coalitions which form from one era to the next; the prospects for technological limitations on warfare through more accurate weapons and defensive systems; the timing of military ventures and last resort. The theory is not a means for rationalization; it requires sober judgment, empirical fact, and honest disclosure.
Finally, it flourishes because it is connected to major philosophical questions about human nature and society. And while establishing a formal and rational system for policy discussion, it opens out onto philosophical questions and ultimately to the theological. John Courtney Murray has said that the threat of war and the present disorder has an "unparalleled vertical dimension; it goes to the heart of the very roots of order and disorder in the world - the nature of man, his destiny, and the meaning of human history."(39) We must seek a deeper explanation than economics or politics for war and disorder; Vatican II identifies this as human sin. Solzhenitsyn prophetically warns that men have forgotten God and such is the origin of modern wars and oppression. "To the ill-considered hopes of the last two centuries, which have brought us to the brink of nuclear and non-nuclear death, we can propose only a determined quest for the warm of hand of God, which we have so rashly and self-confidently spurned."(40) The just war theory, in its full theological dimensions, is open to this higher perspective. For this reason we cannot but benefit from a return to Augustine's and Thomas' teaching on the just war and learn how to see the city of man in its relation to the city of God.
1. I wish to acknowledge the American Public Philosophy Institute for material drawn from a paper presented at a conference on Natural Law and Public Policy, published as "Just War and Defense Policy." In Natural Law and Contemporary Public Policy, edited by David F. Forte, Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1998, pp. 333-360. I also wish to acknowledge Loras College, Dubuque Iowa for its kind invitation to present a lecture entitle "Rationalization Or Restraint? An Introduction To The Just War Theory," delivered April 18, 1991. The views presented in this paper do not represent the official position of United States Air Force Academy, the U.S. Air Force or the U.S. Department of Defense.
2. Paul Christopher The Ethics of War and Peace: An Introduction to the Legal and Moral Issues (New York: Prenctice Hall, 1994) and Anthony Hartle, Morality and Military Decision Making (Lawrence: Univ. Kansas Press, 1988), both West Point instructors; Wakin, War, Morality and the Military Profession, 2nd edition (Boulder: Westview Press, 1990), Air Force author; David Eugene Johnson, Dr. Paul E. Roush, and Clarence Frank Sills, Jr., Readings in Philosophy and Ethics for Naval Leaders (New York: American Heritage Press, 1995), Annapolis instructors.
3. See James Turner Johnson, "Historic Roots and Sources of the Just War Tradition in Western Culture," in Just War and Jihad, edited by John Kelsay and James Turner Johnson (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991): 3-30. See also James T. Johnson, "The Just War Idea and the Ethics of Intervention," The Joseph A. Reich, Sr. Distinguished Lecture on War, Morality, and the Military Profession, number 6, 17 November 1993, United States Air Force Academy, Co.
4. Thus, Joseph Boyle, a prominent representative of the Grisez type natural law approach contributed a piece "Natural Law and International Ethics" to the useful survey in Terry Nardin and David R. Maple, Traditions of International Ethics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992); and also Joseph Boyle's "Just and Unjust Wars: Casuistry and the Boundaries of Moral Discourse," in Ethics and International Affairs Vol. 11 1997: 83-96; see also the contributions by John Finnis and Joseph Boyle in Terry Nardin, The Ethics of War and Peace (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996). Paul Ramsey's work in this area is seminal: Paul Ramsey, War and the Christian Conscience (Duke: Durham, 1960); The Just War: Force and Political Responsibility (New York: Scribner's, 1968); see also Paul Ramsey and Stan Hauerwas, Speak Up for Just War or Pacifism (University Park : Pennsylvania State University Press, 1988).
5. See Hittinger, John P. "The Professional Soldier and Vatican II." Catholicism in Crisis 2, no. 4 (1984): 3-4.
6. "A Vatican Synthesis," Origins April 1983, p. 694.
7. Origins August 9, 1984, p. 155.
8. Kenneth T. Walsh, "Bush's 'Just War' doctrine," U.S. News and World Report, 4 February 1991, 52-53; Jeffrey Sheler et al. "Holy War Doctrines," U.S. News and World Report, 11 February 1991, 55-56; Kenneth L. Woodward, "Ancient Theory and Modern War" Newsweek, 11 February 1991, 47; Michael Walzer, "Moral ambiguities in the Gulf Crisis," The New Republic, 28 January 1991, 13-15.
9. See Kenneth Himes, "Just War, Pacifism and Humanitarian Intervention," America August 14, 1993: 10-1-15, 28-31; Adam Roberts, "The Road to Hell: Humanitarian Intervention," Harvard International Review, Fall 1993: 10-13, 63; Michael Walzer, "The Politics of Rescue," Dissent, Winter 1995: 35-41; Robert L. Phillips and Duane L. Cady, Humanitarian Intervention: Just War vs. Pacifism (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996).
10. We Hold These Truths (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1960), p. 253.
11. Erasmus, "On Beginning War," in The Education of the Christian Prince, trans. and ed. L. K. Born (Columbia University Press, 1965); found in War and Christian Ethics, ed. Arthur Holmes (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1975), 177-189. See James Turner Johnson, The Quest for Peace (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 153-162.
12. Abraham Lincoln, "Address before the Springfield Temperance League," 1842 found in The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln ed. Richard N. Current (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1967), p. 33.
13. Ibid. First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861, pp. 168ff; Message to Special Session of Congress, July 4, 1861, pp. 180ff.
14. See Jacques Maritain, "The Immortality of Man," in A Maritain Reader, ed. Donald and Idella Gallagher (Garden City: Doubleday, 1966), pp. 212-213.
15. Thucydides, Peloponnesian War, V, chap. 17.
16. See Rahe, Paul A. "Thucydide's Critique of Realpolitik." Security Studies 5, no. 2 (1995): 101-139.
17. See Alasdair MacIntyre, A Short History of Ethics (New York: Macmillan, 1966), chapters 2-5; also his After Virtue (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), chapter 10.
18. Anscombe, Elizabeth. "War and Murder." In Nuclear Weapons: A Catholic Response (War and Morality), ed. Walter Stein, New York: Sheed and Ward Inc., 1961, pp. 45-62.
19. Augustine, The City of God, (New York: Random House/Modern Library, 1950). Book V, chap. 12.
20. "Reply to Faustus the Manichean," 22, in Holmes, War and Christian Ethics, p. 64.
21. Jonathan Barnes, "The Just War." In The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy, ed. Norman Kretzmann, Anthony Kenny and Jan Pinborg (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982), p. 773.
22. 22 Ramsey, Paul. The Just War: Force and Political Responsibility. New York: Scribner, 1968, p. 142.
23. Aquinas, Thomas. Consequences of Charity (2a2ae. 34-46). Translated by Thomas R. Heath O.P. Vol. 35. 60 vols. Summa Theologiae. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974; Charity (2a2ae. 23-33). Translated by R. J. Batten O.P. Vol. 34. 60 vols. Summa Theologiae. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975.
24. Summa Theologiae II-II q. 40, a. 1. See selections in Saint Thomas Aquinas, On Law, Morality and Politics ed. William P. Baumgarth and Richard J. Regan, S.J. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1988); see also Regan's The Moral Dimensions of Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 145-160.
25. Viz., right authority, just cause, last resort, proportionality, right intention, reasonable chance of success, aim of peace, proportionality of means, non-combatant immunity from direct attack.
26. See Yves R Simon, Philosophy of Democratic Government (Notre Dame: Univ. Notre Dame Press, 1990), chap. 1 on authority; see John P. Hittinger, "Jacques Maritain and Yves R. Simon's Use of Thomas Aquinas in Their Defense of Liberal Democracy," in David M. Gallagher, editor, Thomas Aquinas and His Legacy (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1994).
27. Barnes, "The Just War," pp. 775, 779.
28. Ramsey, Just War, chap. 1.
29. A similar point is made by C. S. Lewis, in "Why I am not a pacifist," in The Weight of Glory and other addresses revised and expanded edition, Walter Hooper, ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1980).
30. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologia I-II, q. 40, a. 4: "Multo autem magis est conservanda salus reipublicae, per quam impediuntur occisiones plurimorum et innumera mala et temporalia et spiritualia, quam salus corporalis unius hominis."
31. See Alberto Coll, "Normative Prudence as a Tradition of Statecraft," in Ethics and International Affairs, Joel H. Rosenthal, ed. (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1995), pp. 58-77.
32. John K. Ryan, Modern War and Basic Ethics (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1940), "The Thomistic Concept of Peace," pp. 5-15.
33. Augustine, Contra Faust. xxii.74; cited in Aquinas, op cit.
34. John Finnis, "The Ethics of War and Peace in the Catholic Natural Law Tradition," in Nardin, The Ethics of War and Peace, p. 25.
35. II-II 64, a. 6; see Paul Ramsey, War and the Christian Conscience (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1960), pp. 34-59.
36. Paul Ramsey, The Just War, p. 153.
37. War and the Christian Conscience (Durham: Duke University Press, 1961), pp. 31-32.
38. Vanderpol, A. La Doctrine Scolastique Du Droit De Guerre. Paris, 1919.
39. We Hold These Truths (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1960, p. 253.
40. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "The Templeton Address," 1983.