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Just War Theory - Essay Example

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Just War Theory (JWT) is, essentially, a theory of moral obligations of armies in wartime, and therefore rests upon the assumption that militaries and states are equivalent to moral agents. Because morality is a prescribed set of conduct governing the rules of individual…
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Just War Theory
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Just War Theory

Download file to see previous pages... However, two problems arise when trying to justify the use of JWT in shaping the United States and allies’ strategies in Afghanistan, where it is fighting an untraditional enemy that does not share the same kind of ethical ideals.
The first problem arises from the thought of each of two sides in the nontraditional war as moral agents, when one has clearly rejected the moral code the other follows. Since a moral code sets the ethical guidelines governing a community, when one party does not accept the moral code, the one that does accept the code is not obligated to follow that code. For instance, it is generally accepted that killing an animal that is known to be dangerous is ethical, insofar as doing so protects other members of the moral community from being harmed. Similarly, if a nontraditional army does not accept these rules of conduct, like the animal, it is well within the moral right of the traditional one to ensure its enemy does not harm another member of the moral community. From this assumption that militaries are moral agents, and the fact that moral codes provide the ethical guidelines for the community, an entity that does not accept the moral code is not obligated to ethical treatment according to this code. A war is nothing more than murder of other human beings; but instead of being punishable murder, it is sanctioned by states. JTW theory proposes the means by which one can create a more ethical war, but it does not address the issue of whether war itself is ethical.
This relatively conservative answer to whether JTW applies to a nontraditional war is supplemented by a second problem, which is tangentially addressed in “The Call to Arms”1. This issue has to deal with the source of JTW moral prescriptions, and whether a nontraditional fighting force like that seen in Afghanistan is to be dealt with ethical principles based on notions like “Christian love” or within the tradition ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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