Is War Just

Question

Is war ever just? when?

16 years

Answers

  1. However pertinent your question is I am not sure that it is a valid one. Is war ever just? First one has to define what you mean by war. If you are referring to some kind of generic fight between two nations the question is not answerable. When one side goes to war against the other there can be a myriad different reasons for the conflict. If it is a grab for land the defending army would seem to be perfectly within its rights and on the side of justice to defend itself (this can also be applied to a pre-emptive strike). If the fight is about justice the answer also seems to be yes. Is there any decent person in the world today who questions the value of the allied fight against the Nazi war machine just sixty years ago. It is inconceivable that anyone who values justice and freedom could question the judgment of those that both ordered others into battle and those who fought. Sometimes the cause is so obvious that it requires no real explanation.

    On many other occasions the cause is not so obvious and moral and ethical questions raise their heads. In such a scenario is it possible to say that the war was just? Well, it depends who you speak to. Because each person has their own pre-conceived notions about the morality of any particular war they will answer the question according to their outlook. That means that exactly the same reasons can be given for justifying a war as are used to attack it! In an utopian world this would not be an issue as each person’s understanding of what is right and what is wrong would be so clear and so universal that there would be no debate. In the imperfect world that we live in today there are so many opinions and very few of them are clean of any subjectivity.

    As I mentioned above I am of the firm conviction that war can be just – perhaps the real question needs to be asked is whether those who are for a particular war and those that are against it are being objective in their assessments or whether they are just espousing a general world view that they hold.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team