This article concerns what I believe rightly justifies war and what does not. And I note that I believe these rules should apply to all nations, and not only to the United States.
At the risk of being misunderstood, let me stress here at the outset that I am generally against war and I believe that every war the US has engaged in since World War I (if not farther back in time) should have been avoided. The following, therefore, are not reasons I want to go to war, but are merely reasons for which war might be reasonably justified. Where I stress caution below, I really mean it; these are not mere platitudes.
What GENERALLY Justifies War (Rightly)
- Reprisal against any nation for acts of war conducted by its military against any of the United States, the Capital of the United States, any US territory, or any US vessel or military personnel—provided said acts are not initiated in retaliation for unjust acts of the United States.
- Reprisal against any nation for military invasion of the US borders, its territories, airspace, or its national waters, provided said invasion is not itself in retaliation for unjust acts of the United States.
- Reprisal against any nation that willingly and knowingly harbors and defends persons who have (with or without official sanction from that nation) attacked the United States in the manner of #1 above.
- Reprisal against any nation that illegally sends personnel (whether workers, spies, terrorists, soldiers, or any other type) into the United States for any purpose, or assists them in coming, or encourages them to come.
- Reprisal against any nation that deliberately works to undermine the US government by means of assassination, bribery or blackmail of a US official, recruitment of spies within the US borders, infiltration, fomenting insurrection within the US, and the like.
- Reprisal against any nation that deliberately works to undermine the US economy by any means other than fair competition. This may include such things as cyber attacks against US stock markets, or against the Internet in the US, attacks against the US transportation system or electrical grid or communications infrastructure.
- Reprisal against any nation that unjustly attacks another in any manner described above. (There are great dangers and complications involved in fighting a war for this purpose. It should only be undertaken with great care and with the overwhelming support of the American public.)
- Reprisal against (or annihilation of) any government that the US Congress has proven to be grossly abusing its own people, whether by violence or theft. (Like #7 above, there are great dangers and complications involved in fighting a war for this purpose. It should only be undertaken with great care and with the overwhelming support of the American public.)
Exceptions To The Above
- No war is just if it is waged without a proper declaration of war by the United States Congress. (The War Powers Act of 1973 is unconstitutional, as Congress is nowhere authorized in the Constitution to give away its war powers to the Executive.)
- No war is just if the declaration of war made by the United States Congress has been influenced by misinformation, fraud, manipulation, bribery, blackmail, or quid pro quo bargaining.
- No war is just unless the exact identity or identities of the person, persons, or nation committing the initial offense against the United States is known and verified. No “false flag” attack justifies war against the party who is falsely implicated by it.
- No war is just when the US Government actually wants the other party to initiate hostilities and allows it to happen. (This has happened several times in US history.)
- No war is just if it is in retaliation for acts that were themselves just acts of retaliation against improper acts of the United States. That is, if “we started it”, we must not view a retaliation as an unjustified act of war. We should rather admit our fault, cease and desist in all unfair and encroaching acts, and seek peace with the other nation.
- No war is just when it is exceeds what is necessary to stop unjust attacks and to deter them for some time to come. “Total war”, for example, is never justified, except in retaliation for total war. (This means war against homes, property, crops, non-combatants, and so forth, which would include such a range of activities as those that occurred in the US Civil War, as well as chemical, biological, and nuclear war.)
- No war is just when it is cruel (attacks against women and children, torture, etc.).
- No war is just when it is hypocritical.
- No war is just when it is perpetrated or protracted for the purpose of the financial gain of any bank, defense contractor or any other party that stands to gain from it.
- No war is just when it is perpetrated to force other nations to conduct trade with the US, with any US corporation, or with any darling thereof. (For more on the long history of this, see Overthrow, by Stephen Kinzer.)
Things That Do NOT Justify War
- “Those people hate us.” Freedom of opinion, emotion, love, hatred, admiration, respect, and resentment apply to all people and nations. If someone else hating us constitutes a just reason to go and kill them, then aren’t they justified in killing those who hate them?
- “They said they are going to attack us.” Going to war on account of political “saber rattling” is simply foolish. Another nation saying that it’s going to attack us does not mean that such attack is imminent or that the threat is even sincere. Indeed, foreign officials may well say such things playing to their own audiences, and with no intention of carrying them out. Further, there may well be times when US intervention in the affairs of those nations would indeed justify an attack of some sort against the US. We dare not pick a fight and then go to war on account of another nation fighting back. (We have done this many times, but it is unjust.) Even worse is to pick a fight and then go to war simply because the other nation threatens to retaliate.
- “They are trying to get a nuclear weapon.” Every nation has the right to arm itself however it sees fit. Would we want some other nation to come and take away our most powerful weapons?
- “We can’t afford to risk being nuked by these people.” One nuke detonated in the US could certainly destroy a large urban area and potentially, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of Americans. Similarly, a high-altitude burst could wreck all manner of electronic equipment throughout a very large portion of the US. This is true. The problem here, however, is that we simply have no right to take away another nation’s weapons unless we are already in a justified war with them. When we buy guns to protect our own house, do we then go to disarm our neighbors for fear that they might someday attack us? Or what about that one neighbor who just doesn’t “act right”? Is it either fair or advisable to attempt to disarm him? The view that preemptive attacks are justified completely ignores the powerful deterrent of “Mutually Assured Destruction”. If Iran did detonate a nuke on US soil, they could be certain that they would be annihilated thereafter by a US retaliation. How would they ever consider it to their benefit to attack us, then?
- “Making the world safe for democracy.” Nowhere in our national charter is there any statement that it is our mission to save the world or to turn it into a democracy. Indeed, though most of us are quite ignorant of this fact, the United States is not a democracy itself! If we are not a democracy, why would we want to make the world “safe for democracy”? This is a popular phrase, heard often in the media, but rarely challenged for the irresponsible rhetoric that it is. Beyond this, however, it is sheer hypocrisy, for we have a great many dangers to “democracy” within our own borders, and we rarely challenge them. Do we go to war against Washington when it violates the Constitution? Do we take up arms against a city when it violates someone’s civil rights? Do we rush to arms against a politician who accepts bribes against the public trust? Why, then, do we jump so quickly to take up arms against other sovereign nations to rid them of dangers we tolerate in our own back yard?
- “I hate Muslims.” If hating people is justification for waging war against them, then Muslims who hate you are justified in waging war against you. Is this really how you want it to be? Or do you think that this justification should not apply to everybody. What makes you so special?
- “The Muslim religion is seeking to dominate the world.” If this is just cause for military attack against Muslim nations, why aren’t we attacking the Roman Catholic Church, which already dominates such a great portion of the world, including its real estate and banks, and has been doing so for many, many centuries? Why aren’t we attacking the evangelistic “Protestant” churches have have a goal to convert the entire world and to influence its way of life? If one wants to argue that it’s not because of their religion, but because of their political agenda, then why aren’t we rushing to war against the bankers who steer our own ship of state to their own political advantage?
- “War is good for the economy.” This is such a base and foul expression that it repulses me every time I hear it. I suppose that it might be “good” for my own personal economy to go to war against my neighbors, taking possession of their property as my own, but in this country, we call that murder and theft. And there’s nothing “good” about it. That anybody in the US would ever use this idea to justify war is despicable. Further, the notion is irresponsibly inaccurate. War is certainly not good for everybody’s economy. Consider the families that are economically wrecked when their soldiers are killed. And consider the havoc wreaked on the families in the other nation. No, war is only good for the economy of a privileged few in the US. The people who truly benefit from it financially have managed to get many of the rest of us to believe that it’s good for us all. It is not. And if you still have a different opinion, imagine how much your taxes could be lowered if the US were to cease its endless war campaigns.
- “These people are terrorists.” What specific act of terror did they carry out against the United States? And is the country we want to go to war against an actual perpetrator of any specific act against the US? Up until very recently, no one was trying to implicate Iran in acts of terror against the US. The focus was mostly on Afghanistan and Iraq. With the cessation of the war in Iraq, however, suddenly new “evidence” seems to be popping up and is paraded about to convince us that Iran is culpable even in the 9/11 attacks. This is particularly ironic since the same justification was used for war in Iraq, and since Iraq and Iran, being enemies, would have been exceedingly unlikely to work together to attack the US on 9/11. (It is also ironic since the official 9/11 story is preposterous and cannot possibly be true.) We have a nasty habit of being content with the general label of “terrorist” without even caring to define any party’s specific culpability.
- “We have a responsibility to use our power to keep down uprisings in the world.” Do we also have a responsibility to cause uprisings in the world? I ask this because this is the modus operandi of our own CIA. We cause them, and then we provide a “solution” for them, always building our own power and influence network as we go.
How is it that we are so prepared to police the rest of the world and yet we will not even call into question our own actions in the world? Most Americans are completely oblivious to America’s unjust intervention throughout the world over the last century or so. If we have the right to kill others for their injustice, or for that of their government, do we not deserve the same punishment when our government sins against others?
In the aggregate, America is a brute and a liar. Indeed, as proof of this last statement, I call into focus the great numbers of people who will undoubtedly call me an “America hater” when they read this article. They will pretend, honesty aside, that anyone who hates America’s actions must, therefore, hate America itself. This is patently dishonest, of course, and is business as usual for a great number of Americans—starting with the politicians and the pundits.
There is not a person among us who has not unjustly started an argument or a fight at some point in his or her life. Yet when it comes to the behavior of our nation as a whole, far too many of us consider her to be infallible and never at fault. This just goes to show how sick we are with apathy, dullness, and blind consumerism. We are (most of us) very good little boys and girls when it comes to believing what we are told by the establishment to believe. We would never think to find out for ourselves what is the truth.
Indeed, even at this very moment, people are reading this article and fuming about it, even though they have never investigated these matters and couldn’t possibly know whether I am right or not. America doesn’t want to know; it simply wants to keep fighting–and the justice of it all is far less important than the thrill we get from it.
How ironic it is that the current fashion is to say to military folks, “Thank you for your service to our country”. Indeed, when we say it, we silently pat ourselves on the back for having “done our part” to “support our troops”. Little do we realize, however, that more often than not, it would most likely be more accurate to say, “Thank you for your service to the elite who stand to profit the most from our incessant wars.”
No war should ever be declared (or waged) without a thorough investigation of who stands to gain from it. It’s very instructive and sad that in America, such investigations are rarely conducted or called for. Nor are the barkers who prompt us to war ever put to shame for their manipulations.
When it comes to war and interference in sovereign nations, we have no national conscience.