Just War Theory
I. Walzer’s argument in chapter 3 of Just and Unjust Wars is a very good description of the moral realities of war. Walzer’s argument misses a major ambiguity in that it may be possible to turn an aggressor into a victim and vice versa leading to an even more abundant set of issues.
Walzer argues that certain difficulties turn war into pure hell for the combatants. On one hand General Sherman argued that by not burning Atlanta, the North would be leaving itself open to future attacks, but by burning the city to the ground Sherman felt he was able to prevent any more aggressions by the South. Sherman argued that the North was acting in self-defense and according to Walzer; wars of self-defense are in no way a crime. The problem with Sherman’s argument is that the South could simply seek to end the war by surrendering, but Sherman views what he is doing as necessary and instead chooses to burn Atlanta. The problem here is that Walzer does not seem to state that it may be possible to turn the aggressor into the victim of the crime. It becomes an issue of who’s got the bigger stick and constant one-upmanship, thus, leading to their being constant hell placed upon all parties involved in the conflict and placing each in a state of crime.
... bond, however, was their sordid backgrounds. Sherman had suffered a nervous breakdown early in the war, while Grant had combated alcoholism. Throughout ... Union. Necessarily, Glathaar also conducts an abbreviated examination of General Sherman's character and his relationship with Ulysses S. Grant. Grant ... this statement from a soldier that admitted he would "never turn my back to a red as long as I have ...
The issue here with Walzer’s premise is that there is a possibility of flipping the roles in war. When the Japanese attacked the United States base of Pearl Harbor, it was an act of aggression making the United States a victim and making it a war of self-defense for the U.S. However, it could be argued that the firebombing of Kobe and the atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were severe acts of aggression that totaled three to Japan’s one. Just because you get hit in the arm by a ball does not mean you can cut of the person who threw its arm.
II. The legalist paradigm, as presented by Walzer, is both a great concept, but is also flawed. The idea behind is very believable in that it presents the idea that there is an international governing body holding every state accountable. Also there is the idea that any self-defending country will be aided by any member of that international society. Now the major issue with the guideline is the idea that the aggressor can be punished.
The biggest case where these propositions did not work was World War I. Germany was horribly beaten and then forced to pay all kinds of reparations to the victimized countries. The problem with this is that the question of whether it was morally right to punish Germany into complete and utter bankruptcy. This of course fueled the fire that led to Germany declaring war on Europe in 1939. Although it is stated that any act of aggression by one state on another where political sovereignty or territorial integrity is threatened is a crime, and all crimes are punishable. However, World War I was started after an act of aggression, assassination by the Serbs, on and Austrian archduke. The question then arises as to whether or not Germany really did need to be punished. And were they the victim or the aggressor? This is the problem with the legalist paradigm in that it is never a clear cut instance of who needs to be punished and who does not.