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Terrorism and the Just War Tradition Essay

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Terrorism and the Just War Tradition

It´s important, at the outset, to understand what the just-war tradition is, and isn´t. The just-war tradition is not an algebra that provides custom-made, clear-cut answers under all circumstances. Rather, it is a kind of ethical calculus, in which moral reasoning and rigorous empirical analysis are meant to work together, in order to provide guidance to public authorities on whom the responsibilities of decision-making fall. This essay will study the tradition and apply it to the Sept. 11 aftermath.

From its beginnings in St. Augustine, just-war thinking has been based on the presumption -- better, the classic moral judgment -- that rightly-constituted public authorities have the
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Have other remedies been tried and found wanting or are other remedies prima facie unlikely to be effective? Is there a reasonable chance of success?

It is only when these prior moral questions have been answered that the second set of just-war criteria -- what scholars call the "ius in bello" or "war-conduct law" -- come into play, logically. The positive answers to the first set of questions, the "war-decision" questions, create the moral framework for addressing the two great "war-conduct" issues: "proportionality," which requires the use of no more force than necessary to vindicate the just cause; and "discrimination," or what we today call "non-combatant immunity."

Under the moral pressures created by the threat of nuclear war, our attention focused almost exclusively on "war-conduct" questions in the decades after World War II. This, in turn, led to what can only be described as an inversion of the just-war tradition: the claim, frequently encountered in both official and scholarly commentary today, that the just-war tradition "begins with a presumption against violence."

It does not. It did not begin with such a presumption historically, and it cannot begin with such a presumption theologically.
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