Just War Essay

The wars have been a favorite pastime for the humans since the dawn of their history; nevertheless, uncaused violence has always been considered immoral and damnable. The concept of just war is one of the attempts to morally justify the situation when one group of human beings tries to kill as much members of the another group, as possible.

Michael Walzer, who wrote the article we are going to use in this essay, explored two concepts of wars, which are “Preventive War” and “Humanitarian Intervention”. In his opinion, “a preventive war is a war fought to maintain the balance, to stop what is thought to be even distribution of power from shifting into a relation of dominance and inferiority “. Thus one, of the criterion for defining just war, is that it’s started for to keep the balance between the states.

If the state sees no other means of resolving the situation when its analytics presuppose that the leaders of the opposing state will start a war sooner or later, than the intervention into the territory of that country is justified. It is done for not to let the potential aggressor to develop stronger military power. Thus we can state that one more criterion for saying that the war is just, is that there were no means except for the military intervention to prevent the breach of balance in future.

Preventive wars are led for to preserve peace on the territory of the country which starts them. It sounds paradoxical, but gives us one more criterion for defining a just war, which is that a just war is to be led for re-establishing of peace.

Walzer says, that “Humanitarian intervention is justified when it is a response (with reasonable expectations of success) to acts “that shock the moral conscience of mankind.” After analyzing this statement we can deduce two more criterions. The first is that the war is just when it is fought with a reasonable chance of success, the second is that the war can be considered just only if it is began and led for to prevent something wrong, like slaughter of the civilians, or the introduction of the dictatorship of some political force or a group of people.

Considering all of the criterions we can define just war as a war that is begun for to keep the balance between the states and restore peace. It should be fought with a reasonable chance of success for to prevent something wrong that is happening or will happen. The just war is begun when there are no other means of solving the problems. Thus we can conclude that a just war is a war that satisfies the set of moral rules and principles set by the international community. 

In the next part of the essay we are going to analyze the Vietnam War using the criterions we developed. Our goal is to define whether this conflict can be considered to be just war or not. We will analyze whether the reasons and circumstances of the Vietnam War coincide with those defined in the criterions of the just war.

  1. Just war is the war started for to keep the balance between the states.

As you may remember, the economical, political, and human power of Vietnam has always been considerably smaller than that of the United States. There was no threat that in some years Vietnam will become strong enough for to attack the U.S forces. From this viewpoint we can conclude that the war wasn’t justified. But we shouldn’t forget the main reason of the U.S involvement in the Vietnam conflict, which was that the U.S officials were afraid of the spread of communism worldwide. 

Andrew A. Wiest in his book The Vietnam War 1956-1975 told about the Domino Theory developed in the USA in the late fifties. It said that: “If South Vietnam falls to the Communist, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, India and Pakistan would also fall like dominos. The Pacific Islands and even Australia could be at risk.” 

Thus the U.S interference into the Vietnam conflict can be justified by the fact that the U.S leaders made an attempt to keep the balance between the communist and democratic forces.

  1. Military intervention is the only way to resolve the existing problem.

Before bringing the military forces into Vietnam U.S had participated in the negotiations, but the military intervention happened before all of the options for the non-violent resolution were exhausted. The U.S is the state whose political influence in the world is enormous, its economical resources are also great, and thus it evidently had other means to influence the situation in Vietnam. Unfortunately, the fear of communism was too great among the U.S officials. They wanted to display the U.S power to the leaders of communist and pro-communist states, at least so says Michael Lind, the author of the Vietnam: The Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America’s Most Disastrous Military Conflict. The desire to scare the communists made the U.S officials start a war that is nowadays considered the most disastrous and infamous of all the conflicts USA gad ever participated in. Thus we can conclude that judging by this criterion we cannot say that the Vietnam conflict was a just war.

  1. Re-establishment of peace should be the goal of the just war

The U.S troops were brought into Vietnam to help the pro-American government gain and keep power. De jure the goal of the American soldiers was to put an end to the armed conflict in Vietnam, but de facto the actions of the U.S military officials led to the enhancement of the civil war in the country. The U.S soldiers did their best for to assist the pro-American forces in Vietnam n gaining the political power, but the results of their actions were just that most of the population of the country took the side of the communist government. People, who populated Vietnam, begun to hate the pro-American government, as it invited the foreign invaders on their territory. Thus the actions of the American government led to the enhancement of civil war in Vietnam. Even if the U.S officials chased the goal of the re-establishment of peace on the Vietnam territory, they didn’t manage to reach it, thus, according to this criterion the war in Vietnam cannot be called a just war.

  1. The war can be considered just only if it is begun and led for to prevent something wrong.

The goal of the American government in the Vietnam War was to prevent communist from gaining power in the region where Vietnam is situated. According to the U.S views on the political situation in the world, letting communists take power in the Vietnam may have led to the Domino Effect we described earlier. For the U.S officials the war in Vietnam was just, as they opposed the communist threat in the Asian region. But, according to the data provided by A.J. Langguth in his book Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975, most of the Vietnamese population supported the communist government, or were indifferent to the political regime in their country. For them communism wasn’t “wrong”. Thus, the Vietnam War cannot be justified according to this criterion altogether.

  1. The war is just when it is fought with a reasonable chance of success

Soon after the armed conflict begun it became obvious that the U.S forces had little chance of winning the battle in Vietnam, as the Vietnam partisans, guerilla used the tactics that was almost impossible to oppose. Thus the war we discuss cannot be named a just war according to this criterion altogether.

After analyzing the Vietnam War using all of the criterions of the Just War we educed, we can say that this war wasn’t just, as it had little chances for success, it didn’t prevent anything wrong (at least the population of Vietnam didn’t consider this thing to be wrong), and it didn’t manage to re-establish peace in this region. It was also that armed conflict wasn’t the only mean to resolve the situation.

Works Cited

  1. Wiest, A. The Vietnam War 1956-1975. Osprey Publishing, 2002
  2. Lind, M. Vietnam: The Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America’s Most Disastrous Military Conflict. Free Press, 2002
  3. Langguth, A. Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975. Simon & Schuster, 2002
  4. Walsh, S. Asch, E. Just War : A Wadsworth Casebook in Argument. Heinle, 2003