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Just American Wars: Ethical Dilemmas in U.S. Military History

Just American Wars: Ethical Dilemmas in U.S. Military History


– Good afternoon everyone. I’m Claudia Winkler. I’m the Associate Director for Programs and Outreach here at the Berkley Center. And on behalf of Shaun Casey, our Director and Michael Kessler, our Managing Director and the entire Center, I’d like to welcome you all today to this talk. Dr. Eric Patterson will be talking about his book Just American
Wars, Ethical dilemmas in US Military History. It came out in January of 2019. So it’s hot off the presses. He’s also got several copies with him. You’ll see for sale for
$25, if you’re interested. And you can pay with cash or check. Dr. Patterson is Professor and past Dean of the School of Government at Regent University in Virginia Beach. And he’s had a long relationship and fruitful relationship
with the Berkley Center. He’s currently a Research Fellow here. Previously from 2008 to 2012, he was here as full
time Associate Director. And he’s published a number of books on just war thinking,
including Ending Wars Well and Ethics Beyond War’s End. He’s served for over 20 years in command positions in
the Air National Guard. He’s served as White House Fellow and twice worked at the
US State Department’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs. At the State Department,
he specifically worked on post-conflict issues in and traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey,
Congo, Angola, and elsewhere. And he’s the author and
editor of 14 books as well as numerous journal and magazine articles. So, join me in welcoming Dr. Patterson. We look forward to your talk. (audience and Claudia applaud) (faintly speaking) – Well everybody welcome
and for the first 15, well about 17 minutes I’ll be right here. And then I’m gonna move to the table to take your comments and
questions and answers. And I’m thankful that there
so many students here. If you’re a student at Georgetown or another university
would you raise your hand? So we’re about half students today. And then I’m thrilled to have so many of the rest of you here with us. And what I’d like to do is you see in front of you I left
you with a free handout. One side of it is the table
of contents of the book. So it gives you a sense of
what the chapters are about. And then the other side are the basic just war principles that guide the thinking of the book. Let me say this. The Just American Wars does not go through every US war and take this list of just war principles and try to apply every
principle to how we went to war, how we fought
the war, and everything. Instead, what the book does is is it looks at one or two discrete
moral principles that you see on this list
and then it teases them out about what were the controversies or the dilemmas that military officers and presidents faced in
each of those conflicts. And what we’ll do in a few
minutes is I’ll give you a teaser of two or three of the chapters and then we’ll take some Q and A. Before we do that, let me
just say it’s a delight to be back here at Georgetown. I love the Berkley Center. I spent four great full-time years here. I see faces in the audience
that have been friends or associates in the past, and I’m thankful for you coming today. So with that, what made me write this book in the first place? When I was leaving Georgetown in the fall of 2012, I had an invitation to speak at two conferences
the following year on the question was the
American Revolution, was going to war a just war. Was it moral for George Washington and the others to go to war? And I thought that that was,
I thought everybody knew that the American war for
independence was a just war. I didn’t know that there were people out there, revisionist historians
who don’t feel that way. And so I was ambushed on a panel where everyone was
against George Washington. They thought he was a terrorist and that going to war
in 1776, they felt that it was an unjust war to begin with. And if you’re interested in the logic of that we can
handle it during the Q and A. But that was the genesis
of this book, was asking these harder questions
about the morality of the decisions that real men and women had to make in our political
system at the time. Now the just war tradition as you see on the paper, it’s a venerable
tradition that goes back to the classical era, to
Cicero and then Augustan and through the Catholic Church and through the Protestant Reformation and then was secularized into
the law of armed conflict. And so it’s the basis for
our laws of war today. And it really historically
has asked two questions. When is it moral to go to war? And you see a list there. And that list begins with
the notion that legitimate political authorities
have a responsibility at times to act on a just cause and with the right intention. And what might a just cause be? Augustan said that a just cause would be things like righting a past
wrong, punishing wrongdoers or setting the stage for
preventing further wrong. And intentions really matter
in the just war tradition. Augustan said that the evil in
war wasn’t that people died. The evil in war would be people acting out of hatred, motivated
by greed, motivated by lust, motivated by envy. But that there were positive
intentions that could lead to war, such as wanting to act out of love to protect your neighbor. And so this type of moral reasoning is the just war tradition. And it’s the frame for how I looked at these wars in American history. So let me give you a couple
of examples from the book. And then we’ll move to some comments in question and answer. And let me mention three of the chapters, the War of 1812, the Vietnam
War, and World War I, because during the writing of these book all three of those wars had anniversaries. So first, The War of 1812. When I started writing this book we were in the 200th anniversary
of The War of 1812 which lasted from 1812 to 1815. And there was a lot of commentary at the time that said that was that forgotten war, that war that we don’t really remember, was unnecessary. So that made me wonder, why
did we go to war in 1812. The last time I had heard about it was when I was in high school in my American history class. And if you remember back to high school you remember
the word impressment, that American sailors were impressed to work on British naval vessels. So, going back in
history, President Madison in 1812 argued that the
British Empire was conducting economic warfare against the United States and it had been for more
than a decade in two ways. The first one was that
the British Empire was either putting embargoes
or tariffs on US trade to the cost of
approximately $5 billion US. So it was stifling our economy. And second, that up to,
historians today estimate that as many as 5,000, 15,000
US sailors had been involuntarily taken off of
American merchant vessels on the high seas and taken involuntarily where they had to work
in the almost slavish conditions of British men of war. Remember Britain had been
at war with France from about 1793 all the way till 1815 with only a couple of hiatuses
during the Napoleonic era. So the British navy needed seamen and they would involuntarily,
they would force, they would conscript American sailors. Well if you do the math,
in today’s numbers, imagine a US president who was faced with over 700,000 US sailors being
taken off of cargo ships by the Chinese or the Russians and put on their war ships today. That would be a reason to go to war. Don’t you think? That would be a casus belli. And that’s what motivated
President Madison to go to war in 1812 and ask Congress for a declaration of war for that war. And we won. Second case that’s in
the book is World War I. And that case is not
about why we went to war and it’s not about how
we fought the war, it’s about how the Allies decided to impose a peace treaty exactly
100 years ago this spring on the Germans and their allies. And the book provides really three, almost caricatures of the big three, the big three leaders who
wanted the end of the war, France’s leader, Georges Clemenceau, Britain’s Prime Minister,
David Lloyd George, and the US President Woodrow Wilson. And let me walk you through the different
motivations that drove their approaches to policy. Here’s the question. At the end of a war, what is
the just way to end the war? And I’m going to use the
political positions of these three guys to sketch
out three very different ways to bring a war to termination. So, the French had lost close to a million men on the battlefields. The entire war was fought
in France and Belgium. There was no battles on German soil. So 3 1/2 years of war, 2.4 million wounded or homeless or displaced or those who died by disease, close to a million French died on the battlefield. The French wanted revenge. And they didn’t want just revenge for all the killing that had happened. A generation before in
the Franco-Prussian War, the German army had marched
down the streets of Paris and forced a five billion gold
mark indemnity on the French. So the French had lost
a generation before. They’d had 3 1/2 years of terrible warfare on their soil between
1914 and the end of 1918. And they wanted revenge. And you know how the World War ended with The Treaty of Versailles. The Germans had to
accept guilt for the war. Sir there’s a seat right
here, right in the front. The Germans had to accept war guilt. There was the attempt to
impose war crimes tribunals like happened at the end of World War II on over 2,000 Germans. There was massive reparations demanded. The French lost all of
their overseas territories. And they lost eastern
parts of their country with troops by the Treaty
on the ground for 15 years in parts of Germany. So it was a draconian punishment. And the French wanted all that and more to make the Germans pay. And of course, the question
is is vengeance really the moral way as well as the
pragmatic way to end a war or did the French position
sew the seeds for future wars. Now, the Brits had a
slightly different view. David Lloyd George was
their Prime Minister. And he argued throughout
1918 very similarly to the French that we
need to pound the Germans. We need to ask them for indemnities or pay offs or reparations
for all the costs to the British Empire during the war. But, in his secret
negotiating instructions to his team who negotiated
the treaties that ended the world, First World War he
took a very different note, because David Lloyd George recognized that if you crush your adversary, sooner or later they’re gonna rise up. The strong German nation would rise up again and want revenge. Let me read to you just a little bit about what he wrote to his negotiators. “When nations are exhausted by war “in which they’ve put
forth all their strength “and which leave them bleeding “and broken, it is not difficult “to patch up a peace that may last “until the generation which experienced “the horrors of that war has passed away. “Pictures of heroism and
triumph only tempt those “who know nothing of suffering
and the terrors of war. “So it’s comparatively easy to patch “up a peace which will last for 30 years. “What is difficult, however, is “to draw up a peace which will not provoke “a fresh struggle when those who have “practical experience of what
war means have passed away. “History has proved that a
peace which has been hailed “by a victorious nation as a triumph “in the long run has proved
itself to be shortsighted “and charged with danger to the victor. “You may strip Germany
of her colonies, reduce “her armaments to a mere police force “and her navy to that
of a fifth rate power. “All the same, if she feels
that she’s been unjustly treated “in the peace of 1919, she’ll find “means of extracting
retribution from her conquerors. “The impression, the deep
impression made on the human heart “by four years of unexampled
slaughter will disappear “with the hearts upon
which it has been marked. “The maintenance of peace will then depend “upon their being no future
causes of exasperation “constantly stirring up the
spirit of patriotism, of “justice, of fair play. “Our terms may be severe. “They may be stern and even ruthless, “but at the same time, they can be “so just that the country “on which they are imposed will feel “in its heart that it
has no right to complain. “But injustice, arrogance, displayed “in the hour of triumph will “never be forgiven or forgotten.” And for those of you
who know that draconian peace of Versailles was
something that did rankle in the hearts of the Germans. The negotiators in Paris
at the Peace Conference in 1919 did not heed David Lloyd George. And they imposed a
vengeance on the Germans. And it’s as if he foreshadowed
exactly what would happen. So one model is David
Lloyd George who argued for order and a limited justice. Another model is extreme vengeance. A third model represented by
Woodrow Wilson is revolution. Now you recall that Woodrow Wilson at the end of The First World War gave a speech with his famous 14 points. Open treaties, open
covenants, openly arrived at, transparency, freedom of the seas, the self-determination
of all people groups. Now to us today that sounds
like well that’s just what we talk about as Americans. We love democracy. But Woodrow Wilson was not talking in his day about a world in which we live. He was talking about
overthrowing the status quo. He reveled in the end of the
Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, German, and Russian empires. And by extension, he was suggesting that the French, the Italian, and the British empires,
his allies, that their empires were morally bankrupt as well. He called for disarmament,
not just of his foes but of his allies. And he had a messianic complex. When you read his diary and his letters and his speeches, he believed
that he was uniquely appointed for that day and time by
God to change world history. He was going to burn down the old regime and leap into a 21st century model. And people groups on the ground in Europe. They heard that. They heard this call
for self-determination, and in some places perpetrated
outright revolution. And so Wilson’s model was not
just democracy and elections. It was a model that said
we sweep away the past and recognize that
they’ll be some pain, that some things will get burned down in the revolutionary process, but it’s worth it in the long run. You might say, yeah, I’ve never really heard that before Dr. Patterson. That doesn’t sound like
the Woodrow Wilson. I thought he was a
benign pro-democracy guy. But let me tell you in
his speech to Congress in January of 1918 when he lays out the 14 points for the first time, he praises
the Russian Revolution. He says that the spirit of what’s going on in the hearts of the Russian people at the time is a universal spirit of brotherhood that’s going to change the face of the world forever. And he says that that
struggle is our own struggle. So he has the view, a
revolutionary view, of you have dramatic change. And the argument that I
make in the book is whether you’re Lenin or Mao or Robespierre or even Woodrow Wilson that the just war tradition doesn’t call for burning down the old system. Let me say a few words about Vietnam and then we’ll move to Q and A. By the way for those of
you, if you’re looking for a seat, there’s two right here, and there’s one at the table right there. And you’re welcome to slip in and take those seats and
make yourself comfortable. Vietnam. This also happens to be,
this academic year happens to be the 50th anniversary
of the Tet Offensive, of some of the escalation in Vietnam, of the
election that transition to LBJ out and Nixon in. So it’s very much a year
where eyes are turned towards the Vietnam War. And this book asks the
question was it just for American presidents to go to war and to prolong the war in Vietnam. Well how do you even get at that? This is a war where the US was involved in one way or the other. Now, save me that seat though. But there’s one right here if you want it. The US was involved over four
presidencies for two decades in some way in French Indo-China. So how do you get your
hands on this question? And the answer that I give in the book is to look at presidential war aims. So presidents in speeches in their National Security Directives and things they will lay out the rationale for defense and for national security. And starting in the Eisenhower
administration moving forward, we have a
continuity of statements. And the book really focuses on JFK and then LBJ, Lyndon Johnson, and then the Nixon administrations. And I find consistently, in
fact using the same language over and over that these presidents elaborate three war aims. The first one is to contain communism. So, you remember from your
foreign policy classes, our goal is not to roll
back communism during the Cold War, but it was to contain it, to apply pressure so it
couldn’t spread any further. And that was the, what the
presidents all said in this case. And they, the second was to demonstrate the
credibility of our resolve to help an ally. Starting with, especially with Eisenhower, Eisenhower would make the argument but JFK picks it up that if
the communists are pushing in one part of the world and we allow them to win that’s a shot
heard round the world. A loss in Vietnam is felt in East Berlin. A loss in Vietnam is felt in Africa. And so we have to demonstrate not only to our allies that we will back them up against insurgencies, but we have to show our enemies that we’re resolved. And we have to show this,
the countries that are on the fence, the non-aligned
countries, that we’re resolved and we’ll help them if they ask for it. And then the third criteria was to hold or extend
democracy wherever it is. And South Vietnam as a part of the Geneva, I’m sorry the Paris Accords
of 1954 was supposed to be ruled by elections. They had elections. They were imperfect as many of you know. The question about
unification was supposed to go to an election
of the, all the people on the Vietnamese and in
North and South Vietnam. There was a variety of positions and reasons why that was
not allowed to occur. And as you can imagine over time, the North Vietnamese
were not all that thrilled with the idea of letting
their common people vote as the years went by. The particularly Lyndon Baines
Johnson truly believed that Vietnam was a young, struggling democracy and that by devoting
ourselves to development and to infrastructure that it could become a thriving democracy over time. Let me give you an example. Johnson believed that the Mekong Delta which is this huge irrigated delta, like the Nile River Delta or
the Mississippi Delta, he believed that that wa, set of waterways had enough industrial power to become the next
Tennessee Valley Authority. So for those of you who
are a little bit older and you think about the
depression that LBJ grew up in and how the Tennessee
Valley Authority provided electricity to millions of
people across the rural south. He had that type of vision for Vietnam. So those are the three war aims, contain the communists, hold or extend democracy, demonstrate resolve. And I believe that they actually meet basic just war criteria. But, I think that there’s two other war aims that are unstated in all of this. The first one is ego. We know from the diaries of the people around JFK, from interviews
that, of LBJ himself and others and of course from those
around Nixon that all three of these presidents
were very worried about their own reputations for toughness. For instance, JFK told his inner circle I’m gonna go into this
meeting with Khrushchev, and I’m gonna show him, the
President of the Soviet Union, I’m gonna show him who the
toughest SOB in the room is. LBJ was consistently concerned about demonstrating that he was tough, because he felt like if he wasn’t tough in Vietnam, he’d get edged out of the presidency by Bobby Kennedy. And that he had to show how tough he was so that the Great Society projects at home would move forward. And of course Nixon told
the senior members of the administration to let the
North Vietnamese know that he was actually a little bit crazy and he might push the button. So they needed to come
to the negotiation table, because Nixon was so tough and that he might be irresponsible. So these, that is not a reason. That’s not a just war reason. Whether you’re Julius
Caesar or Napoleon Bonaparte or a US president that’s
not a good reason, your personal reputation for
toughness to prolong the war. Last one, the issue of national honor. Per, when you read the speeches of JFK and then especially Johnson
and Nixon, they talk a lot about peace with honor. In one speech Nixon says
it seven times as he talks about going into the peace talks with a government of North
Vietnam, peace with honor. And what they mean usually
is is that we’ve spent so much money in fighting this war and we’ve lost so many lives
that it would desecrate the sacred blood that was spilled in the past if we don’t
continue the war to win. Now I have to tell you that after more than 20 years as
a Air Force reserve officer, there’s a part of that
logic that touches my heart. That I’m sympathetic
to a view that we need to honor the sacrifice of
those who’ve gone before us. But think through the
logic of that type of honor, that we’re gonna prolong war so that people who died in
the past didn’t die in vain. That’s actually not a very good logic. Is it? It isn’t a logic that meets in my opinion the just war criteria, because there’s other
ways to demonstrate honor. You can take care of the wounded. You can take care of widows and orphans. You can make sure that you
appropriately memorialize those who did die in battle. So not saying that we
dishonor those who served, and I don’t say there isn’t
an honor component there. What I am saying is that when it comes to just war criteria that
justify continuing a war, trying to vindicate the sacred
blood that was spilled in the past by prolonging the war in the now does not meet that criteria. Although there may be other things. So, those are the types of cases that this book seeks to elucidate. It’s designed to be fun to read for historians and armchair historians. It’s designed to also
raise critical questions for those who are in public service today. And with that we’re gonna transition to a time of Q and A. I’m gonna move to the table just for the ease of being able to
make eye contact and things. And if you have a question or comment, I’ll raise your hand. I’ll call on you. And I will privilege students or people who look like
students first just because sometimes they get edged out. So if you kinda look like a student to me I may call on you first. And then I’ll extend it of course to our more mature
audience members as well. So thank you. It, does anyone have a question
that they’d like to ask? – I’m a junior at Washington
Adventist University. Okay, and I’ve got a question on, regarding, morality and war. So, when a state wages
war into another state for whatever reason that
is, this state’s has a duty, an intrinsic duty to its citizens to keep them safe from harm. So I wanna know your opinion
if you would think that the shackles of morality
would hold the state back in fulfilling those
duties to its citizens. – Thanks. I don’t know that I’ve
ever heard someone call it the shackles of morality before. And that’s a book title right there. That’s waiting to be written by someone. I do think that self-defense,
say December 8th, 1941, after the US was attacked by Japan is the fundamental principle for the state protecting its people. The, both in the just war
tradition which begins with this principle of
legitimate authority in the way that that has become a part of international relations through the principle of sovereignty. The basic social contract
is that the government is to protect its people. So, I don’t see it as a shackling thing. I think it is, it’s the north
star for government policies. It provides for self-defense. And the argument that I make in the book about the American Revolution is is that war actually started when the British started shooting colonists in April of 1775 at Lexington and Concord. And that date’s important, because April of 1775. We didn’t write the
Declaration of Independence until July of 1776. There was 14 months of
armed conflict during which the colonists were arguing
we don’t want independence, we don’t want independence,
but we’ll defend ourselves. 14 months of that until the
Declaration of Independence. So that’s a self-defense argument. Thanks. – So, I heard you. My name is Andy Madrono. I’m from, I’m a sophomore at Washington Adventist University. And I heard you mentioned
justice and vengeance for a reason to start war, one
of the reasons you mentioned. And I was just, I want
to ask your opinion if it’s a just reason for war. Is it, I would say it’s a
little bit of even emotional, and it’s not as drastic
to put people’s lives at stake and to, how would I
say this, go to that extreme. – So, the, if I understand
your correction, your question you’re asking about, when a country goes to war, if there’s some vengeance mixed in there, does it make
the whole war unjust? And I think that the answer is no. But what we, what you’re pointing out is is that every conflict has a lot of human emotions in it. So throughout the,
particularly the classical Christian just war tradition,
there’s been, there has historically been an emphasis on the types of things
that would help people act on behalf of love, act
to punish wrongdoers out of a sense of righteous indignation but not let that become
sinful, bitter hatred. And of course, here at Georgetown and the Catholic tradition,
we make those distinctions. During the Middle Ages as well there was a set of things that the Church did to try to help soldiers not fall into that hatred and bitterness. It’s beyond this book, but for instance pre-war
absolution of soldiers and then post-war absolution of soldiers through masses and things to
try to get the heart right. I would say that on December 8th, 1941, there were a lot of Americans
who were very, very angry and wanted vindication or vengeance against the Empire of Japan. Over time what you wanna do,
as the Bible says, be angry and sin not, in other words, act out of righteous indignation and for the vindication of rights but not act in a hateful way that calls for the extermination of one’s enemies in a Hitlerian sense. – [Man In Audience] Stanley
Coper I’m a Georgetown alum. You’re defining just war in
terms of substantive criteria. But the American constitution defines it in terms of process. It’s less about the substance, ’cause if one person has the power, as Abraham Lincoln wrote to his law partner, William Herndon, the president can say anything. If today the president should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, how could you stop him? You may say to him, I
see no probability of the British invading us, but
he will say to you be silent. I see it, if you don’t. So, Madison and the other
founders substituted procedural criteria and I would
say two in particular. One that a declaration
of war is undertaken by Congress, not by the
president, any act of war, the Supreme Court endorsed
this, any offensive act. And second, the reasons
have to be publicly given. The bulk of the Declaration
of Independence is a list of particulars against the British. I would say this goes
back to the model set by Rome with the pea
shells they would throw, now you would know what I’m talking about. If our cause is just, then we
should be granted victories, an appeal to the gods. And this was an appeal to
international public opinion. If you have a public
declaration of the causes and it is deliberated in a legislature, you cannot have a surprise attack. You’ve given notice. People have time to prepare. Surprise attack is a major cause, a major way that wars of
aggression originates. So this is a way of
addressing wars of aggression. So I would like you to address this. You were focusing on the
substantive criteria. But it seems to me what
the United States tried to do at its founding was
substitute procedural criteria. – So, and Stanley would you pass it to this young lady here in the green? – You raised a lot of issues, and so I’m gonna kind of
shotgun back three things. The first one is is that you’re right that the colonists made an
appeal that was similar to the Romans in the sense of an appeal to heaven, to divine providence. And they did that in, not, that the Declaration of Independence
was the 12th, depending on how you count them of
a series of declarations and rights and grievances. The book talks about the declaration and rights and grievances
of the united colonies from July 2nd, 1775, which also lays out all of these grievances. Things like the British quartering troops in their homes, the
British taking property and only giving a small amount of money in favorite, the concern about religious freedom, the
fact that the courts were being shutdown in Massachusetts and that citizens would be
tried in admiralty courts under admiralty law or taken
to Canada instead of trial by jury, on and on and on. So, you’re exactly
right that there’s these public lists of grievances at the time of the American Revolution. And the, by the way for those
of you who wonder kind of the legitimate authority aspect is that the, that both secularists
and clergy during the revolution made the argument that the Continental Congress was a legitimate authority protecting the colonials
against rapacious London. I agree with you that transparency
is very, very important. Although, I don’t think
that it always works, such as the way that we had to
right the second Constitution after the Articles of Confederation. But transparency, the
press, freedom of speech, the right to assemble, our
first amendment liberties, they actually all are brakes as is checks and balances between the
executive and the legislature. They’re all brakes on going to war. I will say one other note. The introductory chapter talks about the what becomes the uniform code of military justice that
governs the US troops today. That began with an immigrant
to the United States by the name of Francis Lieber who taught at Columbia College. And he wrote to the Commander and Chief of the Union
armies, General Halleck. And he suggested to them that we needed a new military code. That what we had was a
very, very thin instructions for how soldiers should behave that went back to the War of 1812 and that we needed a fully
embodied law of armed conflict to, for how our troops behave. That code became General Order number 100 from Abraham Lincoln. It became what is today the
code of military justice. And it was so important in its day, it, within five years was adopted by Britain, France, Russia,
and other countries. And so, a lot of people
don’t realize this, but these just war principles
when they became embodied in how troops fight and the things like the Geneva and the Hague
Conventions, they all came from a guy during the US
Civil War who took these principles that you read about and put them into a military code on the Union army, starting in 1863. Thanks. – [Woman In Class] Hi, I’m
Alecia and I work at a think tank on nuclear weapons policy. So I think a lot about just war criteria particularly relating to
juris imbello as it relates to nuclear weapons use. And one thing that I’ve
found is that it seems that people can sometimes make arguments using just war criteria kind of
for different scenarios and that the criteria can
be somewhat subjective, in terms of what
constitutes proportionality, what constitutes what’s discriminate. And so, I was just wondering
if, while you were using these principles to evaluate
various wars, you were able to develop a type of methodology or way of making the
criteria seem less subjective to be able to bring them together to make an evaluation. – Wow. So you asked at least
two humongous questions. And if you don’t mind, I’m going to say why their big, since we have a lot of undergraduates in the room, not to be
patronizing but just to unpack two big things
that she brought up. So one is the, this a set of questions about if you can drop a
bunch of nuclear bombs and wipe out the entire human race, isn’t that just unjust by definition or are there nuanced ways to think about all the issues that have to do with weapons of mass destruction. So, she lit a fire right there. And then the second one on the moral reasoning part
is isn’t it the case that these are subjective criteria and whoever happens to be in the hot seat at the time just gets to decide whichever ones
really, really matter. And I, and so I’m gonna
handle the second one and then I’ll handle the first. And I won’t answer them all, but you’ll be happy to know that there is a chapter on dropping the atomic bomb and Christian nuclear
reasoning versus secular in the 1960’s with Paul Ramsay
and the Catholic bishops and the whole thing. So the second question about the subjective nature
of the just war criteria. I think that, here’s the answer to that. And that is is that
the fact that there are these criteria, the fact
that they’ve developed over 2,000 years, the fact
that even people who are nefarious go back to these criteria to try to justify things
is one of those moments where it’s clear that actually there is a basic sense of morality
and everybody knows it. And even nefarious individuals try to justify themselves using this. So, that says something about
their own cunning or guile. It doesn’t take away from
the credibility of this. The just war tradition
is, it’s a framework. It’s not a perfect guide for policy. What we want is moral
statesmen and moral stateswomen and their advisors to be
judicious and pragmatic in applying these moral criteria in a foggy world in which we live. I will say that what’s critical on that is to, is that we really do need to start with the principles of authority, just cause, and right intention first and then move through those
other prudential criteria rather than putting them out of order, because if what you start with and say just like any Tom, Dick or Harry who could write an op-ed gets to decide when we’re at last resort and then we’ll work our back to just cause or right intention the
whole thing falls apart. There is a place for
expertise in morality. Now, onto and how ’bout
we send the microphone down to the Father? Thanks for the next comment or question. Let me say something about
kind of the morality of nuclear weapons and just some of the questions that are there. The chapter in this book
looks at Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapon,
the atomic bomb in 1945. And there’s a lot that
could be said about that, but I would say a couple things. You mentioned that typically when I think about nuclear weapons or other
weapons of mass destruction you think in terms of use and bella. So we think that they’re
so destructive how do you make them discriminating. And second, how do you
make it a proportion, to what is it a proportionate response? And an argument I make in
the book is that we have to start by thinking
about nuclear weapons as under a legitimate authority
first and foremost. So it’s very, very important, and you think about a place
like Pakistan or something. It’s very, very important, first and foremost, that when we start talking in the 2000s about nuclear weapons that they really are securely under the control of legitimate
governing authorities. We kind of take that for
granted, but that’s important, because that’s who you
want making the decisions. And it should serve as a guide for policy about nuclear
non-proliferation and things. And then these questions about just cause and right intention. In Truman’s case, in August of 1945, the battle estimates that
he had were that there’d be a million US casualties if we had to invade the Japanese homeland
in the traditional fashion. And so he later said I
didn’t lose a night’s sleep over dropping that bomb. And remember, the US was
not this huge war machine on December 7th, 1941. When the Japanese attacked the US army had 300,000 men in it. It was a tiny army. We weren’t aggressors. It was a sneak attack in
the middle of the night. The men who became the five
million man army of 1945 in 1941 they were shopkeepers and insurance agents and farmers. Truman’s primary responsibility I argue, as the legitimate authority acting on just cause, was first and foremost to protect US citizens and then second to draw the war to a
close as fast as he could. And he was doing that by
using the atomic weapon. Second and kind of related
to that idea, is simply that Winston Churchill estimated
that not only would the US lose a million troops but that the British Empire would lose 250,000 of their own as casualties if there had to be an
invasion of Japan deliver at Singapore and other places. So that’s the, what the book
does is the book looks at that. The book also looks at, and I won’t talk about it right now, I don’t wanna ramble, but the book talks about
the idea of deterrence. And deterrence is a, in a
sense, a promise that if you attack me, I’m gonna
blow your socks off. If you attack, we’re
gonna drop nukes on you. And the book looks at the debate between the theologian Paul Ramsay and the Catholic bishops about whether or not Christians, people in the Christian tradition
can actually do deterrence, because deterrence is either deception or it’s a promise to wipe
out the, your opponent. And the book does talk
about that a little. Thanks. – [Man In Class] I was
born on April 19th, 1940 in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
and that is Patriot’s Day. Now it’s the closest Monday to April 19th. But, since that was Patriot’s Day and a local holiday, I didn’t have to go to school on my birthday. Was that just? (everyone laughs) Because that, April 19th, as you pointed out, there were, wasn’t exactly
too much authority or… Certainly there was some intention, but there would be the
likelihood of success and things like that (faintly speaking). Would you consider it just? – That you didn’t have to go to school? – Well, and the fact
that they, there were, this is considered to be the start of the American Revolution. – Yeah, what I would say is when it comes to whether
or not you had to go to school, although it wasn’t a war, your parents were the
legitimate authority. And so they get to decide. – [Man In Class] No,
it was a local holiday a parade and all.
– Right, okay. The, well, then again, the
state had made that decision, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. So, I’m not sure that it’s a war, but it certainly was just. And it does, those types of things do fit into the notion about how important it is in the view that I adumbrate in this book how important it is to learn lessons from war. And one of the way you learn lessons from war should be that
there’s civic memorial events, such as parades, wreaths at
the tomb of the unknown sol. All of that infrastructure I actually think is pretty important. And I don’t think that
since 9/11 we’ve done that all that well for our current troops. So thanks for asking. It is a pretty interesting question. Sir, do you mind passing your microphone to the lady in the orange, and while that’s happening would you go and ask your question? And then we’ll do over here
and then we’ll come to you? Go ahead. Just say (faintly speaking). (faintly speaking) So, I’m gonna give you, I’m gonna try to not ramble, but give two answers. And it’s a short one on transformation and that’s a term of art in the US military that we associate with particularly the
era of Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary Gates who pretty much kept all of his programs going. And then second this bigger question about areas of transformation or the extension of just war
thinking into the 21st century. So on the first one
transformation of the military in the first Bush adminis, in the George W Bush
administration had nothing to do with terrorism
or anything like that. What it had to do with was
modernizing the way that we do business at the Pentagon. So trying to modernize, get rid of technology that had been
built in the early 1980s and business practices that were outdated and try to technologically and especially in terms of business practices transform the way that we do business. Get away from a Cold War
model of massive armies to a lean, technologically
sophisticated expeditionary force that could go out quickly, use technology, and get back. That such a big part of
transformation was things like Lean Six Sigma and
business practices more. It wasn’t changes necessarily to the profession of
arms in a lot of ways. It was primarily about trying to make the Pentagon
run much more smartly, so it wasn’t just a command and control hierarchical environment. And remember, Rumsfeld
had many, had decades in the business sector. And so he was trying to bring those lessons into the Pentagon. And he and his two
successors, they actually did a lot of those types of things. At the same time, what he
wasn’t expecting was 9/11 and then the War in Iraq. Remember Rumsfeld was the
one guy who kept saying, he famously said about the War in Iraq, I don’t know if we’ll
be there for five days or five weeks or five months. We will not be there for five years. Rumsfeld’s view all along
was, these are distractions. So I’m gonna try to keep transformations
still going nonetheless, no nation building, et cetera. People don’t really realize that today. Rums, it’s well documented. Rumsfeld was on a different
page on a lot of these things. So, by the way, so was, I’m gonna try to drive transformation through this time with all of this other change. And in some areas he was
successful, in others not. And I do think that that’s separate. So let me just say some of the, what I’d call the frontiers
of just war thinking today. And there is a lot of
great thinking about this. Two years ago the preeminent
just war historian who’ve had speak here
before, James Turner Johnson, and I published an edited volume of 35 chapters called it, The
Ashgate Handbook, as The Ashgate Research
Companion on Military Ethics. It’s the kind of book
that’s very expensive that the library buys and you check out. And it’s 35 chapters by experts. And many of the chapters are on the frontiers of
just war thinking today. Let me mention a couple. One is authority. So in an increasingly
supra-national world, in other worlds where at
least until very recently it seemed like the UN was receiving more and more authority, how
do you make a decision about who’s really responsible
in a chaotic, insecure world? UN blue helmets, peacekeepers or the state that’s
invaded by someone else. What if you’re invaded, but the UN Security Council won’t vote to send in the peacekeepers
or something, so? Yeah, in a way different from
the previous two centuries. The devolution of power from national capitals
has a real consequence. The second one is instantaneous and autonomous forms of technology, like artificial intelligence or drones. And of course, at one level,
those things are guided by humans, but as we increasingly go down towards logarithmic decision making. So if we’re being attacked
a million times a day by the Chinese government trying to get into our infrastructure,
our banks, our military, we don’t have time to sit
around and pontificate. We need defense and offensive logarithmic, in other words, computers
immediately responding. But what are the ethics? I mean, how far do you go? When do you respond? Do you just do it just at our water’s edge or do you hit ’em back? So there’s a whole set of questions there. And I’m happy to say there’s
lots of people thinking about those types of things. And then a third one, for the past 15 years is this
use post bellum that you see on your sheet that wasn’t
really a part of the just war tradition throughout history. But the West has decided
to emphasize reconstruction and stabilization at the end of warfare. And so that has become,
and how you do that. I have a model and a couple of books about it, where you go from order to justice to conciliation. But that’s a moral frontier right there. So, thanks for asking. Ma’am and then we’re gonna go over here. – Yeah, thank you. I’m Marie Dennis with
Pax Christi International which is a international
Catholic peace movement. I have two questions about two just war criteria, proportionality and last resort. In terms of proportionality,
it does seem that in recent decades that
the world has become more attuned to the
consequences of a war fought, consequences that are psychological and environmental and so on that might not have
been considered before. And I would assume that in the consideration
of proportionality that the spectrum of consequences would have to be considered in advance
to the best of the ability. But my real question is about last resort. In a world where tremendous resources are now spent preparing for
war around the world and certainly in our own country, does let in the long run, and
I’m not so much talking about how we evaluate past wars, but as we move into the
future, is there a consequent obligation from even from
the just war tradition itself for proportional investment
in non-violent approaches to dealing with crisis situations? So, for example, do,
should we be investing as much in diplomacy as we
are in military preparedness? Should we be investing, et cetera and is there an obligation in your, from your perspective in our
doing so, not just as a country but globally in order to, to the best of our ability
really ensure that, a move to war is the last resort? – So on your first point,
I’m not sure that there was a question there, but I
will just simply say that proportionality is both
a prudential criteria for going to war. In other words, is the grievance such that the use of armed force is appropriate? And second is in the
use and bella criteria the notion of on this battlefield at this moment in time is the choi out of this menu of items
which is the one that’s reasonably proportionate
to what’s going on. I will say that, well, so
those are the distinctions that and they both matter. They both matter. On your second question, I’m not sure that the just war tradition
necessarily has a statement that you’d like for me to affirm. But I would say this is
that unfortunately what often happens is we take
the law of armed conflict, the way that these things have been put into formal conventions like
the Genocide Convention, the Convention Against Torture,
the 1949 Geneva Convention, so the law, and we often
act like it’s this little special thing instead of recognizing that it’s actually a part of the
full spectrum of statesmanship. So the full, so both
revolutionaries like Mao who says that some of
politics at least come out of the mouth of a gun,
to Clausewitz who says that war is politics by other means, they recognize that on
a spectrum that includes armed humanitarian invention,
economic sanctions, defense, as well as military
preparedness that there’s an, all of that is connected to a, should be, to a larger political project. And the goal of the just war tradition throughout it’s entirety has
been the pursuit of peace. And that does make it
different than a holy war which gets peace by purifying the land, by wiping out the enemy. And it is different from what at least I would consider
an idealistic commitment to non-violence that
may or may not be able to restrain the bad guys. But an important just last point on this is is that, two last points. So one is is that there’s a difference between force and violence. Just war people believe
that force is lawful, it’s restrained, it’s
targeted, it’s directed towards a real problem. By violence, what we mean
is unrestrained, hateful, maybe used by a not
illegitimate authority. And so just war thinkers say
we can tell the difference between the loving parent who
spanks and physical abuse. And we can tell the difference between just police action
and police brutality. And similarly when it comes to international affairs,
we can tell the difference between vengeful attacks that are designed to wipe out an enemy and
restrained, lawful use of force. So, and maybe we’ll just
take one more question. And I’ll just leave it at that distinction which
is important for us. By the way, let me just
say one last thing, ’cause it’s part of our work at the Berkley Center is I
personally believe that there’s an entire spectrum for people
of faith like Pax Christi, there’s an entire spectrum
where what we want is we want people who are motivated on the front end towards the goal of peace, and they wanna stop war, and on the back end it’s
often religious peacemakers and humanitarians that are the last people on the ground helping. But in the middle, we also want moral and religious arguments for restraining war when it’s justified and that’s it not either, or. My own view is we want people
whose vocations span that. Sir. And then, I’m sorry, I
told this young lady. Go head. (faintly speaking) – [Woman In Class] I
wanted to sort of, wait (faintly speaking) okay. I wanted to sort of mention and sort of talk with you about how, which, my
question’s gonna be how US foreign policy community reconciles with our past when we
use just war rhetoric to justify acts of massacre or rationalize certain policy decisions. And my frame of reference
is the US actions in Latin America throughout the ’70s and ’80s supporting dictatorships, but specifically December 1981 in El Mozote, El Salvador. The US backed Salvadoran
army battalion went into the village of El Mozote and massacred all 1,000 individuals. And the Reagan administration at the time, in 1981 understood that
that’s what happened, but we utilized this just war rhetoric to ensure congressional funding
to support that type of war and continue the massacres
that we knew about. So I’m curious again,
how in today’s world, as a foreign policy
community do we reconcile with that kind of past where clearly just war rhetoric is being used for the political aims
and how do we sort of, how are you able to be perceived as a legitimate actor and a just actor in countries across Latin
America when we’ve had that kind of complicated past? – Yes. So, the, I’ll say something
about the Reagan administration and then I’ll and I’ll say something about the morality of this action. So it is worth noting that
US troops didn’t engage in this, that we’re not
talking about US troops. What we’re talking about is a US ally in the context of the Cold
War fighting communists and atrocities did happen. That’s the, that’s a matter
of the historical record. So I don’t disagree with
you that the US hasn’t always made the best choices. This book is not an apology
for everything that they and I mean a defense of
everything that the US has done. I would say that we broke
many, many, many treaties with American Indians for instance. And that that’s a
shameful part of our past. So the book doesn’t say
that everything that the US has ever done is correct. The way that you know
though that it was wrong is by applying the just war criteria. That’s the way we know
that things were broken is because that’s the moral model for thinking about the statecraft. I will note that the Reagan
administration did make a distinction between authoritarians and totalitarians during the Cold War. And authoritarians were
ones where there were some levels of freedom in their societies, and totalitarians were
ones where there was zero freedom in the society. And so the Reagan
administration was willing to work with, on a case-by-case
basis regimes, even if they did some things that we didn’t like or that were morally repugnant. We were willing on a case-by-case basis to try to work with regimes, because what was simultaneously going on in that case, not that massacre, but in that case was
the killing of innocents in Nicaragua, the Sandinista
revolution, the armed, the. In El Salvador this was a, there was an uprising by
communist revolutionaries. There was one in Honduras as well as well as other places in Latin America. So the argument that was being made was, yeah, we can work with some of
these authoritarian regimes, by the way, many of which
were elected authoritarians to stop this greater disorder by a threat that’s a global threat. It doesn’t make individual
acts though right. And the way that we know,
the bottom line is that we judge those acts actually and you’re judging them it
sounds like appropriately by the just war criteria. So thanks for asking. You’ve done me a great
honor by coming today and asking these tough questions and participating, and
I wish you the best. And finally, my thanks to Claudia and to Shaun Casey and to Michael Kessler and the Berkley Center
for supporting this. Thank you.


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