Comparative Just War Theory
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Comparative Just War Theory : An Introduction to International Perspectives

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There are a variety of reasons why it is important to have widespread cross-cultural and cross-ideological agreement regarding how to fight war (jus in bello) and when to enter war (jus ad bellum). Firstly, international humanitarian law was created in the West and states of power may either sidestep or use these norms as a political umbrella to pursue realist political ambitions. Secondly, war involves addressing the morality of killing and using violence and these two are normally impermissible. It is important to avoid biased perspectives and find a reasonable agreement. Thirdly, attacking compounds and media systems that serve military purposes can result to unnecessary deaths of civilians when the rule of proportionality is exercised. Fourthly, there is an increasing involvement of different countries in each other's' security legislation. Common grounds on how to understand war are necessary to explore.

The major theme of this edited book will precisely address issues regarding the morality of war from a comparative perspective. The chapters in this book will look at two important debates regarding war ethics: a) when is it morally justified to enter in war? b) If one is in war, what are the morally acceptable violent methods? These topics have been debated substantially in the Western liberal context. What this volume does new is to address these topics taking into consideration concepts from non-mainstream Western and non-Western philosophical theories, with the use of concrete examples. Particularly, this means addressing those two issues taking into consideration concepts like Confucian Yi/Rightness, Ahimsa, Class Struggle, Ubuntu, Anarchism, Pacifism, Buddhism, Islam, Jihad, among other concepts. Therefore, this book provides a wider conceptual framework to deal with the morality of war by offering a comparative philosophical approach to just war theory. Fresh insights into how the normative problems that arise from just war can be addressed.

Ethnocentrism and the preservation of superpowers' interests dominate international politics, contravene international law and are not compliant with just war theory. The world organization is largely driven (as a facilitator) for superpowers' geopolitical interests to wage war, even if not morally justified, and stretching the boundaries of international law. By way of illustration, United Nations (UN) weapons inspectors did not find weapons of mass destruction under Security Council Resolution 1441 (2002) in Iraq but an intervention under the facade of humanitarian justifications was driven by the United States (US) and coalition of the willing. Similarly, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US influenced immediate collective military intervention (via Chapter 51 of the UN Charter) against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan under Security Council Resolutions 1368 and 1373 (2001). However, Al-Qaeda is a transnational organization, and non-state actor, and is not entirely based in Afghanistan and thus Article 51 only applies, as a last resort, to states that are attacking a UN Member State.[1] The intervention was not jus ad bellum. Therefore, an increasing moral concern in contemporary politics and moral theory is to address moral issues from a non-ethnocentric point of view.

In terms of moral theory, this pattern is noticeable with the increasing relevance of comparative philosophy. For example, philosophers such as Chenyang Li (Li 2016), Thaddeus Metz and Daniel Bell (Bell and Metz 2011)have compared African and Confucian ethical values and built up a moral theory based on the combination of both schools of philosophy. Bai Tongdong (Bai 2010), Joseph Chan (Chan 2015), Mario Wenning (Wenning 2011), among others, have equally compared Chinese philosophy with Western philosophy with the goal of finding a moral system that comprises East and West. Thus, the concern of finding ethical values that are cross-cultural is an increasing concern in politics and moral philosophy.

One particular area where this concern is urgent is the morality of war. The morality of war/just war theory deals with the justification of how and why wars are fought.

There are a variety of reasons why it is important to have widespread cross-cultural and cross-ideological agreement regarding how to fight war (jus in bello) and when to enter war (jus ad bellum). Firstly, it can be argued that international humanitarian law was created in the West (deriving from the visit of Swiss businessman Henri Dunant to the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino[2]) and under a realist perspective in international relations the international system is anarchic meaning that states of power may either sidestep or use these norms as a political umbrella to pursue political ambitions. Secondly, war involves addressing the morality of killing and using violence and these two are normally impermissible. Therefore, to justify something that is usually considered morally impermissible it is important to avoid biased perspectives and find a reasonable agreement. Thirdly, attacking compounds and media systems that serve military purposes can result to unnecessary deaths of civilians as evident with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) aircraft bombing of Belgrade's government supported radio television broadcasting on 23 April 1999. Despite 16 civilians (employees of Radio Television Serbia) being killed at its headquarters during these coordinated attacks, NATO justified the bombing (Eko 2012, pp. 393-394). It was argued that the station served a dual military and civilian purpose and therefore the control communications system was a justified target, and not intentionally Serbian civilians, due to its military use that reached over 100 radio relay sites across Serbia (Burri 2015, p. 151). The rule of proportionality is a vexed area and argued as lawful by NATO due to the fact that civilian harm was not excessive in comparison to the success of destroying the military communications command structure.[3] However, the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) argued that the bombing for three hours of media coverage in comparison to 16 civilian workers being killed was disproportionate but no investigation of NATO negligence from the Office of the Prosecutor was recommended (ICTY 2000, para. 50, 90-91). Fourthly, there is an increasing involvement of different countries in each other's' security legislation. For instance China has been cooperating substantially to develop existing peace and security structures in various African countries. Thus, common grounds on how to understand war are necessary to explore.

Just war theory has been driven from a liberal Western point of view, with a Christian perspective and almost solely by analytical philosophers. This volume wishes to offer a comparative perspective on just war theory which encompasses neglected perspectives. Drawing on expert contributions that cut across different ideologies and philosophical traditions, this volume provides fresh insights into how the normative problems that arise from just war can be addressed. The aim of this volume is to explore how different philosophical traditions and ideologies can provide normative insights to the conflicts that result of entering war and being in war. Therefore, this book steps out from common edited volumes that only engage with liberal analytic philosophy as a response to these conflicts and tries to offer a wider conceptual framework to deal with the morality of war. Consequently, this book offers a comparative philosophical approach to just war theory. In particular, this volume does this by having articles dedicated to neglected Western views, namely as Anarchism, Pacifism, Marxism, and continental philosophy (Schmitt) and articles dedicated to non-Western views, which encompass Confucian, Indian, African and Islamic perspectives.

[1] Singh's chapter 5 utilizing critical legal theory and international relations theory will provide more substance on a critique of interventions post 9/11.
[2] The Battle of Solferino commenced on 24 June 1859 and concerned the victorious Franco-Sardinian Alliance which defeated the Austrian Army. In the aftermath, Dunant witnessed great suffering of the remaining wounded soldiers, inadequate hospitals and then self-published a pamphlet titled `A Memory of Solferino' in 1862 (Crawford and Pert 2015, pp. 5-6).
[3] Again, Singh's chapter 5 will provide more substance on just war ethics being applied as a political umbrella to pursue institutional security and political ambitions.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 290 pages
  • 152 x 229mm
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 1 Tables, unspecified; 2 Halftones, black and white
  • 1538125137
  • 9781538125137

Table of contents

Series Editors' Foreword: Contemporary Social-Political Philosophy and Comparative Just War Theory
Laurie Shrage and Naomi Zack

Foreword: Ethics and War in a Globalized World
Alex J. Bellamy

Introduction: International and Comparative Perspectives to Just War Theory
Danny Singh and Luis Cordeiro-Rodrigues

1. Anarchism and Just War Theory
Nathan Jun

2. "The Only Justifiable War": The Marxist Strategies of Lenin, Trotsky, and Blanco
Andrew Ryder

3. A Pacifist Critique of Just War Theory
Richard Jackson

4. Undertaking Critical Legal Theory to Examine Just War Intervention: A Smokescreen for Political Ambitions
Danny Singh

5. An Examination of Nigerian, Sri Lankan, and Guatemalan Civil Wars in Light of the Law of Armed Conflict
Jonathan O. Chimakonam and Victor C. A. Nweke

6. African Feminists' Critique of Just Wars and the Reality of African Women in Wars
Olajumoke M. Akiode

7. Feminist Care Political Theory and Contemporary Just War Theory
Heleana Theixos

8. An African Theory of Just Causes for War
Thaddeus Metz

9. The Classical Confucian Ideas of Jus ad Bellum
Cao Qin

10. Just War and the Indian Tradition: Arguments from the Battlefield
Shyam Ranganathan

11. The Islamic War Ethic in Theory and Practice
Davis Brown

12. Just War Thinking in Chinese Buddhism
Dr. Tong Sau Lin and Dr. King-Fai Tam
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Review quote

This is a much-needed volume on just war theory from multicultural perspectives. It will be a very useful resource for students in a globalized world. -- Chenyang Li, author of The Confucian Philosophy of Harmony Just war theory in the Anglophone world has been largely informed-and limited-by the Christian and liberal traditions. This book paves the way for a truly global approach to theorizing about just war. -- Daniel A. Bell, Shandong University, author of The China Model These stimulating and diverse essays-well-curated from traditionally under-represented perspectives-advance our thinking about the ethics of war and peace. -- Brian Orend, University of Waterloo, and author of War and Political Theory
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About Alex J. Bellamy

Luis Cordeiro-Rodrigues holds a PhD from the University of York is an associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Yuelu Academy, Hunan University, China. He has published widely on multiculturalism, just war theory and animals. His main publications are two edited books Philosophies of Multiculturalism: Beyond Liberalism (Routledge, 2017), Animals, Race and Multiculturalism (Palgrave) and articles on Critical Studies on Terrorism, Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Theoria and Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics.

Danny Singh is Senior Lecturer in Criminology & Sociology at Teesside University. He has previously taught at the University of York's Department of Politics and at Leeds Beckett University. He has published on interventions in war-torn states leading to police and judicial reform and anti-corruption. These journals include: Conflict, Security & Development, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Journal of Developing Societies, Crime, Law and Social Change and Policy Studies. He is currently working on a monograph titled, Investigating Corruption in the Afghan Police Force: Instability and insecurity in post-conflict societies in contract with Bristol University Press/Policy Press.
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