Essay: Just War? Throughout History

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¶ … just war"?

Throughout history, factions have gone to war over many issues, usually claiming that they were justified in entering and engaging in those wars despite what other people argued in regard to their actions. The concept of a just war is a military theory wherein the actions of the perpetrator or defending nation believed themselves justified in making the decisions that they did. In order for a war to be classified as a just war, there are six criteria which must be met. These criteria are: the war must be fought for a just cause, it must be lawfully declared by a lawful authority, the intention must be a good one, all other methods and attempts to resolve the issues between the warring bodies must have been exhausted, there must be a likely chance of success, and finally the benefits of waging the war must be worth the cost in money and in casualties which the war will use (Childress 427-28). Fighting for a just cause means that the nation or body in control believed that they were in the moral or ethical right against a group in the absolute moral wrong, which is related also to intention. When going to war, the population must believe that by warring they are freeing other people or saving other people from the yoke of oppression, or that they are protecting themselves and their allies. All wars are costly both in arms and in the people who are involved in them. Going to war necessarily means that people will likely die on both sides and if the war is not considered a just one, then those sacrifices are for nothing. Of course, just because a person or government claims to be involved in a just war does not mean that this is the case.

b) Why is religious zealotry more dangerous than patriotism?

People have gone to war for many reasons, most of which have come down to either religious zealotry or patriotism. Those who go to war for nationalistic reasons do so because they want to support their country's interest and to defend its citizens. All wars are violent regardless of the motivation behind them; however, wars fought in the name of religious zealotry are often much more violent and its participants far more bent on destruction. Wars fought over political or ideological differences can usually be resolved through negotiation after a period of battles where one side is more successful than the other. Many may die but things can be resolved eventually to the point where the two sides might one day become allies, such as the United States and Japan who were at war in the 1940s but who are engaged in frequent trade and intercommunication in the present period. In such wars the endeavor is to fight as much as is necessary to win but not to murder pointlessly. It is about strategy. This reconciliation is rarely if ever possible in wars fought for the purpose of religion (Juergensmeyer 10). Part of the reason for this is those who fight because of religious fundamentalism are not relegated to the limitations of war that are outlined in the Geneva Convention. Those fighting for religion are not really fighting over land, except perhaps in the Middle East. Rather they are fighting for a principle and because of this they do not care about their own lives nor are they concerned with how many people they kill. Quite the contrary, to religious zealots the more of the enemy eradicated the better. There is not strategizing, but just a desire to cause mayhem and destruction, to terrorize until their demands are given into.

c) Is there a difference between Islam and Islamism? Explain.

All too often good-hearted people are being confused with violent extremists because they both claim to be Muslim, but only one of these groups actually behaves according to the teachings in The Koran. There is an enormous difference between those who practice Islam and those who are Islamists (Dabashi). Islam is the religion practiced by a great number of people of the world that follow The Koran and the word of the prophet Mohammad. It teaches kindness and good works. Murder and violence against other human beings is forbidden. To please Allah, the Muslim word for God, people have to be moral, ethical, and decent. Islamists on the other hand are religious zealots who interpret the teachings of the religion in a far different way. They advocate violence against anyone who does not practice their religion and in fact also against people who are Muslim but who support Islamist enemies. Those who support Islamism want the Middle East to be socially isolated and to remove any Western influence from the area even if it means they must use force and violence to accomplish this (Berman 258). They also have named certain groups as enemies, including the population of Israel and any nation who supports that country which is why so many Islamists harbor negative feelings towards the United States. An unfortunate repercussion to Islamism is that the good Muslim people become linked to the wicked ones by angry people looking to lash out. This racism against people of the Muslim faith in turn furthers the resistance within the Muslim world and strengthens the resolve of the violent Islamists. Hate begets further hate and the best way of combating radical extremists is to understand and acknowledge that they are a far different people from the majority of those who practice Islam.

Set 2:

a) Suicide terrorism -- rational or irrational behavior?

A suicide attack is one where the perpetrator wants to do as much destruction as possible, understanding full well that because of the way their weapon is designed, they will not survive. Suicide attacks, particularly suicide bombings, have become a normal part of modern warfare. Such actions have become most associated with war in the Middle East. In fact 90% of all known suicide attacks have occurred in the countries of Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka or by individuals from those countries (Hassan). According to the religious and cultural perspective of past suicide attackers, by willingly killing yourself in honor of God or of your nation, you are doing something worthy of honor while refusing to do this or failing to fulfill your assigned duty will bring dishonor upon you and your family members for generations to come. This pressure insists that those who truly believe in the cause, whether religious or nationalist, it can be understood why they go through with it. Within context, it can be explained. From a logistic perspective, it is less clear how the strategy of suicide attacks can help your ultimate cause. A suicide attack can take out part of the enemy population, either military personnel or civilians, but even a horrific episode can only kill a few thousand people at maximum effectiveness. This would seem not to make sense unless the people you are attacking supremely outnumber you (Hoffman). In the War on Terror, American forces were fighting against a military with lower numbers but they were working against the concept of terror. By performing suicide attacks, one side instills in their enemy a great fear that they could be attacked at any time and in any place. The concept of suicide attacks takes away the citizens' ability to live peacefully.

b) Lone-Wolf terrorism

Lone-wolf terrorism, or solo terrorism, is very different than more organized acts of terror. In such situations, there is one single person who decides to take it upon themselves to harm others without regard for human life for the express purpose of furthering a political or religious perspective. Although less organized and arguable unable to wreak as wide-ranging horror as terrorist groups, a lone-wolf terrorist can still create a great deal of mayhem. Jeffrey D. Simon, an expert on terrorism states, "Lone wolves have little or no constraints on their level of violence. They are not concerned with alienating supporters (as would some terrorist groups), nor are they concerned with a potential government crackdown following an attack" (Thompson). In some ways an individual terrorist can be even more dangerous and deadly than one working within a larger terrorist organization. Since the individual understands that he will likely only have once chance to perpetrate his crimes, then the single even that the person plans is more often extremely violent although centered on a single location. Such individuals tend to target people or places where their victims are most vulnerable and where there is the least suspicion of the intended act, which is why such crimes often occur in places like schools or shopping malls. People do not expect to be murdered when they go to school or go shopping even with the understanding that these things have happened more than once. Lone-wolf terrorists play on this feeling of safety. They will usually have planned out their attack for months beforehand and when they do perpetrate… [END OF PREVIEW]

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