“Is All Fair in Love & War?” Just & Unjust Wars through the prism of Jewish and Secular Thought Part 1

In honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut and the Reunification of Jerusalem I am sharing some ideas on

“Is All Fair in Love & War?” Just & Unjust Wars through the prism of Jewish and Secular Thought

These ideas are also relevant to the current conflict in the Ukraine with Russia’s intervention into the affairs of another state.

We begin with summarizing some of the contemporary thinking about warfare and compare and contrast it to a Jewish approach

Is all fair in love and war?  Are all forms of law and morality silent in warfare?  Michael Walzer in Just and Unjust Wars discusses this issue, the challenge of morality in its relationship to war. Walzer suggests that the language discussing war is filled with words that speak of moral meaning, a lexicon of language that could never have developed without the recognition that in war there must be some level of ethics (3).  Walzer shows that throughout history, philosophers have written about war-time conduct and judgments of how people behave in war.  He continues to suggest that the morality of war is not defined by the actual activities of soldiers but by the opinions of mankind found in the writings and conversations of philosophers, theologians, lawyers, and politicians (15).  We learn what is appropriate in war by studying the actions of those who preceded us.  Expanding on a system developed by St. Thomas Aquinas as seen in various places such as, The Summa Theologica Part II, Question 40, Walzer suggests that war is judged in two independent ways: First, there must be just reason to begin a conflict – war must be just — Jus Ad Bellum; and second, the means adopted to fight war must also be just – Jus In Bello.  These two dimensions of war are independent of each other.


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