chapter  5
37 Pages

Other jus ad bellum categories

I have argued that many sovereign states are not owed the duty of nonintervention and that Walzer’s conception of just cause is too narrow. If not for the restraining effect of the other jus ad bellum categories, my expansion of the just cause criterion to the Atrocity Standard could be argued to yield an excessive expansion of permissible occasions for military intervention. In this chapter, I emphasize the other restraints that act as a brake on the resort to war, although a just cause may be present. We do not need to rely on an ambiguous nonintervention norm as a brake on the resort to force. Walzer’s formulation does not require substantial emphasis on the other jus ad bellum categories because Walzer focuses so much on defensive war. He generally treats the just cause of self-defense as a sufficient condition to warrant recourse to defensive war.2 However, his presentation of the aggressor-defender paradigm, in which the unjust aggressor and the just defender are always identifiable, is an oversimplification. Wars may seem to be just on both sides – especially subjectively; one’s own position very often seems to be justified. For the parties involved, as well as for outsiders, it can be very difficult to tell exactly on which side justice is to be found. Often, there is a measure of justice and injustice on both sides. (Wars may be unjust on both sides as well, as Walzer acknowledges.) It may also be impossible to discern what or who started the downward spiral that eventually led to the first use of force. In circumstances where the outbreak of war is preceded by mutual escalation over time, it is often impossible to say who started the chain reaction. Even the first use of force is not

always a clear indication of who exactly is the aggressor. When both sides share responsibility for mutual escalation and eventual outbreak of hostilities, in the kind of security dilemma that John Herz and Herbert Butterfield both called “tragic,” it is difficult to extract how much responsibility lies with each side.3 Susan Woodword observes:

Without a common authority and accepted procedures to resolve conflict, leaders in independent states can perceive themselves to be acting defensively against an external threat but can be perceived by others as acting aggressively, thereby setting in motion a process of competitive, defensive reactions with no limit.4