THE ENDS OF JUSTICE: SEEKING PERPETUAL PEACE IN A TIME OF ENDLESS WAR
Misenheimer, Alan Greeley
U.S. forces have been engaged around the globe since World War II, and “endless” war has become the backdrop of American life. This militarized status quo is rife with paradox and contradiction. The Constitution stipulates a congressional declaration of war prior to any major military operations; yet the executive branch routinely acts alone to dispatch forces and launch attacks. The norms of republican self-governance stipulate alignment between popular will and public policy; yet American military engagement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries has continued for years despite overwhelming public opposition. Such disjunctions render nominal peace indistinguishable from actual war, and cause U.S. national security decision-making to resemble that of a war-prone eighteenth century European monarchy. The American government justifies a colossal (and colossally expensive) defense apparatus as essential to national security; yet the threats cited as its object are often transitory or theoretical. American leaders routinely declare that our country’s endless wars are just; but the absence of any coherent framework for ethical assessment, along with the lack of concrete and achievable war aims, deprives these conflicts of any claim to justness. Rather, the U.S. government has, like the mythical Cyclops, embraced perpetual conflict as an end in itself. A hard-wired human longing for justice provides the conceptual “hinge” on which citizens and their elected officials choose to shift from peace to war (or vice versa). A review of Western thinking on the source(s) of justice, particularly the Just War Tradition and its evaluative framework of ius ad bellum and ius in bello criteria, thus offers a relevant touchstone for contemporary decisions of peace and war. A return to strict conformity with the constitutionally mandated allocation of war-making powers is essential, along with expansion of citizen engagement in national security affairs and rejection of the realist paradigm in international relations theory. The articulation of concrete, achievable war aims – in order to facilitate timely war termination and prevent wars from becoming endless precisely because they lack declared ends – is indispensable. As citizens of a self-governing republic, it is within our power to ensure that U.S. wars are fought with discrimination and proportionality, undertaken for legitimate, significant, transparent and achievable goals, and entered as a last resort in the pursuit of justice.
allocation of war powers; antinomy of democracy and endless war; inextricable tangle of peace; war and justice; just war tradition; Kant and perpetual peace projects; Mars and Bellona: early Roman war policy; Public policy; International relations; Ethics; Public policy; International relations; Ethics;
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THE ENDS OF JUSTICE: SEEKING PERPETUAL PEACE IN A TIME OF ENDLESS WAR Misenheimer, Alan Greeley (Georgetown University, 2021)U.S. forces have been engaged around the globe since World War II, and “endless” war has become the backdrop of American life. This militarized status quo is rife with paradox and contradiction. The Constitution stipulates ...