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A Just War?

The theory of a "just war" states that all six of these requirements must be met in order for a war to be considered "just".

1. Just cause. To be justified in waging war, a nation must do so in the cause of justice. Just cause is first and foremost the self-defense of a nation that is physically and aggressively attacked by another nation. (For other reasons for waging war, see the complete on-line essay cited below.)

2. Right intention. The nation that wages war must do so for the right motives, that is, only to ensure that the just cause is attained by war’s end. There can be no ulterior motives, such as racial or ethnic hatred, or provoking war for a land grab.

3. Proper authority and public declaration. The decision to wage war must be made only by the proper authorities of a state, following the process set forth by that nation’s laws. The declaration must be made public to its citizens and to the nation against whom the war is waged. Failing this, the nation lacks the legitimacy to go to war.

4. Last Resort. A nation may resort to war only if it has exhausted all diplomatic means of resolving the conflict peacefully. The state must be able to demonstrate that there is no other reasonable or practicable means of righting the wrong, short of war.

5. Probability of Success. Because of the harm and destruction engendered by warfare, it should only be initiated if it is deemed likely to be successful. (Note that while the probability of success is accepted as a precondition by many just war theorists, it is not included in international law, which seeks to protect the rights of smaller and weaker states.)

6. Proportionality. Before deciding to wage war, a state must evaluate the universal good that is likely to result and weigh it against the universal evil (death and destruction) that will be incurred on all sides. In a just war, the benefits of winning the war (securing the just cause) must outweigh its cost in human life.

Read FDR's declaration of war against Japan: http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=73&page=transcript

Answer this question: Is the U.S. war against Japan and Germany an example of a "just war"? Write your response and be prepared to share it with the class.