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Just War Theory of Truman's Atomic Bomb Decision

Info: 1803 words (7 pages) Essay
Published: 18th May 2020 in History

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Truman’s Atomic Bomb Decision successfully annihilated Hiroshima and Nagasaki bringing the war to an end. Hutu regime succeeded to wipe out Tutsis in Rwanda building a society with racial equality. Human logic in violence differ depend on self interest, therefore; guidelines has to be implemented with a set of principals to prevent crimes against humanity in armed conflict. The articulation of these principle is define in the Just War Theory. Just War Theory is a Christian philosophy, for the most part, that tries to provide the ethical background for a Just War. It is built on the acknowledgment that all war is bad, but then acknowledges that states have a duty to their citizens and to justice, and in their protection of it, can use force or violence. Thus, suggested that to proceed with armed conflict there is a process divided into three phases which are prevention, intervention and assistance. At the beginning, the prevention phase Jus ad Bellum “Justice of War” for going to war there is six criteria; just cause, proper authority, just intentions, good possibility of military success, proportionality and most importantly last resort. Then, intervention phase Jus in Bellum “Justice in War” during the battle there is five rules this is would be illustrated in non combatant immunity, prohibition against crimes, proportionality, humanitarian treatment of prisoner of war and moral and legal obligation. At the end, the assistance or aid phase Jus post Bellum “Justice after War” has two conditions; just punishment and reconstruction. In total, there are thirteen main principle that must be met for a war to be considered a Just War[1]. Now, after clarifying the theory and what it is. This essay argues that if one of these principle are not applied, evaluated and committed to the consequences will be catastrophic on humanity. The idea being, war should not just be waged for its own sake, or for reasons that have nothing to do with the greater good[2].

The war being fought must be consent by a legally recognised authority. For instance after a World War Two UN Security Council has the power to authorise the use of force in order to maintain international peace and security. However, NATO interventions in Kosovo War which was justified as a case where the world had to do something or do nothing.[3] Obviously, it was not the world but NATO that was acting. Despite the much vaunted unanimity of the Alliance (reservations in the Czech Republic and Hungary, and massive unpopularity in Greece notwithstanding), states representing over half the world’s population and three of its declared nuclear powers spoke out strongly against the action. Regardless of evaluating the campaign human rights has been abused in Kosovo as a result of fighting from a great distance in order to minimise the possibility of friendly casualties.

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The cause of the war must be just, means there must be a good reason to go to war like to put right or wrong or defend from an invasion. This condition is not met in the Vietnam war. The Just War Theory states that only self defence and preemptive strike qualify as just cause for war.  The U.S. intervention in the Vietnam War did not qualify for any of these conditions.  The U.S. involved in the Vietnam War for political reasons to contain the spread of communism throughout Southeast Asia. American officials believed a Communist victory in Vietnam would ultimately lead to further Communist victories throughout the world.  The Just War Theory specifically states that wars fought for political interests are unjust. The Vietnam War was a conflict between North and South Vietnam. It was not until the U.S. became directly involved in the war that North Vietnam showed aggressive behaviour towards America. In fact, it was America who first engaged in combat with the Vietnamese. American soldiers life’s were lost for unjust cause.

There is no doubt, that murderous prosecutions and massacres of civilian population groups contrary to the concept of the Just War Theory, and in particular the principles of jus in bellum “justice in war”, a war can be considered just if the weapon that is being used is proportion to the perceived threat, the level of engagement. The Far East campaign in World War Two against Japan deviated from the right path when allied forces represented in United States decided to use Atomic bomb. Military leaders operating in the Far East in the pursuit of glory did not resist the idea of unconditional surrender. Neither were they concerned with negotiations with opposition groups in Japan, nor the possibility of successful political settlement.[4] For a war to be considered Just, only sufficient force must be used So clearly in this bombing Japan didn’t not meet the necessary conditions to make it just. Eventually, the cost was enormous in both lives and treasures.

The intentions the criteria for a war being just has to be waged by moral intention. Those in charge are fighting for the common good rather than for immoral intentions. For example one cannot argue that Adolf Hitler, leader who was in charge of Nazi Germany during World War 2 had good intentions when he waged war on Poland and killed many innocent citizens, let his soldiers rape women, and tortured many Jewish people in concentration camps. Cases such as this show that not all people who are in charge who wage wars have had good intentions.

The Just War Theory states that to qualify a War as a just there must be a reasonable chance of success. On August 2, 1990, the military forces of Iraq invaded the neighbouring state of Kuwait, an attack that Iraq claimed was justified by previous actions of Kuwait, The UNSC passed Resolution 678, which imposed on Iraq a deadline for withdrawal from Kuwait of January 15, 1991. By the time this deadline arrived a coalition of 34 states had amassed an army of nearly a million personnel ready to move against Iraq.[5] Saddam Hussein leader of Iraq at that time refused to withdrawal from Kuwait. Despite, there was no chance of winning he continued his aggression. International reaction of the invasion was swift. In the after math of the war the impact on Iraq was harmful both on people and economy. Sanctions but on Iraq, mostly on oil the lifeblood of the country.

The first condition of Jus Post Bellum is that after the war there must be a just punishment.  The Treaty of Versailles was one of the reasons that German Nazi party rise to power. Eventually, led to the Second World War. If the punishment is unnecessary on the defeated states then it is unjust according to the just war theory. The Treaty of Versailles had significant negative impacts on Germany. Germany was required to pay the Allies $33 billion in reparations for the war damages caused by World War I. Reparation costs were beyond her economic capacity. These payments made it very difficult for Germany to take actions that would help Germany’s economy grow. Furthermore, the disarmament restricting her army to about 100,000 troops. It can be argued that for a huge country like Germany, an army of 100,000 troops is barely enough to keep law and order in the country. In addition, to lost territories, people and productive land. It was argued that the treaty was dedicated for peace but it was the opposite for the German which is unjust punishment. Hitler analysis the problem convince the German for his cause waged a war which cause a lost not thousands but millions of human life.

Ultimately, the misrepresented of Just War principles always has impacts on humanity as shown in the example mentioned above. In addition, its argued that any war can be justified as a just war if you give it the right make up. Any side can provide a list of reasons why their involvement in a war is just but, if you look to the example mentioned above NATO interventions in Kosovo War, U.S. intervention in the Vietnam War, the use of mass destruction weapon in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Adolf Hitler waging a war against Poland,Iraq invasion of Kuwait and Versailles treaty. The outcome of these armed conflict caused far too many innocent civilians dies effect on the economy and so on. It is obvious that the extension of use of military force needs to have a greater justification. All possible mean has to be taken a just war theory is not a justification for going to war but the other way it’s as Grotius put it “allowed armed intervention to put an end to inhumane atrocities against civilian populations”.



  • Chesterman, Simon. Just war or just peace?: humanitarian intervention and international law. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2001. 219-220.
  • Coleman, Stephen. “Military ethics: An introduction with case studies.” (2012). 59-60.
  • Janowitz, Morris. The professional soldier: A social and political portrait. Simon and Schuster, 2017. 270-271.
  • Lacewing, Michael. “Just war theory.”
  • Walzer, Michael. Just and unjust wars: A moral argument with historical illustrations. Basic books, 2015.21-33

[1]Michael, Lacewing. “Just war theory.”

[2] Michael, Walzer. Just and unjust wars: A moral argument with historical illustrations. Basic books, 2015.21-33

[3] Simon, Chesterman. Just war or just peace?: humanitarian intervention and international law. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2001. 219-220.

[4] Morris, Janowitz. The professional soldier: A social and political portrait. Simon and Schuster, 2017. 270-271.

[5] Stephen, Coleman. “Military ethics: An introduction with case studies.” (2012). 59-60.


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