Mandeville, LA – [Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from a 2010 essay by Dr. Hauerwas titled Just How Realistic Is ‘Just War’? Hauerwas’s point is that a Just War cannot be expected in a world of democratic societies, the U.S. is one of them. Taken as a point to begin thinking through the problem of global, military injustice, Hauerwas leads us right back to our CRUSADE Channel discussion on correcting the Order of our civilization’s affairs. Put another way, are ‘Muricans to order our devotions toward democracy or toward Justice, for the former cannot exist with the latter. – M.C.]
“To put the challenge more concretely, we could ask, Why was it possible for the United States to conduct the second war against Iraq? The answer is very simple. Because America had a military left over from the cold war, a war that was fought according to an amoral realism, America could go to war in Iraq because nothing prevented America from going to war in Iraq. A war that is, moreover, justified as part of a “war against terrorism.”
Yet, in spite of the title of Jean Bethke Elshtain’s much-praised book, Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, it is by no means clear you can fight a just war against terrorism. If one of the crucial conditions of a just war is for the war to have an end, then the war against terrorism clearly cannot be just because it is a war without end.
I think the lack of realism about realism by American just war advocates, moreover, has everything to do with their being American. In particular, American advocates of just war seem to presume that democratic societies place an inherent limit on war that more authoritarian societies are unable to do.
While such a view is quite understandable, I want to suggest that democratic societies – or at least the American version of democracy – are unable to set limits on war because they are democratic.
Put even more strongly, for Americans war is a necessity to sustain our belief that we are worthy to be recipients of the sacrifices made on our behalf in past wars. Americans are a people born of and in war – particularly, as I argue in my next article, the Civil War – and only war can sustain our belief that we are a people set apart.” – Stanley Hauerwas, Just How Realistic Is ‘Just War’?