Just War Theory
Just war theory is a doctrine to ensure that a war is morally justifiable through a series of criteria, all of which must be met for a war to be considered just.
- Just cause - The reason for going to war needs to be just and cannot, therefore, be solely for recapturing things taken or punishing people who have done wrong; innocent life must be in imminent danger and intervention must be to protect life.
- Comparative justice - While there may be rights and wrongs on all sides of a conflict, to overcome the presumption against the use of force, the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other.
- Competent authority - Only duly constituted public authorities may wage war. A just war must be initiated by a political authority within a political system that allows distinctions of justice. Dictatorships are typically considered as violations of this criterion.
- Right intention - Force may be used only in a truly just cause and solely for that purpose—correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention, while material gain or maintaining economies is not.
- Probability of success - Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success.
- Last resort - Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted or are clearly not practical. It may be clear that the other side is using negotiations as a delaying tactic and will not make meaningful concessions.
- Proportionality - The anticipated benefits of waging a war must be proportionate to its expected evils or harms.
We can conclude that the Russian invasion of Ukraine fails not just one, but all five criteria for a just war. We should do our best to support the Ukrainian refugees, people, and military in the defense of their homeland, culture, and democratic government.
To assist in these efforts individuals and congregations are encouraged to give to The United Methodist Community on Relief (UMCOR) International Response and Recovery fund (Advance #982450 ).