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Andrew Carnegie Libraries

(Vintage postcard of our town’s Andrew Carnegie Library, built in 1913)

When I was a child growing up in Southern California, our town’s public library was an Andrew Carnegie Library, built in 1913. I always admired the historic architecture and felt quite heartbroken when the city decided to tear it down and replace it with a more modern structure. Yes, the newer building was easier to navigate and filled with light, but the old, beat-up structure had more character. It reeked of history and days gone by.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, and emigrated with his poverty-stricken family to Pennsylvania, USA in 1848. With only a few years of schooling behind him, this self-made millionaire managed to rise — through hard work and shrewd investments — from a lowly factory boy to a railroad worker to a powerful steel magnate. He sold the Carnegie Steel Company to banker J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million. After retiring, he spent the rest of his life and most of his fortune on philanthropic projects.

Carnegie believed that the wealthy have “a moral obligation to distribute [their wealth] in ways that promote the welfare and happiness of the common man” (The Gospel of Wealth, 1889). He funded the construction of Carnegie Hall in New York City and founded the Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Carnegie Foundation.

A devoted bibliophile, Carnegie funded the construction of 2,811 public libraries in America, Europe, and other parts of the world. Some of these buildings are still in public use as libraries or government centers. He is buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in North Tarrytown, New York.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!

Dawn Pisturino

January 11, 2023

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Augustine, Aquinas, Vitoria: Justifications and Limitations of War: Christian Perspective

(Photo by Austrian National Library on Unsplash)

[NOTE: This is a 6,214 word research paper that I wrote for my university class, Ethics and Politics of War (Just War Theory). I am posting it for those people who are interested in the topic. This week, in the U.S., we honor our brave soldiers who unfairly died at Pearl Harbor.]

Augustine, Aquinas, Vitoria: Justifications and Limitations of War: Christian Perspective

by Dawn Pisturino

       Augustine, Aquinas, and Vitoria examined just war from a Christian perspective and believed that negotiations and diplomacy should come before the use of force; however, if this is impossible, force may be used in a just war that is declared by a legitimate authority, for a just cause, and with the right intention (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1).

Three Just War Thinkers and their Views on the Justifications and Limitations of War

       Cicero developed three tenets which cover the justification, implementation, and resolution of war.  Of the three, this writer will address jus ad bellum (the justification for the use of force) and jus in bellum (the limitations for the use of force in war) as expanded on by St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Francisco de Vitoria (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1).

St. Augustine

       St. Augustine went through three phases in his just war thinking.  During phase one, he condoned “a soldier killing an enemy, . . . a judge or his minister killing a criminal, . . . someone inadvertently or imprudently throwing a spear . . . when they killed a man” (Johnson, 2018, pg. 23).  In phase two, he insisted that war, if commanded by God as in the Old Testament, “cannot be inherently immoral” (Johnson, 2018, pg. 23).  Phase three showed a more cynical shift in his thinking when he said that “the quest for justice and order is doomed; but dedication to the impossible task is demanded by the very precariousness of civilized order in the world” (Johnson, 2018, pg. 25).  In other words, just war is necessary to keep the world from chaos.  At the same time, Augustine stressed Christ’s exhortation to love your neighbor and protecting “non-combatants in war” (Johnson, 2018, pg. 32).

Thomas Aquinas

       Thomas Aquinas saw war as “an instrument of peace” that would keep the wicked in check (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 52) through the use of “public authority” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 52).  He did not promote pacifism as a Christian value.  But he did stress that “conduct in war is first and foremost a matter of moral behavior” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 52).

       Aquinas’ three tenets include princely authority, just cause, and right intention.  These conditions must be met before any war can be considered just (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 55).  He justified princely authority by insisting that “defense of the common good requires a chain of command with the prince at its head” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 55) and this can only be achieved where there is “a unified force” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 55).  Just cause only occurs when “those who are attacked deserve this attack by reason of some fault (culpam)” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 56).  Lastly, war should be fought with the right intention, to promote the common good.  Unnecessary “cruelty, avarice, unbridled anger, or hatred” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 57) are not Christian or even human virtues and should be condemned.  He does, however, recognize that unintended damage is bound to occur.

Francisco de Vitoria

       The most surprising development, so far, in our study of just war thinkers, has been Vitoria’s sophisticated analysis of Spain’s treatment of indigenous people in the New World.

       Vitoria believed that nature (or natural law) divided humans into “perfect communities . . . [united by] their own traditions, languages, and cultures and contained within them the means necessary to provide for themselves and the well-being of their members” (Bellamy, 208, pg. 79).  By his reasoning, the indigenous people in the New World formed perfect communities and were entitled to “the same basic rights” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 79) as European Catholic communities.  Neither the Pope nor the Holy Roman Emperor had supreme authority over these communities, which contradicted the dominant idea at the time that indigenous people in the New World were “vassals of the Spanish King and subjects of the Pope” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 79).

       Horrified by the behavior of the Spanish conquistadores in the New World, Vitoria defended the rights of the natives.  For example, he did not believe in the legitimacy of converting the natives to Christianity against their will, saying, “war is no argument for the truth of the Christian faith” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 80).  However, Vitoria still referred to the natives as barbarians and asserted that if they “persist in their wickedness and strive to destroy the Spaniards, then [the Spanish conquistadores] may treat them no longer as innocent enemies, but as treacherous foes against whom all rights of war can be exercised” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 81).

       In the final analysis, Vitoria condemned the use of force when it comes to “religious differences, claims of universal jurisdiction, and the personal ambitions of sovereigns” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 81).  The only justification for the use of force is “to right a prior wrong” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 82).

Application of Just War Principles to Historical Conflicts

       When applying just war principles to Sherman’s March to the Sea, the First Sino-Japanese War, and the U.S. intervention in Somalia, all three represent situations where conflict and force became necessary for humanitarian and self-defense reasons.

Augustine, Aquinas, Proportionality, and Sherman’s March to the Sea

       St. Augustine viewed social groups as “people bound together by agreement as to what they love” (Johnson, 2018, pg. 29), rejecting Cicero’s emphasis on political states.  It is, therefore, an act of love to fight in a just war in order to protect our neighbors.

       Aquinas reaffirmed the conviction that “solely those who have no temporal superior – namely princes – are permitted to initiate war” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 55) and the fact that “a unified force” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 55) will be more successful than people acting independently.  The “common good” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 56) can best be promoted by the leader in power.  Part of the responsibility of the leader is to handle “internal disturbers of the peace” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 56).

       The second condition for just war, according to Aquinas, is “that those who are attacked deserve this attack by reason of some fault (culpam)” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 56). 

       The third condition for just war, according to Aquinas, is the concept of “right intention” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 57).  People involved in a war should fight with the intention of promoting the common good and “the avoidance of evil” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 57).  He emphasized that unnecessary brutality, greed, and hostility should be avoided (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 57).  Harming innocent non-combatants is unacceptable in jus in bellum.  Besides sparing innocent lives, soldiers should refrain from “cutting down the fruit trees on enemy territory” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 57).  Aquinas recognized, however, that unintended damage is bound to happen in war, and soldiers are not liable for that damage.  Committing deliberate acts of harm, on the other hand, confers personal liability on the person committing them (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 57).  Only force “undertaken by public officers of the law” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 58) can be justified as a necessary action for promoting the common good and punishing a wrong-doing.

       In my opinion, Sherman’s March to the Sea was a legitimate military campaign, consistent with the conditions of just war as laid down by Augustine and Aquinas.

Sherman’s March and Proportionality

       In 1864, the Civil War had been raging for three years, demoralizing the North and solidifying the stubbornness of the South, when William Tecumseh Sherman devised a plan to end the war once and for all (Smith, 2007, pg. 7).

       In a speech given on September 30, 1875, Sherman admitted that he and his troops had “transgressed the rules of war . . . and we determined to make it and to subsist on our friends and enemies while making it . . .[for] Georgia was at that time regarded . . .as the arch stone of the South . . .[and] that once destroyed, and the Southern Confederacy dwindled down to the little space between the Savannah River and Richmond, . . . the people of the United States could not only vindicate their laws but could punish the traitors” (Trudeau, 2008, pg. 548).

       Sherman blamed the people of the South for starting the Civil War in the first place and determined to punish them collectively by making “the people themselves experience the war” (Smith, 2007, pg. 8).  His intention, as he marched through Georgia, was to destroy “the state’s war-making capability” (Smith, 2007, pg. 8).  He cared about hastening the end of the war, and he was not so concerned about the means by which he did it.  Governor Joseph Brown was given the option to surrender, and when he did not respond, Sherman pursued his plan “to go ahead, devastating the State in its whole length and breadth” (Smith, 2007, pg. 8).

       There is no denying that the Civil War – and the North’s punishment of the South – was a just cause, according to both Augustine’s and Aquinas’s conditions for just war.  Sherman was acting to promote the common good; out of love for his country and his neighbors in the North; to end the war that had divided the United States; and to ensure that the South would be so devastated, it would have to capitulate and never rise again (Davis, 1988, pg. 3; Johnson, 2018, pg. 29; Reichberg, 2018, pg. 56, 57).  Sherman’s actions were authorized by both General Ulysses S. Grant and President Abraham Lincoln, so the condition of proper authority was fulfilled (Smith, 2007, pg. 8, 15).

       The South had declared war against the North and made the first attack on April 12, 1861 at Fort Sumter, South Carolina (National Park Service, 2021, para. 1).  “Southerners gambled that Southern spirit and military elan could overcome the wealth and size of the North” (Smith, 2007, pg. 14).  Southern forces refused to back down, even when Sherman gave Governor Brown of Georgia an ultimatum.  Therefore, by Aquinas’s rationale, the South deserved to be attacked and punished for the crime of secession and beginning the war in the first place (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 56).

       The March to the Sea destroyed everything that could be used to support the Confederate military machine.  Sherman ordered his foragers to forage for food and necessary supplies, knowing that there would be abuses.  But he also ordered that “churches and private homes” should be saved (Davis, 1988, pg. 3).  He counseled his men to pick on “rich Southerners rather than the poor” (Davis, 1988, pg. 8) because he blamed the rich plantation owners the most.  But Sherman was no fool.  He understood that “hard war” (Davis, 1988, pg. 9) was the only way to end the war.

       Since the Confederates refused to surrender, in spite of the North’s victories, Sherman claimed, “I had a right, under the rules of civilized warfare, to commence a system that would make them feel the power of the government and cause them to succumb . . .” (Davis, 1988, pg. 25).  This actually does comply with Aquinas’s view that the enemy should be attacked and punished for its wrong-doing (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 56).

       In my estimation, Sherman had no choice but to embark on the March to the Sea because it ultimately ended the Civil War and re-united the country.  He fulfilled all the requirements for just war laid down by St. Augustine and Aquinas.  And to prolong the war would have led to more casualties and destruction.

       It has been estimated that Sherman lost 1,888 Union soldiers to death, wounds, missing in action, and capture during the March (Smith, 2007, pg. 85), as opposed to the official Department of Veteran Affairs statistics of 529,332 Union and Confederate soldiers lost during the entire war (Department of Veteran Affairs, 2020, pg. 1).  Thomas Livermore estimated total deaths at 624,000, and the latest figures by J. David Hacker bring the estimate up to 750,000 (Ransom, 2021, pg. 7).

       Union foragers on the March managed to acquire roughly 13,294 head of cattle, 7,000 horses and mules, and 10 million pounds of corn.  Approximately 300 miles of railroad lines were destroyed.  Sherman himself estimated the damages at $100 million, with Union soldiers consuming about 20% of the food and supplies foraged, and the rest left to waste and rot.  Confederate deserters and civilians picked over what was left behind (Smith, 2007, pg. 85).

       Compare this with the cost of the war itself: total government spending (Union and Confederate) $3.3 billion; lost human capital (laborers, etc.) $2.2 billion; and the overall physical damage $1.5 billion (Ransom, 2021, pg.8). The South bore the brunt of the costs, and “the Confederacy had been reduced to a barter economy by the time Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox” (Ransom, 2021, pg. 11).  Freeing 4.5 million slaves cost Southern plantation owners $2 billion alone (Ransom, 2021, pg. 11).

Sherman’s Attack on Civilian Property

       As previously mentioned, Sherman’s primary goal was to destroy “the state’s war-making capability” (Smith, 2007, pg. 8), and he was lax when it came to enforcing his orders to not unnecessarily harm civilian property.  But bored and drunken Yankee soldiers were known to set fires and engage in wanton destruction, despite Sherman’s orders (Davis, 1988, pg. 5).  This does not align with Aquinas’s warning to avoid “cruelty, avarice, unbridled anger, or hatred” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 57).  And yet, the South had been given opportunities to surrender and negotiate peace and had refused to back down.  And, according to Aquinas, the enemy must be given the “opportunity to make amends” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 56) before resorting to force.  The Georgia governor failed to accept peace terms, so Sherman acted in good faith to take the necessary steps to end the war.  Aquinas calls for moderation in war but also recognizes “the doctrine of double effect” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 57) which recognizes that good actions can have unintended negative consequences, and that “some missions will be justified, on grounds of DDE, in spite of a recognition that civilian casualties will ineluctably follow” (Reichberg, 2018, pg. 57).

Breaking Southern Morale and Freeing Thousands of Slaves

       “[Sherman’s] more limited goal [than total war] was to make any continuance of rebellion so unpalatable to southern civilians that they would view a return to the Union as the lesser of two evils” (Trudeau, 2008, pg. 534).  Ultimately, Sherman’s March did end the war, and the South did capitulate, but not without serious bitterness against the North (Trudeau, pg. 534).

       Such a brutal and historic undertaking would have left a lasting negative impression on the collective consciousness of people in the South—even today.  This continued divide between North and South is one of those unintended consequences that Sherman did not foresee.  He also did not reckon the long-term economic impact on people in the South.  Although he understood that the South would be re-built, he did not understand that “the South was locked in a cycle of poverty that lasted well into the twentieth century” (Ransom, 2021, pg. 13).

       Sherman’s attack on civilian property also included freeing the slaves.  He and his soldiers were greeted with cheers by black slaves everywhere they went.  By the end of the March, his troops had picked up hundreds of freed black slaves (Trudeau, 2008, pg. 538) who “came out in groups and welcomed us with delight, they danced and howled, laughed, cried, and prayed all at the same time” (Trudeau, 2008, pg. 531).  Slaves gave them valuable information, stood watch, worked as laborers, and foraged for food, horses, and supplies (Trudeau, 2008, pg. 531, 532).  Freeing the slaves was an act of neighborly love in St. Augustine’s world view and “advancing the common good” in Aquinas’s (Johnson, 2018, pg. 29; Reichberg, 2018, pg. 57).  As a result of the war, 4.5 million black slaves were freed from slavery (Ransom, 2021, pg.11).

Trade, Treaties, Francisco de Vitoria, and the First Sino-Japanese War

Chinese Point of View

       In 2014, China commemorated the 120th anniversary of the First Sino-Japanese War by releasing a collection of essays analyzing the event (Hengjun, 2014, pg.2; Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 2, 3).  China lost the war against Japan – a loss which still bothers the Chinese government and the Chinese people.  The essays were written “by members of the People’s Liberation Army ‘analyzing what China can learn from its defeat’” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 3).  The writers concluded that “the Qing dynasty’s failure to effectively modernize” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 3) China led to China’s defeat and that China must continue its program of Westernization (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 3).

       Japan’s strong navy was a key component in its victory.  China’s leader, Xi Jinping, wants to strengthen the country’s navy because “the ocean remains central to national security interests today” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 5).

       PLA writers also denounced Japan’s militaristic, nationalist, and imperialistic behavior that led to the war.  It was not until Japan’s defeat in World War II that this behavior was finally restrained (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 5).

       China still fears a rise in Japanese militarism and warns its military to “guard against the sneak attack that Japan has a history of making” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 6).

       On the bright side, the Chinese defeat led to the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, the establishment of Taiwan as a democratic state, and the rise of China as a world power.  Japan’s war against China was “horrible . . . but that cannot cover up the fact that the Qing dynasty was a decadent and declining dynasty that existed in opposition both to historical trends and to the Chinese people” (Hengjun, 2014, pg. 3).

Japanese Point of View

       People in Japan believe that “the First Sino-Japanese War from August 1894 to April 1895 is one of the most important wars in Japanese history in that it heralded Japan’s appearance on the world stage as a serious player” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1).  Although Japan recognized Korea as a tributary state of China, it was also aware of the turmoil in the country as factions fought for control of the government.  Reformists wanted more Japanese influence in Korea and pushed for increased Westernization.  Traditionalists identified with China and Chinese culture (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1).

       Japan needed important natural resources, such as coal and iron, and looked to Korea to get them (Britannica, 2021, pg. 1; Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1).  Japan wanted free access without interference from China and, if possible, to control Korea’s natural resources.  Japan aggressively tried to break China’s influence and control in Korea for its own benefit (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1). 

       Although China had a larger army, the Japanese navy was more organized, efficient, and better equipped.  Corruption in the Chinese military had left China’s navy weak and under-equipped.  Japan’s ground forces were also in better shape than China’s.  By October 1894, the Japanese “expelled the Chinese from Korea . . . [and] entered China itself” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 5).  Japan soon controlled Manchuria, the Liaodong Peninsula, Beijing, Weihaiwei, and Taiwan (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 5).

       Proudly, Japan became the dominant power in Asia, freed Korea from China’s domination, and brought Westernization and trade to the whole region (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 6).

Korean Point of View

       As a tribute state of China, Korea followed “the Confucian principles enshrined in the Chinese classics and the rules of tributes elaborated in the Chinese statutes [which] constituted the backbone of the system” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 1).  The Korean king was content to be under Chinese influence and Confucian international law.  But Japan wanted to break China’s hold over Korea in order to establish a base of power in which to prevent both China and Russia from controlling the region (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2).

       On February 26, 1876, Japan and Korea signed the Treaty of Kanghwa which gave Japan trading rights to three Korean ports, access to the coastal seas, and unequal trading privileges in Japan’s favor.  Another treaty signed on August 24, 1876, granted Japan “duty-free importation of Japanese goods carried by the ships belonging to their government” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2).

       Article 1 of the treaty declared that “Choson [Korea] being an independent state, enjoys the same sovereign rights as does Japan” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2).  This addition to the treaty was meant to undermine China’s claim on Korea.

       From the Korean point of view, “independence” meant that “the political and legal matters of tributary states are totally in the hands of them” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2), in accordance with the Confucian legal system.  Korea, therefore, felt no hesitation in signing the treaty because it meant that Korea would carry on its diplomatic duties as usual.  The Qing dynasty supported Korea as “entirely independent in her relations with other states” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2) but continued to regard Korea as a tribute state.

       In spite of the treaty, Korea did not make any changes in its relationships with Japan and China.  The treaty was regarded as more of a sign of friendship with Japan.  But since Japan and China both had special privileges over Korea and its resources, Korea became a pawn for both parties in their quest for control.  As Korea became more unstable from within, diplomatic relations began to break down.  After the Japanese were expelled from Korea by the Chinese, “the Convention between China and Japan for the Withdrawal of Troops from Korea, signed on 18 April 1885” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2, 3), established Korea “as a buffer state between them” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 3).

       The First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) spelled the end of Chinese dominance in Korea.  The Treaty of Shimonoseki between China and Japan ended the Confucian legal system and brought Western international law and trade to Eastern Asia, with Korea at its center.  The treaty ended Korea’s status as a tributary state to China and granted the country both independence and autonomy (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 3).

The War

       The First Sino-Japanese war began in the first place because Japan ended its isolation from foreign trade, embraced Western technology, and aspired to expand its trading territories.  Korea had been an important tributary state to China for many years.  “In 1876, the Japanese negotiated a treaty with Korea, opening Korea up to foreign trade for the first time” (Rickard, 2013, pg. 1), with Japan becoming the main beneficiary.

       The treaty led to much discourse in Korea, with pro- and anti-Japanese contenders vying for power.  In 1882, an anti-Japan uprising occurred against the Korean Royal family.  The Chinese stepped in to quell the rebellion (Rickard, 2013, pg. 1).

       Japan negotiated with Korea for peace and then secretly prepared for war.  Japanese influence in Korea continued to grow, with China suppressing a pro-Japanese rebellion in 1884.  “Japan and China signed a new treaty [Li-Ito Convention Tientsin Treaty]” (Rickard, 2013, pg. 1) which removed all Chinese and Japanese troops from Korea.  Korea became “a co-protectorate under [China] and Japan” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 3).

       Although Japan signed the treaty, its expansionist ambitions took priority.  In 1884, pro-Japan Korean leader, Kim Ok-Kyun, was assassinated — and his body mutilated – by the Chinese.  This led to more tension between Japan and China.  When China sent troops in to quell the Tonghak rebellion at the behest of the Korean king, Japan accused China of breaking the treaty and sent troops to Korea (Britannica, 2021, pg. 1, 2).  “On July 23, 1894, Japanese troops deposed the Korean king, annulled Korean-Chinese treaties, and proceeded to try and expel the Chinese from Korea” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 3), something Japan had been planning to do all along.

       On August 1, 1894, war was declared.  Due to its more modern and better equipped military, Japan quickly won the war when it invaded Manchuria and the Shandong province, and China negotiated to end the war (Britannica, 2021, pg. 2).

       The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed by both countries, and Korea gained its independence.  Japan gained significant trade rights.  The conflict sparked a movement in China against foreigners and rebellion against the Qing dynasty (Britannica, 2021, pg. 2).

Francisco de Vitoria and the First Sino-Japanese War  

       Francisco de Vitoria strongly believed that the “enlargement of empire and personal glory or convenience did not constitute just grounds for war” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 82).  Although he believed in free trade between sovereign nations (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 81), he would not have supported Japan’s aggressive actions to exclude China from the mix.  At the same time, I believe he would have condemned China for the assassination and mutilation of the Korean leader, Kim Ok-Kyun — which alone would have been a violation of the Tientsin treaty.  Japan, therefore, had a right to defend its interests when China sent troops to Korea, even though the Korean king had requested China’s help.  And China had a right to defend its interests.  Japan was already prepared to wage war, and when it sank the British steamer Kowshing, killing Chinese troops, there was no turning back (Britannica, 2021, pg. 2).

       Russia, Germany, and France attempted to moderate the Treaty of Shimonoseki in order to limit Japan’s influence in the region.  In the process, Russia gained control over Port Arthur and railway rights, which upset the British.  This, in turn, angered the Japanese and led to the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 (Rickard, 2013, pg. 2).

       Although Japan, China, and Korea all had a cause to wage war, it was Japan’s aggressive actions regarding trade which ultimately created the conditions that led to war.  The Japanese government should have honored its treaty with China and stopped trying to exclude China.  China should not have aggravated the situation by assassinating Kim Ok-Kyun.  Korea should not have played both ends against the middle.

       Vitoria would have viewed all of these shenanigans as an unjust basis for war because peaceful trade agreements between sovereign nations should be respected and negotiated peacefully. Japan’s continued aggression in the region, however, threatened China, and China reacted in response.  Korea was destabilized by warring factions within the country.  Both China and Japan wanted to control Korea exclusively.  In spite of their differences, Vitoria would see this as a fight over territorial conquest, which he condemned as unjust because “not all causes of war were just . . .such as territorial conquest and glory” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 86).

Delivering Humanitarian Aid to Somalia in the Midst of Civil War

       In 1960, Somalia gained its independence from Italian control.  In 1969, Mohamed Siad Barre came to power through a military coup, set up a socialist regime, and befriended the Soviet Union.  During Somalia’s war with Ethiopia, the Soviet Union backed Ethiopia, so Somalia sought aid from the United States (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1).

       The Barre regime became more repressive, and opposition forces forced him from office in January 1991.  “The country descended into chaos, and a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions began to unfold” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1).  The Somali people faced “the combination of civil war, a famine after a poor harvest, and a prolonged drought” (Mugabi, 2018, pg. 2).

       The United Nations and the United States attempted to aid the Somali people in 1992, but “intense fighting between the warlords impeded the delivery of aid to those who needed it most, and so the United Nations contemplated stronger action” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 2).

       Operation Restore Hope was implemented by President George H.W. Bush, which authorized U.S. troops in Somalia “to assist with famine relief as part of the larger United Nations effort” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 2).  Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter “allowed for the use of force to maintain peace” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 2) while these humanitarian efforts were being carried out.  Unfortunately, the humanitarian aid was impeded “by warlord Muhammad Farah Aideed” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 2) and his band of militia soldiers.

       In October 1993, the U.S. raided the capital of Mogadishu in an effort to capture Aideed and his soldiers.  But the group fought back, shooting down two Black Hawk helicopters, killing eighteen U.S. soldiers, and wounding eighty more.  This debacle discredited President Bush and Operation Restore Hope and undermined all future interventions in Africa (Mugabi, 2018, pg.2).

       In the beginning, the humanitarian effort was regarded by many Americans “as an act of charity . . . [and] a mechanism to protect ordinary Somalis from marauding militias who looted anything they set their eyes on and killed at will” (Mugabi, 2018, pg. 2).  But, after “images of the bodies of American soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu as anti-American slogans were chanted were seen round the world” (Mugabi, 2018, pg. 2), public sentiment turned sour on relief efforts in Africa.  The U.S. withdrew all troops from Somalia six months later (Department of State, 2021, pg. 2; Mugabi, 2018, pg. 2).

       Presidential Decision Directive 25 was issued on May 3, 1994 by President Bill Clinton, outlining eight conditions which must be met before authorizing another peacekeeping mission with the United Nations, nine other conditions before authorizing any action under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter (Department of State, 2021, pg. 2).

       Although the intentions behind Operation Restore Hope were good, American leaders underestimated the ferocity of Somali militia groups, putting American troops in peril.  In fact, “’Somalia’ has become a symbol for the unacceptable costs of humanitarian intervention and for the type of foreign involvement the United States should avoid” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 1).  Apart from the politics, however, many people involved in the operation believe “that substantial good was done, although there were problems and missteps . . . U.S. involvement meant that countless lives were saved; and violence and disorder were reduced to the extent that steps toward political reconciliation could begin” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 1).  As a result of the lessons learned, new strategies for diplomatic action, U.N. reform, military action, and implementation of humanitarian aid programs are possible (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 1-3).

Augustine, Aquinas, and Vitoria

       Augustine maintained that “Christians should be obedient subjects to the emperor and that the government has the God-given authority to violently punish in order to keep the peace and stability . . . [therefore] it [was] legitimate for a Christian to serve in the Roman legions and help defend the empire against the barbarians” (Johnson, 2016, pg. 8).  Although he agreed with Jesus’s command to wage peace and not war, he explained that “war is waged in order to attain peace” (Johnson, 2016, pg. 8).  He further maintained that soldiers must wage war against the enemy with the right intentions of love and charity (or “benevolent harshness,” as Augustine called it), safeguarding the rights and well-being of opposing enemy soldiers as well as non-combatants.  For war, after all, is nothing to celebrate (Johnson, 2016, pg. 9).

       Aquinas later elaborated on Augustine’s thinking by including self-defense as a justification for war and a necessity to preserve human life.  He reaffirmed that a just war must be declared by a legitimate authority and must be fought with right intention – out of love and charity – in order to restore peace and without unnecessary harshness toward combatants and non-combatants (Johnson, 2016, pg. 10).

       Vitoria further expanded on just war thinking by insisting that “rights necessarily extended past one’s own borders and to all people” (Johnson, 2016, pg. 11).  Therefore, the people of other sovereign nations are due the same respect, love, and charity as the citizens in our own country (Johnson, 2016, pg. 11).

       The United Nations Security Council was given the responsibility “of maintaining peace and security among nations,” (Johnson, 2016, pg. 12), so they have the legitimate authority to get involved in military and humanitarian operations.  The United States, working with the U.N., had the authority to implement Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.  U.S. troops had the right to use force, if necessary, to maintain the peace and security of the country.  Using U.S. troops to protect humanitarian efforts was an act of love and charity that respected the right of the Somali people to survive, in spite of the war crimes perpetrated by the Somali warlords (Johnson, 2016, pg. 12).

       In my opinion, Augustine, Aquinas, and Vitoria would have condemned the continued violence against innocent Somalis and praised the humanitarian efforts by the United Nations and the United States to feed and protect the Somali people

Lessons Learned, Personal Observations, and the Vitoria Surprise

St. Augustine

       Augustine demanded absolute obedience to authority figures, but I believe this is more a reflection of his education and the times in which he lived.  I don’t agree that people should be content to live under a harsh totalitarian regime or be subjected to genocide, persecution, and repression.  Otherwise, nothing would ever change. The Jews would have been completely wiped out during World War II, blacks would still be slaves in the Deep South, and more people would have died of starvation and violence in Somalia.

St. Aquinas

       I agree with Aquinas that self-defense is a legitimate cause for war, otherwise, there would be no recourse against tyrants and bullies.  Hitler would have invaded more countries, Iraq would now control Kuwait, and the Soviet Union would still be in control of Eastern Europe.  The United States would have accepted the bombing of Pearl Harbor without retaliation.  The U.S. would not have gotten involved in World War II, and Germany might have won the war.

Vitoria

       Exploration and colonization were such an integral part of Vitoria’s era that it is surprising that anyone spoke up in defenseof the indigenous people.  He demonstrated a deep compassion for all people, regardless of race, religion, and culture.  At the same time, he condemned the conquistadores and their exploitation and brutality against the natives.  Their behavior was un-Christian and inhumane and undermined the efforts of the missionaries to spread Christianity.  In fact, the cruelty of the Spaniards led to more bloodshed and war.  Vitoria was absolutely right to criticize the conquistadores.

Pacifism, Realism, and Just Peacemaking

       Some people believe pacifism is the right approach because it is more in line with Christian and humanist values.  Other people are realists and recognize that war is sometimes a necessary evil.  A more modern approach is called just peacemaking, which calls for a more proactive approach in preventing conflict (Johnson, 2016, pg. 18-20).  This approach would require a worldwide fundamental change in attitudes, however, that may be unrealistic.  There have always been people who refuse to follow the rules, defy the norms, and place their own ambitions first, and that seems unlikely to change anytime soon.  Human ambition and ego are strong forces that drive dreams of power, conquest, wealth, and control that can be resistant to rational solutions.  Having guidelines in place to evaluate legitimate conditions for war is a useful tool for making decisions about whether or not to intervene in conflicts, propose sensible solutions, and set goals for a positive result.

References

—–. (2021). First sino-japanese war. Japan visitor. Retrieved from

       http://www.japanvisitor.com/japanese-history/first-sino-japanese-war

Bellamy, A.J. (2018). Francisco de vitoria (1492 – 1546). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (77-91). Abingdon, Oxon: 

       Routledge

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. (2021). First sino-japanese war 1894-1895.

       Britannica. Retrieved from

       http://www.britannica.com/event/First-Sino-Japanese-War-1894-1895

Brunstetter, D.R., & O’Driscoll, C. (Ed.). (2018). Just war thinker: From cicero to the 21st

       century. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Davis, B. (1988). Sherman’s march. New York: Vintage Books

Department of State. Office of the Historian. (2021). Milestones: 1993-2000: Somalia,

       1992-1993. Department of State. Retrieved from

       http://www.history.state.gov/milestones/1993-2000/somalia

Department of Veteran Affairs. (2020). Fact sheets: America’s wars. Retrieved from

       http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/fs_americas_wars.pdf

Hengjun, Y. (2014, August). The biggest lesson of the first sino-japanese war. The diplomat.

       Retrieved from http://www.thediplomat.com/2014/08/the-biggest-lesson-of-the-first-sino-

       japanese-war/

Johnson, E. (2016). War and peace in christian tradition. Augustine collective. Retrieved from

       http://www.augustinecollective.org/war-and-peace-in/

Johnson, J.T. (2018). St. augustine (354-430 ce). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (21-33). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Mugabi, I. (2018, December). Opinion: How george h.w. bush’s failed somalia intervention

       shaped us-africa ties. DW. Retrieved from

       http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-how-george-hwbushs-failed-somalia-intervention-shaped-

       us-africa-ties/a-46598215

National Park Service. (2021). Fort sumter. Retrieved from

       http://www.nps.gov/fosu/index.htm

Nho, Hyoung-Jin. (2021). From kanghwa to shimonoseki: The disputes over the sovereignty

       of tributary choson korea. Oxford public international law. Retrieved from

       http://www.opil.ouplaw.com/page/kanghwa

Ransom, R. (2021). Causes, costs and consequences: The economics of the american civil war.

       Essential civil war curriculum. Retrieved from

       http://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/the-economics-of-the-civil-war.html

Reichberg, G.M. (2018). Thomas aquinas (1224/5 – 1274). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds). Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (50-63). Abingdon, Oxon:

       Routledge

Rickard, J. (2013, October). First sino-japanese war (1894-1895). History of war. Retrieved from

       http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/wars_first_sino_japanese.html

Smith, D. (2007). Sherman’s march to the sea 1864: Atlanta to savannah. Botley, Oxford:

       Osprey Publishing

Special Report. (1994). Restoring hope: The real lessons of somalia for the future of

       intervention. United states institute of peace. Retrieved from

       http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/sr950000.pdf

Tiezzi, S. (2014, April). Chinese strategists reflect on the first sino-japanese war. The diplomat.

       Retrieved from http://www.thediplomat.com/2014/04/chinese-strategists-reflect-on-the-first-

       sino-japanese-war/

Trudeau, N.A. (2008). Southern storm: Sherman’s march to the sea. New York: HarperCollins

       Publishers

~

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 23, 2021; December 9, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

(Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash)

19 Comments »

A Tudor Christmas/Pearl Harbor Day

(Photo by Al Elmes on Unsplash)

Green Groweth the Holly

by King Henry the VIII of England



Green groweth the holly, so doth the ivy.
Though winter blasts blow never so high,
Green groweth the holly.

As the holly groweth green
    And never changeth hue,
So I am, and ever hath been,
    Unto my lady true.
            Green groweth the holly, so doth the ivy.            
Though winter blasts blow never so high,            
Green groweth the holly.

As the holly groweth green,
    With ivy all alone,
When flowerys cannot be seen
    And green-wood leaves be gone,
              Green groweth the holly, so doth the ivy.              
Though winter blasts blow never so high,               
Green groweth the holly. 
                

Now unto my lady
    Promise to her I make:
From all other only
    To her I me betake.
                Green groweth the holly, so doth the ivy.               
Though winter blasts blow never so high,                  
Green groweth the holly. 

Adieu, mine own lady,
    Adieu, my specïal,
Who hath my heart truly,
    Be sure, and ever shall.

Green groweth the holly, so doth the ivy.
Though winter blasts blow never so high,
Green groweth the holly. 

 

Greensleeves –

Attributed to King Henry VIII but actually published in 1580 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1865, Englishman William Chatterton Dix “borrowed” the musical composition, changed the lyrics, and turned it into the Christmas carol, What Child is This? While Greensleeves remains a popular folk song in England, the Christmas carol is uniquely popular in the United States.

~

December 7, 2022 is Pearl Harbor Day. Remember Pearl Harbor!

Dawn Pisturino

December 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

24 Comments »

The Light Keepers

(Point Betsie Lighthouse, near Frankfort, Michigan. Photo from travelthemitten.com)

I just finished reading the book, The Lamplighters, by Emma Stonex, which tells the story of three lighthouse keepers who disappear without a trace. Her fictionalized story is based on a true story. On December 15, 1900, three lighthouse keepers (James Ducat, Thomas Marshall, and Donald MacArthur) were discovered missing from the Flannan Lighthouse on Eilean Mor, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The crew which searched the island found the clock stopped, a half-eaten meal, and no sign of the lighthouse keepers anywhere. The popular theory is that one of the keepers killed the other two and then did himself in; but no evidence exists that this is what happened. No bodies were ever found, and the case has never been solved. Stonex’s book maintains the mystery of the original story while providing a plausible solution. If you like history and mystery, I highly recommend this book.

Reading the book led me to watch the movie, The Lighthouse (2019), starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. My daughter had watched it and recommended it to me. The story is about a lighthouse keeper and his apprentice who get trapped on an island by a severe storm and go crazy from the isolation, excessive amounts of alcohol, and personal conflicts. It’s a fascinating movie with exceptional acting, and I recommend it for people who like psychological dramas and movies about interpersonal conflicts. Next, I watched The Vanishing (2018), starring Gerard Butler, which also tells the story of the Flannan Lighthouse and the disappearance of the three lighthouse keepers. Although the movie provides a plausible solution to the mystery, I did not like it as much as The Lighthouse.

Reading books and watching movies about lighthouse keepers reminded me that my great-great-grandfather, Medad Spencer (1836-1919), was a lighthouse keeper on Lake Michigan. A Civil War veteran, he joined the United States Lighthouse Service and manned lighthouses at Point Betsie and Beaver Island. At the same time, he owned a 120-acre farm near Spoonville, which his children ran, and a general store in Nunica.

From 1894-1905, he served as the lighthouse keeper for the Point Betsie Lighthouse, near Frankfort, Michigan. In his later years, he served at the St. James Lighthouse on Beaver Island. His wife, Julia, always accompanied him when he was away from his other obligations. She complained about the blizzards, rain, and isolation on Beaver Island. But when Medad’s health began to fail, she would take his watch for him, which meant staying awake all night. Now, that’s true partnership for you!

(Medad Spencer in his lighthouse keeper’s uniform.)

Although being a lighthouse keeper sounds romantic and exciting, I have to wonder if my great-great-grandparents went stir crazy from the isolation and began to fight with each other. I haven’t seen any evidence that this was the case, but I can’t help thinking about it, especially after reading the book and watching the movies!

Thanks for visiting. Have a great day!

Dawn Pisturino

October 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

School Lunches from the 1950s Housewife

(Illustration by Arthur Sarnoff)

Providing a hearty, healthy, nutritious lunch in a clean, sanitary lunch box or other container for both hubby and the kids was a housewife’s daily duty in the 1950s. The guidelines included the following:

  1. “It should be abundant in amount for a hungry, healthy individual. A little too much is better than too little.”
  2. “It should be chosen with regard to nutritive needs of the individual, and in relation to the whole day’s food.”
  3. “It should be clean, appetizing, wholesome, and attractive.”

Food Selection

Solids and liquids were both included in the lunch plan. Guidelines urged housewives to choose at least one item from each of the following groups:

Milk — in food, such as pudding, or drink.

Bread — whole grain used in sandwiches.

Meat, Cheese, Eggs, or Fish — used in sandwich fillings, salads, or main dishes. Left over meat loaf, pot roast, and other food items were often used in sandwiches in the 1950s.

Fruit — whole or diced in salads or desserts.

Vegetables — used in sandwich fillings, salads, main dishes, or whole. Crisp, raw vegetables preferred.

Surprise – cookies, nuts, raisins, or other special treat.

What Season is it?

~ In winter, include something hot, such as soup, coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in a thermos.

~ In summer, include cool, refreshing items such as lemonade, fruit juice, iced tea, or iced coffee in a thermos.

Tips

*Remember to include utensils, napkins, and straws.*

*Provide spicier, more flavorful food for hubby and milder but flavorful food for the kids.*

*The goal in the 1950s was to keep packed lunches appetizing, varied, and balanced nutritionally.

Menus

Cream of tomato soup

Ham sandwich with mustard and lettuce

Celery sticks and olives

Fresh pear

Cookies

~

Cheese sandwich with ketchup and lettuce

Tossed vegetable salad and dressing

Pickles

Whole orange

Cake

Hot cocoa

~

(The first lunch box set was produced by the Aladdin Company in 1950 and featured Hopalong Cassidy.)

The National School Lunch Act, signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946, provides school lunches in public schools for a fee or for free. I don’t know nowadays how many kids still bring their lunches to school. I remember kids getting teased when they reached a certain age who still brought their lunches to school. My favorite part of lunch in school was the chocolate milk that came with the cafeteria lunch. And, in high school, we used to sneak off campus and hit the local Taco Bell. Many adults eat in the company cafeteria, if one is provided, or order fast food. But some adults still bring their lunches to work.

~

Information retrieved from The American Woman’s Cook Book, 1952 and the Internet.

Dawn Pisturino

September 19, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

33 Comments »

Japanese Invasion of China and the Tokyo War Crimes Trial

(Photo from the National WWII Museum)

The Japanese Invasion of China, 1937-1945

       After the First Sino-Japanese War, when Japan gained control of Korea, Japan continued to grow militarily and technologically, eventually embarking on the invasion of China on July 7, 1937 (U.S. Department of State, 1943, pg. 1).  The invasion resulted from a skirmish between Chinese and Japanese soldiers outside Peking (Beijing), North China.  Japan never formally declared war against China, and the invasion forced opposing forces within that country—the Chinese Nationalists and the Communists—to band together against the Japanese (U.S. Department of State, 2021, pg. 1).

       “In 1935, Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Hitler’s Germany, laying the foundation for the creation of the Axis (Fascist Italy would join the following year)” (Mankoff, 2015, pg. 1).  With the backing of Germany and Italy, Japan sought to conquer China.  Japanese forces had already seized Manchuria in 1931 and Jehol province in 1933.  The Japanese military “adopted a policy of deliberate savagery in the expectation that it would break the will of the Chinese to resist . . . [however], the Chinese Army . . . put up strong resistance to Japan’s armies, . . . [prompting the Japanese to engage in] an orgy of murder, rape, and looting that shocked the civilized world” (Pacific War, 2021, pg. 1).

       After taking Shanghai in late 1937, the Japanese moved on Nanking.  “Chiang Kai-Shek ordered the removal of nearly all official Chinese troops from the city, leaving it defended by untrained auxiliary troops.  Chiang also ordered the city held at any cost, and forbade the official evacuation of its citizens” (History, 2019, pg. 2).

       A neutral zone was established inside the city, managed by the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone.  Once the Chinese Army left Nanking, “all remaining citizens were ordered into the safety zone for their protection” (History, 2019, pg. 2).

       Japan’s Central China Front Army entered Nanking on December 13, 1937.  Rumors of their atrocities had already preceded them – including stories about “killing contests and pillaging” (History, 2019, pg. 2).  The Nanking Safety Zone was ignored.  Over six weeks, thousands of Chinese soldiers were murdered and buried in mass graves, families slaughtered—including infants and the elderly— and thousands of women raped.  At least one-third of the city was destroyed (History, 2019, pg. 2).

Tokyo War Crimes Trial

       On April 29, 1946, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) gathered “to put leaders from the Empire of Japan on trial for joint charges of conspiracy to start and wage war” (Burton, 2020, pg. 6).  The Allies were immediately accused of seeking a “victor’s justice” against Japan, so judges from non-Allied countries were recruited to partake in the trial.  The United States arrested 28 Japanese leaders, who stood trial between May 3, 1946 and December, 1948.  They were charged with “war crimes, crimes committed against prisoners of war, and crimes against humanity” (Burton, 2020, pg. 6).

       As a result of the Potsdam negotiations, Japanese Emperor Hirohito and his son, Prince Asaka, were protected from prosecution; no testimony was allowed that implicated them; and Japanese media censored all information that portrayed the emperor and General Douglas MacArthur in a negative light.  Furthermore, only limited evidence was allowed in court, and media coverage was restricted (Burton, 2020, pg. 6,7). 

       Twenty-five defendants were found guilty. Two had already died.  One was hospitalized for mental illness.  Eighteen were sentenced to prison.  Seven were executed by hanging, including the General of the Imperial Japanese Army, Hideki Tojo.  After the Tokyo trial concluded, 2,200 more trials were held, and approximately 5,600 additional war criminals were tried (Burton, 2020, pg. 8).

       The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials “created a new standard of international justice” (Burton, 2020, pg. 9) that holds political and military leaders accountable for their actions and helps the countries of the world to avoid another World War.

Pufendorf, Vattel, Accountability, and Punishment

       [Philosopher] Samuel Pufendorf believed that humans wanted to live in peaceful, organized societies and “that actors [must] refrain from harming each other while pursuing their own interests and provided a universal right to punish those who violate the law” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 146).  He further emphasized that states bound by treaties and friendly relations are perfectly capable of living together in peace.  In fact, he saw this as a necessity for survival.  Some theorists have extended this idea to mean “that Pufendorf’s law of nations ‘involves an obligation on the part of one social group not merely not to harm, but actively to promote the welfare of all others’” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 147).  Pufendorf, therefore, called for stricter rules when it came to waging war against sovereign states (Glanville, 2018, pg. 146, 147).

       He recognized, however, the three traditional causes for just war: “to preserve ourselves and our possessions against injury; to claim from others the things that are rightfully ours if they refuse to provide them; and to obtain reparations for past injuries and guarantees that they will not be repeated” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 148).  Pufendorf insisted that “lust for fame, domination, and riches ought never to be considered just causes for war” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 148).

       By Pufendorf’s standards, Japan was wrong to invade China because Japan did not have an absolute right “to receive a benefit from others [China] in the form of trade, passage, hospitality, or settlement . . . and should not be considered subject to enforcement [by force]” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 149).  Japan’s motivation for invading China was domination, a reason that does not support Pufendorf’s guidelines for just war.

       At the same time, Pufendorf rejected the idea “of a universal right of punishment” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 150) unless punishment is rendered by the sovereign who has power over the guilty party.  That said, he would have made an exception in the case of the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials because the Nazis and the Japanese committed atrocious acts and “all men had a right to punish those persons who placed themselves beyond the jurisdiction of any courts of justice and [behaved] as if they are the enemies of all others” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 150).

       The Chinese had not done anything to deserve the invasion of their country, and they had a legitimate right to defend themselves against the Japanese invaders.  Pufendorf fully supported the right of a state to defend itself from aggressors as a fundamental cause for just war (Glanville, 2018, pg. 148).  Not only were the Japanese waging an unjust war against China, but their atrocious jus in bello behavior was unjustified and unnecessarily cruel.  Their behavior justified the Tokyo War Crimes Trial conducted by the Allies later on since “belligerents [and] their savagery motivates present or future enemies to act in kind” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 152).  It was absolutely unjust to protect the emperor and his son from punishment since they must have been aware of the tactics used by the Japanese military and its policy of total war.  They were certainly in charge of Japan’s imperialist ambitions in China.  And, even if military leaders ordered the butchery of the Chinese, individual soldiers were responsible for making a game out of it (killing contests) and carrying it out (History, 2019, pg. 2).

       [Philosopher] Emmerich Vattel developed the idea that sovereigns should be treated as “one treats others, whether a person or a state” (Christov, 2018, pg. 157).  He fully recognized that not all nations or people would follow this rule.  “If there were a people who made open profession on trampling justice under foot, — who despised and violated the rights of others whenever they found an opportunity, — the interest of human society would authorize all the other nations to form a confederacy in order to humble and chastise the delinquents . . . the safety of the human race requires that [such a nation] should be repressed” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

       The Japanese invasion of China would fall under this category of a rogue nation that has no respect for the rights of other nations and must be neutralized.  Since Japan did not officially declare war on China and refused to engage in peace negotiations with the United States, Japanese leadership violated the rights of China and the Chinese people.  They, therefore, became subject to punishment and international justice at the hands of other nations who wanted to rectify the situation and restore peace (U.S. Department of State, 1943, pg. 1).

       Japan had no claim to China except through the use of military force.  When they invaded China, they were sending a message that “we prosecute our right by force” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160) – which is a corruption of Vattel’s definition of war.  Vattel would have considered the invasion an “illegal war, which would include ‘conquest, or the desire of invading the property of others’” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

       The invasion of China also led ultimately to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, dragged the United States into World War II, and may have influenced President Truman to order the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the final stage of the war (U.S. Department of State, 2021, pg. 2; Compton, 1946, pg. 1-3).  This chain of events illustrates the importance of addressing conflicts early in order “to provide for our future safety by punishing the aggressor or offender” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

       Vattel also insisted that “there are limits on what states can do in war” (Christov, 2018, pg. 162).  He rejected unnecessary brutality against people and destruction of property, calling these tactics of warfare “of an odious kind . . . unjustifiable in themselves . . . [and] prohibited by natural law” (Christov, 2018, pg. 163).  He regarded the individuals who engage in this kind of behavior “as savage barbarians” (Christov, 2018, pg. 163).

       Since the Japanese behaved like “savage barbarians,” they deserved to be prosecuted and punished during the Tokyo War Crimes Trial.  Vattel explained this in his book, Law of Nations, when he wrote, “when we are at war with a savage nation, who observe no rules, and never give quarter, we may punish them in the persons of any of their people whom we take . . . and endeavor . . . to force them to respect the laws of humanity” (Christov, 2018, pg. 164).

       Therefore, Emperor Hirohito and his son, Prince Asaka, and all of the military leaders and soldiers involved, should have been punished – even executed – to the full extent of the law, as determined by the Tokyo War Crimes Trial.

References

Burton, K.D. (2020). War crimes on trial: The nuremberg and tokyo trials. National

       WWII Museum. Retrieved from

       http://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/nuremberg-and-tokyo-war-crimes-trials

Christov, T. (2018). Emer de vattel (1714-1767). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (156-167). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Compton, K. (1946). If the atomic bomb had not been used. Manchuria Document Set. Truman

       Library. Retrieved from http://www.trumanlibrary.gov/public/Manchuria_DocumentSet.pdf

Glanville, L. (2018). Samuel pufendorf (1632-1694). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (145-155). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

History, The Editors. (2019). Nanking massacre. History. Retrieved from

       http://www.history.com/topics/japan/nanjing-massacre

Mankoff, J. (2015). The legacy of the soviet offensives of august 1945. Manchuria Document Set.

       Truman Library. Retrieved from     

       http://www.trumanlibrary.gov/public/Manchuria_DocumentSet.pdf

—-. (2021). The rape of nanking or nanjing massacre (1937). Pacific War. Retrieved

       from http://www.pacificwar.org.au/JapWarCrimes/TenWarCrimes/Rape_Nanking.html

U.S. Department of State. (1943). Peace and war: United states foreign policy, 1931-1941.

       (DOS Publication No. 1983). Retrieved from

       http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/WorldWar2/china.htm

U.S. Department of State. Office of the Historian. (2021). Japan, china, the united states and the

       road to pearl harbor, 1937-41. Retrieved from

       http://history.state.gov/milestones/1937-1945/pearl-harbor

~

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

November 20, 2021; August 31, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

24 Comments »

Suez Canal Crisis, 1956

(Suez Canal, 1956)

Suez Canal Crisis, 1956

       When Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser claimed control of the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956, he sparked an incident which changed the geo-political landscape forever in the Middle East and elsewhere; undermined remaining vestiges of the British Empire around the world; reinforced the positions of the United States and the Soviet Union as world powers; and utilized the United Nations for the first time in a peacekeeping mission (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1, 2).

       Although the Suez Canal was built on Egyptian territory, construction was facilitated by “the Suez Canal Company, the joint British-French enterprise which had owned and operated the Suez Canal since its construction in 1869” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1).  President Nasser wanted to end British and French control over Egyptian interests.  He offered financial compensation for the company, but the British and French governments did not accept the offer (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1).

       President Eisenhower wanted a diplomatic solution to the conflict.  “On September 9, 1956, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles proposed the creation of a Suez Canal Users’ Association (SCUA), an international consortium of 18 of the world’s leading maritime nations, to operate the Canal” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1), which did not succeed.  Behind the scenes, Britain and France prepared a military plan with Israel’s help “to invade Egypt and overthrow its president” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1, 2). 

       On October 29, 1956, Israel – which had been denied all access to the Suez Canal – invaded Egyptian territory.  British and French forces arrived two days later, taking control of the zone around the Suez Canal.  In response, Nikita Khrushchev condemned the military action and threatened nuclear war with Europe (History, 2021, pg. 2).

       President Eisenhower warned the Soviets against the use of nuclear bombs and condemned the British-French-Israeli coalition for the invasion.  He threatened to impose severe economic sanctions on the three countries.  Britain and France withdrew all troops by December, 1956.  Israel followed suit in March, 1957.  For the first time, the United Nations assembled a peacekeeping force, the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), to oversee all troop withdrawals (History, 2021, pg. 2, 3).

       In 1954, Egypt and Britain had agreed upon a new treaty which would force all British troops off Egyptian soil in twenty months.  After Winston Churchill resigned from office in 1955, he was succeeded by another pro-Empire British official, Anthony Eden.  It was after all British troops had withdrawn from Egypt in July, 1956 that “Nasser abruptly announced the nationalization of the Suez Canal Company” Brown, 2001, pg. 2).  Outraged, Eden planned the invasion of Egypt.

       In the meantime, diplomatic negotiations failed to ease tensions between the offended nations.  Finally, Nasser rejected international interference in Egypt’s control of the Suez Canal, and the British-French-Israeli coalition proceeded with the invasion (Brown, 2001, pg. 2, 3).

       A ceasefire arranged by the United Nations, under pressure by the United States, halted the conflict.  Nasser ordered the destruction of forty-seven ships and blocked the Suez Canal (Brown, 2001, pg. 3).

       The invasion diminished the standing of both Britain and France on the world stage.  Israel emerged as one of the “most potent force[s] in the Middle East” (Brown, 2001, pg. 3).  The Soviet Union and the United States consolidated their positions as world powers, with the Soviet Union condemning continued “western imperialism” (Brown, 2001, pg. 4).  Prime Minister Eden resigned from office on January 9, 1957.  President Nasser became a hero in his own country.  And countries around the world gradually shed the yoke of English and French control (Brown, 2001, pg. 3-5).

Who should have Controlled the Suez Canal

       In my opinion, Egypt had the right to control the Suez Canal, based on its location.  But the British and the French already had legal ownership and control of the Canal, a privilege they had enjoyed since 1869.  Instead of suddenly announcing that he was taking possession of the Canal and Suez Canal Company, Nasser should have negotiated with Britain and France for that control.  He could have brought in the United Nations and the United States to help with a diplomatic solution.  Nasser’s aggressive stance inflamed tensions in the Middle East and ultimately led to a military confrontation.  Furthermore, Egypt had deliberately blocked Israel from access to the Canal since the establishment of the Jewish state.  This act of anti-Semitism brought Israel into the military conflict (Brown, 2001, pg. 3).

       [Philosopher] Immanuel Kant enthusiastically supported both the American and French revolutions.  He would have agreed that British and French imperialism should come to an end so that sovereign nations could chart their own destinies (Orend, 2018, pg. 169).  The British and French had not violated Egypt’s rights since they had legally owned and operated the Suez Canal since 1869.  It was President Nasser’s personal ambition for Egypt to control the Canal.  Once he took control of the Suez Canal Company, he violated the rights of its British and French owners and threatened British and French interests.  When the British-French-Israeli coalition invaded Egypt, however, Egypt had a right to exercise Kant’s principles of “the defense, protection, and vindication of the fundamental rights of political communities and their citizens” (Orend, 2018, pg. 170).  Either Britain and France should have accepted cash reimbursement for the Suez Canal Company, or the three countries should have continued to negotiate with the help of the United Nations and the United States.

       [Just war ethicist Michael] Walzer did not support the invasion of Iraq and would not have supported the invasion of Egypt, because he does not believe “in regime change as a motive for intervention” (Brown, 2018, pg. 213).  He would have supported Egypt’s right of autonomy and right to control the Canal since President Nasser had offered to buy that control.

A Shift in the International Order

       President Eisenhower was angry at Britain for not revealing its intention to invade Egypt, so he did not support the action or take Britain’s side (History, 2021, pg. 2).  He also worried about Soviet intervention in the conflict, so he tried to settle the dispute through diplomatic channels.  The British-French-Israeli coalition was determined to take military action and to overthrow Nasser’s presidency, however, and proceeded without the backing of the United States or United Nations (History, 2021, pg. 2).

       The United States was not directly threatened by the conflict and had no obligation to get involved.  Walzer’s position, in my opinion, is that Egypt was a sovereign nation, and the British-French-Israeli coalition had no legal right to invade the country – let alone overthrow Nasser’s presidency – since “Egypt possess[ed] political sovereignty and territorial integrity . . . [and] attacks on the latter are acts of aggression which the victim is entitled to resist, to enlist the aid of others in so doing, and later to punish the aggressor” (Brown, 2018, pg. 207, 208), which Nasser did by blocking the Canal with sunken ships.  Even today, the United Nations Charter only stipulates self-defense as a legitimate basis for war.

       Even though Immanuel Kant was eager to see the old regimes fall in his own lifetime and would have been pleased to see the end of British and French imperialism in our own time, his basic belief was that self-defense was the primary just cause for war.  He would have supported a peaceful resolution to the conflict.                                                                                                                                       

       It’s clear that President Eisenhower was interested in avoiding a larger conflict.  Egypt had a right to the Canal since it was located on Egyptian territory, and President Nasser had offered to make full restitution to the British and French owners of the Canal.  But Britain and France were both invested in keeping at least some of their colonial territories and were not willing to give up such a valuable possession.  They were protecting their own interests while ignoring President Nasser’s ambition to make Egypt independent of British and French influence (Brown, 2001, pg. 1-5).

       President Eisenhower was wise to end the conflict and support Egypt’s autonomy even though it meant the temporary closure of the Suez Canal.

References

Brown, C. (2018). Michael walzer (1935-Present). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (205-215). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Brown, D. (2001, March). 1956: Suez and the end of empire. The Guardian. Retrieved from

       http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/mar/14/past.education1

Department of State. Office of the Historian. (2021). Milestones: 1953-1960: The suez crisis,

       1956. Department of State. Retrieved from

       http://www.history.state.gov/milestones/1953-1960/suez

Orend, B. (2018). Immanuel kant (1724-1804). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (168-180). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

History, The Editors. (2021). Suez crisis. History. Retrieved from

       http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/suez-crisis

~

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 11, 2021; August 24, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

25 Comments »

Martial Arts and the Boxer Rebellion

(By Peter d’Aprix – http://www.galleryhistoricalfigures.com, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13275101)

       The Boxers were a group of martial arts practitioners who formed a secret society called the I Ho Ch’uan (Fists of Righteous Harmony).  They “opposed foreign influence and [were] strongly anti-Christian” (Plante, 1999, pg.1).  When Northern China experienced a series of natural disasters in the 1890s, farmers and workers joined with the Boxers to harass “Chinese Christians and foreign missionaries” (Plante, 1999, pg. 1).

       Originally, the Boxers staged rebellions against the Qing dynasty in the late 18th and early 19th centuries” (Britannica, 2020, pg. 1).  They wanted to destroy the Qing dynasty and all the Western foreigners who had set up “spheres of influence” in China with the full support of the Chinese government (University of Washington, 2021, pg. 1).  The American government wanted a piece of the action in China, but Empress Tsu-Hsi rejected that proposal (University of Washington, 2021, pg. 1).  Secretly, she supported the Boxers but “promised the Westerners that she would stop the Boxer efforts” (University of Washington, 2021, g. 2).

       United States Secretary of State John Hay “contacted the governments with Chinese spheres of influence and tried to persuade them all to share trading rights equally, including the United States” (University of Washington, 2021, pg. 1,2).  The other governments declined to sign any agreements, but Hay charged that the governments had all agreed in theory to his “Open Door Policy,” which represented a legally-binding agreement (University of Washington, 2021, pg. 2).

       In 1900, the Boxers led a peasant revolt against all foreigners in China.  “In Beijing [Peking], the Boxers burned churches and foreign residences and killed suspected Chinese Christians on sight” (Britannica, 2020, pg. 1).  In response, foreign-led forces took control of the Dagu forts.  Empress Tsu-Hsi ordered the murder of all foreigners in China, as a result (Britannica, 2021, pg. 2).

       The Boxer rebellion posed a threat to Hay’s Open Door Policy.  Foreign ministers refused to leave China, even though the Empress had declared a state of war.  On June 20, 1900, the Boxers and Chinese combatants attacked the city of Beijing, with the foreign ministers and their families barricaded within the Legation Quarter (Plante, 1999, pg. 2,3).

       The United States sent troops into the area “to relieve the legations in [Beijing] and protect American interests in China” (Plante, 1999, pg. 3).  Beijing was taken by a coalition of foreign forces, including the United States, and the Boxer Protocol was signed in September, 1901 (Plante, 1999, pg. 4).

China’s Internal Matters: Support for the Boxers.  Should the Chinese Government have Supported the Boxers in their Rebellion?

       By all appearances, Empress Tsu-Hsi was playing both sides in order to direct aggression of the Boxers away from the Chinese government.  Economically, China benefited from the foreign “spheres of influence,” but foreign influence was undermining Chinese culture and society.  “Christian converts flouted traditional Chinese ceremonies and family relations; and missionaries pressured local officials to side with Christian converts . . . in local lawsuits and property disputes” (Britannica, 2020, pg. 1).

       If the Chinese government had formal agreements with foreign governments, they should have kept their agreements.  China was a sovereign country with an established monarchy.  However, the Western countries were more technologically advanced, aggressive in their quest to exploit Chinese resources, and showed no respect for Chinese culture and authority.  In this regard, the West posed a threat to the Chinese and, according to las Casas (2018), “Every nation, no matter how barbaric, has the right to defend itself against a more civilized one that wants to conquer it and take away its freedom” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 96).

       Empress Tsu-Hsi exploited the Boxers against the foreigners but undermined her own government in the end.

China’s Internal Matters: Negotiation.  Should the Chinese Government have Attempted to Negotiate a Peaceful Resolution to the Conflict?

       By all appearances, neither Empress Tsu-Hsi, the Boxers, nor the Chinese civilians were interested in peace.  People were suffering economically, Chinese society was being disrupted by foreign influence, and the push to remove all foreigners from China was too strong.  The Empress actually backed the Boxers against the foreigners, ordered the murder of all foreigners, and declared a state of war (Plante, 1999, pg. 1,2).  If the Chinese wanted to negotiate, they could have done so at any time.

       If the Westerners were injuring China and the Chinese people, the Empress should have tried to negotiate terms in favor of her own people.  If the Empress did not want war with the Westerners, she could have negotiated with the Boxers to control the rebellion.  Instead, she supported them.  She was, according to Suarez (2018), derelict in her duty “to maintain order” (Davis, 2018, pg. 111) in the kingdom.

China’s External Matters: Western Governments’ Troop Intervention.  Should Western Governments have Sent Troops to China to Protect their Citizens and Property? 

       By all appearances, foreigners were in China with the permission of the Chinese government.  But in 1898, “conservative, anti-foreign forces won control of the Chinese government and persuaded the Boxers to drop their opposition to the Qing dynasty and unite with it in destroying the foreigners” (Britannica, 2020, pg. 1).  This implies that the Chinese government was not interested in peace or negotiations.  Once established, the Westerners refused to leave China, even in light of the increasing violence and threats of war.  When the foreigners sent troops into China, they had no legitimate authority to do so because China was a sovereign nation with a legitimate government.  According to las Casas (2018), “No ruler, whether king or emperor, nor anyone else, can exercise jurisdiction beyond his borders, since borders or limits are so called because they limit, determine, or restrict the property, power, or jurisdiction of someone” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 97).  Before sending in troops, the Western governments should have tried to negotiate a peace deal with the Chinese government.  However, if the Chinese government was unwilling to control the Boxers and negotiate peace, the Western governments had no choice but to send in troops to rescue Western citizens.

China’s External Matters: Western Governments’ Negotiations.  Should Western Governments have Attempted to Negotiate either with the Boxers or the Chinese Government Directly?

       After the defeat of China in the First Sino-Japanese War, Japan was granted the right to conduct trade in China.  This encouraged Western governments to also seek trading rights in China (Britannica, 2021, pg. 2).  “Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and Russia all [claimed] exclusive trading rights with specific areas of China” (University of Washington, 2021, pg. 1).  The United States wanted trading rights, too, but Empress Tsu-Hsi rejected U.S. proposals (University of Washington, 2021, pg. 1).  Secretary of State John Hay pressured the other Western governments into an unwritten agreement that had no legal status.  Hay insisted that the agreement was real and called it the Open Door Policy (University of Washington, 2021, pg. 1,2).  Some of these Westerners claimed to own the land within their trading zones, which infuriated the Boxers and the local civilians (University of Washington, 2021, pg. 1).

       The United States had no legitimate authority to invade China, even if the other Western governments did.  They had no legitimate claim to take back the land because they did not legitimately own the land in the first place.  So, las Casas’s assertion that it was just cause “to take back formerly Christian lands held by unbelievers” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 97) does not apply.  The effort “to punish pagans who practice idolatry in provinces formerly under Christian control” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 97) also would not apply.  Las Casas (2018), however, does consider it a just cause to “wage war upon those who prevent the gospel from being preached within their jurisdiction” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 99).  If the missionaries had permission previously to evangelize in China, the Western governments would have a legitimate cause to send troops into China to rescue missionaries, converts, and government officials from persecution by the Boxers and the Chinese government.

Legitimate Negotiations. Given that the Boxers had No Legitimate Authority within China, could Negotiations have Occurred with them Directly under any Circumstances?  If so, how?

       The Boxers were fundamentalists who believed that “they had magical powers and were invulnerable to bullets and pain, and that ‘spirit soldiers’ would rise from the dead to join them in their battles” (University of Washington, 2021, pg. 2).  With that kind of thinking, why would they negotiate if they were convinced that they could defeat the Westerners and already had the backing of the Chinese government?  From my point of view, only the Empress could have negotiated with both the Boxers and the Westerners.  For one thing, she was the only one with real authority to negotiate and control events.  She was the only one with real authority to declare war, per Suarez’s requirement that “war must be waged by a legitimate power” (Davis, 2018, pg. 111).

References

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia (2020, February 13). Boxer rebellion. Encyclopedia

       Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/event/Boxer-Rebellion

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia (2021, July 25). First sino-japanese war. Encyclopedia

       Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/event/First-Sino-Japanese-War-

       1894-1895

Brunstetter, D.R. (2018). Bartolome de las casas (1484-1566). In D.R. Brunstetter & C.   

       O’Driscoll (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (92-104). Abingdon,

       Oxon: Routledge

Davis, G.S. (2018). Francisco suarez (1548-1617). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (105-117). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

University Libraries. (2021). Essay: The boxer rebellion. University of Washington. Retrieved

       from http://www.content.lib.washington.edu/chandlessweb/boxer.html

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

November 11, 2021; July 22, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

14 Comments »

Remember D-Day

Dawn Pisturino

June 6, 2022

2 Comments »

Allied Bombing of Dresden, 1945

(Destruction of Dresden, 1945)

[NOTE: A week ago, my father’s ashes were interred with full military honors in a military cemetery in California. The ceremony included a three gun salute, a bugler playing “Taps,” and the flag-folding ritual. Although my father served during the Korean War, he never saw live action. Instead, he was sent to Cuba on a reconnaissance mission. My brother is also buried in a military cemetery and died of cancer at the age of forty. He was an Army medic and became a paramedic and German teacher after leaving the military. Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer here in the United States. We honor all of our dead this weekend, but especially, those who have served, fought, and died protecting our country. War is hell, as any soldier will tell you, but sometimes, it is a necessary evil. Just ask the people of Ukraine, who are fighting for their lives, their country, their freedom, and their sovereignty as a nation. Please take a moment to remember all the soldiers who have given their lives to protect YOUR country.]

Allied Bombing of Dresden

The British RAF began dropping bombs on Dresden, Germany on February 13, 1945. Over the next few days, British and American Allies dropped approximately 4,000 tons of bombs onto the city, killing 25,000 people, and destroying the center of the city (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 2).

Prime Minister Winston Churchill questioned the attack, saying, “The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 2).

But, was the bombing justified?

Summary of Theories and Concepts of Pufendorf and Vattel

Pufendorf claimed that the enemy’s aggression “allows me to use force against him to any degree, or so far as I may think desirable” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 152). He explained that the people fighting a defensive war may use any force to put an end to the threat against them, receive reparations, or “secure guarantees for [their] future security” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 152). It was not, he explained, a priority to gauge proportionality but to ensure “the defense and assertion of [their] safety, [their] property, and [their] rights” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 152). The people on the defensive, therefore, may use whatever means necessary to defeat the enemy.

Vattel, on the other hand, believed that “now the laws of nature being no less obligatory on nations than on individuals, whatever duties each man owes to other men, the same does each nation, in its way, owe to other nations. Such is the foundation of those common duties – of those offices of humanity – to which nations are reciprocally bound towards each other” (Christov, 2018, pg. 159). But he also allowed for the possibility of nations that would violate the law of nations and violate all the civilized rules of warfare: “If there were a people who made open profession of trampling justice under foot, — who despised and violated the rights of others whenever they found an opportunity, — the interest of human society would authorize all the other nations to form a confederacy in order to humble and chastise the delinquents . . .the safety of the human race requires that [such a nation] should be repressed” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

Was the Allied Bombing of Dresden Justified?

At the time of the bombing, the Eastern Front – “where Nazi Germany was defending [itself] against the advancing armies of the Soviet Union” – was only 155 miles from Dresden. According to Luckhurst (2020), Dresden “factories provided munitions, aircraft parts and other supplies for the Nazi war effort” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 3). It was a major city through which German “troops, tanks and artillery traveled through . . . by train and by road” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 3). The attack was intended to bolster Soviet efforts on the Eastern Front (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 3).

RAF planes were equipped with both “high explosive and incendiary bombs: the explosives would blast buildings apart, while the incendiaries would set the remains on fire, causing further destruction” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 4). The United States Air Force completed the attack with daylight bombings which were directed at the city’s railway yards” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 4).

The Nazis denied that Dresden had any military function and exaggerated the death toll at 200,000 civilians. They claimed that Dresden “was only a city of culture” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 7).

Worldwide, Dresden was considered a tourist attraction. British Members of Parliament questioned the attack, and the Associated Press accused the Allies of using terrorism against the people of Dresden (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 7).

Allied military leaders defended the attack as necessary to further cripple Nazi Germany and end the war. A 1953 report done in the U.S. determined that “Dresden was a legitimate military target” (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 9), and the attack was no different from previous attacks on other German cities.

The debate continues, with some people viewing the bombing as immoral – possibly a war crime – and others defending it as necessary to help end the war with Germany (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 9).

My own view is that Pufendorf’s and Vattel’s theories both justify the bombing of Dresden. Pufendorf is correct when he says that the side waging a just war (in this case, the Allies) may use any means necessary to secure the peace and “secure guarantees for . . . future security” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 152). Nazi Germany was a rogue nation that had invaded other countries, murdered millions of people, and imposed authoritarian rule against the will of the people. They were guilty of “trampling justice under foot . . . [and] despised and violated the rights of others” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160), in Vattel’s own words. So, Vattel is also correct when he says that “the interest of human society [should] authorize all the other nations to form a confederacy [in this case, the Allies] in order to humble and chastise the delinquents . . . the safety of the human race requires that [such a nation – the Germans] should be repressed” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

Is Preservation of Cultural or Artistic Enemy Cities Relevant in War – Or are they Secondary?

My personal view is that preserving cultural and artistic enemy cities is secondary because defending the safety of Allied nations, property, and human rights takes precedence and aligns with both Pufendorf’s and Vattel’s theories of just war and the right of self-defense. Germany was the aggressor. It was not the duty or priority of Allied forces to save their cultural and artistic centers (Christov, 2018, pg. 160; Glanville, 2018, pg. 152).

Is it Justifiable to Bomb a City to Weaken the Enemy Civilian Morale – Even if the City has Marginal Industrial Significance?

Although the Nazis claimed that Dresden was only a cultural center, the Allies considered it an important transportation center for the Nazis and sought to help Soviet forces on the Eastern Front by destroying it (Luckhurst, 2020, pg. 3). The bombing weakened civilian morale but also undermined the Nazi’s efforts on the Eastern Front. Since civilians in Dresden supported the Nazi cause, they were also enemies of the Allied forces and subject to punishment by Allied war efforts. In my opinion, Vattel would have seen the bombing of Dresden as necessary “in order to humble and chastise the delinquents” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

Works Cited

Christov, T. (2018). Emer de vattel (1714-1767). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (156-167). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Glanville, L. (2018). Samuel pufendorf (1632-1694). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (144-155). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Luckhurst, T. (2020, February). Dresden: The world war two bombing 75 years on. BBC.com.

       Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51448486

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

November 10, 2021; May 27, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

29 Comments »

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