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Vietnam and Grotius’s Standards for Just War

The Vietnam War and Grotius’s Standards for Just War

The Vietnam War resulted in the deaths of more than three million Vietnamese combatants and non-combatants in North and South Vietnam. America lost 58,000 combatants. Both countries were split by opposing camps. Both countries suffered great losses in economic resources and political credibility (Shermer, 2017, pg.1). But was America’s involvement in the war a just cause?

Grotius’s Standards for Just War

According to David Armitage (2018), “Grotius was the first theorist of the law of nations . . . to grapple with the meaning of civil war” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8). Grotius generally defined war as “armed execution against an armed adversary” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8) and made distinctions between public and private wars. Public wars resulted from “the public will, or the legitimate authority in a state” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8). Private wars resulted from private entities or individuals and did not depend on the public’s endorsement (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8). Grotius further defined civil war as a “public war waged ‘against a part of the same state’” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8). Later, he elaborated on “mixed war . . .  a war fought on one side by the legitimate authority, on the other by ‘mere private persons’” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8). Grotius denounced private war against the State at any cost and even condoned “submitting to an unlawful government” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8) in order to avoid civil war.

Although Grotius is widely touted as one of the founders of international law, he is best remembered for his defense of the use of force by the Dutch East India Company against the Portuguese (Lang, 2018, pg. 133). He insisted “that no state could control [the seas]” (Lang, 2018, pg. 133-134), therefore, the use of force was justified, even though the Dutch East India Company was a private company. It followed that the State found it necessary to control such private companies in order to give them legitimacy and sovereignty as part of the State (Lang, 2018, pg. 134).

Grotius still affirmed the three traditional bases for just war – “self-defense, retaking of property unlawfully taken, and punishment of wrongdoing” (Lang, 2018, pg. 134). He still relied on natural law to guide people morally and saw no conflict between natural law and divine law (Lang, 2018, pg. 134-35). He concluded that natural law and the law of nations worked in tandem to support the guidelines that shape the jus in bellum between warring nations; and he did not condone breaking either natural law or the law of nations (Lang, 2018, pg. 135).

We, therefore, see Grotius condoning war that conforms “to both natural law and the law of nations” (Lang, 2018, pg. 136). A private war is just when someone (or a private entity) is acting to defend himself from harm (Lang, 2018, pg.136). However, he condemns “insurrection by subjects of a sovereign, arguing that once they enter into the relationship of a formal community there is a need to ensure that peace is the outcome rather than continued war” (Lang, 2018, pg. 136).

Was the Vietnam War Ethically Justifiable in Terms of Grotius’s Standards

According to Greenspan (2019), “the Vietnam War was ostensibly a civil war between the communist North and pro-Western South” (Greenspan, 2019, pg. 1). After the French were ousted from colonial rule of the country in 1954 by communist leader Ho Chi Minh, civil war broke out between Viet Cong forces from the North and Ngo Dinh Diem’s U.S.-backed forces in the South. Under pressure from the Cold War that was going on between the Soviet Union, China, and the United States, American leaders elected to back Diem’s forces in the South to prevent a communist take-over of South Vietnam. The U.S. eventually overthrew the Diem government in a coup in 1963 (Greenspan, 2019, pg. 2, 3).

In 1964, President Johnson committed “combat troops and launch[ed] a massive bombing campaign” which cemented America’s investment in the war. By the time of the U.S. troop withdrawal in 1973, the war had cost American taxpayers $111 billion in military costs alone (Greenspan 2019, pg. 3), and America could not claim victory in the war. In 1975, South Vietnam fell to North Vietnam, becoming a communist country against the will of the people (Greenspan, 2019, pg. 6).

The Vietnam War has many layers to it. In the first phase, the Vietnamese people staged an insurrection against the French colonial government in order to win their own freedom and become a sovereign nation. In the second phase, when the country was divided with the understanding that it would be re-united, elections were not held, and the Viet Cong from the North started hostilities against the South in order to turn the whole country communist. In the third phase, the United States and other countries intervened in the hostilities, with opposing countries supporting opposite sides. In the fourth phase, the United States pulled out of Vietnam, and the North defeated the South, turning Vietnam into a communist country against the will of the people (Greenspan, 2018, pg. 1-6).

If we are to take Grotius literally, he would have condemned the insurrection against the colonial French government by the Vietnamese (Lang, 2018, pg. 136) and then the civil war that broke out because he did not condone either instance of war. He himself said that “submitting to an unlawful government” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8) was better than ripping a country apart with civil war. Elections had not yet been held to reunite the country, so neither government was legitimately elected by the people. When the North attacked the South, it was attempting to take over the South against the will of the people. Grotius’s defense of self-defense against harm would apply here because the people in the South were defending themselves from harm against an illegitimate government (Lang, 2018, pg. 136).

When the United States got involved in the war, we were helping the South Vietnamese defend themselves against an aggressor. It may have been foolish to get involved, but the right intention was there – charity in helping one’s neighbor defend himself. Grotius, as a Protestant Christian, said, “we must also take care that we offend not against Charity, especially Christian Charity” (Lang, 2018, pg. 139). The paranoia about the communist threat was real at that time, and America’s leaders acted to minimize that threat, however misguided. The Viet Cong did not follow any rules of war – their goal was just to win, and they did (Greenspan, 2019, pg. 6). So, although Grotius would not have agreed with insurrection and civil war, I believe he would have lauded the United States for attempting to help the South Vietnamese defend themselves against the aggressors in the North.

Works Cited

Armitage, D. (2018). Civil war time: From grotius to the global war on terror. The american

       society of international law, 3-14. doi:10.1017/amp.2017.152

Greenspan, J. (2019, June). Which countries were involved in the Vietnam war? History.com.

       http://www.history.com/news/vietnam-war-combatants

Lang, A.F. (2018). Hugo grotius (1583-1645). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

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

Shermer, M. (2017, December). Can we agree to outlaw war – Again? Scientific american.

       Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-we/agree-to-outlaw-war- 

       mdash-again/?

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

November 3, 2021; April 29, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Church of All Russian Saints Ukraine Message

(Church of All Russian Saints Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, Burlingame, California, USA)

When I lived in California, I used to walk by this church all the time. It always fascinated me with its blue and gold domes, magnificent painting of the Virgin Mary, and clean, white walls. I rarely saw anybody there, and it seemed like one of those mysteries of life, kept locked up and tucked away, that strikes us with awe but never gets solved. For some reason, I was thinking about this church in relation to Easter and the disaster in Ukraine and decided to look it up.

Established in 1952, the church is part of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. This Diocese is also called the “Russian Church in Exile” because it has always seen itself as “part of the suffering Orthodox Church in Russia during the decades of Soviet turmoil, persecution, and subjugation of the Church and its faithful.” In 2007, the Diocese reunited with the Mother Church in Russia.

Like everybody else, our Russian immigrants here in America are shocked and dismayed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here’s the message of hope and prayer posted on the church’s website:

“We are overcome with grief over the tragic events in Ukraine, for many of us the land of our forefathers, and for some the land where our relatives live today. We pray to the All-Merciful Lord and His Most-Holy Mother for speedy secession of all hostilities and long-lasting peace.

Prayer to the Lord:
O Lord, Lover of mankind, King of the ages and Giver of good things: having destroyed the
divisions of enmity and granted peace unto the human race, grant even now peace unto Thy
servants, planting within them the fear of Thee and establishing them in love for one another.
Quench all strife, and remove all dissensions and temptations; for Thou art our peace and to
Thee do we offer up glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever
and unto the ages of ages, Amen.
Владыко Человѣколюбче, Царю вѣковъ и Подателю благихъ, разрушившiй вражды
средостѣнiя и мир подавшiй роду человѣческому, даруй и нынѣ миръ рабомъ Твоимъ,
вкорени нихъ страхъ Твой и другъ къ другу любовь утверди: угаси всяку распрю,
отыми вся разногласiя и соблазны. Яко Ты еси миръ нашъ и Тебе славу возсылаемъ,
Отцу и Сыну и Святому Духу, нынѣ и присно и во вѣки вѣковъ. Аминь.


Prayer to the Mother of God:
O much sorrowing Mother of God, more highly exalted than all other of the daughters of the
earth, according to thy purity and the multitude of thy suffering endured by thee on earth:
Hearken to our sighs and soften the hearts of evil men, and protect us under the shelter of thy
mercy. For we know no other refuge and ardent intercessor apart from thee, but as thou hast
great boldness before the One Who was born of thee, help and save us by thy prayers, that
without offense we may attain the Heavenly Kingdom where, with all the saints, we will sing
the thrice-holy hymn to One God Almighty in the Trinity, always now and ever and unto the
ages of ages. Amen.
О, многострадальная Мати Божiя, Превысшая всѣхъ дщерей земли, по чистотѣ Своей и
по множеству страданiй, Тобою на земли перенесенныхъ, прiими многоболезненныя
воздыханiя наша и сохрани насъ подъ кровомъ Твоея милости. Инаго бо прибѣжища
теплаго предстательста развѣ Тебѣ не вѣмы, но яко дерзновенiе имущая къ Иже изъ
Тебѣ рожденному, помози и спаси ны молитвами Своими, да непреткновенно
достигнемъ Царствiя Небеснаго, идеже со всѣми святыми будемъ воспѣвати въ Троицѣ
единому Богу нынѣ и присно и во вѣки вѣков. Аминь.”

(Parish Choir Lent Recital, 2018)

Whatever your faith – Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Protestant, Catholic, Russian/Greek/Eastern Orthodox, Wiccan – please pray and extend your best wishes and hopes for the people of Ukraine!

Dawn Pisturino

April 4, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Mario Savio and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement

(Mario Savio, University of California, Berkeley)

Anybody who was alive, breathing, conscious, and living in California during the 1960s remembers Mario Savio and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Savio’s energy and passionate speeches helped to bring the Civil Rights Movement and anti-Vietnam war protests to college campuses all across America. He was a fierce champion of both FREE SPEECH and DEBATE. Plaques dedicated to his memory still grace the University of California, Berkeley campus.

He is best known for his speech called “The Bodies on the Gears” and his explicit description of the federal government as violent, intolerant, overbearing, over-reaching, authoritarian, paternalistic, and out of control. He believed that speaking out and refusing to comply with unreasonable government demands was a legitimate form of protest. The interesting thing is that, despite Berkeley’s loving remembrance of Savio and the Free Speech Movement, UC Berkeley does not currently practice what Savio preached. Berkeley may still have the appearance of an enlightened, left-wing, politically active college campus, but the administration has squelched lectures and debates sponsored by political moderates and conservatives under the guise of “security concerns” and appears to have no interest in providing a forum for free speech for ALL AMERICANS and ALL POINTS OF VIEW. In the same vein, Antifa memberships and violence have flourished with the support of intolerant, closed-minded teachers and students alike.

Savio and the Free Speech Movement were not about violence and censorship. They were about speaking up, carrying on healthy debates, discussing the issues, and solving social justice issues through reasonable and intelligent channels. All young people, who have the energy, optimism, and idealism, have the option to engage in social activism without the use of violence and bullying. But it takes a certain amount of critical thinking skills, common sense, self-confidence, and mental agility to debate your opponent, listen to his or her views, and offer a rational and intelligent response. It requires patience and a thoughtful formulation of your personal ideas. The American educational system in the 1960s still taught those skills. I cannot say the same thing for our current educational institutions.

Dawn Pisturino

January 8, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Books and Censorship

“Censorship — The Assassination of an Idea.” ~Bookmans Entertainment Exchange~

What’s in the raging flame
of banned books burning?
Knowledge, truth, learning,
courage, freedom, yearning.
~Terri Guillemets~

Banned Books Week will be held from September 18 – 24, 2022. But censorship is an everyday concern, especially for writers, poets, artists, journalists, and other creative people. We’re seeing too much of it right now in the current political climate.

We’ve seen authors mobbed on Amazon and other sites and deliberately given poor ratings simply because the content of a book did not conform to the narrative of the people mobbing the book. This is using censorship and harassment (bullying) to create a politically correct environment where creativity is essentially dead. Show me one writer/artist worth his salt who is politically correct! Only sell-outs conform to the mob.

(Berlin book burning, 1933)

The Nazis confiscated and burned any book that they deemed “un-German.” What does that even mean? No more French porn? No Italian cookbooks? No English poetry? Who decided what was “un-German?” And it wasn’t just books that were condemned. Music, architecture, inventions, paintings, sculptures, and even dress fashions had to conform to a certain German aesthetic. Who wants to live like that? Who wants the government deciding what you can eat, read, think, create?

The Bolsheviks did the same thing after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Anything reminiscent of the previous regime was confiscated, suppressed, burned, destroyed, and labeled “too bourgeois.” The great Russian composer, Rachmaninoff, emigrated to America because his music was condemned by the Communist authorities. The great Russian writer, Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago, was censored and suppressed. If his novel had not been smuggled out of Russia, a great piece of literature would have been lost to the world. Doctor Zhivago describes this shameful period in world history.

Chairman Mao did the same thing in China. The Chinese Communist Party is STILL suppressing free speech and writers who speak out against oppression. The CCP STILL controls access to information and the content of that information. American companies like Twitter and Facebook help the CCP censor and control information in China. That’s how they are allowed to do business there.

In the United States, the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment GUARANTEE every American citizen the right of free speech and peaceable assembly to express that free speech. Free speech makes some people uncomfortable. It causes some people to feel threatened. It makes some people close their minds to new ideas. It opens the minds of others. It is divisive, combative, uniting, liberating, threatening, and compromising — all at the same time. Free speech is the basis of CREATIVITY. Free speech is the foundation of FREEDOM. Taking it one step further, FREEDOM is the bedrock on which FREE SPEECH and CREATIVITY stand. If we lose our freedom and submit to totalitarianism, we may as well start looking for another universe to inhabit, because the freedom to CREATE and EXPRESS OURSELVES will be as extinct as the dinosaurs.

(NOTE: violence is not an expression of free speech and is NOT protected by the U.S. Constitution. Devolving into burning, looting, shooting, destroying private and public property, tearing down statues, committing assault and battery, killing police, and threatening people, is just criminal behavior committed by people who have no respect for law and order. These people belong in jail. Furthermore, there is a big difference between exercising free speech and engaging in a two-way debate and just being rude, ill-mannered, and stupid. There was a time when our society valued good manners and intelligent debate.)

(NOTE: Some famous writers banned or partially banned in Nazi Germany: Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, C.S. Lewis, Jack London, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, and Oscar Wilde.)

Thank you for stopping by!

Dawn Pisturino

January 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

The Democratic Party – The Biggest Threat to America

I laughed my head off when I saw the sign in Golden Valley, Arizona that reads, “Sedition is not Patriotism,” erected by the Mohave County Democratic Central Committee.

For the last five years, the Democratic Party in Washington, D.C. and around the country has engaged in sedition, subversive activities, and domestic terrorism, from spying on the Trump campaign, to paying the Russians to create a fake dossier, to the whole Russia Hoax propagated by the Democrats and perpetuated by the liberal media, to the fraudulent impeachments, to the continued harassment and persecution of President Trump and his family, to the condoned violence by Antifa and BLM. The Democratic Party elites routinely lie, cheat, undermine and abuse the U.S. Constitution, spread hatred and racial division across the country, undermine the strength and prosperity of America, subvert our children’s success in school, and corrupt and destroy everything they touch.

From my perspective, the Democratic Party is the biggest threat to America and American democracy.

Dawn Pisturino

(Registered Independent)

July 31, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

(Mailed to the Democratic Party, the GOP, and various newspapers.)

Published in The Kingman Daily Miner (The Miner) on August 5, 2021 and August 22, 2021.

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Question Authority

“Question Authority” means questioning Joe Biden and Kamala Harris; questioning the Democrats and the Republicans; questioning the actions of Big Tech and corporate America; and questioning Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the motives of people on both the Left and the Right. We are free people – not a bunch of sheep!

Dawn Pisturino

May 8, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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The World is Too Much with Us

silence_title_image

 

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. –Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

~ William Wordsworth (1770-1850) ~

My Thoughts:

If this was true over 150 years ago, it’s even more true today.

The world is overwhelming us, beating us down, blasting wave after wave of propaganda and lies into our heads. Who knows the truth anymore? Who knows what’s right from wrong? Who even knows what’s real? The constant prattle of commentators/agitators, politicians, and celebrities is driving all of us mad. Where is the escape? When will it end?

Escape into the wilderness, they say, but a tumultuous crowd awaits us there. The noise! — oh, the noise! I long to escape it.

Quiet, peace, serenity, silence — a long-forgotten reality.

I will find it inside myself.

Dawn Pisturino

September 28, 2017

Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Antifa leader is professor who repeatedly advocates for “dead cops”

This guy should be fired! These whackos should not be teaching.

Source: Antifa leader is professor who repeatedly advocates for “dead cops”

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Be an Independent Thinker!

the-thinker

The Thinker by Rodin

In a world bombarded by information, where are the independent thinkers?

Where do the fresh, untarnished minds hang out?

Where does ORIGINALITY rear its beautiful head?

In a world deafened by conformity instead of individuality, the imaginative Creators of art, music, literature, and science are silenced under the dull roar of sameness, mediocrity, and

group think.

I will not be hampered by intimidation!

I will not be silenced by coercion!

I will not bow down to threats!

I will rise above the mundane crowd and be, above all,

AN INDEPENDENT THINKER!

Dawn Pisturino

February 7, 2017

Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Marx’s Conflict Theory

 

karl-marx

 

Marx’s conflict theory is having a profound influence right now in urban areas, especially among young people and minorities. Groups such as Black Lives Matter and the New Black Panthers  openly advocate separation from mainstream society due to the unfair, biased, and overbearing power of the dominant culture and the ruling class.

For them, laws reflect bias and unfair treatment and punishment of the poor and minorities by police and the American justice system. They understand perfectly that their communities have been left behind by globalization and the influx of uneducated, unskilled immigrant labor. Some of them advocate the overthrow of the American capitalist system and the creation of a communist or socialist society. They believe this is the only path to equality, happiness, and economic freedom.

Using class struggle as a shield, these groups justify inter-racial random killings, police ambushes, weapons hoards, acts of terrorism, riots, violent protests, and every other conceivable crime. They feel no shame or remorse because they see themselves as victims fighting for a cause. In their view, the police and other authoritarian figures are the real criminals. Poverty and economic disparity are the real crimes.

Unfortunately, they do not direct their zeal into cleaning up their own neighborhoods. They do not use their skills to benefit their own communities. Their goal is to strike fear into the dominant society with threats, disruption, and chaos. In fact, a strong law and order response threatens their agenda and their goals.

Such a politicized movement can only turn the dominant society against them. Mainstream Americans want law and order.

Dawn Pisturino

November 9, 2016

Criminology 225, Mohave Community College,

Kingman, Arizona

Copyright 2016 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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