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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 »

How the Prophet Muhammad Changed the Arab World

(Photo by Jeff Jewiss, Unsplash)

How the Prophet Muhammad Changed the Arab World

At the time of Muhammad’s birth around 570 A.D., Mecca was an important trading city which guarded the trading route between Yemen and Jerusalem. Mecca had also become an important religious center where pilgrims traveled to bring offerings to a wide variety of gods and goddesses housed inside a haram (sanctuary) called the Kaaba (Esposito 3-5). Muhammad’s religious fervor threatened the very foundations of Meccan society because he believed that the worship of the one God, Allah, took precedence over personal prosperity and tribal power.


The ruling tribe of Mecca – the Quraysh – had grown rich, decadent, and powerful. “Only two generations earlier, the Quraysh had lived a harsh nomadic life in the Arabian steppes, like the other Bedouin tribes: each day had required a grim struggle for survival” (Armstrong 132). Their newfound wealth undermined “the old tribal values” of muruwah (communal survival) (Armstrong 132-133), leading the city of Mecca into materialism, greed, and selfishness.


Women, in particular, received harsh treatment in Meccan society. They were considered property and became part of a man’s estate when he died. Male heirs could marry the women, if they so desired, or marry them off to other men without the women’s consent. Men could marry multiple wives and divorce them at will. The birth of a girl was considered a misfortune since a girl could not fight or contribute much to the family’s fortunes. Female infants were buried alive in the desert sand (Salahi 51-52).


The harshness of life in the Arabian desert discounted the possibility of life after death. Once someone died, they remained dead forever. Anyone preaching resurrection was scorned and mocked as a lunatic (Salahi 52). Charity towards orphans, widows, and the poor gradually slipped away, leaving an underclass of helpless beggars who struggled to survive.


Tribal warfare was an accepted part of everyday life, and the richer Mecca became, the more different tribes fought to gain power and wealth. “Muhammad was convinced that unless the Quraysh learned to put another transcendent value at the center of their lives and overcome their egotism and greed, his tribe would tear itself apart morally and politically in internecine strife” (Armstrong 133).

Islam developed out of the tribal tradition that placed the needs of the tribe over the needs of the individual (Armstrong 134-135). Muhammad gradually incorporated modified versions of tribal traditions and beliefs into a new monotheistic religion after he began to have revelations from Allah (the Arabic word for God) when he was 40 years old. He also legitimized his new religion by incorporating modified versions of Jewish and Christian stories into the Qur’an. For example, the Hebrew prophet, Abraham, became the ancestor of the Arabic tribes based on the Old Testament story of Hagar and Ishmael. Ishmael was adopted as the progenitor of the Arabic tribes and, in particular, Muhammad’s own tribe. In the Qur’anic version, it was Ishmael and Abraham who built the Kaaba to honor Allah. It was Muhammad’s view that later peoples and tribes corrupted Abraham’s monotheism by adopting pagan polytheistic gods and goddesses. Muhammad sought to return to (what he perceived to be) the original monotheism and gave special attention to Jews and Christians because of their belief in monotheism. But he also declared his brand of monotheism to be the final religion of God —and himself as the final prophet of God (the Seal of the Prophets) (Salahi 1-21, 125, 289, 583-584, 678-680, 725, 741; Armstrong 140, 152, 154).


The Qur’an prescribed new rules about women, inheritance, and marriage, giving women more autonomy and equality, while preserving the role of men as their protectors. The murder of female infants was outlawed, giving women a special place in Islamic society (Armstrong 157-158). Rules about food, prayer, and relationships between people were addressed. A kinder, charitable, and nobler society was demanded. The bonds of blood, which were so important in tribal Arabia, were replaced by bonds of religious faith. Islam gradually brought together the warring tribes of Arabia into a united political and religious power which sought to spread its leadership and message to the rest of humanity (Salahi 218-219, 377, 518).


The caliphate began after Muhammad’s death when Abu Bakr was chosen khalifa (successor) by members of the Islamic community. After suppressing opposition within their own territory, Abu Bakr’s military campaigns brought the rest of the Arabian Peninsula under Muslim control (Esposito 11). As the caliphate’s military forces grew in numbers and strength, they began to invade both the Sasanian and Byzantine empires, eventually establishing a brand new Islamic Empire in the Near East (Esposito 13). With political power came religious power, and Islam began to spread among non-Arab people.


Political and religious conflicts broke out over how caliphs could claim legitimate leadership. These conflicts led to the First and Second Civil Wars. The Islamic community became permanently split between the Kharijites, who wanted to choose leaders based on piety and righteous behavior; the Shiites, who wanted to elect descendants of the Prophet as leaders; and the Murjia, or Sunnis, who represented mainstream Islam (Esposito 14-18).


By the end of the Second Civil War, the Islamic community had fully defined itself as a monotheistic community, separate from Jews and Christians, which was “engaged in a common effort to establish, in God’s name, a new and righteous regime on earth” (Esposito 19). Political power brought new economic power, and Islamic culture began to flourish throughout the empire. Islamic communities began to exhibit ethnic and racial diversity as new converts were made and local customs and traditions were incorporated into Islamic practice. Distinctive new forms of art and architecture appeared. As the caliphate began to wane, independent states arose which made their own contributions to Islamic culture and law. Family dynasties arose and disappeared. Persian and other languages stood equal to Arabic. Islam was well-established as a major religion (Esposito 59-61).


Muhammad’s quest to transform Mecca into a more just society was the beginning of a new religion and a new social activism that has transformed the Arab world.

References

Armstrong, Karen. A History of God. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1993.
Esposito, John L. The Oxford History of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Salahi, Adil. Muhammad: Man and Prophet. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1995.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 17, 2018; August 17, 2022

Copyright 2018-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

14 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 »

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.

22 Comments »

Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism

(Photo from The Guardian)

Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism

       Fighting terrorism is a different situation than fighting a conventional war because it is not about one nation in conflict with another nation.  Terrorists embody an ideology which conflicts with established culture and values.  In the case of Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, radical interpretations of Islam were used to recruit jihadists to wage guerilla warfare against all people in the West and even other Muslims who did not agree with their interpretation (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 55-68).   This defies both the jus ad bellum and jus in bellum traditional requirements for just war.

Jean Bethke Elshtain and the War on Terrorism

       Osama bin Laden fought as a freedom fighter (mujahideen) in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.  After the Russians were driven out of the country, he organized the terrorist group, Al Qaeda.  The CIA did not become aware of Al Qaeda and its leader until 1996-1997 (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 55-68).  After the August 7, 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Osama bin Laden became one of the FBI’s “most wanted fugitives” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017, pg. 390).  After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush ordered the creation of the Department of Homeland Security with Executive Order No. 13228 on October 8, 2001 (Exec. Order No. 13,228, 2001, pg. 51812). 

       Although Osama bin Laden and the majority of 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, the Al Qaeda training camps were located in Afghanistan.  In fact, forces within Afghanistan and Pakistan were collaborating with the terrorists.  Al Qaeda also had the support of regular citizens in both Afghanistan and Pakistan who felt a strong hatred for the United States.  The Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic group, had taken over large parts of Afghanistan and supported the use of terror against the West (9/11 Commission, 2004, pg. 47-68).

       Invading Afghanistan was a natural response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.  But the U.S. military should have stayed focused on destroying the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan before embarking on a war in Iraq, especially since the 9/11 Commission found no involvement by Iraq with the attacks on the World Trade Center (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 47-80).  Imposing economic sanctions on Pakistan instead of giving them economic aid, in my opinion, might have yielded results sooner.

       The invasion of Afghanistan was justified, from the point of view of Jean Bethke Elshtain, because “those who launched the 9/11 attacks cannot be reasoned with, in the manner the ‘humanists’ would like – and that no change in U.S. policy would have that effect – for the simple reason that: they loathe us because of who we are and what our society represents” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 220-221).

What Role did the U.S. have in Afghanistan Beyond Military Action?

       “In October 2001, the United States of America initiated air strikes on Afghanistan, followed by a ground offensive called Operation Enduring Freedom, to topple the Taliban government and drive out Al Qaeda forces hosted in Afghanistan following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States” (Bella, Giacca, & Casey-Maslen, 2011, pg. 47, 48).  A new government was installed, and with a new regime in control, U.S. troops became peacekeepers, which undermined the original military offensive.  Al Qaeda and the Taliban continued to push back at the expense of American troops.  Although bin Laden was finally killed in 2011, this did not extinguish Al Qaeda or the Taliban.  The U.S. concentrated on re-building Afghanistan, and a new terrorist threat emerged under President Obama: ISIS.

       Elshtain believed that the United States’ War on Terrorism was just because “the United States must take the lead – not alone, to be sure – but it must take the lead in defending human dignity. ‘As the world’s superpower’”” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 221).  If the United States failed in Afghanistan, in my opinion, it is because we lost sight of our goal to destroy the terrorist camps and the power of the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  By not going in and finishing the job, the United States left itself open for more terrorist attacks on American soil, especially since the Taliban now control Afghanistan.

Given the Larger Human Rights Implication that Elshtain Addresses, what Role did the World at Large have in Combating Terrorism?

       Few countries in the world have been left untouched by terrorism, whether it is direct terrorist attacks or taking in refugees from war-torn countries.  For security reasons alone, the United Nations and all countries in the world should be working together to address the issue – which certainly will not go away anytime soon.

       Ultimately, it is the non-combatant citizens who suffer the most when terrorists are wreaking havoc in a country.  According to Amnesty International (2011): “The Taliban and related insurgent groups in Afghanistan show little regard for human rights and the laws of war and systematically and deliberately target civilians, aid workers, and civilian facilities like schools (particularly girls’ schools)” (Bella, Giacca, & Casey-Maslen, 2011, pg. 51).

       The larger humanitarian issues of violence, refugees, homelessness, poverty, and starvation affect all nations in one way or another, and all nations have a moral obligation to address it.  Elshtain called it the “principle of equal regard, faced with a terrible situation, an enormity, one is obliged to think about what is happening, and to conclude that the people dying are human beings and as such equal in moral regard to us” (Dissent, 2005, pg. 60).                                                                                                                                         

References

9-11 Commission. (2004). 9-11 Commission report. Retrieved from

https://www.9-11Commission.gov/report

Bellal, A., Giacca, G., Casey-Maslen, C. (2011, March). International law and armed non-state 

       actors in afghanistan. International Review of the Red Cross 93(881), 47-79.

       Retrieved from https://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/r27089.pdf

Dissent, The Editors. (2005, Summer). Interview with jean bethke elshtain. Dissent. Retrieved

       from http://www.dissentmagazine.org/wp-content/files_mf/1390329368d1Interview.pdf

Exec. Order No. 13228, 66 Fed. Reg. 196 (October 10, 2001)

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency management.

       (6th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier

Rengger, N. (2018). Jean bethke elshtain (1941-2013). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (216-226). Abingdon, Oxon: 

       Routledge

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 23, 2021; April 1, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

5 Comments »

Humanitarian Aid and Peacekeeping in Somalia, 1992-1994

(Famine in Somalia, December 13, 1992. Photo by Yannis Behrakis, REUTERS.)

Jean Bethke Elshtain’s book, Women and War, insisted that “the roles men and women play in war are represented and narrated in the stories we tell about ourselves” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218). Women are represented as “beautiful souls” and men as “just warriors,” but ethicist Elshtain felt that this was too simplistic and that the roles were “more ambiguous and complex” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218) in reality. She believed that St. Augustine had the best understanding of humans and their relationship to war and peace because he saw that humans are fragile and limited in their ability to control the world and human impulses. She further elaborates on this theme in Augustine and the Limits of Politics. (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218-220) By the time she wrote Just War Against Terror, she was convinced that the United States had to embrace its role of most powerful nation and step up to the plate to address terrorism (Rengger, 2018, pg. 220,221).

Based on her beliefs, I believe she would have encouraged the United States’ involvement in Somalia. In an interview with Dissent magazine (2005), she said:

“Beginning with that principle of equal regard, faced with a terrible situation, an enormity, one is obliged to think about what is happening, and to conclude that the people dying are human beings and as such equal in moral regard to us. So we are then obliged to consider this horrible situation and think about whether there is something we can do to stop it. Would the use of force make a difference in this situation? Minimally you are obliged to do that. Perhaps the use of force would not. But one must not just evade the question. Another minimal requirement is that if you have decided that you can’t intervene you are obliged to explain why that is, in light of the principle of equal moral regard.”

However, she would have recognized our limitations and possibilities for human inadequacy when dealing with the situation in Somalia.

The Role of the United Nations and the United States in Somalia

In 1969, Mohamed Siad Barre came to power in Somalia through a military coup. The regime became more and more repressive, and opposition forces removed 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).

“There was a fairly lengthy period in which preventative diplomacy and the focused attention of the international community could have headed off the catastrophe in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 5). The United Nations and the international community could have engaged in diplomatic negotiations when: 1) the Somali National Movement (SNM) was repressed by Barre in 1988 and the situation exposed by Amnesty International and Africa Watch; 2) the Manifesto Group arose in 1990 and suggestions by the Inter-African Group “that the UN appoint a special envoy to conduct ‘shutter diplomacy’ in the Horn” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6) were squashed; 3) Barre left office in January 1991 with no replacement government in place and the UN declined to get involved until a year later, when it passed its first resolution on Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6).

From January to March 1992, UN resolutions “called for an arms embargo and increased humanitarian aid, and urged the parties to agree to a cease-fire, which they did through an UN-sponsored meeting in New York in February” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). In April, the Security Council approved UNOSOM, which “was intended to provide humanitarian help and facilitate the end of hostilities in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). However, these efforts met with resistance from warlord militia leaders Aideed and Ali Mahdi. In August, Operation Provide Relief was implemented which authorized the United States to deliver humanitarian aid and bring in five hundred peacekeepers (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). Later, a Hundred Day Plan was devised to bring together UN agencies and NGOs to deliver aid, but continued violence interfered with the plan (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7).

Bureaucracy at the United Nations also held up operations. “Food and medicine could not be distributed because of looting . . . [and] famine intensified as the civil war continued” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). People around the world reacted emotionally to the famine in Somalia, and “President George [H.W.] Bush announced the initiation of Operation Restore Hope” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7) on December 4, 1992. The United Task Force (UNITAF) was “a multinational coalition of military units under the command and control of the American military” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8) authorized by a United Nations resolution (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8). UNITAF’s goal was to provide “security in the service of humanitarian ends for a brief period” (United States Institute of Peace. 1994, pg. 8) in compliance with Chapter VII of the United Nations charter and allowed the use of force (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8-11).

Unfortunately, conflicts arose between the United Nations and UNITAF which impeded the efficiency of these efforts. Secretary General Boutros Ghali insisted on nationwide disarmament in Somalia with the United States in charge of implementation, but UNITAF refused. The task force was more interested in a cease-fire.  The UN also insisted on top-down reconstruction of the country, whereas the United States believed that reconstruction should begin at the local level. The UN refused to take long-term responsibility in the operation, insisting that UNITAF held that responsibility. The United States countered “that the project was limited not only in scope but in time, and that when certain humanitarian and security goals had been met, responsibility for Somalia would be turned back over to a ‘regular UN peacekeeping force’” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 10). When Ghali created the peacekeeping force, UNOSOM II, the United States agreed to participate (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 9,10).

On May 4, 1993, UNOSOM II assumed all military responsibilities in Somalia and became “the first UN peacekeeping force authorized under the provisions of Chapter VII of the UN charter” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 11). The new goal for the force was rebuilding Somalia and safeguarding the peace.

After Aideed and his soldiers killed twenty-four Pakistani and three American peacekeepers, the United Nations and United States agreed to go after Aideed. The effort resulted in the raid of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993, which killed eighteen American soldiers. By the end of March 1994, all U.S. troops had been withdrawn from Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 12).

Responsibility of the International Community

The United Nations had a definite responsibility to address the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and to make an attempt to end the violence. This is the designated function of the United Nations. People around the world, shocked by the starvation in Somalia, were demanding action. The United States, as the most powerful country with the most resources, was obligated to get involved. Politically and morally, it was the right thing to do.

Jean Bethke Elshtain, as a proponent of St. Augustine and his writings, would have supported it because Augustine stressed love of neighbor and extending charity to others. To ignore the situation would have been immoral and inhuman.

The problem with Somalia isn’t that nations got involved. The problem is that the fierceness and tenacity of the warlord militias was underestimated, and bureaucracy and internal disagreements were allowed to undermine the operation, as outlined by the United States Institute of Peace. But both St. Augustine and Elshtain would have recognized that humans are imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world, and as such, there is only so much we can do to contain and control chaos.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 15, 2021; March 11, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

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

Dissent, The Editors. (2005, Summer). Interview with jean bethke elshtain. Dissent. Retrieved

       from http://www.dissentmagazine.org/wp-content/files_mf/1390329368d1Interview.pdf

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

Rengger, N. (2018). Jean bethke elshtain (1941-2013). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (216-226). Abingdon, Oxon:  

       Routledge

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

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I. A World in Anguish – a Poem

(Photo from Pixabay)

A World in Anguish

by Dawn Pisturino

A world in anguish

Is a world at war,

Suffering the throes of poverty,

Living in fear,

Desperate for freedom

From unfeeling despots;

One man kills another

And crowds cheer for more:

A bloody holocaust screams

The victory cry.

Women weep for children

Dying in the womb,

And fathers beat

Their screaming brats in rage,

Placating the demon-gods.

The dark-faced villain

In the streets

Pushes his deadly wares

To the wayward and unsuspecting,

Supplies the knowing,

And murders the human spirit.

The Godly are intimidated

By the unholy-ungodly

And cry out in vain for vengeance.

God does not hear

Or does not want to.

“Let them fight their own battles,”

He must say; and looks down

In amusement at the skirmish of ants

Crawling in the streets.

It is not a funny sight, no,

But a sorry commentary

On the uselessness of the human species.

God Himself must weep

At the awful destruction wrought

By pitiful creatures.

It is not worth His powerful strength

To save them or His loving heart

To love them or His abounding mercy

To forgive them.

Let those who will survive, survive.

Death to the others.

The battle is just begun.

Dawn Pisturino

September 20, 1985; March 7, 2022

Copyright 1985-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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