Joseph Capizzi’s lecture at the Christianity & National Security Conference, 2022.

Joseph Capizzi discusses just war theory’s relationship to politics and morality. The following is a transcript of the lecture.

Um, thank you Mark I… I will surprise you. I’m doing something different. Um, Mark. Every year, I asked Mark, like, what’s the theme and he’s always like, there’s no… there’s no theme, just speaking when you want to speak about, um… and sometimes it always works out. Uh I… I think actually, some of my comments are going to dovetail very well with what Nigel just spoke about. I… I find it interesting that Nigel, a Brit, is up here, uh, defending George III in front of all of us Americans. And now I, a Catholic, will… will defend a kind of Catholic way of thinking about certain questions, um, in front of a room full of Protestants. So, um, be merciful.  

So today, I’m going to talk about the continuity of war and politics, okay? The continuity of war and politics. I want to make some general comments about the use of force, politics, and policy. I’m not focusing on the morality of war, per se, as I know you’ve already heard some of that from another one of my friends and colleagues, Martha, Becky, and perhaps from some other people yesterday as well. So instead, I’m going to focus my time on the claim that the central insight of the tradition of thinking about force concerns the relationship of politics to force. War, I will claim, war is a kind of specification of a use of force.  

So war, I will claim, must remain subordinate to politics and thereby to policy for it to have a chance of being genuinely peacemaking. Okay. This is, of course, a moral claim. I’m alleging that failure to subordinate war to politics in feeble attempts to keep war within moral boundaries. And then I will finish, connecting that claim to another claim about the relationship between the goods of nation states and the international community, and that’s the second part of my talk, which I think actually dovetails pretty well with what Nigel just said.  

So first, the subordination of the use of force to politics. War is an activity of extreme violence by which one party seeks to vanquish the will of another. It is an instrument, in other words, used by one party to force the submission of the opposing party. For this reason, Augustine and the classical Roman tradition associated war with enslavement, right? Submission of a will, right? Augustine even gave the etymology of the word for slave: servus, right, servus. And I’ll add in… he related that to the victor’s merciful release of the vanquished from their rightful sentence of death, right? By what Augustine understood to be the Roman rule of law. Once you win, you have the rights of life or death over those you have vanquished. And when you acted mercifully, you preserved the lives of those who you could rightly kill and you did so in an act of mercy that enslaved them or preserved them, right? The language of preserve or conserve, right, is related to the Latin word, servus, was right? The word for slave. 

So war, then, um, is an act of total brutalization whose anticipated outcome was the extermination of your enemy. That classical insight has always been corroborated by our experiences of war. Wars are very difficult to restrain once begun, even on the basis of a justifying cause. They tend to grow. This logic of war drives war towards its totalization. It’s originating cause can get lost in the sentiments associeted with death and destruction in the investment of blood and material resources and in the propaganda necessary to inspire the successful waging of war. 

For those of you who have read him, you’ll note that much of this analysis stands… stems from Carl von Clausewitz’s insights into war. Clausewitz was a great early 19th Century Prussian general, and also a thinker, right? A reflector on war. He argues famously that war is not a merely political act, but a real political instrument. A continuation of political… political intercourse, a carrying out of the same. That is a political intercourse by some other means. I mean, right? We all know the shortest shorthand. War is um, the pursuit of politics by some other means that spawn. Clausewitz… often his claim is mistaken as a kind of war-happy claim instead, I argue, intends to make a different point. 

He’s got two points in fact, that he’s trying to make to us, and that I think often are lost. And it’s important for us to recapture. Number one. He seeks to show the necessary continuity of politics and war, which again is merely the instrument for politics, or that is right. And then second, he intends thereby to emphasize the necessary subordination of the instrument to the consistent and continuous goals of politics. Keeping war and politics together in this way as von Clausewitz advises us provides the best possibility of de-escalating war and constructing a more durable piece at the cessation of violence. If you’re familiar with just war analysis, as you should after having heard from Mark, you’ll see this is exactly what the just war theory is about, right? Ultimately, right? That kind of analysis, trying to morally constrain war, right? And keep it ordered towards certain ends, political ends. 

So war is a means or instrument of pursuing the continuation of political intercourse, keeps war tethered to the political goals that are obtained before and after the instruments are swapped out, that those ends, and we’ll name some: order, justice, stability, peace, could be and perhaps usually are pursued by other means, suggests that their pursuit, even by the instrument of war, ought to keep war from pursuing its own totalizing logic. War is not normally necessary for pursuit of those political goals. I just mentioned, generally we use other means of negotiation: compromise, diplomacy, those generally suffice in the pursuit of these political goods. And we don’t often totalize the situation when employing those instruments. We keep, for instance, diplomacy focused on the desired political goal. Additionally, other goals, for instance: score settling, revenge, retaliation, are ruled out. They are not legitimate goals of politics. They become the goals of the logic of war when war escapes the political. 

Okay. Those other things insert themselves as goals when war is unleashed from political goals. To understand war, as an extension of politics is therefore to limit war to only these certain goals of the sword, I mentioned, and thereby to impose restraints on war, restraints consistent with only those legitimate goals of politics, there is no sense here that any political interest, which I’m going to distinguish from political goals, may be served by as much political, I mean military force, as necessary. Not even the interest of preserving the self-inter… I mean the self-existence of any particular state or society. The attachment of war to politics and even more specifically to the politics of nation states has a limiting effect on war. 

So the alternative view is to see war as a departure of politics, departure from politics. This is a very, very common view. It’s to see war is in fact alien to politics. We find this alternative expressed in the casual, resigned statements that war begins when politics ends. Or war marks the failure of politics. War results at the point of exhaustion. Who… The mic is at… Um, can you still here me in the back? I’m pretty loud, right? I’m a New Yorker. 

Um, war results at the point of exhaustion of the political means of adjudication and negotiation. The knot loosened that ties political goals to political activity, coupled with the irresistible logic of war itself, and limitation on the escalating of, uh, escalation of fighting becomes difficult if not impossible. Military goals like battlefield victory, overwhelming the enemy’s army, overwhelming the enemy’s population, displace political ones, even become confused for them. And the totalizing logic of war proceeds. A pace… this is what happens.  

We see this happen all the time. Genuine miracles would need to intervene in order to restrain war. At those points, something completely unpredictable like a severe weather event or a pandemic or material shortage alone stalls the unfolding logic of war. Once it’s released from the goals of politics, Raymond Aaron, the great French political thinker, argued that this displacement of political goals by military ones among the Allied command during the second World War marked how they prosecuted the end of that war. This is him writing: “The manner of achieving military victory inevitably influences the course of events. It remains a mistake,” he continues, “that the American decision was dictated by the exclusive concern to destroy the major part of the German army, and that consideration of the political consequences of one method or another was regarded by Roosevelt and his advisors as an unwelcome intrusion of politics into the realm of strategy.”  

Okay. So he’s arguing, right, by losing sight of the political landscape, the political horizon of our action, right? We actually jeopardize the peace that would… that would come at the cessation of the second World War. By contrast, he continues, “the conduct of the second World War was essentially political. That is dictated by consideration of the consequences, remote from the scenes of hostility and a victory on the Soviet side. It is on the American side that no attempt was made to discover whether the world resulting from total military victory would correspond to the lasting interests of the United States.” 

Okay. That’s Aaron, a French political thinker, right? Analyzing the differences in the way the… the Soviets and the Americans did or did not attach military goals to political thinking, right? To put the political horizon. The consequence of this, Aaron makes plain, is that the displacement of the political goal by a military one led to a less stable peace than might otherwise have obtained. The U.S. decision to destroy the German army at the expense of political post-bellum goals of minimizing conflict with its temporary ally, the Soviet Union, strengthened the Soviets and weakened the U.S. presence in Europe. This leads to the second point that I want to make about the continuous nature of politics before, during, and after war.  

Tying war to continuous activities associated with political goals is necessary to keep the broadest horizon of concerns. In forming particular policy choices, among other things, the fuller political horizon keeps the broader international repercussions of particular policies in front of decision makers. Connecting war to politics invites them to reflect on the political goals sought, as well as by their adversaries to investigate them as rational choices seeking their own political goals. This brings to my mind, at least, the great scene in the Godfather where Michael Corleone is talking to Tom Hagin right after, um, his bedroom has been shot up, and he says to Tom, “you know, all of our people are businessmen. Their loyalty is based on that. One thing I learned from Pop,” he continues, “was to try to think as people around you think.” 

Okay. And that is right. The duty of statesmen, we have to try to think as our adversaries are thinking, in terms of intelligible, political goals. That we see their behavior tieable to, as we know for instance, war instead disposes adversaries to consider each other irrational and even mad. Crazy, not mad. Um, we saw this during the war on terror, and we’re seeing it again in the ease with which pundits attribute madness to Putin’s policies, a phenomenon that has occurred in the media since 2008. More recently, a columnist called his actions more… more taxi driver than head of state. And by taxi driver, we mean the Robert De Niro character, right? Um, not the guy outside waiting to take us to the airport, right? He’s mad. His policies are mad. They’re irrational. They’re not worth thinking in terms of means and ends.  

The accusation of an adversary’s irrationality presupposes no connection between the use of force and any political goals. Terrorists, for instance, are irrational because they don’t act according to this accusation, like normal political agents. They are motivated instead by hatred or desire for… for destruction. Their violence has no constructive purpose, no political aims, because their acts have no purpose. They are not susceptible to alternative political appeals. They must instead be eradicated. We see the detachment of political thinking from the deployment of forces leads inexorably to a necessary and justified escalation of violence. We can’t attach these things to discrete goals. Therefore, we have to somehow get rid of them. All right. 

The second, uh, claim of my paper that politics… if we… if we keep force subordinate to politics, it actually helps us keep, uh, connected. The pursuit of national interests and its relationship to the international order… the goals pursued by politics are always moving in a dynamic between the local and the universal. Let’s take the goal of peace as a… as an example which the tradition contains, right? Our Christian tradition contains is the goal of… is the goal sought by everybody who rages—wages war. Peace operates within a dynamic as a different… existing political institutions in particular, or in our age, nation states pursue order and justice internally and externally in the context of national and international politics. The pursuit of these legitimate political goals often becomes competitive. The rivalry leading to dispute and eventually conflict. There is no moment of peace like a kind of static, right? Stable moment of peace that exists outside that dynamic of the rival, risk, organization of power. At least, not in this world.  

Such peace exists. Such peace appears to exist. It’s that moment when the rivalry continues without military struggle, okay, but this is merely a negative peace and not a peace absent that rivalry or even the specter of medical, military struggle. Negative peace such as this is generally preferable to open conflict, but often negative peace conceals grave injustices or serves as the prelude to conflict. Continuing, this if from Aaron again, “these peaceful relations,” this negative peace that I’m describing, “these peaceful relations occur within the shadow of past battles and in the fear or expectation of future ones, such that again him… the principle of peace is not different in nature from that of wars. Peace is based on power. That is, on the relation between the capacities of acting upon each other possessed by political units.” 

So power then is always exercised in this unstable context of relationships among national and international orders. Successful statesmen will attend to the full contour of the… of the peace that they seek by their political acts. That contour can only be understood in terms of their actions’ effects on both that internal order and the international order. Put bluntly, and actually this goes to, uh, some of what Nigel was talking about, national interest always has international implications and genuine national interests can only be understood in terms of their consequences. For those international relations or implications, there are almost no national interests that are separable from implying or implicating the international order. War, then needs to acknowledge the reality of that order, a reality that is larger than a discrete political community presided over by a prince, a president, or a prime minister. 

National sovereignty, whatever one thinks of that, is parasitic on the international community. The independence of states, their functioning and their flourishing, depends upon that international order. Their sovereignty can only be understood in regard to the existence of other states vying for and expressing their own sovereignty in a coherent, if conflictual, order of states, marked out by implicit and explicit international law. The great Catholic German lawyer Heinrich Rahman put it this way: “to be a responsible member of the international community presupposes independence and self-sufficiency in the internal order.” 

Okay. That we’re all good with, right? Presupposes that self-sufficiently in the internal or like, domestic order, but he continues the duty of the state in international cooperation for the realization of the international common good is the complement of the state’s undisturbed right of existence as an independent, sovereign, national order. These things are attached to each other. You can’t separate them from each other. Sovereignty of individual political communities presupposes the order of which they are a part, just as the self-sufficiency of the individual presupposes the community of which he is a part. Sovereignty always raises a with regard to what or whom question, solved in the case of war by reference to the wider community that becomes the context within which that peace is pursued.  

Absolute sovereignty, then, is a dangerous fiction. A modern concept with few roots in the historic trading tradition of thinking about politics and the use of force. War, there… therefore, can never be justified merely by reference to state goods. Were that possible, discovering a law binding all states as parties to war would be impossible. War as an instrument of peace requires an order of coexistence and cooperation which realizes or strives to realize the common good of the community of nations.  

I’m going to finish this with one of my favorite theologians on this point, Francisco de Victoria, the 16th Century Spanish, um, scholastic. I love this quotation. It, you know, portrays my Catholic, you know, disposition, um, and may rile some of you up. Um, any… “any common wealth is part of the whole. As a whole,” Victoria wrote, “I should regard any war which is useful to one commonwealth or kingdom but of proven harm to the world as by that very token unjust.” End of quotation. End of comments. 

Thank you very much. Are we back on? Is this back on? Is this back on? All right. Good. Um, questions? 

Question: I’m Abigail Wilson. I’m a strategic intelligence major at Patrick Henry College. The question I had relates a little bit more specifically to just war theory. Sure… If… if just war theory is… is an ordering of loves, and it is ordering of goods, how do you promote that in a culture that doesn’t value the existence of things that are truly good or truly beautiful? A culture that is relativistic? And additionally, how do you promote the idea, um… how do you… how do you promote the idea of… of that there is that… there is such a thing as a highest good that you should be striving for in a world that’s very relativistic and doesn’t value that? Oh, you want me to repeat the question? Okay. Um… 

Answer: Abigail, don’t leave me yet. Okay. Um, all right. So how can you pursue the hierarchy of goods associated with war, um, in a culture that struggles, um, to uh… uh… uh articulate, to find intelligible the… the goods that we ought to be pursuing? An then the… the second part of that was about the highest good, I think? 

Response: Correct. Um, and like sort of how, I mean… It seems like almost a 1B question to the 1A question, is that right? Am I understanding that right? Like, so, and what else are we supposed to make of, um, the relation of all this to the highest good?  

Answer: I… I find this question, I think, related a little bit to the, um, question that was put to Nigel. Maybe one of the last questions that was put to Nigel. Um, look, uh. This is again where the Catholicism shows through. Uh, if you think of grace building upon nature, right? Which is of course, you know, let’s go back to Aquinas, right? You know, rather deeply held by Aquinas. Um, we’re not going to think… I think we Christians need to be careful not to think that any culture or… let’s put maybe, or most cultures, the majority of cultures are completely bankrupt, right? Most people are pursuing things they perceive to be good. Um, our culture continues to pursue some things that are clearly good even while most cultures also… if not every culture has mixed into it injustice, right, and real blindness about certain kinds of goods. 

So I don’t want to think of these things as opposed to each other, right? Um, on the other hand, and this is related to my point about the relationship of the international and national orders to each other, we believe there’s a moral law that circumscribes all of this. At least, we Catholics believe there’s a moral law that you know, circumscribes all of this. Right? We speak of the natural law to describe that, um, and everything can be measured in terms of the natural law, right? Everything can be measured in terms of that law, which is precisely why the… the just war account says there has to be a cause for you to think about acting politically in this way, right? And that cause is measured in terms of right and wrong. Is this in fact a right, um, cause? A cause justifying this kind of action, or not? And the tradition that, uh, I hold dear, maintains there cannot be simultaneously to just causes. 

There will always be one side that is more just in the situation than the other side, right? So you can talk about the way, you know, you can engage this… the way I’ve invited us to think about, you know, the goods that Russia is pursuing, um, in… in the Ukraine right? You know, it’s… Naming them for us, you know, um national self-determination is one of them, um, you know? It thinks of it… it’s… this is a kind of national activity. Not imperialist, but a national activity that’s intelligible, right? That makes sense to all of us. And we might even say yeah, I’m kind of sympathetic to you know, your concerns about Ukraine joining NATO and sympathetic to concerns about your sphere of influence and so on. Nonetheless, right? You can’t do what you did, right? That’s a grosser violation of the moral law than provocations of the sort.  

Arguably, right? You know, um, Ukraine, United States, and other states we’re engaging in at that point in terms of… look in terms of connecting it to the higher law, ultimately we think all of these things have to kind of be slotted, you know, in the right way or they’re… they’re perverted. Literally, um, these goods, these… these, uh yeah, these goods, these ends of our action… But we also have to take care that we Christians don’t collapse the highest good into the temporal order and temporal activity, right? And I think that’s become a temptation, uh, among some in the Christian community, both Catholic and non-Catholic. Um, to think of these things just as collapsing on top of each other, and so every act has to be, right, sort of directly specifying, uh, God as its end. Right? Because that’s the highest good, right?  

So I think we can be really careful about that. Politics is not, um, the realm of the pursuit of the divine, right? It’s… it’s a different thing. It’s pursuit of the kind of peace that Augustine describes where those of us who want to consider ourselves citizens of the city of God, um, can make use of and assist our neighbors with, um, we don’t… we don’t confuse that with the final piece that we’re seeking, because that would be a gross eschatological error, among other things. I hope that gets to it. Um, other questions? 

Question: Hi. I’m Jocelyn Lake from Regent University. Thank you for your talk. Um, I’ve been reading Machiavelli recently, and he presents the idea that politics is primarily the art of warfare. And so, as you’re saying that um, politics must always play a large part in the execution of war and we can only have at best a negative peace, would you say that politics, at its most basic level, is anything outside of the art of warfare? 

Answer: Thank you. Yeah I have not read, uh, Machiavelli recently enough to know exactly what he means by that, but it… it strikes me as that it could be quite sympathetic with what I’m saying. I mean, if you want to stay up there and help me out, but uh, um, and say yes it is sympathetic with what you’re saying because that’d be really cool. Uh, yeah. I mean, look. This, um, the claim… Part of what I’m trying to claim is there is in political activity a kind of continuum, right? That employs different means in pursuit of legitimate aims of politics, right? And that’s… that’s… that’s key in two ways, at least two ways. 

One is it’s specifying legitimate aims of politics, the sorts of things that you can bring into being by political action, right? And that would exclude the kingdom of God. We cannot bring into being the kingdom of God by political activity. We know that there have been, you know, recent 20th Century errors, right? And thinking that by politics you could bring about, you know, the new man, right? For instance, right? Of certain kinds of socialisms or marxisms, so number one it’s kind of specifying apt political ends. Number two then, it also specifies the sorts of instruments that can pursue this thing right? And, and the… and the… the point at which it becomes a measure really, right to the heart, right? Point it becomes a means by which you can actually measure is what we are actually doing by, uh, doing right now under the guise of political activity.  

In fact, political activity, and I’m suggesting when you start to talk about the madness of your adversary, right, and they’re uh, incapability of articulating rational ends of their activity, and also of understanding your rational ends, you’re doing something different. At that point, you… you’re departing from the political, and you’re doing something else. And that’s always dangerous, not merely for your adversary, but for you as well. So um, So yeah. That sounds right to me. Um, and that’s how you know I’m a good… I think I’m a good Augustine… I may hesitate to say it in here. I’m a good Augustinian realist. I mean, it’s not surprising, um, that Machiavelli would be sympathetic to some of these ideas. So it’s a great question. I think we have somebody else. At least, I will repeat them. Mark, I apologize for that. Yes, okay. Okay. 

Question: Uh, Ciel Menares, Colorado Christian University. I’m an international relations and communication student. I’ve yet to hear someone talk about culture and politics in regards to justice. So of course, the main topic was not just war theory, but instead you, uh, you covered a little bit. How would you say that culture in relation to politics affects the perspective or the subjectivity of the just war theory? Some people may say that of course, us as Christians have this perspective of what justice is, what the greater good is, but other cultures… or, and this is like actual national culture, not just ideological… cultural value in culture. But how can this, um, argue with the subjectivity of what justice and the just war theory actually means? 

Answer: Yeah, um, okay. So stay there. Don’t walk away. Okay. Um, so I know, right… good. Good we’re learning. Um, so this is on the subjectivity. Uh really understood as a kind of subjectivity of cultural expression and it’s relationship to justice, right? Uh, in thinking about um, the analysis of politics, I… I don’t even think it’s merely just war, right? But is that… is that correct? Okay. Okay. And so before I could even take a swipe at answering that question, um, like, I want to think a little bit concretely, right? So I get in and I’m asking you to respond. So you could be saying something like look, um…  

Different cultures have difference conceptions of justice, right? Uh, and because they have different conceptions of justice, uh, in fact, we really couldn’t speak about a kind of singular way of understanding just conflict or the just use of force. Um, instead, we’d have to think of multiple ways of describing just uses of force from within those context themselves. Is that… is that where you’re going with this? Maybe, you see. That’s why I asked the question today. Yes. Because it seems that nobody seems to actually have an answer to it because it seems like everyone keeps putting, this is what just war theory is, this is what justice is. This is what the good is, right? It seems like people seem to forget that there is also more perspectives out there. And I’m not… I’m not advocating for any of that. No, no. I hear you. I hear you. Um, so let me give you… Let me give you, for instance, going back to Victoria, okay. Um, one of my favorite guys, one of my favorite things, right? 

So, um, you know the story. Uh, 1492, Columbus sales of the ocean blue. The Europeans are like yay, we’ve, like, found these incredible places. Who knew they existed? And look at these weird people, right? Um, it’s a thumbnail sketch of the history of the 15th Century. Um, and Victoria engages in ethnography, more or less, and he… and he asks questions which the Spanish Crown is asking itself. Do we have some, right, just claim, right to be here in the Americas, right? What could possibly be the ground for being in the Americas and not merely being there but engaging in… um, I was about to use the word intercourse, but for them it means, you know, communication, right? With them, which is also inclusive of prop… making property claims. And I mean, as Nigel pointed, right, economic questions drive other kinds of questions. 

Force claims… Uh, claims, you know, right to wage war against them, and so on. If they resist, Victoria famously pushes back against the Spanish crowd and… and the typical justifications that are used in order to say yes, we buy, right, are there. One of the… the leading claims at the time is a kind of natural slavery claim. These peoples that we’ve engaged are like the Aristotelian natural slaves, right? We were all wondering what Aristotle was talking about, you know, in the Politics and the Ethics when he talks about slavery. Well, here we go, right? Here’s this weird community of people. They don’t appear to be civilized in the same way we are. Arguably, they’re not even civilized and therefore they don’t have dominium, right? They don’t actually have rights, claims. They can’t be harmed, in other words, in terms of justice.  

Victoria says wrong. Right? Wrong. You’re wrong about this. Number one, they actually appear civilized, right? They have civilization. It’s clearly different than ours, but you know, I mean the… you know, the good French like Montane, etc., right? They kind of poke fun at the way the Europeans are confused or befuddled by the civilizations they’re encountering. 

Number two. All of this other sorts of claims that we’re making don’t fly. One of them is well, they’re sinful, right, and sinners therefore lose dominion. He thinks that. Victoria, by the way, thinks of that as a Protestant heresy. Yeah. The Protestants… he doesn’t say the Protestants, the Wycliffians and so on, they believe that. But that’s not what we Catholics hold. By sin, you do not lose dominion. Well they’re like children is another claim, right? You know, they… they just need to… children don’t have rights, claims, um, they can’t be, uh, they can’t be injured, right? They can’t be done injustice to, right? There you have a cultural contact, right? A different culture is being engaged. Victoria’s appealing to the same principles of justice, right? There is still a singular principle of justice. It’s the natural law. But that same principle of justice, in fact, it um… enables him to criticize a kind of subjectivist understanding of what the Europeans are engaging, right? We’re looking at it from our own perspective, but if you look at it from the perspective of justice, what justice actually requires. 

You see, the means by which you can say no, they actually have rights, claims, they can be done injustice to, we cannot wage war against them unless something else, another cause presents itself, okay. But I… I don’t know if that is satisfactory, you know? If we… to, I mean, I don’t know if you’d be satisfied by that question, but, or that answer. But, um, the claim here is that there is a principle of justice, right? Um, and that’s one that’s available to all of us by virtue of your—our humanity, right? Being created in a particular way, you know, despite manifest differences among us all. It’s a great question. Does this mean I’m done or no? Okay. I see another question in the back, but uh, well we can talk after too.  

Response: But thank you very much. I just asked the question because it’s something that I don’t see a lot. I don’t hear a lot of people talk about, so I just wanted to hear what your answer to her… to ask this question that I have been asked to before and never had an answer before. 

Answer: And part of the… part of the strength of the just war claim which again, to me, it’s a… look. This is a claim of natural law. Practical reasoning is that all other laws of war, even Augustine’s understanding of the Roman law of war are basically wrong, right? Like the Romans were wrong to think it’s a merciful act, that by right you have the right to slaughter, right? You know, those who are vanquished, right? So it is a judgement on these other ways of viewing, um, uh, morality or war, etc. But yes. Can I… Can we get him in at least? Thank you. 

Question: Hi. My name is Charles McLaughlin. I teach at the National Defense University. You, uh… It was a great talk, but there’s one point I’d ask you to strengthen because I don’t quite understand it. I think we made a claim through one of your, uh, quotations that a country has a duty to, uh, the common good of the international community, yes? From where does that duty arise? Because it seems to me that the declaration of independence says my country’s duty is to preserve my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens, and there are no other duties. The uh, and actually to do something other than that is illegitimate. So where I can see why helping the international community if it is in the interest of our country and in our citizens would be an instrumental thing to do, but as an independent duty for, uh, the good outside of borders, yeah. Where does that come from? 

Answer: Yeah, so great, great question. And exactly the kind of question, right, that will… events… probably some differences of approach, right? Um, the Declaration of Independence can state whatever it wants, and that’s true of any, you know, founding documents of any country, right? But according to the claim, which really relates to the… the prior question, um, it’s a duty of natural law, it’s a duty of natural justice, uh, that these things are in fact connected. They, in fact, implicate each other. And if you don’t see that’s the… that’s the strength of Victoria’s claim. If you don’t see that the activity, uh, that is exerted and named in the… in the name of national interest, also has implications for the international order, you’re failing to see your national interest. Well, you’re seeing it imperfectly. And in fact, your national interest does have this essential relationship, um, to the other thing. Rahman refers to, uh, the… the what… the way you’re just, um, arguably presenting this as viewing the relationships of states to each other as purely voluntary, voluntaristically, right? It’s only in terms of, like, compact treaty, etc., right? Where one can, like, derive duties and he thinks, of course you derive duties from those things, but those… but that’s not the only way, right? We’re not voluntarists from the Catholic perspective, right? Uh, volunteerism would be a problem in terms of international relations. So again, can you clarify that? Because I can see we’re not volunteer… 

Response: I’m Catholic too, by the way, but yeah.  

Answer: Yeah, we’re not volunteers as individuals but countries do not have souls. Countries don’t have those, uh, don’t have those characteristics and we as people and as we band together, we might, the um… So where again, where’s the duty to the country come from? Because it comes from the… do the… the ends served by any political communities which are the ends of persons, right? And they’re… they’re the ends of all of us persons, so you’d make an argument which I’ve made in the past here about the claim about the universal human family, right? That in fact, we are a family and that the family has a universal good and that good is something that all activity has to be ordered towards, including political activity. So you know, again, you’d get these kinds of claims like Victoria made which is really provocative right?  

You know that if a country determines something’s in its… in its natural, it’s gonna be national interest, and it seems to damage, right, the inner… the relations of the international community, he says, you know, false. Right? Like, false. Youve misunderstood what your national interest is here. Right? Yeah, no… No problem. It’s a great question. It’s the right question to ask. Thank you.