Eric Patterson contends in Just American Wars that the US is unique because of how it considers ethical and moral dilemmas when it fights. Particularly, the country’s democratic institutions force any politician who wishes to engage in a war to explain to voters, civil society, and other parts of the government why the war must be fought.
Just war theorizing has typically left the issue of national honor untouched, although warriors and statesmen routinely emphasize the importance of vindicating the sacrifice of the fallen. Does prolonging a war in order to assuage or vindicate national honor comport with the just war tradition?
James M. Dubik’s argument in Just War Reconsidered is straightforward: current just war theorizing is insufficient insofar as it “omits a major part of the conduct of war.” A “new addition” to jus in bello theory is urgently needed.
The First Marine Division’s paragon of virtue, Chesty Puller, upheld the standards of just warfighting and respect, if not love, of the enemy. We pray his progeny leading the defense of our nation today will do the same.