Is there such a thing as a just war? If yes, can you name one?

I was going to begin by listing a set of criteria for "just war."But checking several sources online I found several different definitions, and I don’t wish to choke discussion by holding anyone to a definition they can’t support when they might have been able to support a different one. Thus I’ll just ask some questions and let hte chips fall where they may:

  1. Is there such a thing as a just war in theory, even if not in practice?
  2. Are there any conflicts in recorded history, now concluded, which you would say qualify as a just war?
  3. Are there any conflicts currently being waged which you would call a just war?

Poll in a moment, but don’t let that slow you down.

Are you talking about the initial attackers, and not those defending themselves from said attackers?

The first Barbary war? First war the USA ever fought, and they were totally justified.

The American Revolution.
I read a book titled They Never Said It, in which someone is supposed to have claimed that the American Civil War was fought to rid the United States of Jewish bankers. (!!)

To your own judgment be it. I know at least one person in the real world who’d say that war cannot be just even in self-defense, and another who’d name several real-life conflicts in which the attackers were just in doing so.

Pretty much every war was “just” in the opinion of at least one participant, or else they wouldn’t bother to start it.

Which makes “self-defense” the justification of the other participant.

Yes, there is.
Peru in the “Pacific War” (1879-83) defending against Chilean attack.
Perú, Bolivia, and Chile against Spain (1865-66).
The Tumbes people of Puna Island against the Incas (1530)
East Timorese against the remnants of the Indonesian Army.

I’m asking for YOUR opinion, not the opinions of the participants.

The US entering WWII following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I don’t believe there is any such a thing as a just war, but I do believe that in any war, one side was more just than the other. Usually the defending team is in the right, but not always (the Barbary War is a good example, the US started the war and we were right to do so).

…the decision of Russian soldiers in WWII to desert Zhukov’s army and join the German
Sixth army, to then wage war against the injustice of Stalin’s military policy was and remains a just cause. Whether you see this in the greater context of WWII, or Operation Barbarossa or the great patriotic war, or the Battle of Stalingrad, is up to you. Perhaps certain actions within wars or individual battles are just, but it’s hard to reduce the entire of WWII to a simple just/unjust.

Desert Storm was a just war. I assume you don’t mean a perfectly just war, or a war where one side was morally perfect.


The current revolt against Assad of Syria seems fairly strongly justified.

One might argue that it isn’t really a “war,” as it is unorganized. The boundaries aren’t well-defined. But, then, the boundaries of justification and morality aren’t well-defined either.

I’m with Ethilrist. The Allies’ war against the Axis nations was just, though I don’t feel comfortable including the USSR with the Allies as they started on the side of the Third Reich and only crossed over after they were betrayed.

In the former case, I suppose that’s choosing genocide over war. I can’t say I’d advocate that.

And for my above comment to be true, I’d have to be of the opinion that there are examples of just wars, in both theory and practice.

If you’re going by “the POV of at least one side”, then all wars are just. No one goes to war with the POV that they’re doing the wrong thing, except maybe Cobra Commander and Darth Sidious.

That said, I do think a lot of wars are objectively just (at least on the part of one side). WWII, etc.

The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, overthrowing the Khmer Rouge.–Vietnamese_War

The war between Uganda and Tanzania which overthrew Idi Amin. According to wikipedia (I don’t know if this is true) that war was referred to as ‘the liberation war’ by Uganda.

Those are just wars of aggression. There are lots of wars of self defense that are just too, Finland defending itself against the USSR, South Korea & the US defending against North Korea, etc.

I believe that there are just wars, for instance I believe that the US had to fight in WWII, even if the Japanese did not attack, we could not sit by and have Britain fall.

That said, perspective is a b*tch. German soldiers in WWI went to war with “Gott mitt eins”(God is with us) on their beltbuckles.


The Catholic Church has established a doctrine on when a war can be “just”. It has four rules:

*The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain.
*All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective.
*There must be serious prospects of success.
*The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.

Regardless of whether or not you’re a Catholic, I feel these are a solid set of moral guidelines on the issue.

When France and Great Britain declared war on Nazi Germany for invading Poland in 1939 that was in my mind a just war. The US declaring war on Japan after Pearl Harbor is another.