Thursday, October 21, 2004

Preemtive Wars and Principles of International Law

"Some writers have advanced a doctrine which can never be admitted, maintaining that the law of nations authorizes one power to commence hostilities against another whose increasing greatness awakens her alarms. As a matter of expediency such a measure may be adopted, but the principles of justice can never be advanced in its favor. The causes which entitle a war to the denomination of just are somewhat different from those of expediency alone. But to maintain that the bare probability of some remote, or future annoyance from a neighboring state affords a just ground of hostile aggression, is a doctrine repugnant to every principle of equity." - Hugo Grotius [known as the "Father of International Law"]

- This quote is surely a very loaded one, the principles about which volumes could be, and indeed have been, written. Nonetheless, what are your initial thoughts/analyses of this claim by Grotius, placed in the context of the world's current state of affairs?

3 Comments:

Blogger GFH said...

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7:15 PM  
Blogger GFH said...

What did Grotius have to say about nuclear weapons? Nothing, of course - he lived in the 1600's. Our developed ability to kill each other with such ease, speed, and efficiency has changed the dynamics of conflict and politics such that survival requires us to change our ideas about preemptive warfare. Grotius' thoughts on the matter do not apply anymore.

11:40 PM  
Blogger kindofblue said...

I disagree. I think Grotius' comment could easily apply to today, irrespective of nuclear power advancements. The dynamics of power between nations will shift upon different motives, but the general idea of just grounds for war can be maintained. There is no justice in a pre-emptive war arising out of fear of another nation's "increasing greatness," when the fear stems from the unproveable and indeed "future annoyance." Are we expected to believe that there is justice in pre-empting the phantom of nuclear war under auspices of faith? For there has been no other convincing proposition advanced for the current situation we find ourselves in.

5:26 PM  

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