“Just War Theory” Is the Wrong Theory, Mr. President

WASHINGTON–In President Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech he spoke of the need for waging “just wars.” Summarizing Just War Theory accurately, he said, “I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war.” And further, “Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct.”

In the new book “Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism,” the Ayn Rand Center’s Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein argue that Just War Theory is incompatible with American self-defense. “Broadly speaking, Just War Theory holds that a nation can go to war only in response to the impetus of a ‘just cause,’ with force as a ‘last resort.’ And it holds that a nation must wage war only by means that are ‘proportional’ to the ends it seeks, and while practicing ‘discrimination’ between combatants and non-combatants.”

This means that “it is wrong for a nation to be exclusively concerned with its own well-being in deciding whether to go to war; it must demonstrate concern for the well-being of the world as a whole–including the well-being of the nation it is attacking.” Such a policy, the authors argue, cannot lead to victory.

“To escape from the destructiveness of Just War Theory, we must embrace a moral approach to war that rejects altruism and fully upholds self-defense, thus providing the moral foundation for free, innocent nations to secure the lives and liberty of their citizens in the face of aggression.”