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Just Theory of War

Walzer provided some arguments based on different scholars and his own position on some topics related to just theory of war. These topics include intervention and the principle of self-help and guerrilla war. In order to have a closer view of these topics, it is necessary to go over the basic arguments of Walzer. For Walzer, humanitarian intervention involves military action on behalf of oppressed people and it requires that the intervening state enter, to some degree, into the purposes of those people (Walzer, 1977).

In that way, one cannot intervene on their behalf and against their ends. Meaning, the people who made humanitarian intervention must do it line with the purposes of the oppressed people in fighting against their oppressors. If this cannot be done, Walzer believed that the humanitarian intervention is useless since it does not serve its purpose. Another thing, the people are oppressed, presumably, because they sought some end-religious toleration, national freedom, or whatever unacceptable to their oppressors (Walzer, 1977).

Walzer is telling us that these should be the possible reasons or foundations that a humanitarian intervention can be done. In addition to that, this regard for the purposes of the oppressed directly parallels the respect for local autonomy that it is a necessary feature of counter-intervention (Walzer, 1977). Walzer is critical enough in this argument since he knows that every humanitarian intervention must necessarily fail and result to worsening conditions if the foundation is not parallel to the struggles of the oppressed.

According to Walzer, the most relevant example of this arguments is the Indian invasion of East Pakistan, that is Bangladesh not because of the singularity or purity of the government’s motives, but because its various motives converged on a single course of action that was also the course of action called for by the oppressed Bengalis (Walzer, 1977). Aside from that, Walzer also intelligently explained that humanitarian intervention belongs on the realm not of law but of moral choice, which nations, like individuals must sometimes make.

Walzer believes that the only reason why a state must help the oppressed people is morality. This can only be made possible when the persons who conducted the humanitarian intervention cared for the welfare of those who are oppressed no matter how difficult it is to intervene a subject state or area. For him, a state cannot afford to just look and fail to ease the burden of a depressed and oppressed community or country for that matter. Humanitarian intervention is never intended to add the burden of the already oppressed people but to uplift their spirits and ignite their sense of nationalism.

Essentially, the standards of morality as explained by Walzer also apply to humanitarian intervention and not only to business and other things. Walzer also argued that humanitarian intervention is justified when it is a response, with reasonable expectations of success to acts that shock the moral conscience of mankind. Normally, humanitarian intervention are made when the thing speaks of itself that a danger on the oppressed people ensued. However, when the danger is really shocking to the conscience there is no other reason why it should be done but moral standards.

Walzer is very much persuasive when he presented this argument for it really gives oppressed individuals in a state the chance to escape their painful fate. This means that Walzer is aware of the things that are shocking to moral conscience, things which not only degrades humanity and but violates their basic rights to life, liberty and property. Thus, humanitarian intervention is never unjustifiable if it roughly eliminates or eradicates these acts that shock moral conscience.

For the principle of self-determination, Walzer thought of it this way that single political community is entitled to collectively determine their own affairs (Walzer, 1977). He based this argument on the writings of John Stuart Mill which opined that we are to treat states as self-determining communities, whether or not their internal political arrangements are free, whether or not the citizens choose their government and openly debate the policies carried out in their name (Walzer, 1977).

In other words, no matter what political and economic structure state is composed of, it must be considered as self-determining communities. Walzer then treated the state as like individuals who can decide on their own free will or it may be that it was unfortunate enough to be governed tyrannically. In order to maintain self-determination, Walzer mentioned that members of the community must seek their own freedom, just as the individual must cultivate his own virtues (Walzer, 1977).

Walzer never condemned the power of states to develop their own sovereign characteristics such that its inhabitants normally would seek for freedom and various rights. In congruent with the arguments of Mill, Walzer also believed that people who have had the misfortune to be ruled by a tyrannical government are peculiarly disadvantaged, they have never had a chance to develop the virtues needful for maintaining freedom (Walzer, 1977). That is the problem of these kinds of states wherein its inhabitants cannot exercise their freedom in accordance of what is supposed to be the law.

Yet, Walzer also insisted as Mill does that nevertheless the stern doctrine of self-help must be followed. Walzer is definitely aware that this is not an easy task. But his intention is simply to make sure that the willingness to seek for freedom and be able to utilize it properly exists. As explained earlier, self-help means the community must do everything just to seek freedom in an oppressed setting. Walzer incorporated this concept because he was not neglecting the concept of humanitarian intervention to come as a secondary means of survival of states.

Meaning, the single oppressed community must first work out its own strength to seek freedom before a humanitarian intervention would come in as necessary. Walzer further explained in a strong recommendation that it is during an arduous struggle to become free by their own efforts that these virtues have the best chance of springing (Walzer, 1977). The virtue that was referred to by Walzer is the willingness to seek for freedom and use it in a proper way.

Moreover, Walzer also stated that states cannot be set free as an individual cannot be made virtuous by any external factors (Walzer, 1977). This is consistent with the arguments preceding this one, since freedom starts within a state and the over all willingness of its inhabitants to seek freedom. It was not Walzer’s intention to leave a state alone while experiencing tremendous oppression from a group of people, what he wanted to say is that its freedom starts on its own conviction being regarded as a self-determining community.

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