"Virtuous war" and the emergence of jus post bellum
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Review of international studies, Vol. 37, no. 1, 2011, p. 277-299
Benjamin R. Banta
Scholars from various subfields have recognised a dangerous novelty for ethical thought on war in the combination of a detached, or virtual, technical ability to wage war and the ethical imperatives of human rights norms – deemed "virtuous war". This article begins by discussing the contention that the just war tradition acts as the enabling discourse for virtuous war, and the further contention that the wars being enabled are paradoxically unjust. After assessing the validity of the virtuous war claim it is argued that the just war tradition's core ethical commitment not only remains the most sound starting point for thinking about the morality of war, but is a commitment that those in the virtuous war literature suggesting alternate ethical doctrines on war implicitly reject. It is contended, though, that the addition of a third pillar to the just war structure of cause and means criteria – a justice after war or jus post bellum – has arisen due to the virtuous war reality, and is necessary in order for the just war tradition to remain committed to its core ethical principle in a 21st century marked by virtuous war. Lastly, I present a brief sketch of jus post bellum informed by the article's key claims.