Right intention is one of the staple criteria of traditional just war theory. In classical terms, right intention is met when a belligerent aims to achieve a just and peaceful order. The author addresses the problem of determining when a belligerent has satisfied the criterion of right intention, which is determined by observing a belligerent's acts during and after a conflict. Intention is not merely a private mental act known ultimately only by the people who express the intentions of their governments. Rather, right intention is a communal, public act, for the observable circumstances are how intention is determined. The author demonstrates the effectiveness of this way of determining intention by concentrating on the stated intentions of the Allies before World War II and of the U.S. before the First and Second Gulf Wars. The goal of the paper is to demonstrate that the international community can check a belligerent's stated intentions both while the war is in progress and after the war has ended. How well a belligerent conforms to the jus in bello and, when appropriate, to the jus post bellum, provides the international community with much of the information it needs to determine whether or not right intention has been met.
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