Sarah Hasan: War, Ethical? (Bilgi University, Istanbul)



Class of Comparative Politics with Professor Mohammad Jafar Amir Mahallati truly educated and enhanced my thinking in many important ways.
Strategic peace is derived theoretically through the importance and the very existence of democracy, human rights and the free market ideology. However it is also well known that war is as old as humanity and the story of Abel and Cane is a good example of this. It is embedded in human nature that we are destined to be violent. Since the dawn of mankind, human beings have shown violence towards one another. The prehistoric man would show aggression and violence towards other men over basic necessities such as resources and land. As the communities got more complex, displays of violence took another turn with one tribe committing acts of aggression over another tribe by killing the tribe members and pillaging their land and destroying their resources. As time passed and societies grew, the nature of aggression and violence became more complicated and the next thing were disputes over ideologies. Humans have always had disagreements. It is embedded in our nature to have disagreements and the disagreements usually occurred in the realm of religious and political ideology. The amount of violence man has caused in the name of religion and politics is immeasurable. Robert Sapolsky (biologist) came up with the theory that “it is not in our blood” in Foreign Affairs. Nevertheless the holy wars and wars of territorial expansion have been numerous and widespread and often marked with a lot of bloodshed with tens of thousands of lives lost. With the dawn of the 20th century, efforts were made to humanize the process of war and among these efforts the Just War Theory doctrine was proposed. A series of criterias follow that which should be met before attacking a state. It lays a morally justifiable ground to search the realms of whether or not morality is relevant to matters of national interests, the moral codes for behavior with in war are intact and the codes of behavior after the war. A just war should only prevail if there is just authority that is the will of the people.

The Just War theory includes JUS AD BELLUM which are the causes and goals of war that there should be just cause, right authority, proportionality, that war is the last resort, the reasonable hope for success and the right intention under which it is waged. JUS IN BELLO addresses the conduct of war and is in turn concerned with four major questions which include the boundaries or limits of war, the legitimate extension and the types of weapons used including the fourth which is the treatment of wounded prisoners of war. JUS POST BELLUM deals with the conduct of treatment of occupied territories and indigenous people.

As witnessed in the Vietnam War, the United States properly declared the war and had a reasonable chance of success, despite its loss of the war, it is irrefutable that the U.S. did not go to war for a just cause or with morally correct intentions. Us involvement in the war was not a preemptive strike but an aggressive one; therefore we can conclude that it was in fact, an unjust war.

There are many examples of unjust wars such after the Iranian Revolution (1979) the Iraq-Iran war lasted for 8 years taking 100 of 1000’s of lives with it for what, only vengeance against Sadam Hussain (1980) what about the concept of proportionality and the question of justice. The war between Russia and Iran also held no proportionality and that too led Iran losing one third of its land to what is now Georgia and Armenia. The Just War Theory is shaped by both religious and non religious sources. Judaism too recognizes war within three categories (God’s command), (Defensive) and (Optional). Infact Al-Hasan-Al-Shaybani’s writings (189/804CE) (Fiqh, Hadith, Sira) prove that Islam was 4th Century ahead of Christianity where the sources regarding warfare first appeared in a manual of Christian tradition on war (12th century). Then why is it that the Middle East is suffering even more today than ever before witnessed. It may be due to the ‘cultural phenomena’ that still exists between us and that is what should be worked upon when referring to Middle Eastern Politics. “The essence of morality comes out in times of crisis”.

Forgiveness and Friendship of Ethical Importance.

The ethics of forgiveness and friendship too were important parts of the lecture. “Whoever kills a soul without a just cause is as big a sin as killing all of humanity” and “Those who have good faith and practice good deeds, God will give them friendship” both are quotations from the Holy Quran.
Religion should comprise of a basic understanding and acceptance of three important elements “apology”, “gratitude” and “kindness”. The discussion of how about a year ago the government of Spain issued a decree to Jews (for the 1943 expulsion of all Jews and Muslims) apologizing for what their ancestors had done to them. They also repented by allowing the restoration of citizenship of children belonging to the people who were expelled if they had valid proof of their relations to them.

This in fact brought about an idea that Apology can come to high politics as a whole nation apologized. The event, a theory and a role model which can be copied was in fact written in history itself.
The Prime Minister of Japan also apologized weeks ago for the attacks that took place in World War 2 to the neighboring countries and to the people who were internally affected.
Hannah Arendt’s views of promise and forgiveness in the politics of a durable relationship was discussed.
The secular forgiveness as justified by Mandella, Jonathan Lockwood Huie wrote “Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace.”

Abu Ali Miskawayh, Ar-Raghab Isfahani and Nasir Al Din Tusi had great sources on Friendship in the 13C.
Charles Darwin (d. 1882) the father of evolution “A man’s friendships are one of the best of his worth”
Arendt: “Before God forgives us, we need to forgive each other.”
A heartfelt apology is important but with it also forgiveness, as without forgiveness the constant presence of war, cold war and cold peace will prevail.

Shriver: “As repair of broken social relations, forgiveness has to be learned in a community. 35”
As a whole, war is avoidable and should be the last resort. Friendship, apology and forgiveness can help to eradicate the very element of war however a collective action needs to be taken. We need to be more cautious of our surrounding and where we are heading as a unit, as a community, letting aside our differences and upholding the basic similarities that we all are humans and every life matters.