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Just war theory involves justification of why and how wars take place. This justification can be either historical or theoretical. Under the historical aspect, the concern here is the historical agreements and rules that have applied over the ages. The theoretical aspect involves justification of war ethically and the forms taken by the warfare. Walzer’s just war theory argues that war should be approached from the citizen’s perspective. Mencius’ theory states that war should be fought from a Confucian perspective in order to maintain justice and international morality. Walzer bases his argument on the assumption that citizens share a common morality (Walzer, 2002). 

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Walzer’s Just War Theory

Walzer calls for an approach to tackle war from the citizens’ perspective. This is because citizens of a certain country belong to the same political community. He argues that, during the war, the entire citizens get involved and that these citizens have a common morality. The moral world comes in because citizens share similar difficulties before coming to a conclusion. In short, war involves collective consent and responsibility. In war, people speak of what is necessary rather than what is just or wrong. During the war, human beings have no choice, freedom, hence no moral responsibility.

Two criteria exist on how to evaluate justice during the war. These include “jus in Bello”, “jus ad Bellum” and “jus post Bellum”. Jus ad Bellum argues about the right time to go to war, when war becomes necessary, resistance, restoration, and war prevention. People deal with the tough decision to go to war. Peoples’ rights should be respected during the war, and Walzer calls this “the doctrine of human rights”. One characteristic of just war, according to Walzer, is that the war is conservative. People fight to defend their national rights against an aggressor. Just in Bello deals with conduct of wars. The cost of war should not be greater that the benefits. Human rights must also be respected. Issues such as rape and murder of citizens (captives) of the enemy country should not be tolerated. Civilians must never be targeted for killing. Just post bellum should also be taken seriously, according to Walzer. It involves issues after the war, which includes security, political and economic issues. A new regime must be formed immediately after war. For example in Iraq, the U.S government had to provide the necessary resources to reconstruct the country, after the war. Therefore, just war costs money.

Mencius Theory

Mencius argument is that rulers should promote peace in order to unify the world. He criticized the ruler who led bloody wars simply to have his territory increased. Conquest wars, according to him are disastrous to all the involved parties. Such war would be an unjust war because its aim is not to promote peace and humanity. Mencius, however, fails to counsel resistance, which is nonviolent against tyrants who can only respond to force the language. He goes further to say that if a country becomes attacked by the unjust war; the ruler of such territory would be free to mobilize the military action. Mencius believes that people can be mobilized well if, at all, they are ready and willing to fight (Walzer, 2000). 

The other war mentioned by Mencius is that whose aim is to bring peace globally. This helps come up with humane governments. The condition for this war is that the ruler/conqueror must be trying to liberate the oppressed people from tyrants. Secondly, people must show that they are ready to welcome the conquerors, and the welcome ought to be long lasting. Mencius says that rulers, who are wicked, are likely to go to a fight, and this could go to as far as murdering the tyrant with an aim of liberating his people. A challenge arises when it gets to maintaining the support after the initial attack. The punitive expeditions must be potentially virtuous, and the leader should have a moral claim for him to have the support worldwide.

Background of the second Gulf War

This was the Iraq war that began in 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq under the Bush administration. Before the invasion, United States and United Kingdom saw the possibility of Iraq using weapons of mass destruction, which would have threatened their security. The UN called upon Iraq to cooperate with inspectors of UN to conduct an inspection in order to confirm that the country was not in possession of such weapons. The inspectors did not find any evidence that Iraq had deadly weapons. However, UK and US went ahead to attack Iraq claiming that Saddam Hussein supported Al-Qaeda. This was the justification for the attack according to the U.S government. The other reason given by the two governments included the claim that Iraq supported families, believed to be suicide bombers in Palestine.  Other accusations included Iraq’s violation of human rights. This led to the eventual capturing of Saddam Hussein, Iraq president by then. He was tried in Iraq court, and later the Iraq government executed him.

Walzer’s Theory

During the second gulf war, United States compared Saddam to Hitler. The decision made by America regarding war, and peace did not consider whether Iraq was democratic, autocratic, religious or secular. US did not also consider whether Iraq overrode or recognized human rights. A variety of reasons to go to war was given by the Bush administration. The reasons, however, pointed to going to Baghdad to remove Baathist regime. The most important reason was that Iraq possessed dangerous weapons. This did not seem to be a ground for war because a country like France also possessed such weapons. US believe that Saddam regime was a dangerous one given the past experiences. The war, therefore, was not a response to humanitarian intervention or aggression because Iraq had not attacked a neighboring country, and neither had it involved itself in a massacre.

All that US wanted was regime change. The war was not preventive, but preemptive. Regime change is, however, not a just cause of war. Jus ad Bellum and Jus in Bello criteria of war were not followed by United States. As we have seen, the war was not justified because Iraq had done nothing wrong to deserve the war. Mere suspicion is what led to the second gulf war. During the war, harsh containment was imposed on Iraq. Here, they were not allowed to import items, which included food and medicine. This greatly affected the country leading to deaths of several people. This, however, did not prevent war because the Bush administration favored war and regime change, over containment. The war eventually led to the death of Saddam Hussein.

Mencius Theory

The second gulf war, the United Nations used force in exercising the compassion and humanity. The UN in this case acted as hegemony and a king. Second gulf war, however, was different from the first gulf war because there was no authorization by the United Nations. Therefore, United States used force and violated the theory regarding the compassion and humanity. The country was also maintaining its national security, geopolitical and economic interests. All this took place in the name of protecting the Middle East in terms of democracy. This theory had an impact on the higher states especially when war was underway. The way prisoners became tortured reminds us of the bad deeds that happened. The soldiers acted without any authority from the top officials. These soldiers got implicit cues from the top officials leading to violation of prisoners’ rights. In this case, Confucian approach comes in terms of morality, and military and political leaders. Commanders ought to have the moral quality for them to set good examples to the ordinary soldiers. Once again, the power moves from them to the down levels.

Theory offering Suggestion that is more Plausible

Compared to Mencius theory of just war, Walzer’s just war theory has many advantages. Firstly, the theory puts a lot of emphasis on ethnicity or religion to justify the war. When people get involved during the war, the support becomes strong. Indeed, many people agree that this theory should be applied by militaries in China and elsewhere. Intellectuals receive the advice to use Mencius views in evaluating justice in the contemporary world of war. However, just war theories should not be the final word when it comes to evaluating whether the war is just or unjust. Mencius, for example, did not give implications of his views on the conduct of the just war. Mencius did not advocate for the use of punishment regardless of the level of immorality. The use of violence by the states becomes hard following the Mencius theory. He argued that whenever people said that a certain person deserved death as the punishment, such people should be listened to, but when everyone agreed on that, such a matter ought to be investigated. If, after investigations, such a person is found to deserve, the death should be subjected to him. In that way, the whole country participates in punishing such a person. Michael Walzer says that wartime morality should be based on the human rights. According to him, individual rights, which include liberty and life, should be the basis for the war judgment.

Mencius theory can, however, be misused just like any other theory. Some people will find that focusing on leaders/ rulers instead of focusing on people, to make people think that the war is against one bad person. They will not find it as something real that affects many people. This, in fact, shows what George Bush did to convince Americans that the war against Iraq was justified. The administration misused the theory when it said that it wanted to bring Saddam Hussein to justice. The Bush administration forgot that by bringing Saddam to justice, a lot of Iraq soldiers and civilians would be killed in the process.

Walzer, on the other hand, does not base his theory in favor of human rights. In his book, he says that he cannot explain how the rights became founded. His language, therefore, insists on using practical “human rights”. In the Chinese context, Mencius theory is relevant as compared to Walzer’s theory of the just war. The language of the human rights by the military abroad can be misused internationally. This language is currently being used as an ideology, to rationalize the regime change and exploitation. For example, in the case of Kosovo by NATO the intention underlying those interventions was clear. For this reason, Mencius theory becomes invoked; that what matters is the practical act and not the theory of human rights. People argue that what matters is protection of people from genocide, torture, starvation, and other forms of harm. It should not be worried about the philosophical and political justifications. This means that countries ought to respect the basic humanity. Morality should follow the second. Mencius theory does not always lead to the similar judgment as other theories of the human rights (Bell, 2008).

A major difference between Mencius and Walzer’s theories is on the membership value of a political community. According to Walzer, membership of the political community is necessary to help know whether the war is just or unjust. The argument here is that these people share a common life.

According to Walzer, if a country is threatened and peoples’ lives are challenged, then such a country can defend its territory by resulting in war. As country engages in the war, people’s rights must be secured. When there is no common life in a state, then such a country lacks moral justification to defend its territory. The people who are being attacked can flee abroad, and the state should not conscript its citizens. For Malicious, however, moral force does not exist in knowing peoples’ culture, religion, or language. For him, justification for the use of armed force depends on necessity rather than morality. The necessity is usually to promote peace in the home country and abroad. The values ought to have universal morality and the ruler must be morally legitimate and must have the right to engage in warfare if necessary (Walzer, 2006). 

However, the Mencius theory becomes desirable because many wars have been fought in the name of promoting and preserving the culture of certain communities. His theory does not encourage war at all. Walzer's just war theory, on the other hand, allows such wars as justified, but for Mencius, such wars are unjust. Let’s consider a situation where a soldier is faced with a choice between surrender and a guarantee, to migrate to a wealthy and peaceful country, but he has to break his cultural roots. The other choice is ferocious fighting with the possibility of killing civilians of the enemy country. Following the Mencius theory, the soldier would go for the first option, but for Walzer, the soldier would decide to go for the fight. Defending the cultural membership would be a cause for justification according to Walzer.


It would be important to discuss war because when people engage in warfare, they tend to become inhuman to their enemies. Just war theory reminds us that war is a choice made, which involves responsibilities. Walzer wants people to approach war from citizens’ perspective. Mencius, on the other hand, wants people to consider justice and international morality.

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