Was the Vietnam War Justified? Essay
“No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War.” (Richard M. Nixon, 1985) Despite almost half a century of retrospect, numerous studies, and the declassification of military documents, former President Nixon’s assertion still holds truth. Of all the wars that the United States has fought in, the Vietnam War has compelled the most Americans to question what we were fighting for and why. Was the Vietnam War a just war?
The Just War Theory
The Just War Theory has been shaped over the centuries by historians and philosophers. However, the most systematic account of the Just War Theory was formulated by Saint Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologicae. According to the Just War Theory, the moral …show more content…
1. There exists an international society of independent states.
2. This international society has a law that establishes the rights of its members—above all, the rights of territorial integrity and political sovereignty.
3. Any use of force or imminent threat of force by one state against the political sovereignty or territorial integrity of another constitutes aggression and is a criminal act.
4. Aggression justifies two kinds of violent response: a war of self-defense by the victim and a war of law enforcement by the victim and any other member of international society.
5. Nothing but aggression can justify war.
6. Once the aggressor state has been militarily repulsed, it can also be punished. (Walzer, 61)
From the Theory of Aggression it is clear that wars cannot be justly declared for political or religious beliefs, self interest, or aggrandizement. Only aggression towards the political sovereignty or territorial integrity of a nation can justify war. However, the tenet of self-defense can be interpreted to include preemptive strikes and cases of intervention. In the case of a preeminent strike, there must be sufficient threat for a nation to attack first. Walzer defines sufficient threat as “a manifest intent to injure, a degree of active preparation that makes that intent a positive danger, and a general situation in which waiting, or doing anything other than fighting, greatly