Jus Post Bellum Proportionality and the Fog of War

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Abstract

This article begins by briefly discussing the general idea of jus post bellum norms before turning to discuss some of Michael Walzer’s ideas about jus post bellum, particularly what he says, or could be construed to infer, about post-war proportionality. It also re-examines Walzer’s discussion of the problems of post-war retribution and reconciliation. The article seeks to formulate and defend a post-war principle of proportionality, discussing how it relates to other proportionality principles, as well as to other jus post bellum principles. This leads to an examination of the fog of war, especially concerning Robert McNamara’s calculations about the application of the principle of proportionality to the firebombing of Tokyo. I outline a general account of contingent pacifism that seems to me to follow from careful consideration of the jus post bellum principle of proportionality. The article closes by initiating a discussion of the prospects for the end of war in light of considerations about the justice of how particular wars should end.

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