North Korea, Just War and the U. S. Constitution
With North Korea test firing missiles, the US having already fired missiles into Syria, and President Trump now referring to a “military option” for dealing with Venezuela, it seems only reasonable, and responsible, to review the moral authority for the use of military force, and the constitutional methods for applying that force.
With these things in mind, our party’s Spokane County affiliate addressed these issues at their August monthly meeting, using the following outline to guide their discussion. The outline includes links to supporting documents and videos for further study.
We cannot hold our elected officials accountable to sound principles and the rule of law if we ourselves are lacking in an understanding of those principles. Therefore, we encourage you to review this outline and prayerfully ponder the principles that apply.
Just war theory
(from article by Kenneth R. Samples: http://www.reasons.org/articles/what-is-just-war-theory)
Just war theory, as developed by Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Francisco Suarez and others, involves two main moral categories of evaluation.
Jus ad bellum (Justness of War). Concerning the moral justness of waging war, a just war must conform to the following moral considerations:
- Be waged by a legitimate authority (government or state, not private individuals)
- Reflect moral deliberation (last resort after sincere diplomacy)
- Have probability of success (reasonable belief that victory can be achieved)
- Have a just cause (e.g., defense of innocents and freedom against direct aggression)
- Be just in intent (establish peace, freedom, justice; not unlimited destruction of the enemy)
Jus in bello (Justice in war). Concerning the conduct of war, strategy and tactics must be just:
- With proper proportionality (sufficient, but not excessive force will be used; good should outweigh evil)
- With proper discrimination (noncombatants [civilians or innocents] should not be targeted)
Video – Hank Hanegraaff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQzcfF6UrBQ
Video – Ron Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbn2-LfHXgM
Where government derives its moral authority from
(from article by Robert W. Peck: https://robertpeck.net/2017/04/10/syria-constitution-war-powers-resolution/)
Nations are an organized body of people and their moral authority is derived from those people (Declaration of Independence states that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed). The rights of governments may extend only so far as the collective rights of the governed. The right of national defense is derived from the right of each individual in the collective to self-defense. Therefore, the only just use of our nation’s military might is that of defending our collective national family and home in the same manner that the just use of an individual’s arms is that of defending his individual family and home.
So, if the Declaration says that government exists to protect our God-given rights, then, according to that document, the only just war would be one that protects American lives, liberty, or property.
Is America exceptional to the degree of being an exception to the law of nations?
Video – Chuck Baldwin – American Exceptionalism (first 24 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-Sqgxb7PjY
Constitutional authority for the use of military force
United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 – “The Congress shall have power to . . . To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;”
Video – Jake MacAulay – Trump’s Unconstitutional “Good Idea” in Syria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8_D6ulUr84
The War Powers Resolution
Complete text of the War Powers Resolution can be found at: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/warpower.asp
The following are some of the more relevant sections of the War Powers Resolution for purposes of determining what, if any, powers the President has in the absence of a declaration of war.
SEC. 2. (a) It is the purpose of this joint resolution to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities . . .
SEC. 2. (b) Under article I, section 8, of the Constitution, it is specifically provided that the Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution, not only its own powers but also all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
SEC. 2. (c) The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
SEC. 3. The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities . . .
Is North Korea an imminent threat?
Video – Ron Paul – War Drums Beating: North Korea Tops The List: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ued1Ky-M8bo