A – Planning the investigation : The focus of this investigation is the theory or concept of just war, and what makes a just war “Just. ” This investigation will explore the question: To what extent can the Vietnam War be justified as a just war? Throughout this investigation, the philosophy of a just war will be broken down into its fundamental components. The purpose of this is to identify the extent of which the Vietnam War can be truly justified as a just war. The main method will be gathering evidence, and analyzing certain aspects of the war, such as cause, intention, and proportionality.
Other aspects in respect to the actions taken during the war will also be analyzed. These include ethical and moral decisions towards the prisoners and the means used to go to war. Based on the evidence, and whether it coincide the just war theory, a conclusion will be made about whether the Vietnam War was a just war. B – Summary of Evidence : There are two parts of a Just War: the right to go to war, and the means of how the war is conducted . Each part has its own set of particular focuses about war.
Once most of the criteria is met or can be proven, a war can be said to have been a just war. These aspects include the cause of war, intention, the probability of success, proportionality of armies, fair treatment of prisoners, and no means malum in se . No means malum in se is essentially the methods of warfare used during the war . An unjust example would be biological weapons. During the Vietnam War, it is clear that it is not the last resort , and they means of warfare used included brutality towards women. The Americans initially wanted to stop the spread of communism .
However, they fail at holding that cause throughout the war, and they are eventually fighting with no reason. It is blatant that Lyndon B. Johnson was not prepared to go to war, and when Nixon took over, he wasn’t prepared to be amidst a war. The leaders of the greatest power of the war were not prepared for the responsibility. The Americans had set a goal, and had not achieved it at the end of the war . Additionally, they didn’t realize the disadvantage they were at due to being on unfamiliar ground and fighting against guerillas .
The end result was the loss of a lot of lives, most of which were civilians, but also a great deal of military was lost . 1. 3 million Died, including 58,200 American military, and 590,000 civilians . Johnson stated that their end goal was to stop the domino effect of communism . However, when asked about his policies, he said “We fight because we must fight” . The cost of the war was too high for the outcome. C – Evaluation of sources : On the Ethics of War and Terrorism is a secondary source written by Uwe Steinhoff in 2007.
Its purpose is to clarify the essential beliefs regarding just war theory, and to relate the beliefs and ideas presented in the book with certain political issues at the time. This sources is a great way to learn about the ethics of war, and the just war theory itself, however, it doesn’t provide a lot of insight on the Vietnam War. Another source that shows the ethics used during the Vietnam War would have to be used to provide intuition about the war itself, which then allows me to apply the Uwe Steinhoff’s ideas to the war, and determine if it was a just war or not.
This may be considered limited due to the fact that the just war theory is constantly being revised and edited by many people throughout the world, and the theory provided in the text is similar, but most certainly not identical to the beliefs throughout 1955 to 1975. Just and Unjust wars is a secondary source written by Michael Walzer just 2 years after the war ended. It’s intended to inform others about the medieval just war and the requirements that were required to justify jus ad bellum and jus in bello.
It’s important to look at both the previous sources, alongside this one, to compare the just war theory from way back then, to the more modernized one. This source has a couple values, one being mentioned already. It’s a source that we can use to compare to more modern theories, and it’s also a good source to understand what people from that time thought about the war, and the ethics behind it. No matter how much quantitative data is gathered, it will not be possible to know about the philosophies people had. However, this can also be a limitation.
Due to the fact that the source only takes in consideration the older view of the just war theory, which means that source is limited by a certain set of ideas that have been set around 40 years ago. D – Analysis : Based on the evidence, it is clear that the US did not follow the just war theorems and thus, they fought what many believe to be, and what I believe to be, a fairly unjust war. Firstly, according to records, the war resulted in the death of 58,200 American service men . It is also estimated that a total of around 1. 3 million death, 590,000 of which were innocent civilian deaths.
One of the main aspects of a just war is the cause and intention . President Lyndon B. Johnson’s initial intention was to prevent communism from spreading, however, when he was asked about his policy in 1965, he said “We fight because we must fight. “ Johnson’s and Nixon’s plans fell out shortly after the war had begun. So although there were good intentions initially, when they carried out their plans, they ended up abandoning their preliminary plan, and proceeded fighting an unjust war. Secondly, an aspect of just war is the probability of success of war .
The Americans knew they had the weaker ground, since they were fighting on unfamiliar territory, let alone the fact that they were battling with standard, traditional warfare against a new, unknown style of warfare. Knowing this, and knowing that they were on the back foot, president Johnson still issued the orders to proceed with the war. This means that he and his generals were willingly subjecting their soldiers to combat on unfamiliar ground, against unfamiliar tactics. It was essentially subjecting them to their death. Even though, they still proceeded, which is unjust to the American soldiers.
Knowing they cannot deny the orders, the Americans had to use unconventional tactics of their own. Leading onto the third aspect of just war that I am discussing, the means of combat used. Since the Americans had the weaker strategies, they decided that it would be completely honorable, and morally acceptable to pillage homes of those who lived in peace and had nothing to do with the war. Then they proceeded to resort to rape, and other unethical means of offence. When Nixon took control, he realized that the Vietnam War was the cause of a lot of unrest, and saw the unethicality within the war.
He immediately reverted the American influence, and the war did indeed end up ending the spread of communism. However, in hindsight, the number of lives lost, and the amount of property destroyed was not at all worth the victory. The Americans had won but at a large cost, which is a post-war aspect of a just war. The cost of the war, in today’s money would equate to a little less than $1 trillion dollars. Knowing that the end result was simply just ending communism from spreading to outside of China and the Soviet Union, that amount is too much.
If the fact that there are in fact still some evidence of the war in Vietnam till this day, and the number of all the casualties – and furthermore, the fact that the attempt at stopping the spread of communism failed – are taken in consideration, that is simply outrageous. E- Conclusion : All in all, the war cannot possibly be justified, since the initial objective was not met, even though an extreme amount of money was spent, as well as the large amounts of human life simply thrown away. No one really benefited from the war, since there were no policy gains or military expansions due to the war.
The Americans did not know who they were going to war with, and ended up requiring the use of unethical tactics that lead to ruined lives and families. Taking all this in consideration, the Americans lost the war in terms of success. It is often said that they had went in blind, in terms of tactics, and probability that they would win the war, and achieve their goal. The Vietnam War can only be resolved as unjust war due to the tactics used, lives that were lost unnecessarily due to the ignorance of the leaders and generals, and the desired end result was not at all achieved.