The use of military force implies war, and the repercussions are normally far-reaching. During a war, the collateral damage is usually innocent people who die unnecessarily. Therefore, before the declaration of war against a perceived enemy, there should be strong justification that such a decision would yield the best results. The use of military force should be the last option after all other dispute resolution mechanisms have failed. This paper discusses cases where military force is justified.
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The first case where military force is justified is when a country’s sovereignty is threatened. According to Brown, if a nation is on the verge of being attacked, it can declare war against the invading side as a way of self-defense (146). The first duty of every nation is to protect the welfare of its citizens and ensure their security. Invasion from the opposing side has two consequences. First, the country’s borders may be compromised, thus affecting its geographical layout. Second, citizens may be harmed or massacred. Therefore, in a bid to prevent the above-mentioned occurrences, a nation is justified to declare military force against an enemy. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States declared war against Al-Qaeda, which was behind the bombing. During the attacks, mass casualties were reported. In retaliation, the United States justifiably used military force against the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Similarly, on September 1, 1939, Germany, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler invaded Poland (Brown, 147). In retaliation, the Polish government declared war against Germany. In this case, the Polish government was justified to use military force against Germany as a way of protecting its sovereignty. Other nations joined Poland to resist the invasion by Germany, which underscores the second scenario when military force is justified.
In cases where international convention laws are violated, military force can be employed. For instance, international law stipulates that a country’s sovereignty must be respected (Palmer-Fernandez 588). Therefore, when the same is violated and the victim country is weak, its allies can extend military help. For instance, the British declared war against Germany after the Poland invasion. The conflict escalated and together with other factors, the Second World War started, and by the time it ended, millions of lives were lost.
The use of military force can also be justified where humanitarian crisis emerges. In some cases, rulers may turn against their citizens in a bid to remain in power. As such, civil war may emerge and cause mass casualties, thus violating human rights. In those cases, international players may declare war against such rulers. For instance, in 2014, President Barack Obama sought congressional authorization to allow military action against the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian Air Force had allegedly used sarin gas to cause mass casualties in the country (Brown 150). Consequently, to protect human rights for innocent people living in Syria, military force would be justifiable.
Using military force always leads to a bloody confrontation in war, and the repercussions normally involve the unnecessary loss of innocent human lives. However, at times, military force is justified especially when a country’s sovereignty is under threat. Similarly, violating international laws can also lead to the justification of military force. Finally, war can be declared against individuals causing a humanitarian crisis. However, military force should be used after exhausting all other alternative dispute resolution methods.
Brown, Davis. “A typology of war ethics.” Journal of Military Ethics, vol. 16, no. 4, 2017, pp. 145-156.
Palmer-Fernandez, Gabriel. “Just war moralities.” Journal of Religious Ethics, vol. 45, no. 3, 2017, pp. 580-605.
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