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Comment
Last Updated: 12/08/2015
An open letter to those who believe in just war against ISIS.
Alex Powell


You might agree that it isn't just to destroy the confused and so understand the notion of Jihad or Just War to be invalidated but doubt the wisdom of this politically. You might think your enemies will hold an advantage if your side rejects it because you think the emotiveness of Just War means they will be better able to rally support for their cause, consolidate resolve for military action and other actions in support of it. In your most sophisticated presentation, either as religious discourse or something else, you set deliberation, vacillation and endless dialectic up either directly or indirectly as the onerous result of a rejection of this discourse Just War.

To me this illustrates you have not yet grasped the meaning of a correctly invalidated Just War. Highlighting your dedication to political intrigue, ideological posturing and religious factionalism (either your own or your enemies) and feeling compelled to become involved in the dialectics of Just War with inevitable course to war, you and your advocates will always question our knowing against wars associated chicanery with the counterpoint “anything can happen, we must be ready” and therefore be ever-ready to justify war.

But in concord with your artificial constructs on “before” and “after” our response to that is that it is never too late! And this even after (your) embarking on seemingly intractable courses like the invasion of Iraq leading to the subsequent genesis of IS?

But it is not enough that your/our own side reject the invalidated notion of Just War alone. Can we unlock the mutually dependent relationship of unnecessary suffering?

People may doubt for whatever reasons the argument against Jihad and toward them we utilise consistent valid argument to prevent the unwanted from happening (previous paper). Now we retain a similar consistent valid argument to illustrate, to those who might not want to recognise it, that the unwanted is happening equally to both sides now. And thereby bring an end to it.

As one is only secure when one is not compelled to act, if we are compelled to act how can we be secure? In mutual dependence parties who subscribe to Just War are compelled to become involved in acts associated with it. The basis of those acts is when for each the other is confused with regards to other view and this is the basis for disagreement and therefore conflict. Otherwise why worry what anyone thinks?

The confusion is technical because objectively it is obvious neither party regard themselves confused concerning the others position but regard the other being confused about their own. Seemingly doubly ill equipped to bring the other round to an agreement aside from war, surely any profession by either side to a lack of skill to bring the other to any agreement because of a lack of understanding is doubly (and technically) incorrect so long as each might in reality be able to do so.

In other words appeal to “complexity” is not valid in this instance. As a component of a strategy of conditioning to their “will” nation state B, nation state A may impose political, trade or military sanctions on nation state B to negatively (or positively) reinforce what is considered by them to be negative (or positive) behaviour. But this only has the result of conditioning (Classic) nation state A into an unconditioned response upon the response of their sanction I think. The point being any attempt by one party to condition the other comes at a price – the party doing the conditioning also involuntary conditions themselves by that behaviour.

So while each party believes it is operating on and independently of the other this isn't the case and the result is anything but quid quo pro. The conditioning party pays the price by being compelled to act in a conditioned (Classic) way itself in response to its own conditioning (Operant) of the other party and vice versa I think. So any attempt by either party to control the other side via a strategy of conditioning only puts pay to the strategist being more bound in unknown, unseen and intricate ways to the other.

All very well in times of peace, diversifying market forces do drive global economic interdependence and not “But in just war discourse because political compulsion through conditioning becomes the norm, the security of a strategy that eschews what is actually happening, ie truth, in favour of political expediency even via an appeal to complexity must be false. QED even in terms of political expediency discourse around Just War is unsuitable as a basis for coherent strategy.

So the unwanted is happening now - how can we de-escalate and save face? Freeing war from the messy concept of justice gives second wind to the logical fact that without a first strike there is no second, third or any other strike logically possible. Without being compelled to enforce this cumbersome notion of just war there emerges the possibility of putting a very high moral premium back onto “concepts” of first strike and pre-emption where they belong.

But we have forgotten, it is because of logic and not just prudent thinking very high moral premiums rightly belong on those concepts. So it is not a case of putting the moral premium back, it belongs there and cannot be removed from the discourses of pre-emption and just war in the first place. Note this principle applies toward de-escalation as each lull in fighting is only broken by a “first strike” anyway. So turning the other cheek is necessary for peace whether you think you have done this in the past or you mistakenly think this philosophy new to your way of thinking! The landscape changes but our responses are surprisingly continual. What about responses to cyber incursion for instance?

The cost of lowering the bar to striking first means lowering the bar not just to war but to perpetual war. If we believe in just war discourse we would be less likely to see the mistake in continuing or initiating or being party to initiating a potentially perpetual war as in the case of “our” involvement in the Iraq region. Logically if we initiate an action there is less chance we will consider the possibility that we made a mistake in the first instance and so even less chance in questioning the many instances that follow if we consider the action just in the first. And even if the conditions under which such a war is initiated don't at first constitute the conditions for a perpetual war what possible politic in isolation to just war discourse could make us stop once started? There must be a way as we must have done this in the past. But if the action is pre-emptive what chance then?

So your tendency - to always question our knowing against wars associated chicanery with the counterpoint “anything can happen, we must be ready” and therefore be ever-ready to justify war - is understandable in the light of these various commitments. Commitments in a sense carried over from innumerable wars past.

On the other hand if these liabilities are perceived and understood more realistic strategies can be allowed to emerge. A course of action can be properly considered superior to another on its relative merits rather than on the basis of strategic, tactical or political And for the first time proper de-escalation is possible following a strategy of an invalidated just war as with proper (realistic) de-escalation there can be no loss of face as the side is stepping down properly.

While you are compelled to become involved in arguments of de-escalation just like you are compelled to become involved in arguments around just war if you subscribe to it this is obviously better than that alternative compulsion. Also, politically, because your moral practice abroad becomes more concordant with moral practice at home focusing as it does on peace and security and because you have analysed free of error your all-round (strategic and moral combined) position is more cohesive with obvious benefits.

We are not proposing a sliding scale commitment. Invalidating just war is done once with default position in the dialectics of war no longer optioned. Otherwise you are not done and bound to become entangled in this exceedingly risky moral rhetoric. But we must properly invalidate this argument for ourselves to be equipped to take up conceptual positions and assume responsibility for proper (realistic again) strategic and moral arguments combined. This is regardless you think you can turn the other cheek or not. Until we make this determination as individuals it is out of the question politically we can engage proper militaristic discourse with moral analysis as our prior or base logical position may only be described as tenuous at best through being associated with an invalid argument, just war.

The intention here and in the previous paper is not to assert there is never any reason to war or even to make pre-emptive strikes only to appeal to a superior strategy and thereby engage superior tactics. With the strategy of just war invalidated in the previous paper we now cannot ignore the exceedingly high moral premium of the dangerous tactics, military or political, that entail from it. The slightest possibility of trading perpetual peace for perpetual war is such an exceedingly high moral gambit that we should be, if not in possession of all the valid arguments, very certain of the consequences of our actions as to be positively prophetic. But even though we in the west no longer follow prophets and should rightly place our trust in strategies that must be grounded in solid valid argument why should we be any the worse for it?


If you would like to take issue with me powellalexj@googlemail.com alternatively write to the editor. I reserve the right to reply.


Alex Powell is a researcher living in Wales. Has previous work on memory recognized by The Royal College Psychiatry with major implications for neuroscience and theories of mind. Has written: Diversifying market forces drive global economic interdependence, not Globalization. Currently working in web development with a focus on engineering applications for right livelihood organisations.
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