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Be careful in describing wars as 'just' 

Much in Bill Denneen's article on World War II ("My war was just," Opinion, June 9-16) should be praised for pointing out the vast differences between that war and the present war on Iraq, including the Nuremburg trials after the war, which succeeded in condemning Hitler's aggression and emphasizing the obligation of citizens to speak out against injustice.

The fundamental acceptance of the idea of "just" wars needs questioning, however, in view of the dangerous fallacy lurking there. Every war is "just" from the viewpoint of opposite sides, and everything will be done to try to justify any war by using propaganda on both sides. It is this slippery definition of "just" that leads people to ultimately accept the idea that wars are "inevitable" and that "our" side is right and "the other side" is wrong, and so it is useless to expect peaceful solutions to problems. Also, when issues are settled by military strength, how can weaker forces maintain their rights not to be exploited or enslaved?

When the idea of "just wars" slips so easily into "just another war" - inevitable, acceptable - it is time to look more closely at timeworn ways of thinking, especially since weapons have become so destructive and are mostly in the hands of powerful governments that are not willing to forego them for the common good of humanity. A better way must soon be found.

 

Jean Gerard

Los Osos

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