Reasonable Chance of Success

Analyzing the postwar requirements of jus adbellum

Authored by: Todd A. Burkhardt

Routledge Handbook of Ethics and War

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415539340
eBook ISBN: 9780203107164
Adobe ISBN: 9781136261008


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Just because a war ends, it doesn't necessarily mean that the death and dying is over. Civilians are continually harmed during the postwar phase because of foreseen but unintended damages, the residual effects of war, and poorly planned occupations. Not only is it important that states realize that postwar obligations pertain to all parties, but even more so, states should be cognizant of these demanding obligations even before the fighting begins. Moreover, jus post bellum (justice after war/postwar) obligations needs to be considered, and not in isolation, but alongside and integrated with jus ad bellum (justice of war) and jus in bello (justice in war) considerations. Analyzing the likelihood of successful military operations as the only consideration for the jus ad bellum reasonable chance of success tenet is inherently shortsighted and problematic because a state can win the war but still make a moral mess of the aftermath. The benefit of incorporating jus post bellum obligations into a state's reasonable chance of success calculation is twofold: 1) a state could possibly curtail specific types of military operations thereby lending to that state's ability to more effectively and efficiently fulfill its postwar obligations, and 2) a state would engage in preliminary postwar scenario planning at the forefront instead of waiting until the war is over (or nearly over), which is far too late in order to deal with such a huge undertaking.

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