Feb. 3, 2020
2. Grim Virtue: Decisiveness as an Implication of the Just War Tradition
So proclaims J.R.R. Tolkien’s Faramir, second son of Denethor, brother of Boromir, captain of the rangers of Ithilien, and later captain of the white tower when his brother falls. Faramir makes this assertion in a moment of great peril, in the midst of conflict, when he is given an opportunity to do a terrible thing in order to bring about a great good. He does not do it, and his proclamation, above, as to why he does not provides a tidy summary of the core of the just war framework, which could be rendered thus: Wars may be justly fought only in the last resort and for the aim of peace, when a sovereign authority—over whom there is no one greater charged with the care of the political community—determines that nothing else will properly retribute a sufficiently grave evil, take back what has been wrongly taken, or protect the innocent. In such cases, and only such, force may be rightly deployed to restore justice, order, and peace.