Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Ethics of Drone Warfare: Some Notes

* The following is a collection of notes I have started on the issue of drone warfare.  I presented some of these thoughts in my Ethics & Moral Reasoning class when discussing the issue of war.  This is a work in progress.  (Apologies for some formatting errors from when I cut and pasted this here.)

The Ethics of Drone Warfare

No aspect of modern warfare is as controversial as the use of armed drones.  Everything about drone technology is contested: its novelty, legality, morality, utility, and future development.  Even the choice of what to call such systems is value-laden.
                                    --Professor Sir David Omand GCB
                                     Former United Kingdom Security and Intelligence Coordinator[1]

Technology does not remove the possibility of virtue, but it does increase the possibilities
for vice.  This is only to be expected, for in warfare, as in all other human activities,
there’s a very small area of potentially appropriate acts—only one small bull’-eye area
in the moral target.  But the possibilities for wrong acts—for missing the bull’s-eye
are limitless.  Every technological advance gives us one more small space for possible
virtuous acts, but endless possibilities for vice.
--Darrell Cole[2]
1.     Statistics

a.     “The first U.S. drone strike is believed to have occurred in 2002 when a Hellfire missile launched by a Predator drone killed four suspected al-Qaeda members in Yemen.”[3]

b.     From 2005 to 2013 use of armed drones increased by 1,200%[4]

c.      More drone strikes by Obama administration in 2009 than the Bush administration during the entire time[5]

d.     By early 2012 Pentagon had 7,500 drones: representing approximately one-third of all U.S. military aircraft[6]

e.     Predators and Reapers flew 369,913 flight hours in 2014: 6 x’s higher than in 2006[7]

f.      Pentagon is asking Congress for $904 million in 2016 to buy 29 Reapers: more than double the number sought in 2015[8]

2.     Potential benefits of drone technology

a.     Cost

                                               i.     Have an aircraft of any size

                                              ii.     Don’t need to design craft around humans (no need for life support systems, i.e., pressurized cabins)

b.     Improved duration of flight times à from hours to weeks

c.      Ability to risk dangerous conditions (i.e., extreme weather)

d.     Claimed to reduce collateral damage and civilian casualty

3.     Ethical issues to consider:

“As for drones, while further advancement in relevant technologies is inevitable, it must also be recognized that technology in general is advancing at a pace that outstrips the political, legal and ethical frameworks upon which coexistence and cooperation with global partners is built.”[9]

a.     Who is in charge, what is their training, and to whom are they accountable?

                                               i.     “Another issue in drone use is the fact that strikes are carried out by joint operations. The heavy involvement of the CIA and CIA contractors in the decisions to strike may alone account for the high-unintended death rate. CIA operatives are not trained in the law of armed conflict.  They are not bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice to respect the laws and customs of war. This fact became abundantly clear during the revelation of U.S. use of interrogation methods involving torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Given the impact of that unlawful conduct it is difficult to fathom why the Obama Administration is using the CIA to carry out drone attacks. Under the law of armed conflict, only lawful combatants have the right to use force during an armed conflict. Lawful combatants are the members of a state‘s regular armed forces. The CIA is not part of the U.S. armed forces. They do not wear uniforms. They are not subject to the military chain of command. They are not trained in the law of war, including in the fundamental targeting principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality, and humanity.  Rather, the CIA has a list of intended targets. They judge success by the number of persons on the list they kill.”[10]

b.     Determining the legitimacy of a target

                                               i.     U.S. Dept. of Defense: Joint Integrated Prioritized Target List (2009): 400 names of individuals described as “known terrorists”

                                              ii.     Is the definition of “terrorist” too broad?

                                            iii.     “The inclusion of Taliban financiers on the so-called ‘kill list’ is a case in point.  Although terrorist financiers may be classified as terrorists, there is debate as to whether they can be deemed a legitimate target for a kill list under IHL [International Humanitarian Law].  According to ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] guidance, IHL stipulates that the decisive criterion as to whether an individual is a member of an organized armed group, terrorist or otherwise, is to prove a continuous combat function.  Furthermore, any individual falling outside this category would be classified as a civilian.  In other words, unless a Taliban financier can be proved to be a combatant on a continual basis, it would be unlawful to target under IHL.”[11]

c.      “Rescuer attacks” also known as “follow-up strikes”

“One example is the killing of senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya Al-Libi on June 4, 2012.  Following an initial drone strike which killed five people and injured four others, a group of 12 people, including local residents, came to the assistance of the victims.  Al-Libi was reported to have been overseeing the rescue efforts and was killed in the second strike, along with between 9 and 15 other people, including six local tribesmen.  In other words, six civilians were killed working in a humanitarian capacity alongside a group of al-Qaeda operatives under a senior al-Qaeda official.”[12]

d.     Geographical sovereignty

                                               i.      Does the “host state” consent to drone strikes?

                                              ii.     Pakistan denies consent publicly

e.     Proportionality: Anticipated collateral damage and civilian casualty

                                               i.     “U.S. estimates of extremely low or no civilian casualties appear to be based on a narrowed definition of ‘civilian,’ and the presumption that, unless proven otherwise, individuals killed in strikes are militants.  In May 2012, The New York Times reported that according to unnamed Obama administration officials, the United States ‘… in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants… unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.’”[13]

                                              ii.     “Recent UN reporting suggests that drone strikes have resulted in considerably more civilian deaths than U. S. officials have publicly acknowledged.  According to UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson, at least 400 civilians have been killed in Pakistan alone.”[14]

f.      Does the target present a direct and imminent threat?

                                               i.     “However, some analysts believe that, today, al-Qaeda constitutes more of an ideological influence than a direct threat.”[15]

                                              ii.     “Traditionally, there has been substantial consensus among states and international law experts that an imminent threat is one that is concrete and immediate, rather than speculative or remote. But according to a leaked 2011 Justice Department White Paperthe most detailed legal justification that is publicly availablethe United States is now taking a radically different approach to defining imminence. According to the White Paper, the requirement that force only be used to prevent an imminentthreat does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future. This seemsand isat odds with the traditional view. The White Paper goes on to assert that certain members of al-Qaida are continually plotting attacks . . . [and] would engage in such attacks regularly [if they] were able to do so, [and] the U.S. government may not be aware of all al-Qaida plots as they are developing and thus cannot be confident that none is about to occur. As a result, the White Paper concludes that any person deemed to be an operational leader of al-Qaeda or its associated forcesinherently presents an imminent threat at all timesand as a result, the United States can lawfully target such persons at all times, even in the absence of specific knowledge relating to planned future attacks.

“At risk of belaboring the obvious, this understanding of imminence turns the traditional international law interpretation of the concept on its head. Instead of reading the imminence requirement to mean that states must have concrete knowledge (or at least reasonable suspicion) of an actual impending attack in the near future, the United States appears to construe lack of knowledge of a future attack as the justification for using force; that is, since the United States may not be aware of all Al Qaida plots . . . and thus cannot be confident that none is about to occur, force is presumed always to be justified against the kinds of people considered likely to engage in . . . attacks . . . if [they] were able to do so. From a rule-of-law perspective, this is a radical assault on a once-stable concept. If imminent threatcan mean lack of evidence of the absence of imminent threat,it is impossible to know, with any clarity, the circumstances under which the United States will in fact decide that the use of military force is lawful.”[16]

g.     Issues of “necessity” and “proportionality”

                                               i.     “Are all drone strikes necessary? Could nonlethal means of combating terror- ismsuch as efforts to disrupt terrorist financing and communicationsbe sufficient to prevent future attacks? Might particular terror suspects be captured rather than killed? Do drone strikes inspire more terrorists than they kill? Also, to what degree does U.S. drone policy distinguish between terrorist threats of varying gravity? If drone strikes against a dozen targets prevented another attack on the scale of, few would dispute their appropriateness or legalitybut we might judge differently a drone strike against someone unlikely to cause serious harm to the United States. Unfortunately, if U.S. decision-makers generally lack specific knowledge about the nature and timing of future attackswhich the White Paper acknowledgesjudgments of necessity and proportionality literally become impossible. How can one decide if lethal force is necessary to prevent a possible future attack about which one knows nothing? How can proportionality be deter- mined? Here again, the U.S. legal theory underlying targeted killing makes it impossible to apply key principles in a meaningful way. Both necessity and proportionality come to be evaluated in the context of purely hypothetical worst-case scenarios (in theory, any terror suspect might be about to unleash another catastrophic attack on the scale of). As a result, these limitationson the use of force establish no limits at all.”[17]

h.     Potential negative effects on local populations

                                               i.     “Covert drone strikes take a particular toll, striking unannounced and without any public understanding of who is, and importantly, who is not a target.  For victims, there is no one to recognize, apologize for, or explain their sorrow; for communities living under the constant watch of surveillance drones, there is no one to hold accountable for their fear.[18] 

i.       Accuracy

                                               i.     Personality targeting vs. signature targeting

1.     Personality targeting: an individual whose identity is specifically known is targeted

2.     Signature targeting: unknown individuals often in groups are targeted.  These match a pre-identified “signature” of behavior that the U.S. links to militant activity or association.

a.     Signature strikes are more controversial

b.     Make up significant proportion of covert drone strikes—the majority in Afghanistan

c.      “Indeed, according to one unnamed U.S. official, the United States has killed twice as many ‘wanted terrorists’ in signature strikes than in personality strikes.  U.S. officials have also reported that most of the people on the CIA’s kill list have been killed in signature strikes.”[19]

d.     Could create the potential for increased collateral damage

e.     Criteria for determining suspicious behavioral patterns (signatures)

                                                                                                     i.     Challenge for intelligence—“when human intelligence is lacking and decisions need to be made based on aerial intelligence alone.”[20]

                                              ii.     Pre-planned attacks vs. Dynamic targeting

1.     Pre-planned attacks: conducted at a scheduled time and after elaborate processes of collateral damage estimation are taken into account

2.     Dynamic targeting: decisions made in a short window of time without the time for collateral damage controls.  The risk of collateral damage increases

j.       Assessing short, mid, and longer term impacts of drone strikes

                                               i.     Short term success: killing enemy commander

                                              ii.     Mid and long term

1.     Glorify enemies as martyrs

2.     Create more propaganda for jihadists

k.     Distinguish between counterterrorism and counterinsurgency

                                               i.     Two different policies that employ different strategies

                                              ii.     Drone strikes may run undermine counterinsurgency

“In May 2012, a study based on interviews with government officials, tribal elders, and others in Yemen carried out by the Center for Civilians in Conflict concluded that: ‘… and unintended consequence of the attacks has been a marked radicalization of the local population.’”[21]

l.       Secrecy of drone warfare program in the U.S.

                                               i.     “The U.S. government runs two drone programs.  The military’s version, which is publicly acknowledged, operates in the recognized war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, and targets enemies of U.S. troops stationed there.  As such, it is an extension of conventional warfare.  The C.I.A.’s program is aimed at terror suspects around the world, including in countries where U.S. troops are not based.  It was initiated by the Bush Administration and, according to Juan Zarate, a counterterrorism adviser in the Bush White House, Obama has left in place virtually all the key personnel.  The program is classified as covet, and the intelligence agency declines to provide any information to the public about where it operates, how it selects targets, who is in charge, or how many people have been killed.”[22]

                                              ii.     “We do know, however, that as a matter of international law the United States believes itself to be in an armed conflict with ‘al-Qaeda and its associated forces.’  We know the United States therefore considers ‘al-Qaeda operatives’ to be targetable as ‘combatants,’ but we do not know precisely how it identifies or defines al-Qaeda operatives, agents, or members, or how it defines the term ‘combatants’ and applies it in the murky context of transnational terrorism.  We also do not know precisely how the United States understands the term ‘civilian’ in the context of terrorism or the concept of ‘direct participation in hostilities.’  Finally, we do not know how the United States defines or identifies ‘associates’ or ‘co-belligerents’ of al-Qaeda.”[23]

m.   Future technology

                                               i.     Nano drones (example—“hummingbird drone” capable of flying at 11 miles per hour and perching on a window sill)

                                              ii.     Autonomous drones—identify and eliminate human target without direct human intervention

     [1] Quoted in Shima D. Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes (Carlisle, Penn.: U.S. Army War College Press, 2015), 1.  Available online:
     [2] Darrell Cole, When God Says War Is Right: The Christian’s Perspective on When and How to Fight (Colorado Springs, Col.: Water Brook, 2002), 54.
     [4] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 1.
     [5] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 1.
     [6] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 1.
     [7] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 33.
     [8] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 33.
     [9] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 36.
     [10] Mary Ellen O’Connell, “Unlawful Killing with Combat Drones: A Case Study of Pakistan, 2004—2009” Notre Dame Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-43 (July 2010), 5-6.  Available online:
     [11] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 10-11.
     [12] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 11.
     [13] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 18-19.
     [14] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 19.
     [15] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 16.
     [16] Brooks, “Drones and the International Rule of Law,” 93-94.
     [17] Brooks, “Drones and the International Rule of Law,” 94-95.
     [18] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 20-21.
     [19] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 25.
     [20] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 26.
     [21] Keene, Lethal and Legal? The Ethics of Drone Strikes, 29.
     [22] Jane Mayer, “The Predator War” New Yorker (October 26, 2009).  Available online:  Mary Ellen O’Connell adds this important caveat: “The two programs may not be as clearly separated as Mayer suggests, however.  Many facts about the use of drones are classified, so it is difficult to get a full and accurate picture.  Some evidence suggests a more complicated situation.  In an interview with a former commander of the drone operation at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, it was clear that all drone operations are ‘joint’ operations—none is carried out by the Air Force alone.” “Unlawful Killing with Combat Drones: A Case Study of Pakistan, 2004—2009” Notre Dame Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-43 (July 2010), 5-6.  Available online:
     [23] Brooks, “Drones and the International Rule of Law,” 90.

Just War Theory: Notes

* The following are some of my notes from my lectures on Just War theory for my Ethics & Moral Reasoning class.  This is more a work in progress.

Just War Theory


·      “The classic just war doctrine as articulated by the Church does not view all use of force as evil; rather, it declares that war can actually be a positive act of love entirely consistent with the character of God.  Love of God and neighbor impels Christians to seek a just peace for all, especially for their neighbors, and military force is sometimes an appropriate means for seeking that peace.”[1]

·      “The version of just war theory we espouse takes seriously all of the obligations of its criteria, not in some minimal or negative checklist sense but rather along the lines of a discipline that involves commitments, duties, and virtues as well as categories, criteria, and principles.  In short, love for the enemy neighbor, along with their families and fellow citizens, is not to be suspended or set aside either during or after the war.”[2]

·      “Just war is not set in stone.  Composed of many theories, just war is a living tradition that has changed and continues to develop in light of new circumstances, technologies, and insights.  As John Howard Yoder, a Mennonite pacifist theologian who has written extensively on just war theory, observed, ‘It is appropriate to speak rather of “tradition” than of a “doctrine” or a “theory,” for there is not one official statement of this approach to which all would subscribe.’”[3]

Presumption Against Violence or Injustice?

·      “[T]he historical moral basis of just-war teaching is the presumption not against war or lethal force per se but against evil that is directed toward my neighbor, against injustice and oppression.  Just-war thinking, properly understood, begins with the presumption to restrain evil and protect the innocent, not to forbid coercive force.”[4]

·      “Without justice, peace itself can be illegitimate.  The animating spirit of just-war thinking is that ‘social charity comes to the aid of the oppressed.’  Therefore, anyone who categorically rules out the possibility of war or coercive force violates the presumption against injustice, which is a requirement of love rightly construed.  The just-war tradition, hence, strongly qualifies peace, acknowledging that if this peace is not justly ordered, it may well be illegitimate, even oppressive.  Peace, therefore, is not merely the absence of conflict.”[5]

Just War Theory as a Mediating Position Between Militarism and Pacifism

·       “Properly understood, the just-war tradition understands itself as a mediating or moderating position between two poles that are absolutist in their attitude toward coercive force.  On the one hand, the militarist—whether secular (sometimes called the ‘political realist’) or religious (the jihadist or crusader)—views war and coercive force as justifiable under any circumstance.  No moral restraints beyond political expediency or the ‘command of God’ need be applied.  On the other end stands the pacifist.  Given the suffering and bloodshed caused by violence and war, the pure or principled pacifist believes that war and coercive force are never permissible; war is to be rejected under any and all circumstances.

“The just-war position—an expression of consensual Christian thinking through the ages—seeks to mediate this tension.  This mediating position is rooted in a certain Christian realism: we must never believe that nothing is permissible, nor that everything is.  There are occasions in which, reluctantly, we may need to apply coercive force, even if this means going to war, for the protection and preservation of a third party.  Resort to war is sometimes, though not always unjust.”[6]

Just War Criteria

o   Note on criteria à they are difficult to apply

“Just war theory, then, leads to valuable discussions about the ethics of war, but it is rarely if ever definitive.  Even its criteria are often problematic and difficult to apply in real situations.”[7]

§  Do all the criteria need to be met?

§  How stringently are the criteria followed?  Can one be overly scrupulous so that no war is ever justified—“just war pacifists”?

Jus ad bellum[8]

1.     Just cause.  War is seen as legitimate if it is waged in self-defense, to protect the innocent, in defense of human rights, or in response to acts of aggression.

2.     Competent authority and public declaration.  The use of force is permissible if a legitimate authority engages in due process and publically declares its intention to go to war.

3.     Comparative justice.  Meeting the just cause requirement does not grant carte blanche rights to any state; its objectives in war must be limited.  No party to war has absolute justice on its side.

4.     Right intention.  The only just motives for waging war are those prescribed by the just cause principle.  Ulterior motives (revenge, geopolitical power plays, seizing natural resources, and so on) cannot be rationalized within the just war tradition.

5.     Last resort.  This principle requires that all reasonable peaceful alternatives to war must be fully exhausted before going to war.

6.     Probability of success.  A war cannot be considered just if it will have no positive influence on the situation.  The intent is to prevent futile attempts to change a situation when one side has a substantial advantage or when engaging in conflict is the equivalent of mass suicide.

7.     Proportionality (or macroproportionality).  The good expected to result from engaging in war must be worth it.  The benefits that result from defeating the aggressor must be proportionally better than the inherent evils of war.

Jus in bello

1.     Discrimination.  Soldiers must distinguish between combatants and noncombatants, and between military targets and the infrastructure necessary for life (water supplies, sewage treatment facilities, hospitals, crops, and so on).  The intentional targeting of civilians is never justified and is rightly condemned as murder.  The principle forbids all weapons that fail to discriminate between soldiers and civilians (including nuclear weapons and devices such as land mines).

2.     Proportionality (or mircoproportionality).  The use of military force must be proportionate to the objective.  This principle forbids all weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Jus post bellum[9]

1.     Just cause principle.  “The goal of a just war must be to establish social, political, and economic conditions that are more stable, more just, and less prone to chaos than what existed prior to the fighting.  The just cause principle has three primary theoretical objectives: (1) hold parties accountable until mission is accomplished, (2) restrain parties from seeking additional gains, and (3) stem overly zealous post bellum responses.  In practice, this criterion entails both the return of unjust gains and the prohibition of unconditional surrenders.”

2.     Reconciliation.  “The goal of reconciliation is to transform a relationship of animosity, fear, and hatred into one of tolerance, if not respect, to turn enemies into friends and to bring emotional healing to the victims of war… This phase is not about cheap grace or taking a forgive-and-forget approach.  It involves acknowledgment of wrongdoing, admission of responsibility, punishment, forgiveness, and perhaps amnesty.  Ideally, reconciliation should lead to the return of the party to communion.  The goal of reconciliation, in short, is justice tempered by mercy.  In practice, the reconciliatory aims can be promoted through ceasefire agreements, restrained post war celebrations, public and transparent post war settlement processes, and apologies.”

3.     Punishment.  “Here the primary objectives are justice, accountability, and restitution.  The legitimacy of punishment depends on several factors: publicity and transparency (punishment ought to be meted out through public forums to which many, if not all, have access); proportionality and discrimination (appropriate punitive measures ought not to be excessively debilitating and must make distinctions based on level of command and culpability); and legitimate authority (punishments ought to be assigned by an authority that all sides recognize as legitimate).  In all likelihood, the legitimacy of the punishment phase depends on an independent authority (meaning a third party) in order to avoid even the appearance of victors acting as judge, jury, and executioner of the vanquished (which is otherwise pejoratively referred to as ‘victor’s justice’).  In practice, the punishment phase involves compensation (restitution) and war crimes trials.”

4.     Restoration.  “The goal of a just war is not simply the cessation of violence but political, economic, social, and ecological conditions that allow citizens to flourish.  In other words, a just war should seek to create an environment that permits citizens to pursue a life that is meaningful and dignified.  Doing so involves a number of practical concerns, including providing and establishing security, policing, and the rule of law; enabling sufficient political reform whereby a functional government can promote the common good and provide public services such as education, health care, and electricity; fostering economic recovery by helping with the transition from a post war to a peacetime economy; providing social rehabilitation for people who have been victimized by war and soldiers who may suffer from injuries and trauma; and ecological cleanup efforts to address the lingering pernicious effects of weapons such as cluster munitions on people’s lives and livelihoods.”

·      Brian Orend in his important essay “Justice After War” Ethics and International Affairs 16.1 (2002), 43-56 lists out the following post bellum criteria (p. 55):

o   Proportionality and publicity
o   Rights vindication
o   Discrimination
o   Punishment for leaders who violate ad bellum criteria and soldiers who violate in bello criteria
o   Compensation
o   Rehabilitation

Preemptive War vs. Preventive War

Preemptive War
Preventive War
“Preemption refers to the first use of military force when an enemy attack already is underway or, at the least, is very credibly imminent.”[10]
“The most essential distinction between preemption and prevention is that the former option, uniquely, is exercised in or for a war that is certain, the timing of which has not been chosen by the preemptor.  In every case, by definition, the option of preventive war, or of a preventive strike, must express a guess that war, or at least a major negative power shift, is probable in the future.  The preventor has a choice….Obviously, temporally the more distant the danger, the greater has to be the uncertainty.”[11]
“Preemption is all about self-defense.  Indeed, if we define preemption properly, which is to say as the desperate option of last resort prior to receiving an attack that one is absolutely certain is on its way or all but so, it is not really controversial.”[12]
“A preventive war is a war that a state chooses to launch in order to prevent some future danger from happening.  Because the future is by definition unknown and unknowable, preventive action has to entail striking on the basis of guesswork about more or less distant threats.”[13]

“Preventive war doctrine wrecks havoc with the just war criteria of last resort.”[14]

“Preemptive war relaxes the requirement of having to suffer aggression before attacking, allowing for the use of force in situations of imminent danger.  Preventive war relaxes the notion of imminent danger.”[15]

“Each step from the paradigmatic case of self-defense to preemptive war to preventive war allows for greater permissiveness for using force, but no step is conceived as a qualitative departure from the paradigmatic case.”[16]

·      Question: Does the movement from self-defense to preventive war entail increasing obligations—epistemological probabilities and clarity of expression of intention?     

a.     Preemptive war is a response to an imminent danger, a real and tangible threat. 

                                               i.     Michael Walzer identifies three components à “sufficient threat”

1.     A manifest intent to injure

2.     Active participation that turns that intent into a positive danger, a danger of being fatally exposed

3.     A situation in which doing nothing greatly magnifies the risk

b.     Many Just War theorists allow for preemption but not for preventive wars.[17]  For example, Daniel Heimbach argues, “Augustinian interpretation permits preemptive war responding to material threats actually offered, but can never allow stretching the just cause principle to justify wars of prevention.”[18]  J. Daryl Charles and Timothy J. Demy argue that preventive wars violate a number of the just war criteria:

Also, within jus ad bellum requirements, preventive war fails to meet the criterion of just cause in that it assumes a certain future breach of justice that has not yet occurred.  Further, it may also fail on limited aims depending on how far-reaching or global the threat is considered to be.[19]

c.      Other criteria are compromised as well.  Richard Miller argues that, “Preventive war doctrine wrecks havoc with the just war criteria of last resort.”[20]

     [1] Darrell Cole, When God Says War Is Right: The Christian’s Perspective on When and How to Fight (Colorado Springs, Col.: Water Brook, 2002), 7.
     [2] Mark J. Allman and Tobias L. Winright.  After the Smoke Clears: The Just War Tradition and Post War Peace (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis, 2010), 8.
     [3] Mark J. Allman and Tobias L. Winright.  After the Smoke Clears: The Just War Tradition and Post War Peace (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis, 2010), 21-22.
     [4] J. Daryl Charles, Between Pacifism and Jihad: Just War and Christian Tradition (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 2005), 19.
     [5] Charles, Between Pacifism and Jihad, 19.
     [6] Charles, Between Pacifism and Jihad, 19-20.
     [7] John Frame. Doctrine of the Christian Life (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2008), 713.
     [8] This list and articulation is from Mark J. Allman and Tobias L. Winright.  After the Smoke Clears: The Just War Tradition and Post War Peace (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis, 2010), 16-17. 
     [9] These first four points are drawn from Mark J. Allman and Tobias L. Winright.  After the Smoke Clears: The Just War Tradition and Post War Peace (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis, 2010), 14-15.
     [10] Colin S. Gray, The Implications of Preemptive and Preventive War Doctrines: A Reconsideration (Carlisle, Penn.: Strategic Studies Institute, 2007), 8.
     [11] Colin S. Gray, The Implications of Preemptive and Preventive War Doctrines: A Reconsideration (Carlisle, Penn.: Strategic Studies Institute, 2007), 13.
     [12] Colin S. Gray, The Implications of Preemptive and Preventive War Doctrines: A Reconsideration (Carlisle, Penn.: Strategic Studies Institute, 2007), 9.
     [13] Colin S. Gray, The Implications of Preemptive and Preventive War Doctrines: A Reconsideration (Carlisle, Penn.: Strategic Studies Institute, 2007), 17.
     [14] Richard B. Miller “Justifications of the Iraq War Examined” Ethics and International Affairs 22 (2008), 51.
     [15] Richard B. Miller “Justifications of the Iraq War Examined” Ethics and International Affairs 22 (2008), 49.
     [16] Richard B. Miller “Justifications of the Iraq War Examined” Ethics and International Affairs 22 (2008), 49-50.
     [17] J. Daryl Charles and Timothy J. Demy, War, Peace, and Christianity: Questions and Answers from a Just-War Perspective (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010), 217.  They also mention Just War ethicists Paul Ramsey and James Turner Johnson as being opposed to preventive wars.  They mention famed Just War ethicist Michael Walzer as speaking of preventive war as “inherently more problematic.”
     [18] Daniel Heimbach, “In Justifying Regime Change Are We Missing Augustine’s Rejection of War to Reduce Fear?” Presentation at the Evangelical Theological Society (November 17, 2005), 10. Online:
     [19] Charles and Demy, War, Peace, and Christianity, 218.
     [20] Miller, “Justifications of the Iraq War Examined,” 51.