[ by Charles Cameron — breaking the grip of the war and peace, militant vs pacifist duality, with justice as the proposed “missing” third ingredient ]
The purpose of war is never peace in the beginning, or there’d be no need of it, no starting point.
Similarly, the purpose of war once initiated is generally peace, but with qualifications — peace that’s in the national interest first and foremost among them, especially if you’re willing to include “the Ummah” among the nations in making that statement.
But I keep getting the feeling there’s more that needs to be untangled. As my example of the Ummah shows — and Christendom or the Anglosphere would suit my point equally well — all manner of identifiers from the tribal to the global can be the ones in need of defense (or adduced in favor of aggressive attack).
Here, I want to zoom in and look for a global imperative that respects both Western and Islamic sensibilities, and is simple enough to make sense to me, sense of my own basic perplexity.
And I think I have it.
The purpose of war is justice, and the purpose of justice is peace.
That formulation doesn’t admit of wars of aggression — which at the simplistic level I am dealing at are inherently unjust (Jus ad bellum i: Just cause) — but it comprehends that wars (and we arrive on the scene in media res) lead to peace, but with an intervening caveat: with justice.
And it fits the explicit statement in the Qur’an, 2.190:
Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.
and also this very interesting verse, 57.25, which gives the other one context:
We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice. And We sent down iron, wherein is great military might and benefits for the people, and so that Allah may make evident those who support Him and His messengers unseen. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.
I’m a simple soul, and no doubt these thoughts of mine have been preceded by others — some in agreement, some in opposition to my line of thinking. I’m naturally interested in your own views, and in those of earlier thinkers that you can quote to me either way — but I am posting this here, as my first post in the role of ZP’s managing editor, because I feel far too much thought goes into the dualism of war and peace — from Tolstoy‘s celebrated novel via George Orwell‘s War is Peace in 1984 to Strategic Air Command‘s Peace is our Profession —
— when the simplest level at which we begin to understand its loops, recursions and possible exit signs requires a three-fold logic that includes justice along with war and peace on an equal footing.
Have at it, friends!