Opinion

War as Ethical Option: Armed Forces and Response to Militia Aggression (1)

By: Yasser Zidan

In principle, war is not an absolute evil. Rather, there are philosophers who have looked at this issue of war and called it “a just war”. One of the first concepts in security studies is the concept of just war (just war theory), which are principles including those of the decision to go to war (jus ad bellum), principles when war occurs (jus in bello), and post-war principles (jus post bellum).
In this article, we will discuss the first part, and we will discuss the others at a later time if the opportunity is available; Writing under bombardment is difficult.
Although the philosopher Saint Augustine made comments on the ethics of war from a Christian perspective (disparaging the love of violence that war can generate) as did many Arab commentators in the period of intellectual peak from the 9th to the 12th centuries, the philosopher Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century was the one who established the general outlines of what later became traditional just war theory as discussed in modern universities. He discusses not only the justification of war, but also the types of activity that are permissible (for a Christian) in war (see below).
In the Islamic religion, the directives for war were also present, such as the directives for fighting mentioned in the Holy Qur’an (Fighting is prescribed for you, and it is hateful to you) (Permission is given to those who fight because they have been wronged)
And in the honorable Sunnah of the Prophet (whoever lays down his weapon is safe, and whoever closes his door is safe)); narrated by Muslim.
• And he – May God’s prayers and peace be upon him – said: ((Don’t kill offspring; every soul is born according to the fitrah (innateness)); Narrated by Al-Nasa’i and it is in Sahih Al-Jami’.
•Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifa were of the view not to fight the blind, the insane, the crippled, and the owners of the hermitages who have sealed the doors over them and do not mix with people, and on the authority of Imam Malik that there should be left to them from their wealth what they can live on.
• Imam Al-Awza’i said: “The plowman and the farmer shall not be killed, nor the old man, nor the madman, nor the monk, nor the woman.”
In the 20th century, “just war” theory saw a revival primarily in response to the invention of nuclear weapons and American participation in the Vietnam War. Important contemporary texts include Michael Walzer’s “Just and Unjust Wars” (1977), Barry Baskins and Michael Dockrell’s The Ethics of War (1979), Richard Norman’s Ethics, Murder and War (1995), Brian Orend’s War and International Justice (2001) and Michael Walzer’s On War and Justice (2001), in addition To the seminal articles by Thomas Nagel entitled “War and massacre ” and Elizabeth Anscombe “War and Murder” and a group of other articles, usually found in ethics journals or the Journal of Philosophy and Public Affairs.
First, pre-war principles:
The principles of justice of war are believed to be: having a just cause, being a last resort, being declared by an appropriate authority, having proper intent, a reasonable chance of success, and the end being proportional to the means used in the war.
1-Just cause: Most theorists believe that initiating acts of aggression is unjust and gives people a just reason to defend themselves. There is much “fog” in war, as Clausewitz observed (Fog of War), but this fog is also a moral fog in which truth and trust are early casualties in the question of war. What happened on April 15 of a planned and explicit coup by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), whose founding date and components everyone knows, puts the army in a position of defending the entity of the Sudanese state with all its components. What proves the fact that the aggression was planned is the that the RSF took over Merowe and Khartoum airports, the Army General Command, and the Republican Palace from the first hours of the clashes.
2- The existence of proper and legitimate authority: The idea of proper authority means the existence of sovereign authority for the state. At this point, the philosopher John Locke argued that even a state with a weak and corrupt system has the right to declare war (to defend itself against aggression).
It is no secret to the intelligent reader that the Sudanese Armed Forces represent sovereignty and state authority in Sudan and possess the legitimacy that made the masses of the Sudanese people sit in front of their leadership when they revolutionized the regime of Omar Al-Bashir. Any comparison between the legitimacy of the armed forces with a long history and the RSF militias is a comparison that lacks historical support that is known to everyone.
3- Reasonable successes: The next principle is reasonable success. This is another necessary condition for waging “a just war”, but again it is insufficient in itself. Given just cause and right intent, just war theory asserts that there must be a reasonable probability of success. The principle of reasonable success is a consequentialist principle where the costs and benefits of a campaign must be calculated. However, the concept of balancing benefits poses ethical as well as practical problems as demonstrated by the following questions. Should one not go to the aid of a people or declare war if there is no possible chance of success? Is it right to comply with aggression because the costs of non-compliance are so high? Did the December Revolution stop due to the increase in civilian killing rates? Was there a timeframe for the demonstration to stop the human losses suffered by civilians?
Historically, many countries have overcome the possibility of defeat. Winston Churchill gave the British nation some of the finest speeches of the war when it was threatened with defeat and invasion by Nazi Germany in 1940. “What is our goal? … Victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror; victory however long and difficult the road may be.” Because without victory there is no survival.” At a time when the Sudanese Armed Forces are responding to the attacks of the rebel militias, the only option is for the state institutions to prevail over the militias, no matter how long and difficult that may be. Not only because the victory of the other party represents the fall of the Sudanese state, but because the continued existence of a threat such as the RSF militia means the continued disintegration of the state in favor of the militia, especially when the militia continues to expand the longer its crackdown is delayed.

Here I point out that some are trying to equate the military force of the RSF with the armed forces, arriving at the conclusion that the battle does not appear to be settled, and it is an attempt that lacks a careful and technical examination of the military and institutional capabilities of both parties. It is witnessed in previous days that one weapon of the Sudanese Armed Forces, which is the Air Force, was able to repulse the militia aggression and abort the plan to take complete control of Khartoum. Not only that, but Hemedti’s forces failed to neutralize the senior leadership of the armed forces, despite their control of all command positions in Khartoum in the first hours of the conflict. This indicates that there is no comparison between the military powers of the armed forces and the militia.
4- Proportionality of the means with the ends: This principle is that the desired end must be proportional to the means used. This principle overlaps with the moral guidelines for how war should be fought, i.e. the principles of war law. In relation to the just cause, the policy of war requires a goal, and this goal must be proportionate to the other principles of the just cause. In the Sudanese case, the goal seems clear: there must be one army in one country. The armed forces’ use of the air force only to neutralize the militia force in the first days of the aggression proves this principle. What has been observed is the armed forces’ dealings, from day one, with the use of concentrated air strikes to achieve this principle, as they used appropriate means to repulse the aggression without inflicting heavy casualties on civilians.
We will discuss again the remaining principles of “just war” in another Article.

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