Classical International Law vs. Collective Security
|Classical International Law
|limit war (harm reduction)
|abolish war (prohibition)
|1. Don't harm civilians.
2. Preserve neutrality rights.
|1. Identify the aggressor.
2. Gang up on him.
|Wars will always exist; "just war" constraints limit the impact.
|Get the bad guy. Aggression must be punished. Impose democracy.
|Allows/ignores local conflicts, but limits their spread.
|Draws "red lines" around the globe that enlarge/exacerbate local wars.
Rothbard on the practical problem of identifying aggressors.
In real life, however, it's not so easy to identify one warring "aggressor." Causes become tangled, and history intervenes. Above all, a nation's current border cannot be considered as evidently just as a person's life and property. Therein lies the problem. How about the very different borders ten years, twenty years, or even centuries ago? How about wars where claims of all sides are plausible? But any complication of this sort messes up the plans of our professional war crowd.
Rothbard comparing classical interntional law to collective security.
If classical international law limited and checked warfare, and kept it from spreading, modern international law, in an attempt to stamp out "aggression" and to abolish war, only insures, as the great historian Charles Beard put it, a futile policy of "perpetual war for perpetual peace."
Rothbard on non-interventionism:
Even if country A is waging a clearly just war against country B, and B's cause is unjust, this fact by no means imposes any sort of moral obligation on any other nation, including those who wish to abide by just policies, to intervene in that war. On the contrary, in the old days neutrality was always considered a more noble course, if a nation had no overriding interest of its own in the fray, there was no moral obligation whatever to intervene. A nation's highest and most moral course was to remain neutral; its citizens might cheer in their heart for A's just cause, or, if someone were overcome by passion for A's cause he could rush off on his own to the front to fight, but generally citizens of nation C were expected to cleave to their own nation's interests over the cause of a more abstract justice.
Based on the essay Just War by Murray Rothbard.