I will try to show how the present laws of war might be viewed as consistent with the Augustinian just war tradition. The modern international legal regime, codified in the Charter of the United Nations ("U.N. Charter"), permits States to engage in war only in "individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations;" or pursuant to a determination by the U.N. Security Council of "existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression," and Security Council authorization of the use of force "to maintain or restore international peace and security." Thus, modern international law would seem to foreclose preemptive wars in advance of armed attack and humanitarian interventions lacking Security Council authorizations. Although just war theorists have argued the morality of limited subsets of both sorts of formally unlawful wars, Professor Elshtain's concern in her lecture, and mine in this Essay, is with humanitarian interventions that are seemingly unlawful under the U.N. Charter regume, for instance, because of a lack of Security Council preauthorization.
Thomas H. Lee,
The Augustinian Just War Tradition and the Problem of Pretext in Humanitarian Intervention,
28 Fordham Int'l L.J. 756
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ilj/vol28/iss3/7