|I think that some wars can be justifed. For example, wars based on greed, hatred or genocide cannot.
However, going back to ancient texts and basic international law, there is a difference between "killing" and "murder".
A war based on the concept of self defence, and protecting millions, if not billions of innocent lives in the present and almost immediate future can, I feel, be justified.
However, the military action should by definition be short and minimize collateral damage. Civilian infrastructure must be preserved to the extent possible. Civilians must be provided basic neccessites of life.
In my opinion, the only "justifiable" wars are those which are essentially driven by the goal of preserving and furthuring human civilization as we know it today.
Let's face it, the days of wars fought between competing socieconomic systems are over. The underlying stakes are far greater- and the danger of anihilation of modern civilization much more real than during any point of the cold war.
On the one hand, the world is on the verge of realizing a unifying civil and economic structure since the days of "pax romana". Human life may be prolonged to 150 years or more. Space travel with new sources of energy can supply the world's mineral needs without destroying the Earth's environment. New sources of energy can forever solve the world's energy and food problems. The human race may be standing at the doorstep of a new age of lasting peace- because the basic competion between nations for raw materials and energy may be forever eliminated.
BUT- this "transitional phase" may very well be the most dangerous time in modern human history.
The world's oil supply is on the verge of depletion- atleast in terms of maintaining the lifestyle we are accustomed to. While most countries such as the US, UK,Russia, Japan, China, etc have been cooperating in the equitable distribution of a dwindling fuel supply until the new energy source can be made public and commercial power stations be built, there are of course those influences in the world who see their last- and best- chance to seize control of the world's energy and economic systems for themselves.
Who are they? The descendants of the original enemies of freedom and democracy- resurgent absolute monarchist movements, resurgent fascist and racist groups- middle eastern depots, who would love to take the opportunity at hand to re-write a modern day story of Saladin the great seizing the world from the infidel crusaders, remnants of Hitler's Third Reich still alive and well in certain countries, which shall go UN-named- but think of Klaus Barbie...and of course, certain anarchist groups- many home grown- remember Fraunce's Tavern, The Weathermen, Joanne Chesimard, etc.
These "forces of revisionist chaos" can very easily succeed. A handful- 2 or 3 well placed nuclear devices detonated in the US- with the resulting fallout spread by a convenient passing tropical storm or hurricane could lay waste large portions of our food producing areas, industrial infrastructure- without mentioning millions of victims dying from radiatation sickness spread by the rain and winds.
Small devices- small enough to fit into a backpack and weighing less than 100 pounds- 2 or 3- thats all it would take. The weather system would do the rest. Or how about 2 or 3 missiles cobbled together from military surplus parts literally purchased on E-Bay as "scrap metal". What if only one gets through to Los Angeles? Besides the human tragedy- the nation's food supply could be permanently (in the case of Plutonium fallout- 10,000 years) poisoned.
These are the stakes behind the concept of "preemption". By the way, Uday and Qusay Hussein had a very eclectic collection of video tapes and DVD's. A twisted mind with unlimited money, no moral conscience, on a religious mission/family feud can destroy civilization with one well placed missile- or nuke in a shipping container- or a backpack left in Grand Central Terminal.
This is what we are facing. The best of times lay right before humankind- if we can join together and stop the forces of anti-civilization- anti life- anti humanity.
Abraham Lincoln and FDR both temporarily suspended our cherished rights to save the Union. Now the stakes are slightly greater- saving civilization as we know it.
As for those concerned with "war profiteering"- it occurred in Lincoln's time- and in FDR's too- overall a small price to pay for survival. In the end, all the money they make gets back into the economy anyway.
As an historical aside, it is interesting to note, that the Black Plague was introduced to Europe by Knights returning from the Crusade- Saladin's Islamic army was the first to use biological warfare- bodies of animals and humans infected with Plague hurled by large slingshot machines into the Christian front lines...
Suicidal existentialist groups, and those who wish to re-fight a battle lost 700 years ago - armed with weapons of mass destruction-present a clear and present danger to the survival of civilization.
Society - in this case the majority of human beings inhabiting the earth, who's lifestyle - whether located in New York City, Beijing, Moscow or downtown New Delhi-is essential "western civ"-has the right of self defense.
In conclusion, I would like to recommend a little known book by one of my favorite authors (in addition to the great Jules Verne). The World Set Free by H.G. Wells. Written during the 1890's it makes very timely reading. Especially the outcome after a global nuclear war instigated by certain groups... a Special Committee of the UN rounds up all the fissionable material from unreliable forces- thus setting free the World from tyranny and fear.
Long Branch, NJ (wish I was home in Brooklyn..)