I have written an article on my eponymous blog where I touched briefly on the folly of the war between Paro and Itha in Windaria. I noted that the film was an anti-war film which failed to create a real argument against war. As I understand it, people who label themselves anti-war claim that war is always wrong, regardless of the justice of a cause. In Windaria, both the offensive side and defenders are wrong to wage war. If the anime had really wished to carry its point against war itself, it ought to have made this war perfectly just and still shown why all war is wrong. The majority, who believe war may justified in dire circumstances, would not be shaken in their beliefs by this film, as tragic as it is.
Nevertheless, war is still the greatest evil a people can endure. Worse, it often creates criminals in addition to heroes. As the famous Joshua Chamberlain once said: “War makes good men great and bad men worse.” Why should we ever allow the greatest calamity known to man to occur? Is there ever enough reason to permit the complete breakdown of civil society? I want to look at Windaria’s unjust war in order to look at what a just war in that fantasy world would look like.
Christianity, Catholicism in particular, has a logical and consistent just war doctrine which draws from Scripture, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the School of Salamanca.* It contains the following four points:
1) The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or the community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain.
2) All other means of putting an end to [the injustices/damages] must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective.
3) There must be serious prospects of success.
4) The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. [Think weapons of mass destruction.]
-From Paragraph 2309 of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church
The above puts these questions to the defending nation, because just war is based in self-defense. A war of conquest or religious conversion is never just. (The School of Salamanca definitively answered that.) So, Itha is the defending nation here. Has there been lasting, grave, and certain damage? Yes, a saboteur from Paro attempted to destroy the capital by opening the dikes, causing much damage before our hero, Izu, closed them. Has Itha looked at alternatives besides war? No, they did not try diplomacy or other means of redressing grievances. Serious prospects of winning a war with Paro? No, because Itha’s crossbows can’t defeat Paro’s tanks, fighter planes, and assault rifles. And this fantasy world has no equivalent of a WMD. So, Itha deciding to resort to war, even in self-defense, is wrong, because it leads to piles of its citizens dying uselessly and they did not try means of averting the war.
What would have made Itha’s decision to go to war a just one? First, Itha should actually have prepared for war. Having a weak military invites an unscrupulous nation to attack, and being four hundred years behind in the arms race guarantees defeat. If a state can’t keep a certain degree of parity with neighboring states, it can’t even justify war in self-defense! That is, unless the result of surrender is death or worse than death, in which case a country might be obliged to fight even with no reasonable chance of victory. (As I mentioned in my other article, the romance between the prince and princess of these nations makes such a grim fate unlikely in this case.) For the sake of freedom and peace, a nation must always maintain its military. Also, if Itha also had tanks, fighter planes, and assault rifles, it could have had more leverage in diplomatically solving the situation. Then, failing all means of preserving peace, Itha could justly have defended itself against Paro without the slaughter of its people.
It is interesting to note how the Church doctrine of just war places an obligation on countries to be militarily prepared; though, most outside of Europe don’t need to be told that. Also, simply being attacked does not automatically justify war, unless there are no other means of putting an end to the damages caused by the aggressor. So, what do you guys think of the Catholic just war doctrine? Is it pretty intuitive and sensible or seriously flawed?
*The School of Salamanca has its beginnings in the University of Salamanca in the 16th century. The best theologians of Spain and Portugal made up its faculty and students.