Just War and the Vietnam War

According to Grotius, the only grounds that should lead to war include the jus ad bellum, which involved particular conditions like a just cause and the decision to engage to war should be from the right authority. The other condition is the war should be done with the right intention and as the only solution left and finally the final results should be good achievements that outweigh the evil of the war.  Therefore, Grotius identified three types of pursuits that should lead to war; these include punishment, self-defence and recovery of property (Grotius, 2012). Each of the pursuits has a basis in the natural law although a specific right can come from different sources like from national law. However, the right to self-defence arises from the individual permission one has, to protect him or herself from any injury or attack. Moreover, the right of defence stretches from one’s property to one’s body. Grotius (2012) articulates that when one kills for the sake of his of defending his or her body, it is justifiable regardless of the assailant’s aim of not killing but maybe rape or maim. The reason for that is because no one can trust that a physical assault will not result in death. Importantly, the justified self-defence has two constraints that the attack is certain and imminent.

            Moreover, Grotius argues that war can start in order to punish an offender or retrieve one’s right. Moreover, he says that this breach of the peace cannot be considered as anti-social since the party initiating war is demanding what owes from the other party (Grotius, 2012).  Punitive war is allowed in cases of serious crimes only, only the executive in government will be executed since the citizens might change natural rights to their state. Grotius argues that, in order to resort to war, it should be squarely not only with justice but also with humanitarian concerns whereby they should consider the impact on the people who are innocent. Grotius (2012) mentions that natural law has offers one rule to get into a war, which is if one party has the right to start a war then should vindicate just case by whatever means. However, Grotius states that natural justice is the unsatisfactory basis for combats ethics because it allows inhuman actions on the side of those who fight under just cause. Grotius realizes that no war can be just naturally on both sides, this means that a one side right precludes the right of the other side.  The just war includes also the right intention, just cause, last resort, emergent peace among many more

Vietnam War was not Ethically Justifiable

The Vietnam War was not ethically justifiable because it went against the Grotius principles of just war. To begin with, the principles state that a war should redress a wrong suffering, for instance, an armed attack, but the case Vietnamese nationalist, the wanted a self-governance where the Western colonials powers and France opposed and wanted to crush the resistance Vietnam expressed. Thus a brutal colonial war started that last for nine years. However, during the attacks the innocent civilians suffered which is not morally justifiable, civilians are not targets of war that are permitted, hence, and they should be avoided (Grotius, 2012). Additionally, the war should be meant to re-establish peace, in the Vietnam War, it leads to the divisions into North and South Vietnam. Where one was given full independence and the other was under the western influence which leads to more war between North Vietnam and the America controlled government in South Vietnam.


Grotius, H. (2012). Hugo Grotius on the law of war and peace. Cambridge University Press.

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