It is well that war is so terrible, lest we grow too fond of it.General Robert E. Lee
War does not determine who is right, only who is left.Bertrand Russell
Perhaps my factories will put an end to war sooner than your congresses.Alfred Nobel
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in … to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address
We have spoken little so far of the end of war, but war’s end raises issues that are part of the ethics of war. The aspect of just war theory that considers the end of particular wars is jus post bellum, justice at the end of war. It is about what justice requires after the shooting has stopped, and it concerns such matters as settlements, peace treaties, reparations, reconstruction, and the like. But the phrase the end of war is ambiguous. While it may refer to the end of a particular war, it also may refer to the general end of war, of all war, the end of war as a human practice. In this chapter, we consider justice at the end of war in both of these senses, beginning with the ending of particular wars. But before we can consider jus post bellum, there is a prior set of moral issues that need attention concerning when and how a war should be brought to an end. Because these issues arise in the midst of war, they should be considered first. To begin, however, we examine a historical case that raises questions about the end of war in both senses.
World War I: the war to end war
The twentieth century was the bloodiest in human history, and the bloodshed began in earnest with World War I. On June 28, 1914, an heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated in Sarajevo by an ethnic Serb opposed to Austrian rule in the Balkans. This led Austria to declare war on Serbia, and through the interlocking system of alliances existing among European states at the time, this resulted in the involvement of Russia, Germany, and France. Russia had mobilized its forces in the light of its alliance with Serbia, and Germany followed suite due to its connections with Austria. France mobilized as a result of its alliance with Russia. Given the plans that the great powers had for mobilization, each felt pressure to begin mobilization once its opponents had, lest it be unprepared for war. The shooting began on August 3, when Germany declared war on France and invaded neutral Belgium on its way to France. Britain, in alliance with Belgium, declared war on Germany. Other fronts opened in Eastern Europe and in other areas, and the conflict became true to its designation as a world war. The United States entered the conflict on the side of the Allied Powers against Germany in April of 1917, partly due to attacks on US shipping carried out by Germany in an effort to blockade Britain.