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Solved Exercise for Precis writing with Title “Justification of War” Precis for Class 9, 10, 11, 12 and Higher classes.

Passages with Solved Precis

Wars and revolutions have thus, far determined the physiognomy of the twentieth century. And as distinguished from the nineteenth-century ideologies-such as nationalism and internationalism, capitalism and imperialism, socialism and communism, which, though still invoked by many as justifying causes, have lost contact with the major realities of our worldwar and revolution still constitute its two central political issues. They have outlived all their ideological justifications. In a world that poses the threat of total annihilation through war against the hope for the emancipation of all mankind through revolution, no cause is left but the most ancient of all, the one, in fact, that from the beginning of our history has determined the very existence of politics the cause of freedom versus tyranny.

This in itself is surprising enough. Under the concerted assault of the modem debunking ‘sciences’, psychology and sociology, nothing indeed has seemed to be more safely buried than the concept of freedom. Even the revolutionists would mix: rather degrade freedom to the rank of a lowerrniddie-class prejudice than admit that the aim of revolution was, and always has been, freedom. Yet, if it was amazing to see how the very word freedom could disappear from the revolutionary vocabulary, it has perhaps been no less astounding to watch how in recent years the idea of freedom has intruded itself into the centre of the gravest of all present political debates, the discussion of war and of a justifiable use of violence. Historically; wars are among the oldest phenomena of the recorded past while revolutions, properly speaking, did not exist prior to the modern age; they are among the most recent of all major political data. In contrast to revolution, the aim of war was only in rare cases bound up with the notion of freedom; and while it is true that warlike uprisings against a foreign invader have frequently been felt to be sacred, they have never been recognized; either in theory or in practice, as the only just wars.

Justifications of wars, even on a theoretical level, are quite old; although, of course, not as old as organised warfare. Among their obvious prerequisites is the conviction that political relations in their normal course do not fall under the sway of violence and this conviction we find for the first time in Greek antiquity. In so far as the Greek polls, the city-state, defined itself explicitly as a way of life that was based exclusively upon persuasion and not upon violence. However, since for the Greeks political life by definition did not extend beyond the walls of the polls, the use of violence seemed to them beyond the need for justification in the realm of what we today call foreign affairs or international relations, even though their foreign affairs, with the one exception of the Persian wars, which saw all Hellas united, concerned hardly more than relations between Greek cities. Outside the walls of the polls, that is, outside the realm of politics in the Greek sense of the word, `the strong did what they could, and the weak suffered what they must.’

Hence, we must turn to Roman antiquity to find the first justifications of war, together with the first notion that there are just and unjust. wars. Yet, the Roman distinctions and justifications were not concerned with freedom and drew no line between aggressive and defensive warfare. The war that is necessary is just’, said Livy, ‘and hallowed are the arms where no hope exists but in them’. Necessity, since the time of Livy n d through the centuries, has meant many things that we today would find quite sufficient to dub a war unjust rather than just. Conquest, expansion, defence of vested interests, conservation of power in view of the rise of new and threatening powers, or support of a given power equilibrium – all these well known realities of power politics were not only actually the causes of the outbreaks of most wars in history, they were also recognized as ‘necessities’, that is, as legitimate motives to invoke a decision by arms. The notion that aggression is a crime and that wars can be justified only if they ward off aggression or prevent it, acquired its practical and even theoretical significance clay after the first World War had demonstrated the horribly destructive potential of warfare under conditions of modern technology.

Perhaps, it is because of this noticeable absence of the freedom argument from the traditional justifications of war as the last resort of international politics that we have this curiously jarring sentiment whenever we hear it introduced into the debate of the war question today. To sound off with a cheerful `give me liberty or give me death’ sort of argument in the face of the unprecedented and inconceivable potential of destruction in nuclear warfare is not even hollow; it is downright ridiculous. Indeed, it seems so obvious that it is very different thing to risk one’s own life for the life and freedom of one’s country and one’s posterity from risking the very existence of the human species for the same purpose that it is difficult not to suspect the defenders of the `better dead than red’ or `better death than slavery’ slogans of had faith. Which of course, is not to say that the reverse, ‘better red than dead’, has any more to recommend itself; when an old truth ceases to be applicable, it does not become any truer by being stood on its head. As a matter of fact, to the extent that the discussion of her war question today is conducted in these terms, it is easy to detect a mental reservation on both sides. Those who say ‘better dead than red’, actually think: The losses may not be as great as some anticipate, our civilization will survive; while those who say ‘better red than dead’ actually think: Slavery will not be so bad, man will not change his nature, and freedom will not vanish from the earth for ever. In other words, the bad faith of the discussants lies in that both dodge the preposterous alternative they themselves have proposed; they are not serious.


Justification of War

The Nineteenth century ideologies of nationalism and internationalism, though still invoked by many should be irrelevant today when wars and revolutions are the shaping forces. Between the fear of annihilation through war and the hope for universal freedom through revolution the age-old question of freedom versus tyranny which has determined the very existence of politics needs a reconsideration.

Psychology and sociology have undermined the conception of ‘freedom’ which is regarded as only a lower-middle-class prejudice unacceptable to revolutionists. Nevertheless the idea of freedom has become impervious in political discussions. Wars have existed and have been justified from very early times while revolutions are recent phenomena. Wars were, in rare cases, notionally connected with freedom inspite of occasional resistance to aggression which was regarded as a sacred duty.

The Greeks with whom politics was a way of life were the first to believe that political relations inside the State were based on persuasion and not violence, though beyond Greek frontiers where political life was believed to be non-existent, violence was regarded as a necessity and therefore needed no justification.

The Romans justified war for conquest, expansion and defence of vested interests and conservation of power in the face of a threat because it was necessary and did not discriminate between aggressive and defensive wars. Necessity was the sole criterion between just and unjust wars.

The criminality of aggressive wars is a recent notion; when the first world war revealed the destructive potential of technological warfare. Only wars meant to prevent or meet aggression are justified.

The notion of freedom has been absent from the traditional justification of war as the last resort of international politics. Once again freedom has become 6-relevant. It is ridiculous to proclaim the preference of death to liberty when death besides being individual death may mean annihilation of mankind in nuclear warfare. The discussants on the choice between death and slavery to communism do not seriously contemplate the consequences in either case: one side believes that our civilization must survive in any case and the other believes that freedom will not vanish from the earth forever.


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