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Global Politics

Evolution of Warfare from Grotius to Rousseau

Hugo Grotius might not be the first one to develop international society doctrine. However, he was the first one to explain the concept of a society functioning in a state without being controlled by warfare. Grotius expanded on the idea that any nation could be governed by implementing laws that were mutually agreed upon by the representatives. Hedley Bull asserted that Grotius’ concepts make him the father of the first peace settlement in the modern era. In the book titled On the laws of War and Peace Grotius writes in the first chapter that any disputes that arise among men who belong to no state or conflicts among men who are governed by laws, these disputes are linked to the circumstances of war and peace (Grotius, p.6). He further adds that since war is initiated to seek peace, therefore, such quarrels should be treated as common among nations. In the book, Grotius posits the difference between wars and right, the purpose of the latter is to be established (Grotius, p.6).

Grotius held views that were different to Cicero’s perception of war. Cicero believed that war was a forced action, while, Grotius contends that war is a state that is initiated by different parties. He then defined the different connotations associated with the word conflict such as battle, disputes, and quarrels. Grotius distinguishes between Justice and War, seeking to explain how Justice is not a part of the war (Grotius, p.7). He poses the question about fighting being just or not and what factors can constitute conflict as being a just act. Grotius asserted that starting a war because it is someone’s right is not just and therefore; it contradicts the true meaning of what a right is. To elaborate more on this point, Grotius gave the example of an individual taking someone else’s property only to his advantage, which goes against the law of nature (Grotius, p.7).

Kenneth Walt’s book has left quite an impression on his audience as his work helping in apprehending the functioning of world politics. Waltz categorized international competition into three images. On the other hand, there is Rousseau’s critique of the word politics and his vision of the states being in a state of conflict, all of which have been derived from the basic notions of man and society (Scott, p.25). Rousseau did not believe in indulging in the concept of God or community, and he is also base his ideas on man as a social or a moral being. Instead, Rousseau directly focused on man as part of nature with no social or moral values attached to him, and neither any concept of good or evil associated with him (Scott, p.25). Rousseau held the belief that the state of nature was recognizable by few men who had generous nature and were troubled by desires that could exceed their needs (Scott, p.26).

Therefore, according to Rousseau if any two individual were to get involved in a clash over anything such as over the same food, then the two individual will have the option of flight and fight. And the conflict should be considered a brawl of minor intensity. Rousseau paid emphasis on the following attributes that were independence, indifference, and abundance, all of which can be found in an idyll. These attributes mark the qualities of a pure idyll. He believes in the concept of a state of nature that is peaceful and does not exhibit any signs of inequality. Rousseau differs in his ideas from other intellectuals as he looked at the man as a social animal, asserting that the society was founded as an outcome of human drive. Furthermore, Rousseau declared that the organizations are responsible for initiating inequality, war, and competition. However, all of this is temporary and can be fixed by implementing laws created by political communities. Rousseau refutes the claim that societies came into existence due to the process of socialization. Instead, he asserts that societies were developed as a result of varying accidents that contributed to the formulation of the community. Rousseau blames the human situation, claiming that the circumstances in which people have been left are responsible for setting the foundations of society (Scott, p.26). Aside from this, Rousseau concerns himself with the issue of violence and seeks to find its origins. He does not believe that the human nature is corrupt instead the society is just evil because it carries with the moral contradiction which is fuel disputes and leads to war (Scott, p.27).

Michael Walzer’s book Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations is a result of the author’s reflection on the Vietnam War. He drew on the old concept of Just war theory to assess the reasons that could be used to justify why wars took place and what was the limit regarding war (Walzer, p.1). Walzer initiated this process so that the traditional theory and concepts of old could be used to apprehend the current situation along with the secular theory of just war. His work is thought to be a standard on ethics of warfare as it helps in apprehending the just war theory. In chapter 4 of his book, Walzer asserts that aggression is one of the reasons behind the crime of war (Walzer, p.1). The crime disrupts the peace in any society and leads to men and women being forced to stake their lives for a just cause. The peace that the author talks about is devoid of fights and provides people with liberty and security, all of which can only exist if there is no aggression in the society.

Works Cited

Grotius, Hugo. Hugo Grotius on the Law of War and Peace. Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Scott, John T. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Political Principles and Institutions. Vol. 3, Taylor & Francis, 2006.

Walzer, Michael. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations. Basic books, 2015.



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