In the ten-year period that the war in Afghanistan has been prosecuted, regrettably few articles have been written that both apply an understanding of just war theorizing and pay careful attention to the facts on the ground. For this reason, in addition to the importance of its criticisms of the war, Richard W. Miller’s article “The Ethics of America’s Afghan War” in this issue of Ethics & International Affairs commands our attention.
The focus of my comments is on Miller’s understanding of just war theory and its application to the war in Afghanistan. I agree that just war theory is limited when it comes to judging whether and how to end a war—regardless of whether or not the war satisfies the criteria of jus ad bellum. I have argued that point in some detail elsewhere. But I think that Miller fails to understand adequately what these limitations are and the extent to which they can be addressed within just war theory. Moreover, his application of the considerations of just war theory is inadequate to the task of assessing the war options confronting the United States today.
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