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Professor Dan Caldwell Speaks at Prestigious Boston University Lecture Series
Dan Caldwell, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, presented his research on Just War Theory in a lecture titled "The Iraq War: Fishing With a Golden Net?" at the Boston University Justice in Conflict, Justice in Peace lecture series on Wednesday, Oct. 15.
As a professor of American foreign policy, international relations, and international security, Caldwell's current academic work is often focused on the Iraq war. The lecture in Boston "mixed current work with an old interest." His interest in Just War Theory was piqued more than 30 years ago as an undergraduate history student at Stanford University when he first heard a quote from the 16th century theologian Martin Luther.
He explains, "Luther once said that war must not be like fishing with a golden net, with more risk of loss than hope of gain."
Caldwell applied Luther's concept to the conflict in Iraq. "My argument is that the U.S. conduct in Iraq is like fishing with a golden net when you weigh the cost, of human and economic resources in fighting the war, against what is actually happening over there."
Just War Theory holds that reasons for declaring war must be just (jus ad bellum), as must the conduct that follows during the war itself (jus in bello). Caldwell explored a third condition of justice with Robert E. Williams, associate professor of political science, in a co-authored article titled, "Jus Post Bellum: Just War Theory and the Principles of Just Peace." The article appeared in the November 2006 International Studies Perspectives journal.
"Robert and I suggested a third criteria for a Just War: justice considerations after war, jus post bellum," says Caldwell. "Basically, we suggested that post-war there must be reconstruction and the restoration of order, sovereignty, and human rights. I'm trying to assess this now, but obviously they will be reconsidered after the war is over."
He built on the ideas presented in the article and "applied those criteria of post-war justice to some of the problems of the Iraq War." As the Iraq War is a continuing conflict, it was impossible for Caldwell to reach decisive conclusions about how, or if, the principles of jus post bellum will be carried out.
Instead he examined how Iraq has been handled so far, concluding the lecture by saying, "As numerous theorists have noted, a preventive war cannot be a just war. So, the Iraq war was an unjust war. Despite this fact, it has been a war that by and large has been fought justly."
Caldwell says that being approached by Boston University to appear at their notable lecture series was "an honor." The 2008-09 Justice in Conflict-Justice in Peace series is organized by the Boston University Institute for Philosophy and Religion to explore morality, reconciliation, and philosophy in conflict. Seven distinguished academics will present lectures throughout the series, including professors from Harvard Kennedy School and the University of Chicago.