Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 105

IRREGULAR WARFARE exceptions he calls revisions. In addition to sovereign nation-states, Walzer recognizes that international society contains independent political communities, nonstate entities, and geopolitical conditions that at times may legitimately counter state or international order. His justifications for intervention can be paraphrased as— responding to imminent threat, assisting secessionist movements of legitimate political communities, balancing prior nation-state interventions in civil wars, rescuing those threatened by massacre, and applying prudence by limiting war aims.11 Beyond these exceptions, Walzer discusses the exception of supreme emergency, but only under strict criteria of a danger’s imminence and the nature of the threat.12 • • • • • Concepts of Legitimacy In addition to terms such as the legalist paradigm and its revisions, defining ideas such as legitimate political community and self-help helps clarify how concepts of legitimacy relate to the morality of war. Legitimate communities and self-help. According to Walzer, understanding what constitutes a legitimate political community within a nation-state can help another state determine when an intervention on a community’s behalf is morally justified. According to his theory, a legitimate community passes what he calls the self-help test: “a community actually exists whose members are committed to independence and ready and able to determine the conditions of their own existence.”13 For example, Walzer argues that intervening on behalf of a secessionist movement under the second revision of the legalist paradigm requires sufficient evidence that the movement has demonstrated forward progress in its “arduous struggle” for independence.14 Acceptable purposes for intervention. Just war theory prescribes that deciding when to intervene also requires knowing the ends for which a state has a moral right to intervene. The purpose of establishing democracies or liberal political communities does not meet just war theory’s acceptable ends; only the establishment of independent communities does. Intervening states do not have the moral authority to MILITARY REVIEW  September-October 2014 carry out their own political goals with respect to a political community they might be aiding. Moreover, Walzer says that “domestic tyrants are safe [from offensive action],” so long as they have no intent or designs on posing an immediate threat of aggression against another state in the international system.15 While domestic tyrants may be considered safe, from a moral standpoint, from other nations waging war to overthrow them, when communities within their states decide to revolt, and the revolt meets certain threshold conditions, then intervention by another state on behalf of that community may be justified. Legitimacy of a political group as an acceptable strategic purpose for irregular warfare. I believe the threshold conditions set by Walzer’s self-help test are too high. For instance, a resistance movement that represents a legitimate community committed to the cause of independence might not pass this test because it is not capable of carrying out its intent. Attempting to morally justify resistance movements and insurgencies must begin with understanding their strategic purpose. State and nonstate actors wage irregular warfare “for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population.”16 Policy makers should consider the movement’s strategic purpose in any moral analysis. A Moral Basis for Revolt and Intervention Walzer’s first four revisions to the legalist paradigm weigh the relationship between a nation-state and the rights of its people. These revisions allow that conditions within a state may provide moral grounds for insurgency, guerrilla war, and intervention by an outside entity. Conditions within a state—a contract and protected common life. Walzer views the rights of nation-states as originating from the individual rights of their citizens. The state, therefore, has obligations to defend its citizens from outside state aggression and to protect their rights, lives, and liberties, or “common life.”17 A state’s failure to meet these obligations means relinquishing the moral justification for its own defense.18 This assertion lays a foundation for justifying revolt and intervention. By governing responsibly and protecting individual rights, states derive their legitimacy from their people. This represents a functioning 103