What standards should govern the use of force?

In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize Thursday, President Obama said that “all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force.” What should those standards be?

  • CJ

    What standards govern the “use of force?” Well I suppose that depends on how long humanity wants to remain just one evolutional step above neanderthals. As long as we continue to respond to resource access conflicts by shaking sticks at each other, our standards will remain low–and arbitrary. When humans as a species finally evolve to spiritual and ethical enlightenment, the very thought of force as an acceptable tool in governance will be too ridiculous to take seriously. Or, as my mom told me when I clobbered a bully in third grade, “Violence doesn’t solve anything.”

  • Steven

    I agree with the classic “Just War” doctrine. There’s a good article about it on Wikipedia.

  • D Moss

    The “standard” for the use of force should very simply be that “when all peaceful measures have failed, and lives, quality of lives, and/or basic human rights are at stake, force is the last option.” This does not mean that one side gets to continue killing while negotiating terms, this means that so long as a state, organized group, or party of citizens continues to kill, harm, rape, oppress or infringe on human rights, we should be just in stopping them by force.

    That said, the litmus test must not be skewed against cultural, or religious backing. For example, I believe it is wrong for us to clear out the Taliban because of their treatment of women, however repulsive I think it is, because this treatment has religious & cultural merit & history. I would strongly prefer they didn’t treat women as second class citizens & have public stonings, but it is clearly their sponsorship of terrorism & collusion with criminal elements that is the basis for the use of force against them. Once they respect our right to live, then we can talk, peacefully, about their interpretations of Islam. I admit, its a slippery slope, but one that we must take care to develop, discuss & exert rather than trying to come up with one, all encompassing, blind policy.

  • John

    Our aspirations of non-violence are only possible because someone used/uses force to protect our right to think freely.

    Force should be used to ensure the general safety and well being of those that seek safety and well being.

  • James

    Eye for an Eye.

    Carry a big stick.

  • James

    The United States of America is NOT a global police force. Why do we as a country feel the need to “Help” everyone? Times are getting tight, how about we tend to our needs and let the rest of the world like their own wounds. If someone wishes us harm… drone them into little bits.

  • John

    Mom always said “violence doesn’t solve anything”, but she was wrong. It took violece to end WWII, followed by a strategy of reconciliation save Europe. Now the German’s and Japanese are allies. No doubt, the North Vietnamese consider that the Vietnam war “solved” their problem as well. If you win, violence is a solution. Not the best solution, but a solution of last resort.

  • Steven

    Violence never produces anything good. Military action is about breaking things and killing people. It’s never a good thing but sometimes necessary. The best possible outcome from any use of deadly force, whether a massive military invasion, or a missile strike, or a cop firing a handgun, is to prevent or end something worse. Force should be used only if it’s clearly less bad than any other option, and then only with a heavy heart.

  • Jessica Sundheim

    Is it worth it? Really worth it? Worth all the PTSD and death? Worth a kid growing up for fifteen years without her father? Personally that is what I’d ask because that is the personal price I paid for Vietnam.

    it was not worth it

    luvs to all the vets and their families!!! I love YOU!

  • brian f

    Absolutes are never true. (almost never?)

    “Violence never solves anything” is a simplistic concept easily proven false (see: History). Granted, sometimes the solution is not favorable to the parties involved, but the original problem has been solved in that it no longer exists.

    Whenever people say “War is not the answer,” I wonder what the question was.