Obama’s New ‘Just Peace’ Policy

President Obama broke with traditional Just War thinking in his Nobel prize acceptance speech, and so far almost no one seems to have noticed. The president said that the "old architecture" of thinking about war and peace is "buckling." What is required now, argued the president, is to "think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of just peace."

If there is an emerging "Obama Doctrine" on war and peace, it is contained in these "new ways," not in the older Just War theory alone. Just War theory, a doctrine first developed by St. Augustine in the early fifth century, has been around for a long time. Just War language was a significant part of Obama’s Oslo speech, and it was used specifically to describe the kinds of structural violence that endures in the world, especially "genocide in Darfur; systematic rape in Congo; or repression in Burma."