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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 26, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2006

Tobias Winright
Pages 157-181
DOI: 10.5840/jsce20062627

Just Cause and Preemptive Strikes in the War on Terrorism
Insights from a Just-Policing Perspective

ETHICISTS HAVE CRITICIZED THE GEORGE W. BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S INvocation of "war" language as a response to the threat of terrorism in the post—September 11, 2001, world. Calling instead for a "police" model, these ethicists are found among both the pacifist and the just war traditions. This essay explores what a policing model might entail. First, it highlights some expressions of interest by just war ethicists in a police approach for tackling terrorism. Second, it critically surveys some representative examples of pacifist appeals to such a paradigm. Third, it evaluates the call for a just-policing approach, showing how this model actually remains consonant with just war reasoning. Finally, the essay draws on the discipline of police ethics and examines what just cause, especially with respect to preemptive strikes, might look like in a just-policing approach to dealing with terrorism.

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