Econlib

The Library

Other Sites

Front Page arrow Quotations arrow Other Quotes arrow Week of 19 September, 2005

Quotations about Liberty and Power

About this Quotation:

We continue to explore Liberty Fund’s new edition of this great work. In this passage Grotius argues that if the cause of a war be unjust, then any acts of hostility done in that war are also unjust; and the party which does any damage in that war must pay full restitution. These thoughts remind one of what Bates says to King Henry on the eve of battle in Shakespeare’s play Henry V.

Other quotes about War & Peace:

19 September, 2005

static/Grotius200.jpg

Hugo Grotius states that in an unjust war any acts of hostility done in that war are “unjust in themselves” (1625)

Read the full quote in context here.

Grotius attempted to codify the historical, moral, and legal grounds for justly waging war against an enemy. Here are his thoughts on acts committed in an unjust war:

III. We then first declare, if the Cause of the War be unjust, tho’ it be undertaken in a solemn Manner, yet all the Acts of Hostility done in it are unjust in themselves. So that they who knowingly do these Acts, or join in the acting of them, Are to be accounted in the Number of those, who without Repentance cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, 1 Cor. vi. 10. But true Repentance, if Opportunity and Ability will allow, absolutely requires that he who has done any Damage, either by killing, ravaging or plundering, should make full Restitution.

The full passage from which this quotation was taken can be be viewed below (front page quote in bold):

III. What is done in an unjust War is unjust in itself.

III. We then first declare, if the Cause of the War be unjust, tho’ it be undertaken in a solemn Manner, yet all the Acts of Hostility done in it are unjust in themselves. So that they who knowingly do these Acts, or join in the acting of them, Are to be accounted in the Number of those, who without Repentance cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, 1 Cor. vi. 10. But true Repentance, if Opportunity and Ability will allow, absolutely requires that he who has done any Damage, either by killing, ravaging or plundering, should make full Restitution. Therefore GOD himself declares their Fasts to be unacceptable to him, who detained their Captives unjustly taken. And the King of Nineve, ( Jonah iii. 8.) proclaiming a Fast to his Subjects, commands them all to restore what they had taken by Rapine; acknowledging, by the Guide of natural Reason, that all Repentance without such a Restitution would be but pretended, and to no Purpose. And not only the Jews and Christians are of this Opinion, but even the a Mahometans themselves.

IV. Who are hereby obliged to make Restitution, and how far.

IV. But the Authors of War, whether by their Authority, or Counsel, are obliged to make this Restitution, according to what we have declared in general elsewhere, for all those Damages which are the usual Consequences of War; and for what are unusual, if they either contributed to them by Command or Advice, or not prevented them, if it was in their Power to have done it. Thus are Generals and Officers also obliged to do, in Relation to those Things which have been committed by those under their Command. The Soldiers, who have concurred in an Act of Hostility committed in common, as the burning of a Town, are each responsible for the whole Damage. But if the Damage has been caused by the distinct Acts of several, each shall be answerable for the Mischief, of which he has been the sole or partial Cause.

[More works by Hugo Grotius (1583 – 1645)]