What is a just war?

Richard Armitage was the 13th United States Deputy Secretary of State, serving from 2001 to 2005. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and then after the fall of Saigon moved to Washington D.C. to work as a consultant for the United States Department of Defense, which sent him to Tehran and Bangkok.

Throughout the late 70s and early 80s, Armitage worked as an aide and foreign policy advisor to politicians including Senator Bob Dole and President-elect Ronald Reagan. When Reagan was elected, Armitage was appointed to the Department of Defense.  In the 1990s, Armitage worked in the private sector before being confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State with the election of George W. Bush in 2001. He left the post in 2005.

Armitage was educated at the United States Naval Academy. He is an avid bodybuilder, and speaks many languages, including Vietnamese.

  • Transcript


Question: What is a just war?

Armitage:    It sounds like St. Thomas Aquinas talking of defining a just war.  It seems to me that you could run the gamut from the wars which prevent a larger travesty from happening, such as the use of WMD, or something against a neighboring state.  There are wars to save lives.  One could see the situation in Darfur where there’s a horrible . . . both killings and starving, raping going on, that the use of force to stop and bring that to a halt is very justified.  But I’m not a philosopher.  I’m certainly not a priest.  I’m just a guy who tries to make cold calculations of national security in the most benign way I can.