JUST WARS, JUST REBELLIONS – OR JUSTIFIABLE ONES? JUST ASKING! by Donal Kennedy


I’ve seen it claimed that England only once waged war in self defence and that was when it was menaced by the Spanish Armada. And it seems that neither English seamanship nor martial endeavour, nor indeed both together was the decisive factor, but the Deity, on a   (mischievous?) whim sent a Protestant Wind.
In  every other war England was the instigator, seizing ships booty, land and its produce,and slaves, pushing drugs, minerals and slaves, or holding such ill-gotten assets from their rightful owners. Near Portsmouth on land where unfortunate squaddies were hospitalised out of sight of the civil population there’s a notice saying they were casualties defending the Empire from the Afghan War and Northwest Frontier from the 1840s on. In fact they were expanding the Empire, not merely defending its frontiers.


Anyhow England and Britain have been fighting wars almost without pause for centuries and show no sign of kicking the habit. I’ll concede they might be described a “Just” meaning “Merely” Wars, but I’m damned if I could describe any of them as Justifiable.

I’ve been reading the HISTORY IRELAND Supplement “!916 Dream and Death” on the Impact of the Irish Rising. In it there are discussions on whether or not the Insurrection was justified. In 1972 the Irish Jesuit journal “STUDIES” posthumously published a piece by Francis Shaw S.J. a man from a merchant family in the beef-rich town of Mullingar, who damned the Rising, citing Thomas Aquinas and the requirements for a just war. Father Shaw’s piece may well have impressed Stephen Collins of the Irish Times and other Jesuit schooled commentators in the media. I’ve never set my eyes on “STUDIES” nor read Father Shaw’s piece. But Professor Joe Lee of Cork, quotes him at sufficient length to blow his article out of the water and demonstrate that it is an ignorant diatribe, historically and geographically ignorant and with no redeeming features. Interesting also is the fact that one of the first public statements about the Rising to mention it in the context of the just rebellion theory was the June 1916 Edition of  THE MONTH. a Jesuit journal published in England. It claimed that “the Dublin revolt to all unprejudiced eyes lacked the first elements of justification. ”  

 As it happens, many years ago I read some provincial English papers published just after the Rising, pointing out that Carson’s Ulster Volunteers, the Conservative Party and the British Officers’ Curragh Mutiny, might well have convinced the Insurgents that they had as much right as the Unionists to threaten, or produce a Rebellion. Happily, the historian Father Brian P. Murphy, of Glenstal Cistercian Abbey, schooled by the Jesuits in London, has an essay on the Insurrection which should satisfy any a theologian, philosopher, moralist or intelligent person that the insurgents were fully justified in their action.

Britain’s rulers were determined to destroy Germany, a trade rival and enlightened welfare state, for at least ten years before the Great War.They did not “sleep-walk” into the war in 1914, a myth still circulated by respected “historians.”

I quote –

“In the year 1904, on the day when the Anglo-French Entente was announced, I arrived at Dalmeny on a couple of days’ visit to the late Lord Rosebery. His first greeting to me was: “Well I suppose  you are just as pleased as the rest of them with this French agreement?” I assured him that I was delighted that our snarling and scratching relations with France had come to an end at last. He replied: ” You are all wrong. It means war with Germany in the end.”

                                                                                                                                                       David Lloyd George
                                                                                                                                                       WAR MEMOIRS
                                                                                                                                                       Chapter 1. Paragraph 1.. 

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