Was the Third Invasion just?

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is without a doubt my favourite book we have read so far in class. It is completely unlike any other book I have read. Though I am a bit ashamed to admit it, until this point, I have avoided science fiction novels in part because I have always struggled with science as a discipline and was intimidated by the genre and also because I naively believed science fiction novels were meant for people with a firm understanding of and intense fascination with outer space. However, Ender’s Game proved that not only could science fiction novels be very readable, –– thereby negating my hesitation because of possible challenging science concepts ­­–– but science fiction, and Ender’s Game specifically, is also highly applicable to other disciplines.

As an International Relations scholar, while I read Ender’s Game, I constantly found myself trying to discern whether or not the Third Invasion was just, in accordance with the Just War Tradition. To do so, I have decided to focus on three important criteria for a so-called ‘just war’, namely, discrimination, just cause, and proportionality. I have chosen to look at just cause because it serves as the primary motivating factor in the decision to go to war, while I have chosen to evaluate proportionality and discrimination because they are both essential to ensuring that the war stay just once it has begun and limit ‘collateral damage’. Certainly in blowing up the bugger’s planet, the Third Invasion did not discriminate between combatants and innocent civilians. However, it is more difficult to asses whether or not the Third Invasion had just cause or if it was a proportional response. On the one hand, it could be argued that the First and Second Invasions served as just cause for a pre-emptive Third Invasion and because the I.F. was likely to be extremely outnumbered, in order to succeed, it had to attack first. But, on the other hand, it could also be argued that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that the buggers would wage a third war after 80 years had passed since the Second Invasion. As we discussed in class, the ‘justness’ of the Third Invasion seems to be a matter of perspective. From the I.F.’s perspective, they were just in their actions because they knew the buggers would be difficult, if not impossible, to defeat if the I.F. waited for the buggers to attack first and so were noble in their efforts to protect humanity. Contrarily, the buggers likely saw the I.F. as an aggressor that lacked just cause, proportionality, and discrimination.

Still, I do not believe that the I.F. was inherently wrong in launching a pre-emptive attack. Of course, destroying the buggers planet and essentially committing an act of genocide is despicable for many different reasons, but I do not believe that the simple act of capitalizing on an opportunity and attacking first is in and of itself unjust. The fact of the matter is that technology and warfare is very different in Ender’s Game than warfare was when the Just War Tradition first became popular. In Ender’s Game, losing a war against the buggers means the destruction of the human race. The stakes are high. Furthermore, though Ender’s Game is set in the future and war is fought in outer space, the principle of the ‘justness’ of the Third Invasion is analogous to drone warfare in the War on Terror today. Both instances eliminate the human element of war, which can pose a serious threat to any likelihood of a ‘just’ war. With this in mind, is it even possible for a war to be ‘just’ either today or in the future?

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