This is a book of American and British essays, several by clergymen, about what constitutes a "just war." Traditionally, the seven principles of a just war are: just cause, proper authority, right intention, a reasonable chance of success, war as a last resort, discrimination between combatants and civilians, and propoptionality in the use of force.
The problem is, of course, that writers interpret these principles differently and the whole exercise becomes less than illuminating -- similar to those learned debates about constitutional law in which our most august body, the Supreme Court, decides morality and legal correctness by a vote of 5 to 4, hardly an overwhelming expression of moral unanimity. This is by way of saying that I didn't find this book all that useful in trying to enhance my comprehension as to how one might go about determining the difference between just and unjust wars.
Still, some of the essays were interesting and I got a bit of the flavor of the gaps between Europeans and Americans on what constitutes a "just war." All together, eighteen chapters explore the subject. Perhaps the most provocative statement is Chapter 14, page 266 in which the writer says that "if it is not possible to distinguish civilians from combatants....the war should not even be fought...The war cannot be won and it should not be won. It cannot be won because the only available strategy involves a war against civilians...the civilian support that rules out alternative strategies also makes the guerillas the legitimate rulers of the country." Now, that's a thought worthy of contemplation. If the majority of the population of a country -- Iraq comes to mind -- is opposed to a war, is that war by definition "unjust?"
The interesting questions, the scholars struggling to define just war, and the wide variety of opinions about what constitutes a "just war" make this book worth reading.