The ethics of war may be considered to be emperical ethics where the ethical values are determined by circumstances. Actions unthinkable under normal conditions are often permitted in war. Certain criteria are important in conducting a just war. These are legitimate authority, just cause, proportionality and the initiation of war, last resort, proportionality in the waging of war and the immunity of non-combattants. Gen C.R. de Wet was a soldier and military commander during the Anglo Boer War 1899-1902. From the ethical historical correlation it appears his military tactics greatly adhered to the principles of a just war. In his encounters with the enemy, he always acted according to a military plan. He also respected the enemy and in general no excessive force was used. In his published memo’s the impression is created that prisoners of war were taken to prevent unnecessary bloodshed. Another reason was to retain the element of surprise in military action. It seems that the prisoners were treated the same way as the burghers. The safety of his men was always a priority for De Wet. In his military operations he applied the principle of proportionality in order to ensure the safety of his men as far as possible. Civilian lives were taken into consideration in the sense that De Wet did not engage the enemy where the lives of civilians were endangered. He was opposed to the presence of women and children in their camps. The reason was that they were exposed to danger and their presence may have influenced military operations negatively. Although De Wet was a fierce warrior, he submitted himself to the peace proposals of the Peace of Vereeniging. He depended on Brittain as the victor to have compassion for the citizens of the conquered republics.
Dissertation (MA (History))--University of Pretoria, 2005.