Just policing does not seek to replace just war theory, but to take it to its logical conclusion: “If the best intentions of the just war theorists were operational, they could only allow for just policing, not warfare at all.” Due to the harsh reality of modern warfare with its overwhelmingly powerful weaponry, engaging in military combat without regularly violating many of the jus im bello principles of just war is virtually impossible. Furthermore, terrorism and guerilla warfare continue to pose serious challenges to just war theory as the lines between civilians and combatants are blurred. Just policing advocates thus argue that the current context requires a shift away from the dominant models of defense where every state maintains their own powerful militaries, towards international police forces that are more restrained and accountable to the rule of international law. As Drew Christiansen points out, the just war criteria are still needed: “They are applicable to policing, including international policing, and one may find them implicit even in Gandhi’s rules for conduct of nonviolent campaigns.”
Just policing advocates note the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance that has ended conflicts and brought about social justice throughout the last century. Due in large part to the success of nonviolent movements, many are now convinced that “true power is social, not violent.” This is in line with a certain political philosophy, which asserts that the consent of the people is required for governments to function well. It can be argued that the very notion of liberal democracy “represents a systematizing of nonviolence” with laws and constitutions becoming the primary means of resolving conflict. Just policing advocates thus embrace participatory democratic movements and the accompanying power of nonviolent resistance, even though they reject the absolute pacifist conviction that every use of violent force is immoral. The just policing model continues to allow for the rare use of force in the same way that domestic policing models do (in the ideal case): highly restrained and accountable to the rule of law.