USA vs Iraq: Unjust War

The US-British attack on Iraq is definitely unjust, for it fails the criteria for a just war. Not only are the reasons for the attack weak, making the war totally unnecessary and avoidable, but the amount of damage and deaths that are resulting totally distort the rules of proportionality.

Let’s examine this attack according to the just war criteria that Lackey spoke of. To begin with, the traditional just war theory states that a just war is “a war for the right, fought for the sake of the right”. The intention of the war must be a good intention, aiming towards the better. The “jus ad bellum” rule states that “the moral rule of military force requires a just cause”. And finally, the rule of proportionality states that “a war is just only if there will be more death, suffering, and so forth if the war is not fought than if the war was fought: a just and proportionate war does more good than harm”.

According to Bush, the intention of this war is to relieve Iraqi people of Saddam’s tyranny, which would result in the freedom of the Iraqi people. However, this doesn’t seem to be his only intention. There seems to be an intention to take over Iraq’s oil, and furthermore, to divide Iraq and the Middle East into something that would mostly benefit the US and its allies, as many political analysts say. These hidden intentions are one of the things that make this war unjust.

Bush seems to have adopted John Stuart Mill’s claim that military intervention is justified in order to bestow the benefits of Western civilization (in this case democracy) on less advanced people. But this claim is not moral because these “less advanced” people might be happy the way they are, and fighting them and killing them to impose a new system over them would be unjust, for it fails to recognize the rights of these people, “rights to cultural integrity and national self-determination…”. Furthermore, article 2(4) of the UN charter says that “all members shall refrain in their international relations from the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the UN”.

On the other hand, the US might claim that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, and is a great threat. The response is that the UN investigators should have been given more time, and they should have settled things out diplomatically. The US might also adopt Aristotle’s statement that “we should wage war for the sake of peace”. The only thing that this unjust war is doing is disturbing the peace that existed!

The other aspect that renders the US war unjust is that the amount of destruction and deaths that’s resulting proportionally exceeds the US “objectives”.

“For military actions to be just, their side-effects (death of civilians and destruction of their property) must be necessary for the achievement of the objective and proportionate to its importance.” Furthermore, the US strategies and acts of fighting, such as targeting civilian areas and properties also violate the just war theory. How would one explain the bombing of innocent huts or a marketplace, or even a hospital! “The Hebrew bible says that though it might be necessary to kill one’s enemy, it is never permissible to cut down his fruit trees”. Moreover, “military forces should cause no more destruction than is strictly necessary to achieve their objectives”, and what’s claimed to be “strictly necessary” might not be permissible.

Since the US attack contains some intentions of greed and self-interest (unjust reasons for war), and all it’s resulting in is the death of many innocent civilians and soldiers (unproportional to the goals of the war), it is an unjust war. An unjust war is an act of pure aggression for it is causes more harm than good. Civilized nations should use more diplomatic ways and negotiations to try to reach goals and solve conflicts.


Check out the cost of the Iraq war and other wars here:


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