I've finished my lecture notes on just war theory, which includes some discussion of how these principles would apply to Iraq. At the end of the day it seems a lot harder to give a clear case against this military action to depose Saddam Hussein. That's about the best I can say for those who opposed it.
Now that I've got the extended entry feature, I'll continue it in that rather than just giving the link to the Word file (which I did, above). Keep in mind that these are just rough lecture notes. Some things might need more explanation than the notes provide, and an argued case would involve fleshing out this skeleton and provided references for some of the claims.
Jus ad bellum (conditions to be met to have the right to go to war):
1. Declared by legitimate authority � highest competent governmental authority
2. Just cause � defense against violent aggression, prevention of certain attack, defense of ally, delivery of others from oppression
3. Right intention aimed at peace, reconciliation and to prevent vengeance
4. Proportionality of the good aimed at to the evil of war
5. Last resort
Jus in bello (principles for limiting conduct in war):
1. Limited ends, e.g. to repel aggression and redress injustice
2. Carried out with means proportional to the offense and the goals
3. Discrimination of targets � no intentional or direct attack on noncombatants (Aquinas� law of double effect: If you can foresee harm to noncombatants, then it�s ok only if that isn�t the intent and only if you can�t achieve the goal without it)
4. Not prolonged without reasonable hope of success within these limits
self-defense only (Augustine, Senator Robert Byrd, Rep. Dennis Kucinich)
self-defense to preempt imminent attack (Gov. Howard Dean, Gen. Wesley Clark)
self-defense to preempt attacks before they become imminent (President Bush,
Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator John Edwards)
some say not a reason for a just war (Pat Buchanan, some libertarians, some greens, Al Sharpton didn�t deny holding it)
Humanitarian aid as a just reason for war (Bush, Dean, Clark, Edwards,
Argument: it�s morally right to defend those who can�t defend themselves
To stop genocide, to stop unnecessary conflict and keep the peace,
to depose oppressive dictators
You might even think this is a better reason for war, given that
self-defense is self-focused as for one�s own country and humanitarian aid is others-focused, though self-defense is in the interest of others in some way, since the citizens of one�s country are others from the leaders� point of view.
Question: Why some rather than others? How do we pick and choose?Response: You only have so many resources, and you have to use them wisely.
How do you pick? Pick ones we can reasonably accomplish, ones that will have a greater good effect than bad, ones that have more urgent needs for humanitarian aid, ones that combine with other reasons like self-defense especially but maybe even consider which will give greater benefit to the U.S. in terms of resources like oil or future influence in this war-torn part of the world that needs balance and stability.
Self-defense issue with Iraq � WMDs
1. They had them and either destroyed or hid them very well plus hid or destroyed their infrastructure for creating them.
2. They had programs to work at developing them, and Saddam Hussein was led to believe that they had mass stockpiles, but they didn�t.
3. They didn�t have them, but the intelligence community was at fault, and the
Bush Administration did have every reason to believe this was a just war.
(One reason to think this is that the Clinton Administration had the same
view since 1998, as did the Blair Administration in the UK.)
4. They didn�t have them, and they knew the intelligence was bad but went
anyway for other reasons, using this as an excuse. This involves
impugning the Clinton Administration, the Blair Administration, and all
the Republican and Democratic representatives and senators on the
relevant intelligence communities who had access to the same intelligence
agencies. The unlikelihood of all these people being that corrupt favors
one of the first three options.
Humanitarian aid issue with Iraq:
clear sense that unjust dictator oppressed his people
clear sense that life of average Iraqi is better now
A. Why Iraq?
More reasonable to think could accomplish than in some places, peace in Middle East as goal and more potential for achieving that, more stability, more severe human rights violations than most other places, no serious power like China behind them, also threat of WMD at least as something they were pursuing, potential benefit of easier access to oil for U.S., particular violations of UN resolution with suspicious actions while denying
B. Why did they use WMDs as the reason for this war if humanitarian aid would have been just as good a reason or even better?
A former CIA official said he was at meetings where intelligences agencies, Congress intelligence committee members, Bush Administration people discussed all the possible reasons. Some were self-defense-only people. Thus the only reason everyone could agree on was the WMD threat. Also, the UN opposed Kosovo, though NATO supported it. They may have thought the WMD reasons would be more convincing to the UN, and then when they gave up on the UN they added the other reasons that they thought were also good (or maybe even better).
Last resort � War is bad. If it�s not necessary to achieve the goal, then it�s not a just war.
Last resort with Iraq � if UN sanctions and weapons inspections would have resolved the situation, was military action a last resort? It�s hard to see how it would have been. The criticism of the Bush Administration, then, is that the inspections were going well and that information we now have shows that there weren�t any WMDs in Iraq at the time.
The problem with this is that we don�t know that there weren�t weapons but just that we haven�t found any (see above). We do know they were behaving suspiciously, seeming to hide something the day before inspections would happen at certain sites, we do know that some large trucks headed to Syria before the military conflict began, and we do know that members of the U.N. security council were at least suspected of corruption with regard to Iraq (reports of Jacques Chirac telling Saddam Hussein that Iraq would never be invaded if he had anything to say about it, weapons sales traced back to France, Germany, and Russia, and now even charges that Saddam Hussein had bribed numerous officials in many U.N. countries, including France and Russia). The makes it a lot less clear that U.N. sanctions and weapons inspections would ever allow military action regardless of how clear it was that war was necessary.
Legitimate authority � just war theory requires the command to go to war to come from a legitimate authority. If rogue generals or civilians just start declaring wars, it would be chaos. There needs to be a sense of chain of command. But what about revolutions and civil wars (which are really the same thing, except that revolutions have succeeded, and civil wars either have failed or are still in process). Can�t those sometimes be just? The traditional answer is that sometimes the legitimate authority is incompetent or corrupt to administer justice properly. If an unjust power is to be stopped, the legitimate authority structures in place cannot do it. Thus someone lower on the command chain has to do it. But could it be just anyone? Just war theory says that the highest level of command willing to do the just thing (and thus the highest level that�s not corrupt or incompetent to administer justice) is the one to lead the way. So if the American Revolution was just, General Washington would have been the proper one to lead the way.
Legitimate authority and Iraq � It really is a problem for just war theory that someone might go into another sovereign nation and remove a regime from power when nothing had been initiated against the invading nation. Threats had occurred, though, and there was some reason to suspect extremely serious action against the U.S. in the near future if the WMD programs were allowed to continue (see above). But did we have legitimate authority when both we and Iraq had submitted in some sense to the U.N. Isn�t the U.N. the higher authority?
The U.N. corruption charges give the foundation for the response here. It�s not an exact parallel to revolutionary situations, since those are within a country and not between countries, but if the U.N. is corrupt or incompetent (i.e. in bed with the enemy, so to speak), then the highest level of authority below them willing to administer justice would be the proper ones to step in. Given the principle that great power carries great responsibility, the United States would be the most obvious country to lead the way on this issue out of the various countries in the U.N. below the level of the security council. 34 countries have supported the U.S. action, showing widespread support (though not among most of the more influential European countries), and even though the U.N. itself opposed it the Bush Administration can claim significant support within the U.N.
Proportionality of the good aimed at to the evil of war � It�s obvious that if a war leads to more bad than good then it�s a bad war. So a just war requires the good that can reasonably be predicted and envisioned to be good enough that it�s worth the bad.
Proportionality with Iraq � lots of bad things have happened, some of which could be foreseen. Lots of people died in the conflict, some civilians but mostly combatants. There�s been unrest in Iraq, though it�s gone down as key figures leading the revolts have been captured or killed, particularly dropping with the capture of Saddam Hussein. Other terrorist attacks in other countries went up after the military conflict in Iraq, particularly in Palestine. Infrastructure got damaged and destroyed during the fighting. People in some parts of Iraq are less safe in some ways than beforehand. However, many good things have happened. An oppressive dictator is out of power. How many more people would be in the mass graves if he had continued in power? Freedoms previously unavailable are now celebrated. There�s at least cautious acceptance and thankfulness among many Iraqi people for the allied forces� work, in some cases even with great enthusiasm. The Iraqi people are starting to move toward self-governance, though it�s hard to predict how that will turn out. Hospitals, electricity, education, food supply, and lots of other areas of their society are in the process of improving, though there�s lots of progress still to come. When you compare the two, you have to decide which is a better situation. Is the bad so bad that it�s not worth the good? It�s hard to be decisively against it without being a complete pacifist.
Right intention � this is the hardest one to evaluate. Sometimes people have mixed motives, and if they do have a good motive you might think it�s ok, even if there�s additionally a bad motive. Is a war just if I want to do it for bad reasons but also see the good reasons and decide that there are good reasons worth doing it for but also happen to enjoy the idea of getting something out of it for myself? Also, it may be that the good benefit for me or my country is just a little icing that motivates me less than other concerns. If it�s my primary motivation, is it still just if I can give the good motive as one reason I want to do it. Maybe my decision is wrong, but the war is still just. These issues are hard to sort out.
Right intention and Iraq � lots of charges of ill-conceived motives have abounded. It�s all about oil. It�s a desire to get back at him for what he did to Bush�s father (or to complete what his father didn�t finish). The problem is that he does seem sincere in at least some of the other issues. Especially given that the Bush foreign policy changed significantly after 9/11, you have to think he was at least worried about the defense issues. The oil is a concern, but it�s a complicated issue, as I said above, and we can�t know someone�s intentions anyway. The people who made those decisions are responsible for why they made them, and all we can really evaluate is whether there was a right intention that was given, and that�s a lot easier to evaluate (see all the above). So this one is hard to evaluate for someone other than the people making the call. It wouldn�t make it an unjust war per se, but it would question whether the people calling for the war were just in those statements. Ultimately this issue will turn into a debate between those who trust the Bush Administration and those who don�t, but it�s worth acknowledging that we really can�t know someone�s intentions one way or the other.