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Was the Gulf War a 'Just War'?

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 10:08 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 50.6 
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Aggression is the largest, if only, justification for war, according to the just-war theory outlined by Michael Walzer’s “Just and Unjust Wars”. In performing an act of aggression what Walzer describes as the ‘floodgates of war’ are opened. To enable us to label the Gulf War as ‘just,’ we must look at both the causes of war, and, once engaged, the conduct of the combatants involved. Although closely linked, these two categories must be treated as discrete considerations. A ‘just’ cause does not automatically qualify a ‘just’ conduct. Even if it was Iraqi aggression against the sovereign state of Kuwait that caused the gulf war, if the US lead coalition’s conduct of the war was wrong or inhumane then the war in total can not be classed as ‘just.’

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was a textbook example of aggression, which supports the just-war theory. Of all the arguments for the war against Iraq, stopping aggression was the strongest platform. To ignore the Iraqi invasion would be to reward naked aggression. Iraq invaded Kuwait predominantly for economic gains via control of Kuwaiti oil fields. Saddam needed to wipe his debt caused by years of war with Iran. The prestige of the Iraqi army had deteriorated considerably by failing to defeat an inferior Iranian army. Thus a victory against Kuwait would help boost their status and morale as well as emphasising Saddam’s tyrannical regime. This would prevent any further coup attempts which were a growing threat to Saddam’s autonomy. The UN charter allows only one cause of war; self defence. As Kuwait was an area of ‘vital interest’ to the US this therefore gave justification to wage a war. Along with aggression, the Iraqis were guilty of atrocities in Kuwait. While these acts fall under jus in Bello (justice in war), the fact that the atrocities were performed on the civilian population qualifies another justification for just war; humanitarian intervention. According to the just-war theory, an ally of a country is...


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