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Just War Doctrine And The Gulf Conflict Essay, Research Paper

Just War Doctrine and the Gulf Conflict

In evaluating US involvement in the Iraq conflict in terms of the Just

War Doctrine – jus ad bellum and jus in bello – it is my opinion that the US

adhered to the Doctrine in its entirety. The US acted justly both in its

entering into the Gulf conflict (jus ad bellum) and in its conduct while in the

conflict (jus in bello). To support this opinion I will individually address

the co parts that constitute the Just War Doctrine and show how US participation

in the Iraq war abstained from violating the tenets of either co-part.

Jus Ad Bellum

Jus Ad Bellum, the justness of entering into conflict consists of six primary

tenets: legitimate authority, just cause, proportionality, right intention,

chance of success, and last resort.

1. Legitimate Authority – Only those of legitimate authority may justly

lead its country into war. This tenet disqualify revolutionaries, radicals

and/or subversives who seek to justly initiate war. War is to be the decisions

of the head of state and is to be subject to their guidance.

2. Just Cause – A just conflict may not be initiated void of just cause.

This tenet disallows justifying war for the purpose of economic gain, land

acquisition, or strategic position. If war is to be justly initiated just cause,

usually humanitarian, must first exist.

3. Right Intention – This relates to the tenet of just cause. Just

cause must be followed by right intention. It would be unjust seek a goal

devoid of the just cause.

4. Proportionality – Also in relation to just cause is the tenet of

proportionality. Proportionality must exist between the cause and the decision

to go to war. For country (a) to initiate a total war with country (b) because

of a minor violation that country (b) was responsible for would be

unproportional and unjust. There is not cause enough to warrant country (b)

being subjected to a total war.

5. Chance of Success – War must be initiated with a chance of success.

It would be unjust to lead people into a war they have no chance of winning. It

would more just to bow to superiority and fight another day than to commit to a

policy of suicide.

6. Last Resort – This is probably the most important of the jus ad

bellum tenets. War should be the last resort. Every diplomatic effort should

be made to achieve a just cause without conflict. Only after all non-

conflictory options have been exhausted should war be committed to.

As to the question of whether or not the US adhered to the tenet of jus

ad bellum the reply is a resounding yes. The US, under legitimate authority

undertook the just cause of alleviating the plight of a coalition partner.

Saddam Husseins invasion of Kuwait was unjust, or at least in violation of the

Just War Doctrine, and the US sought to reconcile matters. The goal, the

removal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, was a just one and was pursued

proportionally. For nearly six months the US and other UN/coalition partners

made every diplomatic effort to resolve the conflict peacefully. Secretary

General of UN Security Council Junio Perez de Cuellar made several attempts to

hash out a peaceful plan with Saddam Hussein directly and during this time the

US abstained from any military action. In conjunction with efforts of Perez de

Cuellar, US Secretary of State James Baker spent countless hours negotiating

directly with the Iraqi Foreign Minister in an attempt to bring about a non-

violent end to the crisis. When all efforts failed to bring an end to the

conflict by peaceful means the UN Security Council drafted Resolution 678 which

authorized “all means necessary” to dislodge Iraqi forces from Kuwait. In one

last effort US President George Bush sent a direct communiqu? to Saddam Hussein

asking the Iraqi President to leave peacefully or face an international conflict.

In the communiqu? the President Bush wrote:

Mr. President:

We Stand at the brink of war between Iraq and the world. This is a war

that began with your invasion of Kuwait; this is a war that can be ended only by

Iraq’s full and unconditional compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution

678….The international community is united in its call for Iraq to leave all

of Kuwait without condition and without further delay….We prefer a peaceful

outcome. However, anything less than full compliance…is unacceptable.

Only after Saddam Hussein failed to comply with Resolution 678, the

eighteenth resolution drawn in response to Iraqs invasion of Kuwait, was the

decision made to forcefully remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait and launch Operation

Desert Storm.

Jus In Bello

The second co-part of the two co-parts that constitute the Just War

Doctrine is jus in bello or justices in war. Jus in bello mandates that the

following tenets must be adhered to for justice in war to exist: proportionality,

moral means, purposeful deprivation of life.

1. Proportionality – This tenet of proportionality eliminates overkill

as a just means in war. Allegorically speaking, this tenet says its unjust to

use an H-bomb where a bayonet will suffice.

2. Moral Means – The moral means tenet of jus in bello bars the use of

indiscriminate weapons and/or weapons that cause needless pain and suffering.

Again, atomic weapons are an apt example; nuclear weapons would be considered

unjust because they indiscriminate and capable of causing needless pain and

suffering.

3. No Deprivation of Life Without Cause – Under jus in bello it is

unjust to kill when it can be avoided. Deprivation of life without purpose is

immoral and contradictory to the Just War Doctrine.

When analyzing the justness of US conduct in the Gulf Crisis, it is

important to keep two points in mind: 1. The just cause was to remove Iraqi

forces from Kuwait; anything more and the Doctrine might be violated. 2. UN

Resolution 678 authorized the use of “all means necessary” to dislodge Iraqi

forces from Kuwait. This quite literally opened the door to Doctrine violation.

Any adherence to the Just War Doctrine would be by choice and not by fear of

consequence.

It was in fact the choice the US to adhere to the Just War Doctrine and

their conduct in the conflict proves of this. The US goal was to remove Iraqi

Forces from Kuwait and prevent the possibility of any immediate reoccupation.

This goal was pursued and achieved, and done so in the most just manner possible.

Though the US possessed immense destructive capabilities they employed only

that necessary to get the job done. The most effective aspect of the coalition

forces was their air assault. The various jet-fueled fighters and bombers the

US employed were more than capable of turning Iraq quite literally into a

parking lot. They did not. Instead bombing occurred only where enemy forces or

enemy armament was suspected to be stored. Civilian areas were not fired upon

unless a threat, such as an anti-aircraft gun, was placed in a civilian area,

and in these instances pin-point missiles were used to eliminate the threat with

as little destruction to the surrounding area as possible. This adheres to the

moral means doctrine which finds indiscriminate weapons unjust. Though the US

was authorized to use any and all means they employed nothing more than what was

necessary to complete the job adequately.

As I stated above UN Resolution 678 left the door wide open to possible

violations of International Law. Despite this US went beyond the call of duty

to assure that its role in the Gulf conflict was just. Risking their own well

being, US pilots often gav


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