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 communiqué to Saddam Hussein
asking the Iraqi President to leave peacefully or face an international conflict.
In the communiqué 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