Just War Theory

In order to defend war, the just war theory was developed. The theory offers a number of factors that are seen to be crucial for a conflict to be just. The theory holds that these four principles are the most crucial ones.
An important factor is having a just cause. War can be justified by wrongs committed prior to it. War is a kind of retaliation for prior assaults and act of self-defense. This, however, aims to make up for the harm done in the past. Other reasons to look at as just causes include continuous violation of rights and destruction of property.
The second reason would be proportionality. The theory explains the necessity of war to ensure proportionality to the evils the war would cause. With that in mind, it is crucial to understand the benefits of the war in comparison to the costs both financial, political, ethical and social that the war would cause. This helps to justify the cause and the intentions in comparison with the probable effects.

The third tenet is a reasonable chance of success. For a nations’ decision on heading for war, there has to be different consideration about the logical possibility to be successful. No country whatsoever would go into a hopeless battle.

The fourth condition is public declaration of war by the involved nations. This justification provides both nations the opportunity to take their respective offensive and defensive positions. This justifies the will of the two nations so and makes it not an intrusion from one nation against another not interested in the war.

With these considerations in place, it is important to note that war should be the last resort if peaceful methods of resolving the conflict are not fruitful. However, when all the possible means of dialogue and compensations for atrocities committed are not productive, war is publicly declared (White, 2012).

Explain how these four tenets provide an ethical/moral justification for the use of force.

All these four tenets provide justifies ethical approaches to lodge war. Wars are used to resolve conflicts between two or more nations that cannot agree. For as much as peace is morally what the countries advocate for, battles give solution or revenge for wrongdoings. However, before declaring war, it is essential to consider the social effects of the war. There comes a time for a nation to choose between being morally upright or defend its borders, citizens and its soil. For such cases, it is in the best interest of the country to do whatever it takes to preserve their sovereignty and peace. Every nation would never want to lose a war. Proportionality analysis and having a just cause gives moral reasoning for a country to consider before it publicly declares war. If the rights of its citizens are upheld of higher consideration to the short and long-term effects of the war, the nation is justified to go on the offensive with a defensive reason for her people.

Apply these four tenets to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and explain how they have both succeeded and failed in their justification for the use of force to the American public.

Primary reasons for invading Iraq in a war on 2003 was the continuous attacks on Americans by the terrorists. The most crucial one by the Iraqi based terrorist being the September 11th by al-Qaida. Other offenses included those of several US embassies around the world. America was justified to defend its citizens after all the initial considerations were exploited. President Bush was famously known for his non-wavering decision never to negotiate with terrorists. Before the war was declared, several factors by the American Congress were analyzed on the justification of the war. Fighting Saddam Hussein‘s government was also a reason. This is because he was facilitating the terrorist groups with training ground and resources to attack America. With these ideas, the American Congress assessed the chances of winning formulated an attack plan. This was followed by a declaration of war and invasion of Iraq (Heinrich, 2015).

After the invasion, there has been a general feeling of success after the capturing and hanging of Saddam. This sent an unspoken message to the other terrorists of American zeal to protect its citizens. However, failure to kill the self-proclaimed leader Osama bin Laden until later during the Obama presidency faulted the move. There were several criticisms on the conduct of American troops in the Middle East that tainted the country against fighting against an unknown army.


Heinrich, M. N. (2015, March 9th). One War, Many Reasons: The US Invasion of Iraq. Retrieved from E- Interntional Relations Students: http://www.e-ir.info/2015/03/09/one-war-many-reasons-the-us-invasion-of-iraq/

White, J. (2012). Contemporary moral problems: War, torture and assasination (4th ed.). Wadsworth: Cengage Learning.

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