Syria Was Never a Just War

Dec 28, 2018 by

by Jules Gomes, Frontpage Magazine:

The West should fight wars based on the principles of Augustine, not Mohammed.

“Moral factors cannot be ignored in war . . . Moral elements are among the most important in war,” wrote Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz. “Without just cause nothing that follows can be justified, even if it can be more and less virtuous,” writes ethicist Nigel Biggar in his book In Defence of War.

Almost unique among modern ethicists, the Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford University presents a forceful case against the pacifist “virus of wishful thinking.” He even contends, rather provocatively, that the 2003 Iraq invasion was justified. Biggar rejects “Hobbesian realism” and declares himself an adherent of “Augustinian realism,” drawing deeply on the Augustinian tradition of Just War.

There are times when war can be and indeed should be the moral response to grave wrongdoing. The most serious flaw in the West’s intervention in Syria’s civil and religious war (for that is what it is) is our lack of justification for the morality of going to war with Assad and sending American troops to Syria in the first place.

Pragmatic arguments about regional politics and supporting the Kurds are valid but not sufficient to go to war or to expend American lives in theatre. At the end of the day, “there are no good guys in an Islamic civil war,” writes Daniel Greenfield. Moreover, “there are no innocent victims in an Islamic civil war because neither side believes in anything except demonstrating the Allahu Akbaring supremacy of their religious doctrine by subjugating the other,” he adds.

Hence exploring the moral question becomes an even greater imperative. So far, no religious or political leader has argued persuasively the morality of even one of the six criteria of the Just War model to justify the morality of our intervention in Syria. Are we on the ground or in the air over Syria because of just cause, legitimate authority, right intention, last resort, proportionality or prospect of success?

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