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Iraq: A Morally Justified Resort to War

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This paper begins by accepting, for argument's sake, a number of the central criticisms raised regarding the US led war in Iraq. In the remainder of the paper, it is argued that even if these criticisms are assumed to be true, the resort to war was still morally justified, both prospectively and retrospectively. The argument is made within the context of the just war tradition. It is argued that the resort to war met the conditions of sufficient just cause, last resort and proportionality, and that any failings in regards to legitimate authority and right intention do not undermine the morality of that resort. More specifically, the case is made that: humanitarian considerations provided a sufficient just cause, questions of international law do not undermine the moral legitimacy of the US led coalition, and that concerns about the intentions of the US, even if valid, would not impact on moral judgements about the act of resorting to war. In arguing for the last point, it is determined that the right intention condition should not be included among the set of conditions that form the basis of the just war tradition.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Philosophy Department, The University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4

Publication date: 01 August 2006

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