Would a War in Iraq be Ethically Justified?

The Daily Princetonian, September 19, 2002.

How can we decide if an attack on Iraq in ethically justified?

Although the early architects of “just war theory” held that punishing past aggression is among the legitimate purposes of war, modern popes, from Pius XII to John Paul II, have been more restrictive. Ruling out retributive reasons for the use of military force, the popes teach that resort to arms can be justified only in self-defense, or the defense of third parties, against unjust attacks.

The development of just war theory to exclude retribution strikes me as sound philosophically as well as theologically. An appropriate regard for the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person excludes killing or injuring even wrongdoers, not to mention noncombatants who always suffer as a consequence of war, except where it is necessary to defend potential victims of aggression….

The Daily Princetonian