Would the “Just War” doctrine justify U.S. military action, and what is America’s moral responsibility? Religion News Service asked a panel of theologians and policy experts. And Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls for “human intervention.”
The just war tradition is based on a series of arguments to be tested before using force against another population. Legitimate and competent authorities must logically argue that the use of force will end or limit the suffering of a people and these forceful actions are the last options after all diplomatic, social, political, and economic measures have been exhausted. – Stanley Haurwas, Professor emeritus of theological ethics at Duke Divinity School
“Just war” arguments for a military intervention in Syria need to consider the problem of no action by the international community, which can increase civilian suffering and validate the actions of an abusive government. These discussions need to study the problems of intervening and limiting the force against military institutions and how civilians will be protected in the midst of the intervention and post intervention. – Qamar-ul Huda, Senior program officer in the Religion & Peacemaking Center of the U.S. Institute of Peace
Jewish traditional just war theory can certainly be used to justify military intervention in Syria both to topple a dictator and to save the lives of those without guilt. But even more needs to be noted. The Jewish tradition avers that it is wrong to stand by while one’s neighbors blood is shed (and while that biblical verse does not directly apply for a variety of technical reasons), its ideals certainly ought to guide us. When the lives of innocent people are at stake, all people should do whatever they can to save those lives, even if this means that the lives of the guilty will be lost.
Of course, if there is any lesson in modern times, it is that the theory of just war in any religious or legal tradition can not only be evaluated based on the theory, but also based on the likelihood of success. A proper application of just war theory can produce a situation in which good people apply just and lawful force to a bad situation and make it much worse, both in theory and in practice. – Rabbi Michael Broyde, Professor of law and senior fellow, Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion
My problem is that I don’t see why this kind of chemical attack matters so mightily when 100,000 civilians have been killed in Syria already. It seems to me that you’ve had massive attacks on civilians — with the world standing aside — that should have been the reason for intervention. But there’s also a question of proportionality and success, and I think that there are good reasons to think you might make things worse by a military attack….
I just don’t see why the particular (chemical weapons) attack should justify intervention at this point, especially if it’s just a rap on the knuckles to remind Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Now if the chemical attacks were to become a pattern there would be good reason to intervene. But for one occasion, it seems to me that it doesn’t weigh up compared to those who should have been protected and haven’t been, and those who still need protection. I just don’t understand. It seems to me you need a strategic objective, which doesn’t exist, and therefore just war norms don’t apply. – The Rev. Drew Christiansen, Jesuit priest and visiting scholar at Boston College
Presstv.ir reports on comments by Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
The crisis in Syria needs to be resolved through “human intervention, not military intervention”, AFP quoted the Nobel peace laureate as saying on Wednesday.
He also said that United Nations inspectors should be given more time to complete their investigations.
“UN chemical weapons inspectors are on the ground in Syria, but need more time to finish their work,” Tutu noted.
“We need to talk, to avoid further bloodshed, not to fight,” he added.