James Turner Johnson and George Weigel, in Just War and the Gulf War, present a reasonable argument that the Gulf War, from the point of view of those prosecuting the war against Iraq, was indeed a just war, according to the moral criteria of that tradition. At the same time, the authors are not naive about the victory and its results. They point out that "the only peace that can be achieved in this region is one limited to that defined by international law, not a 'new order' that will be extraordinarily difficult to bring into being" (40). This is important to note because it emphasizes that the just war doctrine should be applied to each war individually. The authors are not saying, in other words, that any threat to peace in the Middle East, for example, should be answered by the kind of international effort posed in the war against Iraq.
However, with respect to the Gulf War, the authors leave no doubt that the war was in part a justified because of the many significant results it produced:
Restoring the territorial integrity and governmental autonomy of Kuwait, reestablishing respect for the anti-aggression rule of international law, restoring credibility to the moral and legal guidelines for resort to force and for fighting justly, restoring to the United Nations the ability to act in the world as its designers intended---these are goals deeply worthy in themselves and fundamental to the preservation of international peace (40).
The authors explain that the just war doctrine is a complex one which includes consideration of ethics, religious and non-religious ideas, international law, military conduct, human rights, and other concerns. It is a doctrine which has been evolving for centuries and which proved very applicable to the Gulf War.
We read that both sides of the argument---for and against the war---referred to the doctrine of just war to support their positions. The question of the just war doctrine focuse...