The Illegitimacy of the War in Iraq: A Review of the Just War Theory
March 20, 2003 marked a day in history that would haunt the United States for years to
On this day, American troops invaded Iraq with the goals of ending a dictatorship,
establishing a democracy, and enforcing resolutions of the United Nations (DeCosse, 2003). The
United States is no stranger to war. This country has participated in epic wars, many of which
have been justified by extreme circumstances and their beneficial outcomes for both this country,
as well as US allies.
However, the war in Iraq does not fit this mold.
Application of the Just War
theory to the facts surrounding the Iraq War demonstrate that the war was unlawfully waged.
The Iraq War undeniably failed to meet the conditions which must exist before war can be
morally waged, including the criteria for just cause, last resort, proportionality, and probability of
The Just War theory provides an important framework for analyzing whether or not
warfare can be considered morally justified and lawful.
Historically, there have been several
schools of thought regarding the morality of war.
First, “pacifism,” also known as the restrictive
option, holds that wars are never morally permissible.
A second form of pacifism, referred to as
“modern-war pacifism,” holds that killing is permissible, but only when it is essential to ward off
an unjust attack. (Kemp, 1992, p. 2).
The other alternative to the Just War theory, known as
“permissivism,” holds that a state has the inherent right to go to war whenever it deems war to be
Although many other theories and perspectives on war exist, the Just War theory,
along with pacifism, modern-war pacifism, and permissivism have become the most notable.
The Illegitimacy of the War in Iraq