War on Iraq does not fulfill the criteria of a just war

Press Statement
by John Chung

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): DAPSY reiterates our position that the Bush-led US administration and its allies should refrain from destabilizing the world by launching unilateral military strikes on Iraq. Attacking Iraq without UN Security Council sanction not only violates international law but clearly defies the wishes of the world community for a peaceful and non-military solution.

We view with grave concern the ultimatum issued by Bush to Saddam Hussein to go into exile falling which Iraq will be threatened with the use of force as such a pronouncement impinges upon the sovereignty of the Iraqi nation, notwithstanding Saddam's oppression of his own population which also deserves our severest condemnation.

Undoubtedly, the American case for a pre-emptive war on Iraq is incongruous with the notion of a just war. For there to be legitimacy, the generally accepted principles of a just war must be met, amongst the most important of which are:

  • A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.

  • A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority. Even just causes cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society deem legitimate.

  • A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause. Further, a just war can only be fought with "right" intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury.

It is clear that the war on Iraq does not fulfill the criteria of what constitutes a just war since not all non-violent options have been exhausted as the arm inspectors have yet to be given adequate time to complete their job of disarming Iraq.

Moreover, it is only the United Nations Security Council which is empowered to declare the use of force with the narrow exception of self-defense in accordance with Art. 51 of the UN Charter. In this case however, the conditions for self-defense action are not met.

US must therefore stop its arrogant threat of aggression against Iraq and give peace a chance by allowing both the UNMOVIC and IAEA to complete their arms inspection task. Instead of ending terrorism, the unsanctioned use of force can only serve to breed greater terrorism and this is what the US and its allies must avert for the sake of world peace.


* John Chung, DAPSY International Secretary