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The Just War Doctrine

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that there are strict
conditions for legitimate defence by military force. All of these conditions
must be apparent at the same time, for the defence from an aggressor to
be considered just. These conditions will be discussed below, with
reference to the Gulf War (1990-1991).

1. The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community

of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
Iraq invaded Kuwait on the 2nd of August, 1990, with the intention of
taking Kuwaits oil mines, as they were rivals in that industry, and Iraq
needed money to pay debts that were acquired in the previous war with
Iran, or took from Iraqs side of the oilfield. This annexation of Kuwait
would also serve the purpose of expanding Iraqs power in that region.

However, Iraq was still recovering from the war between itself and Iran.
Their forces would not have been able to do as much damage as they
would have been able to do before the war with Iran. Therefore, the
damage that would have been inflicted on Kuwait would have been
minimal, as the nations would not have wanted to incur damages that
would result in more debt. Also, the small country was thought to be a
province of Iraq after the annexation. This means that there would have
not have been lasting damage to the nation, which means that Australias
involvement was not particularly necessary.

2. All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be

impractical or ineffective;
On August 3rd, the UN called for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. This did not
happen so 3 days later, the UN imposed a worldwide ban on trade with
The UN also gave Iraq a few months to leave Kuwait, after formally
threatening Iraq with military resistance. This was ignored however, by
the leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein.

This resulted in a military offensive, which began on January 16-17, 1991.

This offensive was justified, as Iraq and its leaders did not listen to the
voice of the UN or the allied coalition when they asked for a peaceful
retreat or even after they issued threats.

3. There must be serious prospects of success;

As the allied coalition consisting of the US, Australia, UK, France, Saudi
Arabia, Egypt and other Arab nations, were all fighting for Kuwaits
freedom from Iraq, the chances of succeeding were highly likely.

A ground offensive was launched seven months into the war, on February
24. Within three days, those forces had managed to take back the Kuwaiti
city that had previously been occupied by Iraqis. The US was
simultaneously attacking Iraq from the rear, which destroyed most of their
Republican Elite Guards. By the time, the US president of the time, George
Bush, called for a cease-fire, Iraqs resistance was rendered useless, and
almost completely destroyed.

After their defeat, Iraq was monitored by the US and UK, to make sure that
they cooperated with the terms of peace.

4. The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than
the evil to be eliminated.
The use of arms in this war would be controversial when considering the
moral legitimacy of this war, or the actions undertaken in this war. Due to
modern advancements in technology and warfare, to stop the offensive
from Iraq, the coalition forces used many extensive airstrikes and also
ground offensive and defensive tactics. There were 39 countries who
headed up the coalition forces against Iraq. As a result, there were more
than 100 000 military deaths from Iraq. Contrastingly, there were only 383
deaths from the allied forces, which had many more troops involved in the
war. This was because the coalition decided to continuously airstrike the
Arab nation and result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.


While some elements of this war would be considered just, all the
conditions for a just war were not present simultaneously and therefore, I
do not believe that this war was just. It was missing key aspects like the
evils produced werent less than those than the aggressor was inflicting,
and the damage was not lasting. I do not condone the actions of Iraq, but I
feel that Australias involvement in the war was not justified.