War Not a Last Resort and Therefore Not Just

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Mr Jeremy Leong mentioned in his comments “S’pore loses more by not backing the US” (ST, Mar 3) that “Any legal justification, for support or condemnation, will surface only when the invasion of Iraq is complete and it will depend on whether weapons of mass destruction are found. Until then, any discussion of legality is just rhetoric.”

The above view has been put forward recently and I beg to seriously disagree. Seen from a just war perspective, even if the invasion of Iraq will result in the finding of Weapons of Mass Destruction, this does not make the initial case for war just or right. One of the criteria of a just war is that a war should be waged as a last resort. That means that if there are other non-violent alternatives, these need to be exhausted before any resort to war is justified. Clearly in the current case, there were very good non-violent paths to disarming Iraq and this fact seems to be lost on many people. UN inspector Hans Blix could still have done his job and just before war was declared he stated that Iraq was cooperating and thus he needed more time.

Blix was personally upset because of American’s impatience to go to war. Other inspectors were reportedly angry at the way the Americans intruded in the whole inspection process. The very important fact not to be missed is that ultimately the inspectors wanted and needed more time. Had Weapons of Mass Destruction been found and Saddam refused to disarm, or had Iraq refused to cooperate with legitimate demands of the inspections team (which clearly was not the case in Blix’s latest view), then and only then could one say that perhaps all non-violent paths to peace has been exhausted and the resort to war was legitimate and indeed a last resort to disarming Saddam.

But the opposite is true. War was not the last resort. American’s impatience and intransigence has already cost hundreds of lives. I’m arguing that this crisis did not have to play out this way because there were hopes of peaceful disarmament. And therefore even if Weapons of Mass Destruction were found during this current war, that can not be used as a justification for this current war.

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