St. Augustine’s Just War Theory And The Persion Gu
lf WarOn August 2nd, 1990 the first Iraqi tanks crossed into Kuwait, as part of
an invasion that marked the start of a six-month conflict between the
United States and Iraq. These tanks were ordered to invade Kuwait by Saddam
Hussein, the ruthless dictator of Iraq. The Iraqi troops looted Kuwaiti
businesses and brutalized Kuwaiti civilians. Saudi Arabia began to fear
that they may be invaded as well, and on August 7th they formally asked
President Bush for US assistance. The US pledged to defend the Saudis, and
to remove the Iraqis from Kuwait. Great masses of troops from many
different nations were deployed in the Persian Gulf area. At 4:30 PM EST on
January 16, 1991, the first aircraft with orders to attack Iraqi targets
were launched from Saudi Arabia, marking the beginning of Operation Desert
Dictators like Mr. Hussein cannot be allowed to take advantage of smaller
countries like bullies after lunch money. There has to be someone to stop
them, or they will gain more and more power and land, just as Adolf Hitler
tried to do in World War II. That someone, in the case of Mr. Hussein, was
the United States, along with a multinational coalition. The US had just
cause in entering a war against Iraq because of Iraq’s invasion of
small and defenseless nation of Kuwait. Actions such as that must be
repulsed. Iraq had no just cause in invading Kuwait; their reasons were
either obscure or for their benefit. The US had to help Kuwait regain their
In protecting the Saudis from invasion and removing the Iraqis from Kuwait
the US had the right intention. The real reason the US decided to fight the
Iraqis was to restore Kuwait’s government and to defend Saudi Arabia. There
was no underlying reason, such as to receive better prices on oil or to
make the Kuwaitis indebted to the US so as to receive favors. Throughout
the war, the US made clear their purpose and intent in fighting the Iraqis,
and not once did they stray from it.
Legitimate authority was established when the Congress voted to follow
United Nations resolution 678, section two of which “Authorizes Member
States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait, unless Iraq on or before
15 January 1991 fully implements, as set forth in paragraph 1 above, the
foregoing resolutions, to use all necessary means to uphold and implement
resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to
restore international peace and security in the area.” The vote to follow
the resolution was as good as a declaration of war, as far as legitimate
authority is concerned, and is in some ways better. The adoption of the
resolution only authorized the use of force to remove Iraq from Kuwait.
This limited the ability of our military to completely destroy Iraq’s
military or to drive Hussein from power. Our authority to remove Iraq from
Kuwait was clearly legitimate.
The Gulf War was fought with proportionality clearly in the leadership’s
mind. President Bush planned to get Iraq’s troops out of Kuwait and then
stop. He had no intention of carrying the war further. Although Bush would
have dearly liked to have marched US troops toward Baghdad to destroy
Hussein’s government, he did not, because of the risk of heavy casualties,
and because it went against the proportionality idea.
The leaders who picked targets for our forces never targeted civilians.
Civilians were killed, for sure, but they were not deliberately targeted.
Non-combatant immunity is an important part of every war the US has been
engaged in. The Iraqis definitely targeted civilians, as was quite evident
by their SCUD attacks on Israel and Saudi Arabia. Many civilians and
military personnel were killed by SCUDs during the course of the war.
Civilians are not responsible for harm done to one’s country, and therefore
Upon entering the conflict, The US obviously had a reasonable hope of
success. The Iraqis had several hundred thousand poorly trained, poorly
equipped, and poorly led troops, while the Allied forces numbered about
800,000. The allied troops were better trained, equipped, and led than the
Iraqis. They were also more loyal, although that was not discovered until
the ground war began and Iraqi troops began to desert, tens of thousands at
a time. The US would not have entered into this conflict if they had not
clearly known that they would win.
Sanctions were placed against Iraq almost immediately, and were in place
and doing nothing for six months before President Bush realized that they
had to turn to their last resort, the use of force, to get the Iraqis out
of Kuwait. All diplomatic means had failed, from the initial meeting
between US ambassador April Glaspie and Saddam Hussein to the
implementation of sanctions. The use of force was clearly our last resort.
Epilogue-Who Won The War
The Persian Gulf War, in military terms, was won by the United States and
her allies. The Iraqis were forced out of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia was
protected, and the US casualties were only in the hundreds. However,
politically, the war may have resulted in a draw. Saddam Hussein is still
in control of Iraq, and Bush is no longer in office. Kuwait is once again a
free country, but Hussein is still right next door to threaten them again.
Although it would have gone against St. Agustin’s Just War Theory, it would
have been intelligent to have marched on Baghdad and forced Hussein out of
power. The real victory, however, goes to all the troops who gave their
lives to restore 6,880 square miles of desert to it’s original leadership.