The debate as to what constitutes a just war is ancient. The old saying “all is
fair in love and war” might be true for love, but it is patently untrue for war.
Politicians, diplomats, scholars, theologians and lawyers have devoted a great
deal of their time to the challenging task of establishing criteria for waging a
There is no justification for war except for aggression.
Aggression justifies two kinds of violent response: Defensive war by the
attacked party, and a war of law enforcement by the attacked party and by any
other nation of the international community. The justice of war, “jus ad
bellum,” concerns the reasons that brought about the war; ideas about righteous
reason, righteous authority, righteous intention. The justice of the cause needs
to be sufficiently great to warrant warfare.
While war should be the last
resort and peace is always desired, still, sometimes war is an ugly necessity in
order to avoid an even greater evil.
More than 100,000 people have been
killed in Syria since the civil war there began. President Barack Obama’s
foreign policy goal is to bring American troops home, reduce military
intervention in the world, and secure US borders. This policy is contrary to
that of Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush, who had no qualms about sending
American troops to wage war in Iraq and a futile war in Afghanistan. Obama is
reluctant to interfere in conflict zones.
Thus he has observed the
killing in Syria and opted for limited American involvement – supplying the
Syrian opposition with weapons. Obama is also unsure who would replace Assad.
Hence it was possible for the Syrian civil war to take its toll for so many
However, the use of chemical weapons is beyond the scope of
tolerance. Observing the criteria of just war, waging war on Syria, after a long
period of probing and after exhausting other alternatives, seems
Without a decisive action against the Assad regime we can
expect a continuation of bloodshed.
Tens of thousands more would be
killed and the region would remain volatile and unstable.
Now it is time
for Obama to assert leadership as president of the only superpower, as the
leader of the free world.
IT WOULD have been sensible to exert pressure
via the United Nations. The forerunner of the United Nations, the League of
Nations, was established in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles “to promote
international cooperation and to achieve peace and security.”
conclusion of WWII, in 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San
Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw
up the United Nations Charter.
The Charter was signed on June 26, 1945,
and the United Nations officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, when
the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United
Kingdom, the United States and by a majority of other
However, the UN is ineffective due to the Russian and
Chinese support of the Syrian dictatorship.
Surprise surprise, economic
interests are way more important than human life.
The model to follow is
Operation Desert Storm.
To recall, the US assembled a coalition of forces
to join it in opposing Iraq’s aggression, consisting of forces from 34
countries, including Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark,
Egypt, France, Morocco, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Portugal,
Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Spain,
Syria, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
should assemble a similar force to oust the brutal Assad regime. The force
should include Arab countries. The operation would begin by striking the Syrian
army heavily from the sea and from the air. The Syrian opposition coalition is
said to have supplied the Americans with a bank of targets.
with a comprehensive ground attack, ensuring Syria won’t fall into the hands of
radical Islamists. The US should work together with the moderate elements to
install a new government in Damascus. Replacing one evil with another won’t be
prudent. The US should work together with the Arab countries and with the Syrian
opposition, ascertaining that Syria does not fall in the hands of jihadi
Toppling the Assad dictatorship without assuring the identity
of the successor is a recipe for further bloodshed and instability. The US
should take effective means to see that Syria will be governed by people who
prefer compromise to violence, who respect human life and who wish Syria to
become a respected member of the League of Nations instead of a notorious
country on the list of terrorist states.
The author (D. Phil., Oxon) is
an educator, researcher, human rights activist and director of the Middle East
Study Group of the University of Hull, UK. He regularly writes on Israel and
Middle East Affairs.