Published March 1, 1992
President George Bush said yes; some bishops said no; even Doonesbury touched on the question.
But what does is mean, in any case, to say that a war is just? What are the yard-sticks of justice that support President Bush’s claim that is was just to reverse Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait? And how does on evaluate the justness of stopping the war when the allies did? And what of our fierce bombing of the fleeting Iraqi troops on the road from Kuwait? The threat to Israel? The value of oil in weighing whether to fight or not?
‘But Was It Just?’ is an ethical primer in which the leading thinkers of our time on matters of war and peace take up these questions and more. In a style both popular and substantive, they explore the morality of the Gulg War in light of the centuries-old just war tradition; of political analysis; and of personal experience and conviction.
Michael Walzer; author of ‘Just and Unjust Wars’, makes the case for the war’s justness as does George Weigel, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Jean Bethke Elshatain, author of ‘Women and War’, explores the ambiguities of the war’s morality and the role of women in it, while Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian philosopher, discusses the conflict from the vantage point of an Israeli jail. Stanley Hauerwas offers a Christian pacifists response to the war. On appendix features a watershed editorial on the Gulf War and war in general by a Jesuit magazine thet usually reflects the point of view of the pope. Another appendix features a chronology of the Gulf crisis, highlighting those events that have figured most in assessing the war’s justness.
This is a book for citizens and students about one of the most significant episodes in recent American history. It is also a model of moral reasoning on questions sure to be with us again in the future.
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.