Summary of "Is the Gulf War a 'Just' War?"

Summary of

Is the Gulf War a 'Just' War?

by Roger Williamson

Summary written by: Tanya Glaser, Conflict Research Consortium

Citation: "Is the Gulf War a Just' War?" Peace Perspectives, vol. V, no. 3,(Spring 1991), p. 3.

Roger Williamson identifies six basic criteria for a just war. The war must be declared by a supreme authority. The cause must be just. War must be the option of last resort. The means used must be proportionate to the provocation. Use of war must have a reasonable chance of succeeding. The war must be fought with the correct (just) intentions. Williams is concerned that the gulf war fails to meet at least five of these criteria. The stated cause of freeing Kuwait does seem a just one. However, while the U.N. authorized (declared) the war, it was waged by U.S. led coalition. War was resorted to before economic sanctions had been given an adequate opportunity to work. Civil casualties were high, causing Williamson to ask whether the means were proportionate to the provocation. Moreover, the use of force is unlikely to succeed at resolving the underlying causes of conflict in the Gulf region, and may actually exacerbate tensions in the region. Williamson also expresses concern that the intention behind the war had shifted from the just goals of freeing Kuwait and protecting Saudi Arabia, to the more questionable motives of destroying Iraqi military power and maintain inexpensive supplies of oil.