St Augustines Just War Theory and the Persion Gulf War

On 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 the

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

deserve immunity.

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.

Related Essays on History: Middle East

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