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  • Author: David Fisher, Nigel Biggar
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: This article is based on a debate held on 22 March 2011 at Chatham House on 'Was Iraq an unjust war?' David Fisher argues that the war fully failed to meet any of the just war criteria. By contrast, current coalition operations in Libya are, so far, just. This is a humanitarian operation undertaken to halt a humanitarian catastrophe that is taking place, with wide international support, including authorization by the UN Security Council. Nigel Biggar argues that the fact that the invasion and occupation of Iraq suffered from grave errors, some of them morally culpable, does not yet establish its overall injustice. All wars are morally flawed, even just ones. Further, even if the invasion were illegal, that need not make it immoral. Regarding Libya, Biggar notes the recurrence of conflict over the interpretation of international law. He wonders how those who distinguish sharply between protecting civilians and regime change imagine that dissident civilians are to be 'kept' safe while Qadhafi remains in power. Against those who clamour for a clear exitstrategy, he counsels agility, while urging sensitivity to the limits of our power. What was right to begin may become imprudent to continue.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Libya