Thursday, August 29, 2013
When is it right to go to war ?
A friend asked me if I would rule out military action in all circumstances without a resolution of the UN Security Council. Putting on on side the circumstances in which the UN Charter authorises actions without such a vote, I still don't think it is possible to rule out action ever without a UNSC motion, but yes I support the development of international law since the Second World War. To act without such a resolution I would set the bar very high, much higher than the current situation in Syria.
The ancient Christian doctrine of the Just War is a good guide. War is a great evil and one should only resort to it on the following conditions:
1) to overcome a greater evil
2) in a proportionate way, i.e. only as much as required to overcome the evil
3)only when there is a reasonable chance of success.
I do not believe that the military options available to respond to the conduct of Assad's regime fulfil those conditions.
Further more, as a federalist I maintain that we have a duty to build supranational structures which provide peaceful means of resolving conflict, law between nations as well as within nations. Those who advocate the use of force need to demonstrate that they have made a serious effort to provide the world with an alternative. To abandon steps in that direction only makes violence more likely in the future, as Bush and Blair have proved.