Update Concerning My Assessment of Libya and Just War

Ok, we all make mistakes and I’m a big enough man to admit when I’ve made one.  Well, I’ve made one.  Chalk it up to writing under the influence of Maximum Strength Robitussin® or carelessness or a combination of the two.  I overlooked something as I was typing up my last post on the attacks on Libya and this oversight changes everything.  Like I said in the previous post, I’m coming at it from the perspective of Just War as Christian Discipleship.  That means all criteria must be honored. In my previous post, I said

In my assessment, there is a just cause, a right intent, and a reasonable chance for success.  I am slightly less certain concerning last resort.  Legitimate authority is even more murky.

That uncertainty should have led me to conclude that not all the criteria were being honored.  Instead I turned the just war tradition into a checklist and ended up doing what I have fought against, using just war to support public policy.

For that reason, I must retract my assessment from my previous post and I must state that the actions of the US in attacking Libya are, in fact, unjust.

This should have been my assessment from the beginning.


8 thoughts on “Update Concerning My Assessment of Libya and Just War

    • In order for the just war tradition to have any teeth, it has to be an all or nothing approach. A war/military action must meet all the criteria. Failing one, the war is deemed unjust and I must rightly label it as so.

  1. Pingback: Did I Help Craig Change His Mind On Libya? | Political Jesus

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  3. You say: legitimate authority is murky. You also express some reservations about last resort.

    Personally, I have more confidence in authority than usual because it is not our action alone but that in co-operation with the world community. Additionally, the assessment of last resort is a little less shakey because it is not we alone with our own council and no one else who has made decisions regarding this but a wider variety of persons, communities, etc. Lastly, though our President may not have sought the advice of the church (we do not know and probably will not know if he did or did not) we are engaged with other countries that have a potential to have consulted the church.

    Obviously, this is not a no-fail thing, but it seems to me we become closer to a just war when we are part of a wider discernment process that includes members of or, ideally, the whole of the world community.

    I am also not certain that it is proper to say something IS or IS NOT Just War in a black/white manner. I have never been pursuaded to think we can view it in this way because of the many factors involved in discernment. It appears to be degrees. However, I fully admit I could be entirely in error in this but I think the dager of the ‘check list’ becomes greater when we shift to yes/no thinking around the characteristics of a just war. Besides, we are only able to speak about Jus ad Bellum at this point so we are not ready to say it is A Just War and your assessment of murky-ness and shakey-ness may be even more warrented as we move forward.

    I am very glad to see you writing on this and it is my hope that you will continue to do so.

  4. Pingback: Is Libya a Just War? | Unsettled Christianity

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