The U.S. is now involved in a third conflict in the Middle East, joining France, Italy, Canada, Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, and Denmark in military action to establish a no-fly zone in Libya. An Arab nation—Qatar—will soon join the military effort.
What makes for a “just” intervention?
“Just War” criteria were discussed in a recent interview on PBS with ethicist Shaun Casey of the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. Here are a few of the points Casey raised:
- Is there a “just cause”—a moral cause—for the intervention? A just cause would include war crimes, genocide, or other grave and serious injustices on a large scale.
- Who should authorize an intervention? Casey said that the UN Security Council would be the best kind of authority. Days after his remarks, the UN voted to authorize military intervention.
- Is there a reasonable chance of success? This involves the effectiveness of the actions to be taken and the capacity to undertake them. Critics of the no-fly zone that has been established say that it won’t stop Gaddafi’s efforts.
- Who should take military action? We now have the answer to this question—a coalition of forces.
- Casey also points out that not taking action when there is a just cause and we have the ability to act means “moral culpability as a result.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church imposes four strict conditions for a Just War. Two of these are covered in the excerpts of Casey’s comments that are available online. Two other conditions bear consideration:
- Did we exhaust all other means of ending the grave and serious injustices?
- And, is the cure worse than the affliction?
Today, please tell us in your Comments:
1.) Is this a “just” intervention?
2.) Do you support the intervention?
3.) What do you think of America’s involvement in it?
(Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.)