But was it just?: reflections on the morality of the Persian Gulf War

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Doubleday, Feb 1, 1992 - History - 132 pages
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President George Bush said yes; some bishops said no; even Doonesbury touched on the question.
But what does it mean, in any case, to say that a war is just? What are the yardsticks of justice that support President Bush's claim that it was just to reverse Iraq's invasion of Kuwait? And how does one evaluate the justness of stopping the war when the allies did? And what of our fierce bombing of the fleeing Iraqi troops on the road from Kuwait? The threat to Israel? The value of oil in weighing whether to fight or not?
But Was It Just? is an ethical primer in which the leading thinkers of our time on matters of war and peace take up these questions and more. In a style both popular and substantive, they explore the morality of the Gulf War in light of the centuries-old just war tradition; of political analysis; and of personal experience and conviction.
Michael Walzer, author of Just and Unjust Wars, makes the case for the war's justness, as does George Weigel, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Jean Bethke Elshtain, author of Women and War, explores the ambiguities of the war's morality and the role of women in it, while Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian philosopher, discusses the conflict from the vantage point of an Israeli jail. Stanley Hauerwas offers a Christian pacifist's response to the war. One appendix features a watershed editorial on the Gulf War and war in general by a Jesuit magazine that usually reflects the point of view of the pope. Another appendix features a chronology of the Gulf crisis, highlighting those events that have figured most in assessing the war's justness.
This is a book for citizens and students about one of the most significant episodes in recent American history. It is also a model of moral reasoning on questions sure to be with us again in the future.

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But was it just?: reflections on the morality of the Persian Gulf War

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As Johnson , a historian of the just war tradition, and Weigel discuss in Just War and the Gulf War , the relationship between justice and the just war theory developed during World War II, when ... Read full review


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About the author (1992)

Jean Bethke Elshtain is Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School. The most recent of her many books are Democracy on Trial, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1995, and Augustine and the Limits of Politics.