With ISIS beheading a second American journalist and controlling a large section of Iraq and Syria, analysts say military action against the terrorist group aligns with traditional just war principles.
“Full application of just war principles does not only warrant airstrikes but a far more vigorous level of engagement as well,” Daniel Heimbach, a seminary professor who was instrumental in developing the just war ethic for the 1991 Gulf War, told Baptist Press in written comments.
War with ISIS — the acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — has been discussed increasingly following ISIS videos showing the beheading of two American journalists — James Foley in an Aug. 19 video and Steve Sotloff on Sept. 2.
The U.S. has launched airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and is considering similar action in Syria.
Douglas Carver, executive director of chaplaincy at the North American Mission Board, agreed with Heimbach that there is just cause to wage war against ISIS.
Carver, former U.S. Army chief of chaplains who advised commanders and soldiers on the ethics of warfare as a chaplain, told BP that America has “a just reason and right to restore order to the chaos in the world.”
Eliminating this “evil cancer that seems to be growing” would serve a just cause, Carver said, referencing one of the priciples of just war theory.
“We have now had two of our journalists that have been beheaded. We have unrest and fear in southwest Asia like never before,” Carver said. “We have a lack of respect for humanity of all genders and all ages. We have this plague of terrorism that intends to destroy what we understand as a way of life.”
Traditionally, Judeo-Christian societies have deemed a war “just” if it satisfies a list of criteria drawn from the Bible and classical Greek and Roman tradition. Carver and Heimbach agreed that a war with ISIS would satisfy those criteria. Among the just war principles that a nation must consider before going to war:
— Just cause. There must be a specific act of injustice to be corrected.
— Competent authority. The decision to wage war should only be made by the person or governing body responsible for maintaining a nation’s civil order and security.
— Right intention. The intended result of going to war must be to restore a previous state of peace and civil order.
— Last resort. All realistic nonviolent alternatives must be exhausted before going to war.
–Probability of success. There must be a realistic hope of achieving victory.
— Proportionality of projected results. The good expected upon attaining victory must be greater than estimates of what it will cost to achieve victory.
Once a nation goes to war, just war theory demands that additional principles be followed amid the fighting to protect human dignity and minimize loss of life. Among those principles:
— Proportionality in the use of force. Force in war must be limited to what is required to attain legitimate military goals.
— Discrimination. Soldiers must distinguish between combatants and noncombatants and not seek to destroy noncombatants or their property.
— Right spirit. Soldiers should always regret using deadly force to harm people and property. They should love their enemies even while fighting.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press