Reflections on Iraq V: Do the means justify the ends?

Let’s go back to the question of “Just or Unjust” in regard to the War in Iraq.  My initial response was that I could buy that the war is “just,” depending upon the conditions given, but that I don’t believe the standards given by the Bush Administration warrant Just War application.

The real question is whether the 1991 war was “just,” and I am still tabling that discussion for another time.  I tend to agree, barring further evidence I’m unaware of, that it was.

Nevertheless, here’s the question: can an action be unjustified by its motives?  Do the means justify the ends?

That is to say, can you do a good thing with a bad motive?

Here’s an example: Timothy McVeigh.  If the death penalty is only justified for societal self-defense and not for “revenge,” and you’ve got a criminal who could still pose a danger to society from prison, and it *would* be just to execute him, is the justice of the execution undone by the fact that it’s carried out in a bloodthirsty desire for revenge?

If the Crusades were just interventions to help the Christians suffering under Muslim tyranny, was their justice undermined by the unjust motivations of many crusaders?

Some have argued that Jesus’ admonition “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7) is not so much a renunciation of Old Testament recourse to capital punishmnet as another case of Jesus making the Law stricter, like with His explicit teachings on the Ten Commandments.

Were George W. Bush and his advisors using sound judgement in going to war aganist Iraq ? Even if the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was potentially justified, did they make a wise and just decision?

Or did the obvious motives of revenge negate the potential justice of the cause?  Further, what *were* Bush’s real motives?  Can we know?

2 responses to “Reflections on Iraq V: Do the means justify the ends?

  1. We can know… maybe not Bush personally, but the band of ideologues that ran his administration came from a think-tank called the Project for a New American Century.

    Iraq was a geo-political power grab, pure imperialism. The only reason it is called something else is because the world is now rightly horrified by imperialism and finds it unjustifiable.

  2. Thanks, Joe. I’ll look into them.

    But read on 🙂 I’m building a case here, examining each issue at a time.

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