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Robert George, invoking Elshtain, weighs just-war argument for Syrian intervention

September 06, 2013

In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, the prominent Catholic legal scholar Robert George asks whether bombing Syria could be justified by the criteria of just-war theory. He answers the question, curiously, not by giving his own ideas but by speculating on how the late Jean Bethke Elshtain might have responded.

Elshtain, George says, would "not have accepted the isolationist idea that the use of poison gas or other means to murder innocents is none of America's business. She recognized that a powerful and prosperous nation bears great moral responsibilities that transcend its borders," George argues. He adds that Elshtain would have emphasized the need to ensure "the likelihood of improving, and not worsening, the situation for the people of Syria," and to guard against disproportionate force and harm to the innocent.


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  • Posted by: FredC - Sep. 08, 2013 3:29 PM ET USA

    As was done with Milosevic, try or threaten to try Abbas as a war criminal, rather than further destroy the country. Bombing Syria fails the test of proportion. Little good will come of it. Much harm might.