Saddam Hussein

Is War Justified?

For 12 years, Saddam Hussein has mocked the United Nations and the world. Believing he is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and acting in concert with terrorists, U.S. and U.K. forces are massing on the borders of Iraq.

            As a consequence the morality of a pre-emptive strike has been in hot debate.  U.S. Catholic bishops oppose an attack unless Iraq can be linked to the September 11 terror strikes. One hundred Christian ethicists announced opposition; so did the general secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches. The new Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope John Paul II both expressed reservations.

            This issue is of particular concern to Christians. Historically, “a just war”  has been defined as responding to an attack.  Let us be clear God is not a pacifist. He battles with those who fight against Him and His followers. So, even though He hates war, God is not against it. Throughout the Old Testament, there are examples of God using warfare to carry out His plans, to punish the wicked and preserve His people (Deut. 9:4-6; Deut. 20; Jer. 5; Numbers 33:55-56). Again he slew every Egyptian first-born  on the night of the Passover (Exodus 12:12;29). He destroyed the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13-31; 15:1-18). He caused the earth to open up and swallow the Jews who rebelled against Moses (Numbers 16:20,21;23-35). Again he killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers who were attacking Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:32-35).

            In Romans 13 we find that government  is ordained by God with the responsibility to promote good and restrain evil. This includes wickedness that exists within the nation, as well as any wicked persons or countries that threaten it. Obviously, there are times when a country should not go to war; but there are also times when, if a nation does not do so, they suffer the consequences. Therefore, a government has biblical grounds to go to war in the nation’s defence or to liberate others in the world who are enslaved. The Westminster Confession of Faith states concerning the civil magistrate in Chapter 23, section 1 “they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions”.

            In the run up to World War II, many argued that Hitler should be appeased. European leaders engaged in extraordinary diplomatic efforts to avoid war. Had the allies had the weapons, would a pre-emptive strike against the Nazis have been justified before they overran Poland? In hindsight the answer is clear. Many lives would have been saved. 

            If Saddam Hussein were to prepare a missile for launch, the U.S. and U.K. would certainly be warranted in firing in self-defence. Giving a terrorist a dirty bomb to be delivered in a suitcase is no different, except for delivery time. The Lord asks in Psalm 94:16 “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?”. If Saddam Hussein is massing weapons of mass destruction and arming terrorists then the governments of the world have a responsibility to protect the innocent and defend the defenceless. To continue to play Saddam’s games is exceedingly dangerous.

            We also have a responsibility to pray for our leaders. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”  Let us therefore pray for our leaders and military that we might enjoy a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.