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Reconciliation and Iraq: Faith-based Advice for the Next President.

Philpott, Daniel
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) The Review of Faith and International Affairs. 6(3):9-14.

Is peacebuilding, in Iraq or anywhere else, a problem from which religious ethics can provide guidance? Christian and Jewish ethicists in the U.S. had more to say about the justice of defeating Saddam Hussein than about the difficult aftermath. This was to be expected — after all, they had at their disposal the centuries old tradition of ‘just war.’ But what ethic should govern when the formal part of a war is over, yet armed factions continue to attack civilians, one another, and the American troops who are there to secure peace? What ethic should dictate action when the fighting fails to abate and when Congress and the American people exhibit wavering support for post war efforts? What we need is a jus post bellum, an ethic for building peace. The seeds for such an ethic lie in the though of Agustine and Aquinas, two major pioneers of the just war tradition, who each taught that a just peace is the purpose of a just war. But few have sought to develop carefully the ethics of war’s aftermath. I propose that such an ethic exists. It is rooted in the central message of Christianity and Judaism and also resonates with Islam. It also has a great deal to say about what the next president ought to do in Iraq. The ethic can be called reconciliation. (excerpt)


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