Does the 2003 Invasion of Iraq Qualify as a Just War? (worksheet)

A convoy of U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) arrives in Northern Iraq during a sandstorm, March 2003. CREDIT: Andrew P. Roufs, USMC (CC)

On March 20, 2003, the United States military, under the command of President George W. Bush, invaded Iraq along with a "coalition of the willing." In his address to the nation on the day before the invasion, Bush outlined his purpose for the war as such:

"Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly—yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.

Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. And I assure you, this will not be a campaign of half measures, and we will accept no outcome but victory."

In the attached worksheet, students can analyze what constitutes a "just war" and determine if the concept applies to George W. Bush's rationale for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The worksheet uses an excerpt from leading American political philosopher Michael Walzer's October 2004 talk at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs entitled "Arguing About War."