“Moral factors cannot be ignored in war . . . Moral elements are among the most important in war,” wrote Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz. “Without just cause nothing that follows can be justified, even if it can be more and less virtuous,” writes ethicist Nigel Biggar in his book In Defence of War.
Almost unique among modern ethicists, the Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford University presents a forceful case against the pacifist “virus of wishful thinking.” He even contends, rather provocatively, that the 2003 Iraq invasion was justified. Biggar rejects “Hobbesian realism” and declares himself an adherent of “Augustinian realism,” drawing deeply on the Augustinian tradition of Just War.
There are times when war can be and indeed should be the moral response to grave wrongdoing. The most serious flaw in the West’s intervention in Syria’s civil and religious war (for that is what it is) is our lack of justification for the morality of going to war with Assad and sending American troops to Syria in the first place.