Theologians condemn killing of Soleimani

Demonstrators protest outside the UN offices in Tehran after the killing of General Qasem Soleimani (CNS/Nazanin Tabatabaee, West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

Catholic moral theologians are among a group that has called the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani a violation of the just war tradition. Source: Crux.

By Christopher White, Crux.

“The drone killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on January 3 by the United States was not morally justified,” reads a statement released on Monday that was signed by more than 60 ethicists following the joint gatherings of the Society of Christian Ethics, the Society of Jewish Ethics, and the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics which met in Washington DC earlier this month.

“Although General Soleimani may have been responsible for the deaths of others previously, and while he was an ongoing source of violence, we remain unconvinced that there was no other reasonable way to restrain his activities,” the statement says.

Signatories note that while some believe that killing can never be morally justified and others believe that it can, “we all agree that the decision to kill is a grave one warranting rigorous scrutiny.”

The statement also calls out US President Donald Trump for his threat to target Iranian cultural sites if necessary, which would be in violation of international law.

“Disproportionate and indiscriminate uses of force are in direct violation of the international rule of law and the just-war criteria for the just conduct of armed force,” the statement continues.

It also highlights the deaths of 176 jet passengers accidentally struck down by Iran as “a reminder of the evils and unintended consequences accompanying war even when the military action undertaken toward US military bases was meant to be, as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated it, “proportionate” and “against legitimate targets.”

While both sides seem to have de-escalated tensions, the signees worried that it is “only a ‘negative peace,’ one unlikely to last.”

“In keeping with the traditional just-war criterion of right intent, we urge the US and Iran to turn their attention to diplomatic efforts toward aiming at and establishing a just peace,” the statement concludes.


Catholic theologians say Soleimani assassination violates ‘just war criteria’ (Crux

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