As Operation Odyssey Dawn gets underway, political leaders within the coalition continue to articulate their reasons for resorting to force. In so doing, each has invariably invoked the language of the just war tradition. On the eve of military action, President Obama proclaimed, ‘Our goal is focused, our cause is just, and our coalition is strong. ’ Similarly, in his remarks to the Commons on 20 March 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron argued that coalition forces had a ‘just cause’ to use force. When it comes to assessing prospective causes for resorting to arms, few could be more compelling than the protection of populations under threat of mass slaughter. It was on the basis of this pressing need to protect that …

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