Conversation Corner
St. Francis of Assisi, Patron of Peace

Does the military action the U.S. is contemplating against Iraq meet the standards of a just war?


  

Date: 3/12/2003 9:18:36 PM
Name or Pseudonym: Dr. John
Subject: Clippings on the Pope’s Statements

Dear Rafferty,

I started searching around because I found your question quite intriguing. The analysis of the Pope’s political judgment regarding his position on the pending war on Iraq quite clearly shows that he does not seem to grasp the reality of the situation. Whether he has politically motivated subordinates or his many infirmities are the cause I do not know. Read the translation from an Italian newspaper below, and see if you find the reasoning presented to be straight out of an Escher painting:

"The clearest statement was made by John Paul II himself in his address of January 13, 1994 on the eve of the Prayer for Reconciliation in the Balkans: "The Apostolic See reiterates once again the principle of humanitarian intervention. In the first place, it must not be a military type intervention but rather a determination to ’disarm’ the aggressor. IN THE TEACHING OF THE CHURCH, EVERY FORM OF MILITARY AGGRESSION IS JUDGED AS MORALLY NEGATIVE. BUT, LEGITIMATE DEFENSE IS CONSIDERED ADMISSIBLE AND EVEN OBLIGATORY."
The ’Avvenire’ commentator said it is about intervention to rescue someone who is threatened in his physical and moral integrity, WHETHER YESTERDAY OR TODAY. "The use of force must be understood as the ’extrema ratio’ after every other avenue has been exhausted." And he wonders if all possible avenues of negotiation had been tapped in the case of the Gulf War of 91.
He also wonders how much time had to elapse before NATO decided to intervene in favor of martyred Sarajevo.
As regards the use of force, the Catholic daily makes a distinction: it is one thing to bomb a hill where there is a machine gun (Sarajevo) and quite another to do this over cities and villages inhabited by civilians
(Iraq). THE POPE’S CRY AGAINST THE WAR IS NOT CONNECTED TO CATHOLIC INTERESTS BUT, RATHER, TO "THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF MEN AND PEOPLES, IN BOSNIA AS WELL AS IN IRAQ."

(Emphasis mine. END OF EXCERPT)

Now what is striking to me here is the complete inconsistency of the stated position in the face of reality as opposed to the propaganda from Iraq about "women and children" being bombed by US warplanes. The first statement emphasized in the above excerpt has the Pope stating that ALL forms of military aggression are morally negative, followed by the statement that "legitimate defense" is actually obligatory. Anyone who knows anything about successful and short miltary operations knows full well that a "legitimate defense" is accomplished through the aggressive use of military force. You don’t defend yourself by putting daisies into the enemy’s gunbarrels.

The US is fighting a war against a country that has attacked us through the uncoventional use of terrorism as an act of war, and our elected leader who took an oath to God that he would protect and defend the US is convinced that our nation is at risk from future terrorist attacks from Iraq as well. The Pope is certainly free to wonder if all avenues of diplomacy were used prior to Desert Storm to resolve the situation peacefully, and I would be happy to provide His Holiness with the simple fact that Saddam had 6 months to watch the US build up a 600,000 soldier force which we clearly informed him would attack his forces if he did not remove them from Kuwait. Saddam did not pull his forces out, nor agree to surrender until he was in danger of losing all of his "elite" Republican Guard units. Saddam starting firing missiles into Israel, which had not attacked Iraq nor sent forces into the area - all in a cynical attempt to make Desert Storm into a muslim jihad. The Iraqi people suffer under this despicable dictator.

If His Holiness wonders in light reprimanding words why it took the UN so long to use military force in the Balkans, then how can he not now justify the use of military force in self-defense and to liberate the Iraqi people?

Thank you, Rafferty, for asking this question and leading me to search out on this issue. I am now infinitely reassured that His Holiness, though a very pious man, is making statements regarding political realities about which he does not seem to sufficiently grasp at this stage in his life. Though I remain loyal to the Pontiff within the framework of 2000 years of Catholic Doctrine, I am quite comfortable differing with him on his political positions.

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