Friday, December 31, 2004

Iraq -- Bringing in the New Year with a Prayer

We still dream of a democratic Iraq ruled by the law
And this is something we deserve…this is the land of the first law in history
I still find my home in Iraq… it's still the best place in the world in my eyes
I will not waste a minute listening to the pessimists
Instead, I will add a brick to the house we're building
And I will write a word….and pray

I will pray for the ones who fought for the Iraqi freedom
I will pray for the hundreds of thousands who won't spend the night with their families, staying awake on the front
line to keep me safe
I will pray for the ones who gave their lives for the sake of others' wellbeing
I will pray for those who went through all the pains
And never lost hope
I will pray for a free and democratic Iraq
I will pray for the world's peace

Happy New Year.

Mohammed, Iraq The Model

Monday, December 20, 2004

Neuhaus on 'Internationalisms' and 'Americanism'

In December's issue of First Things, Fr. Neuhaus has an excellent piece on Internationalisms, on "conflicting internationalisms" in public debate today -- from the old-fashioned isolationism perpetuated by Pat Buchanan and, to some degree, George Will; to the "Bush Doctrine"'s advancement of human freedom and end to totalitarian ideologies, as endorsed by the Weekly Standard and more importantly Norman Podhoretz's exemplary article "World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win"; to the "liberal internationalism of diminished sovereignty" popularized by Senator Kerry and those who percieve "the war on terror . . . as a defensive police action against criminal activities." Neuhaus concludes:

With few exceptions, we are all internationalists now. We have little choice in the matter. Jefferson worried whether our form of government could survive expansion on a continental scale. Now, by force of both intention and happenstance, our sphere of power and responsibility has expanded far beyond that. The liberal internationalism of diminished sovereignty is an abdication of responsibility and would be neither in our interest nor in the interest of world peace. The internationalism of global crusading for democracy is a delusion fraught with temptations to the hubris that has been the tragic undoing of men and nations throughout history. We should, rather, think of ours as an internationalism of circumstance, whose obligations we will not shirk. Our first obligation is to repair and keep in good repair our constitutional order and the cultural and moral order on which it depends. That we cannot do unless we are prepared to defend ourselves, not going abroad to seek monsters to destroy but also not fearing to resist and counter those who would destroy us.

An internationalism of circumstance, with its attendant duties, does not provide the thrilling drum rolls of the crusade or the glories of empire. Nor does it indulge dangerous dreams of escape into a new world order on the far side of national sovereignty. The world continues to be a world of politics among nations with, for better and worse, the United States as the preeminent nation for the foreseeable future. We cannot build nations, although we can at times provide encouragement and incentives for those determined to build their own. We cannot bestow democracy, but we can befriend those who aspire to democracy. We can build coalitions or act on our own for the relief of misery and the advancement of human rights, always having done the morally requisite calculation of our capacities and interests, and knowing that it is in our interest to be perceived as doing our duty. We can try to elicit, engage, and nurture constructive voices within Islam, recognizing that the Muslim future will be determined in largest part by those who seek to do what they believe to be God's will in relation to the infidel, which will always mean us. Above all, we can strive to be a people more worthy of moral emulation, which includes, by no means incidentally, our dependability in rewarding our friends and punishing those who insist upon being our enemies. Finally, given our circumstance of preeminence and the perduring force of envy and resentment in a sinful world, we need not flaunt our power. Whenever possible, we should act in concert with other sovereign nations, and especially other democracies. Often America will have to lead, and sometimes have to act alone. When we do, we should not expect to be thanked, never mind loved. We frequently will be, as in fact we frequently are, but that is to be deemed no more than a bonus for being and doing what we should.

See also "The Vatican vs. 'Americanism'", Neuhaus' review of John Allen's book All the Pope's Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks, by John Allen, Jr., and further reflections on the subject.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Did the Pope condemn the war on Iraq?

Did Pope John Paul II condemn the war on Iraq? -- It depends on who you ask. If you happen to be "liberal Catholic" blogger Jcecil3, then the answer is decidedly affirmative, according to his interpretation of the Holy Father's statement "NO TO WAR!" and his plea that "international law, honest dialogue, solidarity between States, the noble exercise of diplomacy" prevail in resolving differences with Iraq (Address to the Diplomatic Corps January 13, 2003).

Jcecil marshalls as well the criticism of Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, that unilateral war against Iraq, without the approval of the U.N. Security Council, would be a "crime against peace" ( Feb. 24, 2003), a charge reiterated by Archbishop Renato Martino, then President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who denounced the war as "a crime against peace that cries out vengeance before God." ( March 17, 2003).

Sean Gleeson begs to differ, however, and has recently joined Peter Robinson at The Corner in his challenge to anybody to email him an actual quote from the actual pope confirming his "outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq.":

The first one to send me any qualifying quote will win the coveted Gleeson Researcher of the Century Award, an honor so exclusive no one's ever earned it. Not only will I mention the winner on my site, I will spend an entire day doing nothing but mention the winner on my site. . . . Just one ground rule: the winning entry must be a quote from Pope John Paul II condemning the U.S. liberation of Iraq. That means,
  • Paraphrases don't coun't.
  • Quotes from persons other than John Paul II don't count.
  • Quotes by John Paul II that do not condemn the U.S. invasion of Iraq don't count.
  • Quotes expressing only a general regret of the existence of violence don't count.
  • Quotes expressing only a general hope, prayer, or wish for peace don't count.
  • Quotes simply urging "everyone" to please "outlaw war forever" don't count.

Mr. Geeson has recieved a few submissions, but none apparently have met his (perfectly reasonable criteria).

As Archbishop John Meyers has said in an op-ed to the Wall Street Journal ("Pro-choice candidates and church teaching" Sept. 17, 2004):

Consider, for example, the war in Iraq. Although Pope John Paul II pleaded for an alternative to the use of military force to meet the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, he did not bind the conscience of Catholics to agree with his judgment on the matter, nor did he say that it would be morally wrong for Catholic soldiers to participate in the war. In line with the teaching of the catechism on "just war," he recognized that a final judgment of prudence as to the necessity of military force rests with statesmen, not with ecclesiastical leaders. Catholics may, in good conscience, support the use of force in Iraq or oppose it.

If those who propose that the Pope's "outspoken opposition to the war" was tantamount to an authoritative coondemnation, we're still waiting on the Vatican to correct the misleading remarks of the Archbishop.

Related links:

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Commonweal vs. First Things - Round One(?)

The War in Iraq: How Catholic conservatives got it wrong, by Peter Dula. Commmonweal December 3, 2004 / Volume CXXXI, Number 21.

A Mennonite Central Commmittee worker in Amman and Baghdad challenges what he allegest to be the post-war "virtual silence" of First Things on Iraq between Summer 2003 and October 2004:

. . . . I remain an admirer of their work. Yet it is precisely as a theologian and a reader-and more broadly as a citizen-that I want answers to questions raised by the arguments Weigel and Neuhaus made in support of the preemptive war in Iraq. Those arguments were made in the public square that First Things, especially in light of last month’s presidential election, has done so much to open up to religious language. What I am most concerned with can be reduced to four points. First, Neuhaus and Weigel, like the administration they support, failed in the summer of 2003 to see that the war was far from over. Second, their faith in the competency of the Bush administration, and their contempt for religious leaders who disagreed with them, can now more easily be recognized for what it was: an attachment to a particular brand of neoconservatism overwhelming their attachment to the just-war tradition. Third, their scant attention to how the war was actually conducted (jus in bello), and their disdain for those who pushed questions about noncombatant deaths and proportionality, suggest the need for a reappraisal of the value they placed on the just causes (ad bellum) of the war. Finally, I would argue that their silence since the fall of Baghdad is more disturbing than their mistakes before and during "major combat operations." The issue is not only, or not simply, that they were wrong. Perhaps they think they were right. The issue, especially in light of President George W. Bush’s re-election, is their current "moral muteness in a time of war."

I'm expect that a response George Weigel and Fr. Neuhaus will be forthcoming and that Mr. Dula won't be waiting long. Meanwhile, the "commentariat" at Amy Welborn's blog Open Book is abuzz with responses from the left and right.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Radek Sikorski interviews Paul Wolfowitz

Interview with Paul Wolfowitz, by Radek Sikorski, former deputy minister of defence for Poland and director of the New Atlantic Initiative at the American Enterprise Institute. Prospect Magazine | November 23, 2004. A good discussion of U.S.-Iraqi affairs and the broader context of the war on terrorism.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

"Iraq The Model" celebrates one year anniversary.

Belated congratulations to Mohammed, Ali and Omar, of "Iraq The Model", celebrating their one year blogiversary this past Sunday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Steven Moore's "The Truth About Iraq"

The Truth About Iraq. A new website to counter the negativity of the mainstream media:

After working in Iraq for nine months doing focus groups and polling and advising Ambassador Bremer on Iraqi public opinion, Steven Moore returned to the United States in May 2003. Upon returning, he was astounded to find how sharply his experience in Iraq differed from that being communicated on television. Even more staggering, were some of the questions being asked by average Americans who genuinely consider themselves, well-informed:
  • Aren't we just shoving democracy down the throats of the Iraqis?
  • Are all the Iraqis rallying around the "freedom fighters" fighting the US forces?
  • Wouldn't things be going much better if we had gotten United Nations support?
  • Don't the Iraqis just want to be ruled by clerics?
These were questions asked by well-read, intelligent, middle of the road people. Having spent nine months living among Iraqis, working every single day to understand the Iraqi mindset, Moore believed he had unique insight into the Iraqi people.

In order to help Americans better understand the Iraqi people, Moore began speaking to groups around California and on a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. Though radio is an important medium, television still remains the most effective medium to reach the largest number of people in the shortest possible time.

A team comprised of experts with specific and relevant experience has now been created. Their expertise will ensure the successful achivement of the following goals:

  1. raise money to produce and air a 30 second television spot that reminds Americans that they can be proud of the good work being done in Iraq by the US and Coalition Forces, and
  2. spread the message via the Internet about this project.

With your help, America can be proud.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Norman Podhoretz's plea to "stay the course."

In "World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win", Commentary magazine editor Norman Podhoretz presents his reasons for why America must "stay the course" in its current war on terror, or what he prefers to label as "World War IV."

Surveying terrorist attacks on Americans from the 1970's to the present and the varying responses by the Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations, Podhoretz concludes:

In the end the commission agreed that no American President and no American policy could be held responsible in any degree for the aggression against the United States unleashed on 9/11.

Amen to that. For the plain truth is that the sole and entire responsibility rests with al Qaeda, along with the regimes that provided it with protection and support. Furthermore, to the extent that American passivity and inaction opened the door to 9/11, neither Democrats nor Republicans, and neither liberals nor conservatives, are in a position to derive any partisan or ideological advantage. The reason, quite simply, is that much the same methods for dealing with terrorism were employed by the administrations of both parties, stretching as far back as Richard Nixon in 1970 and proceeding through Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan (yes, Ronald Reagan), George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and right up to the pre-9/11 George W. Bush. . . .

The sheer audacity of what bin Laden went on to do on September 11 was unquestionably a product of his contempt for American power. Our persistent refusal for so long to use that power against him and his terrorist brethren -- or to do so effectively whenever we tried -- reinforced his conviction that we were a nation on the way down, destined to be defeated by the resurgence of the same Islamic militancy that had once conquered and converted large parts of the world by the sword.

Podhoretz drives home the point that, from 1970-present, an ineffectual policy on terrorism marked by the continued reluctance of the U.S. to use military force cultivated the impression that the U.S. was weak and impotent, and emboldened Osama Bin Ladin and other militant Islamic fundamentalists in their ongoing war against Western civilization.

Podhoretz then presents with great clarity the four pillars of "The Bush Doctrine," marking a distinct change in U.S. foreign policy initially launched with President Bush's speech to Congress on September 20, 2001:

  1. A distinctly moral attitude, as opposed to the morally-neutral "realism" of times past. According to President Bush himself:

    Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong. I disagree. Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities. Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place. . . . We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name.

  2. A new understanding of terrorism as motivated by political oppression rather than the product of economic factors, perpetrated not by individual psychotics but agents of terrorist organizations that were dependant on government sponsorship for their survival.

    "No longer would we treat the members of these groups as criminals to be arrested by the police, read their Miranda rights, and brought to trial. From now on, they were to be regarded as the irregular troops of a military alliance at war with the United States, and indeed the civilized world as a whole."

  3. The assertion of the right to premption and to "pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism" -- as opposed to policies of deterrence, containment, or retaliation. (With respect to this website, it is on this particular point that the guidelines of Catholic Just War theory would be focused).

  4. The repositioning of the Israel-Palestine issue (and the question of a Palestinian state) in the broader context of the war on terrorism. Citing President Bush:

    "Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure."

    In so doing, calling Palestinians, and Muslims everywhere, to a position of moral responsibility by renouncing support of terrorist organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah.

Podhoretz follows this with a critical examination of the many varieties of anti-Americanism at home and abroad, citing numerous examples from the press, academia and publishing worlds engaging in what he dubs the "anti-American olympics". Here he makes the observation that "the hatred of Israel was in large part a surrogate for anti-Americanism, rather than the reverse. Israel was seen as the spearhead of the American drive for domination over the Middle East").

Finally, he reviews and rebuts some of the arguments against the establishment of democracy in the Middle East (by Fareed Zakaria, for instance), the charges that the Bush administration "misled" Congress on the war in Iraq (as made by Senator Kerry' Democratic campaign and Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911). He issues a plea to the Democrats specifically not to abandon the policies of our current president in the event that Kerry should win the election in November:

If John Kerry should become our next President, and he may, it would be a great calamity if he were to abandon the Bush Doctrine in favor of the law-enforcement approach through which we dealt so ineffectually with terrorism before 9/11, while leaving the rest to those weakest of reeds, the UN and the Europeans. No matter how he might dress up such a shift, it would -- rightly -- be interpreted by our enemies as a craven retreat, and dire consequences would ensue. Once again the despotisms of the Middle East would feel free to offer sanctuary and launching pads to Islamic terrorists; once again these terrorists would have the confidence to attack us—and this time on an infinitely greater scale than before.

If, however, the victorious Democrats were quietly to recognize that our salvation will come neither from the Europeans nor from the UN, and if they were to accept that the Bush Doctrine represents the only adequate response to the great threat that was literally brought home to us on 9/11, then our enemies would no longer be emboldened -- certainly not to the extent they have recently been -- by "our national discord over the war."

A very good and highly educational article, and worth taking the time to read.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Archbishop John Meyers on Catholic disagreement w/ the war

In an editorial for the Wall Street Journal ("A Voter's Guide: Pro-choice candidates and church teaching", Sept. 17, 2004), Archbishop John Myers of Newark, NJ addressed issues of proportionality and voting for pro-abortion candidates. He also briefly addressed -- and challenged -- the arguments put forth by those who contend that the Catholic Church had authoritavely condemned the war in Iraq as immoral and saw opposition to the war as sufficient grounds for voting for a candidate who stood clearly at odds with Church teaching on abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, same-sex marriage, and other "non-negotiable" issues:

. . . Certainly policies on welfare, national security, the war in Iraq, Social Security or taxes, taken singly or in any combination, do not provide a proportionate reason to vote for a pro-abortion candidate.

Consider, for example, the war in Iraq. Although Pope John Paul II pleaded for an alternative to the use of military force to meet the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, he did not bind the conscience of Catholics to agree with his judgment on the matter, nor did he say that it would be morally wrong for Catholic soldiers to participate in the war. In line with the teaching of the catechism on "just war," he recognized that a final judgment of prudence as to the necessity of military force rests with statesmen, not with ecclesiastical leaders. Catholics may, in good conscience, support the use of force in Iraq or oppose it.

Abortion and embryo-destructive research are different. They are intrinsic and grave evils; no Catholic may legitimately support them. In the context of contemporary American social life, abortion and embryo-destructive research are disproportionate evils. They are the gravest human rights abuses of our domestic politics and what slavery was to the time of Lincoln. Catholics are called by the Gospel of Life to protect the victims of these human rights abuses. They may not legitimately abandon the victims by supporting those who would further their victimization.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Karl Keating on Just War and Nagasaki

Marking the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki on August 9th, Catholic apologist Karl Keating discusses the bombing in light of Catholic just war principles in his latest e-letter, with a stern warning to "anything goes" conservatives:

. . . what concerns me is the attitude, so prevalent among political conservatives (most of whom are religious conservatives), that there are no limits in defensive warfare: If the other guys started the fight, they deserve whatever they get. In a defensive war it is not a matter of "My country right or wrong" but of "My country can do no wrong," which is an odd thing coming from conservatives who, on domestic matters, can be highly critical of their government's moral failings (as regards abortion or homosexuality, say).

Catholic moral principles are easy to apply to other people, difficult to apply to ourselves. This is as true in public life as in private life. During World War II our enemies did atrocious things on the battlefield, to conquered nations, and even to their own people. Many of these evils we knew about during the war; others came to light only after the cessation of hostilities.

Even those evils we knew about during the war were so prevalent and so gross that, to many, it seemed permissible, for the duration, to lay aside a principle that we insisted be followed by our enemies: The end does not justify the means.

Rephrase that in Catholic terms: To achieve a good, you may not perform a sin. To provide your family financial security, you may not rob a bank. To protect your wife's health, you may not abort the child she is carrying. And to defeat an enemy in war, you may not violate just war principles. But we did--and more than once, sad to say.

The atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, like the fire bombings of Dresden and other German cities, cannot be squared with Catholic moral principles because the bombings deliberately targeted non-combatants. The evil done by our enemies did not exonerate us from the moral law. Their evils did not provide us justification for evils of our own. Being a Christian in peacetime is difficult; it is more difficult, but even more necessary, in wartime.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Tri-Coastal Commission

The blog Tri-Coastal Commission ("Three Guys. Three Coasts. A Conspiracy of Noise") discusses just war theory in light of a re-reading of George Weigel's many essays on the topic.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Iraqis say goodbye to CPA head Paul Bremer

Last week the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority handed over power to the free nation of Iraq. From what is being reported by Iraqi blogs, Paul Bremer gave an incredible speech on the day the U.S. transferred sovereignty to Iraq, which stirred many a soul and moved many of those who heard it to tears. It went unreported by the mainstream press -- no doubt because it didn't involve Iraqi insurgents and the loss of American lives. Writing for "Iraq The Model", Mohammed expresses thanks to Bremer on behalf of the Iraqi people, and, later, discusses the negligent coverage of the U.S. press. Ali, another Iraqi blogger, posts his thoughts:

The speech was impressive and you could hear the sound of a needle if one had dropped it at that time. The most sensational moment was the end of the speech when Mr. Bremer used a famous Arab emotional poem. The poem was for a famous Arab poet who said it while leaving Baghdad. Al-Jazeera had put an interpreter who tried to translate even the Arabic poem which Mr. Bremer was telling in a fair Arabic! "Let this damned interpreter shut up. We want to hear what the man is saying" One of my colloquies shouted. The scene was very touching that the guy sitting next to me (who used to sympathize with Muqtada) said "He's going to make me cry!"

Then he finished his speech by saying in Arabic,"A'ash Al-Iraq, A'ash Al-Iraq, A'ash Al-Iraq"! (Long live Iraq, Long live Iraq, long live Iraq).

I was deeply moved by this great man's words but I couldn't prevent myself from watching the effect of his words on my friends who some of them were anti-Americans and some were skeptic, although some of them have always shared my optimism. I found that they were touched even more deeply than I was. I turned to one friend who was a committed She'at and who distrusted America all the way. He looked as if he was bewitched, and I asked him, "So, what do you think of this man? Do you still consider him an invader?" My friend smiled, still touched and said, "Absolutely not! He brought tears to my eyes. God bless him."

Another friend approached me. This one was not religious but he was one of the conspiracy theory believers. He put his hands on my shoulders and said smiling, "I must admit that I'm beginning to believe in what you've been telling us for months and I'm beginning to have faith in America. I never thought that they will hand us sovereignty in time. These people have shown that they keep their promises."

Dr. Foad Ajami (author of the excellent Dream Palaces of the Arabs), writes of the transfer of power, and responsibility:

America is not to stay long in Iraq. No scheme is being hatched for the subjugation of Iraq's people. No giant American air bases on their soil are in the offing. In their modern history, Iraqis witnessed direct British control over their country (from 1921 to 1932), followed by a quarter-century of a subtle British role in their politics, hidden behind a façade of national independence. Ours is a different world, and this new "imperium" is the imperium of a truly reluctant Western power.

What shall stick of America's truth on the soil of Iraq is an open, unknowable question. But the leaders who waged this war--those "architects" of it who have been thrown on the defensive by its difficulties and surprises--should be forgiven the sense that things broke their way during that five-minute surprise ceremony yesterday morning. They haven't created a "new" Iraq, and sure enough, they have not tackled the malignancies of the Arab world which lay at the roots, and the very origins, of this war. America isn't acquitted yet of its burdens in Mesopotamia. Our heartbreaking losses are a daily affair, and our soldiers there remain in harm's way.

But we now stay under new terms--a power that vacated sovereignty 48 hours ahead of schedule, and an Iraqi population that can glimpse, just a horizon away, the possibility of a society free from both native tyranny and foreign control. There is nervousness in Iraq: the nervousness of a people soon to be put to the test by the promise--and the hazards--of freedom.

["Iraq's New History" Wall Street Journal June 29, 2004]

Related Links & Updates:

  • "Blogging the watchdogs", by John Leo. U.S. News and World Report July 19, 2004. Mr. Leo covers the lapses (and deliberate maliciousness) of the mainstream press:

    The Washington Post said Bremer left without giving a talk. The Los Angeles Times did worse. It missed the speech, then insulted Bremer for not giving it. A July 4 Times "news analysis" said: "L. Paul Bremer III, the civilian administrator for Iraq, left without even giving a final speech to the country--almost as if he were afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year." This is a good one-sentence example of what readers object to in much Iraq reporting--dubious or wrong information combined with a heavy load of attitude from the reporter.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

George Weigel on "Abu Ghraib and Just War"

It's worth remembering, in this context, that the first reckoning with what went desperately wrong at Abu Ghraib prison came, not because of 60 Minutes or other organs of investigative journalism, but from within the U.S. Army itself, which launched a criminal investigation of the situation on January 14, the day after Spc. Joseph Darby reported the abuse to military investigators. This empirically confirms an impression that I've been forming for years: that the just war tradition is taken far more seriously in the U.S. armed forces than in other sectors of our society, including many of our religious institutions. . . .

Thus, today, no one knows the stain on military honor that Abu Ghraib represents better than the officers and enlisted personnel who believe they came to Iraq to liberate its people from a vicious dictatorship in which murder, rape, and torture were normal instruments of state policy, not aberrations.

Some have been using Abu Ghraib to turn the Iraq debate into another round in the increasingly ugly American culture war; others have been trying to turn this sordid business to partisan advantage. But Abu Ghraib cannot be addressed as if it were primarily a domestic political problem. The ius ad pacem — the right intention — that was a significant part of the just war case for deposing the Saddam Hussein regime demands that swift and sure justice be meted out to those who have disgraced the uniform of the United States. That, in turn, will help advance the cause of a free, stable, pluralistic, and self-governing Iraq.

George Weigel, Abu Ghraib and Just War July 3, 2004.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Iraqi Catholic perspectives on the war

Jimmy Akin is writing about Iraqi Catholics and the U.S.-Iraqi conflict. Says Mr. Akin: "I have an unusual amount of data on the Iraqi Catholic perspective . . . as I was one of two Americans in a class of thirty-something Iraqi Catholics during the run-up to and prosecution of the war."

Friday, June 18, 2004

Fr. Frank Pavone sounds off . . .

. . . on "Catholics, Abortion and the Iraq War: A Pro-Life Priest's View":

This column requires extra effort to explain what it is not. It is not an evaluation of the war in Iraq or of any national leaders. It is, however, an observation, on the level of moral principle, about the relationship between abortion, war, and being pro-life.


The debate over the morality of the Iraq war in light of the Catholic Just War tradition will continue; however, let us hope Fr. Pavone has by his column quelled those who would insist: "You are not pro-life because you support the war."

"Kindler, Gentler" Warfare

Catholic Apologist James Akin is blogging on the prospects of "Kindler, Gentler Warfare" made possible by the development of "nonlethal" weapons, over at his blog.

Monday, May 31, 2004

George Weigel Expounds on Role of U.N., Just War

George Weigel was one of the featured speakers and organizers of a conference last month on "Catholic Thought and World Politics in the 21st Century", which was held on May 7th at the Gregorian University. On May 27th, Zenit News Service published an interview with George Weigel in which he expounded on his criticisms of the U.N. as well as his views on just war tradition.

  • On the United Nations:

    "Blessed John XXIII made clear that he was not supporting "world government," or international structures that would impinge on the legitimate prerogatives of national governments or local governments.

    So, from a Catholic point of view, this is a both/and, not either/or, matter. Both the U.N. and sovereign states are facts of international public life, and Catholic international relations theory has to take account of both.

    On the question of the U.N.'s authority, and as I indicated in my paper at the April conference, it would be hard to say that, as a matter of fact, the world's nations have agreed that the only entity that can authorize the use of armed force is the U.N. . . . On the other hand, the nations of the world are obliged, morally, to build a world of "order," which is Augustine's understanding of the meaning of "peace," and that has to be done, politically at least, through transnational and international organizations.

    Work to reform the U.N. system is thus a moral and political imperative. But while that work goes on, it doesn't make much sense to me, from a moral-theological or political point of view, to ascribe to the U.N. capacities it doesn't have and a moral authority it has rarely demonstrated in practice.

  • On the "presumption against war" [asserted by Cardinal Stafford and others]:

    Of course Catholic thinking about war and peace begins with a "presumption against war," if by that we simply mean that war should not be the first recourse in an international conflict.

    But those who use that phrase today often mean much more. They mean that the use of proportionate and discriminate armed force is always morally suspect, and this has not been the stance of the Catholic just war tradition for 1,500 years.

    The classic tradition believed that the morality of the use of armed force depended on who was using it, why, to what ends, and how. Thus the classic just war tradition begins with a presumption in favor of justice: legitimate sovereign authority has the moral obligations to defend those for whom the public authorities have assumed responsibility.

    There are many ways to fulfill that obligation; in certain circumstances, proportionate and discriminate armed force can be one of those ways.

    If you begin your analysis this way, with the responsibility of sovereign authority to advance the peace of order, you can bring the full riches of the tradition to bear on the situation; if you begin somewhere else, you can get confused. And your vision can become blurred.

  • On the Vatican's response to the war in Iraq, and to future military engagements:

    It would be inappropriate for the Vatican's secretary for relations with states -- the "foreign minister" -- or officials like the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to announce, publicly, and in so many words, "These are the good guys, these are the bad guys; good guys, go to it, and God bless you." The diplomats of the Holy See should press for non-military solutions; that's their job.

    Similarly, the moral witness of Pope John Paul II has been directed, appropriately, toward pressing the nations to resolve their conflicts without violence. We can be sure that future popes will do the same thing.

    That witness and that diplomacy should be conducted in such a way that it does not suggest that the Church has, as a matter of moral principle, adopted a stance of "functional pacifism," which it has not.

    How to do that is a delicate matter that requires, among other things, careful coordination of statements from all the organs of the Holy See. It also requires a measure of self-discipline on the part of senior churchmen in Rome.

    American and other reporters falsely assume that every senior official of the Holy See speaks "for the Vatican." They don't. In this kind of media environment, senior churchmen have to be very careful to let the Holy See speak in its own voice, through its own appropriate organs.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Cardinal Stafford responds to Weigel

Zenit News Service recently interviewed Cardinal James Francis Stafford, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a tribunal of the Holy See, and a former archbishop of Denver. Cardinal Stafford responded to several questions -- Is there a presumption against war in Catholic teaching? What does the Pope mean when he speaks of humanitarian intervention? What is the Holy See's position on the United Nations, an organization that not infrequently opposes Catholic teaching? -- and addressed the criticisms of scholars James Turner Johnson and George Weigel (most recently in "World Order: What Catholics Forgot" First Things 143 May 2004: 31-38).

Questioning what he calls the "functional pacifism" characterizing recent statements by the Vatican curia, Weigel asked: "what is one to do with John Paul II's insistence on a 'duty' of 'humanitarian intervention' which would presumably include the use of proportionate and discriminate armed force, in cases of impending or actual genocide?"

Cardinal Stafford responds to Weigel by asserting that the Pope spoke first not of humanitarian intervention but of humanitarian assistance, and specifically in the context of "armed conflicts taking place within states," rooted in "long-standing historical motives of an ethnic, tribal or religious character," and which, because of their use of small-caliber weapons, "often have grave consequences which spill over the borders of the country in question, involving outside interests and responsibilities."

"In the first place, the Pope speaks of humanitarian aid," Cardinal Stafford continued. "He described this as 'the pre-eminent value of humanitarian law and the consequent duty to guarantee the right to humanitarian aid to suffering civilians and refugees.' He then insists on the greatest importance of continued negotiation in such conflicts.

"Then the Pope speaks of humanitarian intervention. He says, 'When a civilian population risks being overcome by the attacks of an unjust aggressor and political efforts and non-violent defense prove to be of no avail, it is legitimate and even obligatory to take concrete measures to disarm the aggressor.'"

"So the context of humanitarian intervention is: How does one get aid to people who are being oppressed by internal conflict within a given state?" noted the cardinal. "George Weigel's interpretation of the Pope's teaching on humanitarian intervention is excessively abbreviated and even misleading in what he omits."

"Weigel says that he presumes that such intervention would 'include the use of proportionate and discriminate armed force in cases of impending and actual genocide,'" Cardinal Stafford said.

"I find it curious that he makes no mention of the Pope's immediate qualifiers regarding the decision for 'humanitarian intervention,' which are severe and specific," he added. "'These measures must be limited in time and precise in their aims. They must be carried out in full respect for international law, guaranteed by an authority that is internationally recognized and in any event never left to the outcome of armed conflict alone.'"

The cardinal continued: "The chief qualifier is that, 'the fullest and best use must therefore be made of all the provisions of the United Nations Charter.' That's important, the qualifiers that are not mentioned either by Weigel or Turner; that is, you must have respect for international law, you must involve the internationally recognized organization."

As we noted earlier, Weigel and Johnson have both questioned the contension that Catholic teaching contains a "presumption against war" as contrary to classical Catholic just war teaching. According to Cardinal Stafford, the U.S. Catholic Bishop's novel assertion of a "presumption against war" coincides with the Pope's teaching in his message on World Peace Day 2000:

'War is a defeat for humanity. Only in peace and through peace can respect for human dignity and its inalienable rights be guaranteed. Against the backdrop of war in the 20th century, humanity's honor has been preserved by those who have spoken and worked on behalf of peace. ... Those who have built their lives on the value of non-violence have given us luminous and prophetic examples.'"

"It should be noted," Cardinal Stafford said, "that the Pope explicitly places his emphatic choice of peace against the background of 20th-century total warfare, not the tribal conflicts of fifth-century North Africa where the first enunciation of the just war criteria were developed by St. Augustine. I think that one should look at the bishops' statement in light of the Pope's abhorrence for war and when he says it is a defeat for mankind.

"The Pope himself is building upon the experience of the 20th century and modifying, as he perceives it, the just war criteria. Augustine says nowhere as clearly as the Pope does, 'War is a defeat for humanity.'"

". . . It doesn't lead to functional pacifism but it is leading to a presumption against preventive war," Cardinal Stafford said. "The Pope is saying that we must exhaust every possible means including the U.N. before this presumption is able to be overcome. I don't think that's being emphasized by neoconservative arguments."

Personally, I think that 'neocons' Weigel, Novak, Johnson, et al. might contend that "every possible means" had in fact been exhausted at that point -- the various U.N. resolutions against Iraq; the weapons inspections that could be easily thwarted; the economic sanctions (which in themselves were having a detrimental effect and could be justifiably criticized as immoral for "punishing the people" for the crimes of their tyrant).

Furthermore, the increasing evidence of corruption in the administration of the "Oil-for-food" program implicating not only members of the United Nations but two nations of the Security Council (France and Russia) has, in my opnion, cast some doubt on the United Nation's in facilitating "every possible means" in averting a conflict with Saddam Hussein. As the author of Friends of Saddam, a blog which has been chronicling the "Oil-For-Food" scandal, explains:

It is not just about which bureaucrat had his hand in the till. Nor is it just about which company slipped a dictator a few (or many) bucks. It is about the UN and its legitimacy. During the run-up to the Iraq war, George Bush's opponents accused him of many misdeeds. Chief among them was "going to war without the UN." But if, the UN was, in fact, Saddam's enabler, if the UN Secretariat was effectively on Saddam's payroll, if important people in major antiwar countries were likewise beholden to the Iraqi regime, then that casts a wholly different light on "unilateralism."

And that is precisely why so many people, on both sides of the global debate, weigh in strongly on the Oil-for-Food scandal.

Stafford then responds to the contention that the United Nations is an inefficient organization, incapable of carrying out its mandates and, worse, supportive of policies that directly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church. Stafford admitted that he, too, was "discomforted" by the U.N.'s endorsement of policies contrary to Catholic moral teaching, nevertheless:

"The Pope in various World Youth Day messages emphasized the importance not simply of relying upon the U.N. as it exists now, but of a further enhancement of its peacemaking capacities," the cardinal said. "As a matter of fact, we are living in a world in which the only pre-eminent, internationally recognized authority is the U.N.

"I'm convinced that the Holy See must critically discern the role of non-governmental organizations which are very strong activists for the anti-family, anti-life, anti-conception, pro-abortion positions and pro-gay positions that the U.N. has adopted or is seen to be moving towards. But that is a different tract and I think there are important allies that transcend cultures, including Islamic nations, that the Holy See and Catholic and Christian peoples throughout the world can rely upon regarding these issues."

"We're living in a very ambiguous moral situation in which both the wheat and the tares are growing together and you know what Jesus said about that: Let them grow together," said Cardinal Stafford.

"How long does one tolerate that?" he asked. "The time has not yet come to say that we must jettison the Church's support of the U.N. based upon the immoral positions they're taking on family, marriage and life issues."

I found Cardinal Stafford's last response especially disappointing -- and actually, I believe set up a straw man, as it were, by neglecting to provide in greater detail Weigel's complete criticism of the U.N. and the role of the Security Council as sole arbiter of justified force:

Since 1945, 126 out of 189 UN member states have been involved in 291 armed conflicts in which some twenty-two million people have been killed. Given this record, it is difficult to argue that the “international community” has agreed in practice to be bound by the UN Charter and its rules on the use of force. It is even more difficult to argue that the “international community” has ceded an effective monopoly on the use of force to those actions sanctioned by the Security Council. Perhaps it should; perhaps it someday will. But to assert as a matter of fact that this transfer of authority has taken place seems counterfactual today.

. . . the present structure of the Security Council is thoroughly unrealistic. Granting veto power on the Security Council to five states -- China, France, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States -- does not reflect the realities of contemporary world politics, but rather a set of political accommodations reached for various reasons at the end of the Second World War. The rotation of the other nine Security Council seats takes place through a process which, again, does not reflect the realities of power. These structural problems themselves should raise questions about the moral standing of the Security Council and the claim that it alone is the locus of moral authority over the use of armed force in world politics.

If we probe a little deeper, other problems emerge as well. How, for example, is moral legitimacy conferred by the Security Council when three of its permanent members -- China, France, and Russia -- formulate their foreign policies on explicitly realpolitik grounds that have little or nothing to do with moral reasoning about world politics as the Catholic Church understands it? Can an amoral calculus yield a morally determinative result? If so, it remains to be shown how.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Weigel's call for the revitalization of "Catholic international relations"

The May 2004 issue of First Things has an excellent article by George Weigel -- "World Order: What Catholics Forgot" -- in which he contends that "the difficult period [between the United States and the Vatican during the Iraq war] was itself a by-product of a forty-year 'time of forgetting' -- a forgetting of the distinctive way Catholics have thought about world politics for centuries." It's a lengthy article, and worth reading in full if you have the time, but I'll attempt to summarize its key points. 1

Weigel describes Catholic international relations theory as forged by Augustine & Aquinas, refined by s Francisco de Vitoria and Francisco Suárez in the Counter-Reformation, and further developed during the pontificates of Pius XII and John XXIII. This Catholic "tradition of moral realism" was marked by three key insights:

  1. The insistence that politics is an area of rationality and moral responsibility -- precisely because politics is a human activity, and moral judgement a defining characteristic of the human person. Furthermore, says Weigel, this recognition was grounded in the Catholic theological conviction that: "mankind is not "totally depraved," as some Reformation traditions taught; that society is a natural reality; that governance has a positive, not merely punitive or coercive, function; that political community is a good in its own right, an expression of the sociability that is part of the God-given texture of the human condition."
  2. The classical understanding of power as "the capacity to achieve a corporate purpose for the common good") -- that is to say, politics cannot be "reduced, or traduced, to violence"; nor is politics the antinomy of peace; rather, politics has a positive dimension, its proper exercise a form of human creativity:
    The Catholic question was never, should power be exercised? Rather, the Catholic question was, how is power to be exercised? To what ends, by what authority, through what means? Power, in this understanding, is not the antinomy of peace (which is one of the goods to be sought by public authority); power, rightly understood, is a means to the achievement of the good of peace.
  3. A distinctive understanding of peace -- not the peace of the human individual achieved by a right relationship with God, nor "the eschatalogical peace of a conflict-free world," but rather the peace of political community, "in which order, law, freedom, and just structures of governance advance the common good."
Catholic international relations theory stressed international legal and political institutions as a remedy for the threat of modern war and as the natural evolution of human political development -- the highlight of which was John XXIII's 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris. Unfortunately, charges Weigel, this distinctively Catholic "international relations theory" has not had significant influence among Catholic moral theologians and international relations specialists since the mid 1960's. This neglect of Catholic international relations theory is particularly regretful given two developments in the Church's involvement with world politics during John Paul II's pontificate which "call for a development of Catholic international relations theory -- and precisely at the level of theory.

The first development is John Paul II's insistence that human rights are the moral core of the "universal common good" and that religious freedom is the first human right to which institutions of international public life must attend. This is "a function of the Pope's teaching that all thinking about society, even international society, must begin with an adequate philosophical anthropology, which recognizes in the human quest for transcendent truth and love the defining characteristic of our humanity."

The second is "the emergence of the Papacy as a global moral witness, with real effect within and among nation-states." Weigel cites several examples, such as the Pope's role in the collapse of European communism 2; the Pope's support for democratic movements in the Phillipines and Latin American nations; and the Vatican's role in organizing effective international opposition to the Clinton Administration's efforts to have abortion-on-demand declared a fundamental human right in the 1994 Cairo World Conference on Population and Development.

Weigel sees a tension in the fact that the Pope carries his moral witness directly to the people (of individual states or the world in general), in many cases circumventing governments or relevant international organizations, while the various congregations of the Holy See continues diplomatic relations through normal channels ("of bilateral relations and multilateral institutions"). This tension was made explicit in the Church's role in the debate over the U.S. war with Iraq:

John Paul II has been a moral witness speaking truth to power in world politics; his diplomatic representatives, by definition, must be "players" according to the established rules of the game. Sometimes those roles can get confused. Some would argue that this happened during the debate prior to the recent Iraq War, when the prudential judgments of Vatican diplomats and agency heads were often reported (and perceived) as if they were decisive moral judgments by the man the world has come to recognize as its foremost moral authority -- Pope John Paul II. Then there is the question of how the Holy See, which is not a state, is to function in international fora in which every other actor of consequence is a state. How is it possible for the Holy See to function like a state without being a state and without damaging the Catholic Church's moral witness? To take one pressing issue here: Can the Holy See, without damaging the moral witness of the Catholic Church, form practical alliances for purposes of defending the family and the inalienable right to life with Muslim states whose policy and practice deny what the Catholic Church claims is the moral core of the universal common good -- religious freedom?
Weigel does not believe this ambiguity and tension can be resolved -- more importantly, "nor should it be prematurely resolved in either direction (i.e., by muting the moral witness of the Office of Peter, or by the Holy See's withdrawal from bilateral and multilateral diplomacy)." In the face of utiliatarianism ("the default position in international politics"), the Church must continue to assert the dignity of the human person. In the face of militant Islamic fundamentalism, the Church must demonstrate that religion is not necessarily violent or aggressive. If this comes at a cost of ambiguity and tension, says Weigel, so be it.

That said, Weigel believes we must "reconvene a conversation that has lapsed for almost forty years", developing Catholic international relations theory to counter "realpolitik that has corrupted Western European thinking about world politics." This development must address the current realities of international public life:

  • "[T]he emergence of a plethora of international legal, political, and economic institutions, and the impact of nonstate actors on world affairs" -- ranging from global financial instutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to the pervasive threat of transnational terrorist organizations and criminal cartels.
  • "[T]he enduring reality of the nation-state system [which remains] the basic organizing unit of world politics"
  • The failure of the UN to adequately address "the new reality of aggressive nonstate actors (including terrorist organizations) and with the often-lethal reality of what are sometimes called 'failed states' or 'collapsing states'." Here Weigel cites a litany of post-Cold War crises:
    "the Rwandan genocide, the collapse of Yugoslavia, the hijacking of Afghanistan by the Taliban, widespread famine in sub-Saharan Africa, the African AIDS pandemic, and the spread of SARS from China. Catholic international relations theory must, in other words, face squarely the moral and political failures of a UN system in which Libya can become chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission, in which Saddam Hussein's Iraq can be slated to chair a major international meeting on disarmament, in which the Security Council has become dysfunctional because its structure and procedures are incongruent with the realities it must address, and in which UN peacekeeping operations (as in Kosovo) too often serve to create new dependencies rather than functioning civil societies.
  • "[T]he antidemocratic (and often anti-Catholic) bias in regional associations such as the European Union" -- which Weigel touched on in a previous article "Europe's Problem, And Ours" (First Things 140 (February 2004): 18-25)
  • "A new and dangerous form of judicial activism in international legal institutions", in which "international courts or national courts claiming international jurisdiction have imitated activist U.S. appellate courts and have become vigorous contestants in an international culture war over such issues as the family, abortion, and human sexuality"
Reading these "signs of the times," Weigel concludes by presenting four priorities for the intellectual development of Catholic international relations theory:
  1. Catholic international relations theory must take into account the relationship between "hard power" and "soft power," and between the rule of law and the use of armed force, in international public life.

    Refering to the terminology of Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye, Weigel calls for better familiarization with the relationship of "hard power" and "soft power,"in the pursuit of an ordered peace, composed of freedom, justice and security. The effective deployment of "soft power", or nonviolent tactics of persuasion, requires a certain historical context. Its application cannot universalized as a matter of policy. (Ex. "Had the nascent state of Israel opted for a "soft power" approach to being invaded by several Arab states in 1948, the Jews would have been driven into the sea in a mass slaughter.)

    Likewise, says Weigel, we must recognize that "law is not self-vindicating or self-enforcing":

    To juxtapose an undefined "law of force" over against the "force of law" in an absolute antinomy seems unsatisfactory, empirically and morally. All law, of whatever sort, ultimately requires the sanction of enforcement if "law" is to mean anything other than a vague expression of good intentions. This is a perennial feature of the human condition."
    Given the human tendency to "breach the peace," even a world of just and democratically-accountable international institutions as envisioned by John XXIII in Pacem in Terris would have to be backed by proportionate and discriminate armed force. 3
  2. The rediscovery of the classical Catholic view of the morally legitimate deployment of armed force -- Contemporary international law and recent Catholic commentary (including the Vatican) have settled on the view that first use of armed force is always bad (a "presumption against violence"), which both Weigel and just war scholar James Turner Johnson has questioned as contrary to the classical Catholic view. 4

    According to Weigel: "twenty-first-century Catholic international relations theory is going to have to think about these various uses of armed force in a more nuanced way. This, in turn, requires refining our understanding of 'aggression' and refining the criteria by which the international community and individual states can judge, with moral legitimacy, that aggression is 'underway.'" Case in point:

    During the Iraq War, the president of the American Society of International Law suggested that aggression could reasonably be said to be underway when three conditions had been met: when a state possessed weapons of mass destruction or exhibited clear and convincing evidence of intent to acquire weapons of mass destruction; when grave and systematic human rights abuses in the state in question demonstrated the absence of internal constraints on that state's international behavior; and when the state in question had demonstrated aggressive intent against others in the past. The author suggested that these three criteria set a high threshold for the first use of armed force in the face of aggression, while recognizing that there are risks too great to be countenanced by responsible statesmen. A revitalized Catholic international relations theory would engage this proposal, help to refine it, and indeed open a broader discussion that would include filling in the criteria by which the duty of humanitarian intervention is satisfied by the use of armed force when other remedies fail.
  3. A critical evaluation of ontemporary international organizations [such as the United Nations] and their contribution to "the peace of order and to the freedom, justice, and security that are its component parts." The Vatican's intensifying support for the UN has been questioned by Weigel and others in light of the UN's adoption of policies on abortion, family, and the proper response to the AIDS pandemic which run contrary to Catholic moral teaching. With respect to the war in Iraq, Weigel criticizes statements by Vatican officials which imply that the only justifiable use of force is that which is formally sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council:
    What is striking about recent commentary from officials of the Holy See on the Security Council's monopoly of legitimating authority in the matter of using armed force is that it has been asserted, not argued. The sheer fact of the UN system seems to be taken to constitute a new moral reality; states which adhere to the UN Charter are deemed to have forfeited attributes of their sovereignty that the Catholic Church had long recognized as morally legitimate. Perhaps that is the case. But that case has to be made, not assumed. And in arguing the case, certain facts of international public life cannot be denied.
    Weigel elaborates, challenging whether the "international community" has bound itself to the U.N.'s charter and rules concerning the use of force ("Since 1945, 126 out of 189 UN member states have been involved in 291 armed conflicts in which some twenty-two million people have been killed") and why he is reluctant to yield moral authority to the Security Council ("How, for example, is moral legitimacy conferred by the Security Council when three of its permanent members -- China, France, and Russia -- formulate their foreign policies on explicitly realpolitik grounds that have little or nothing to do with moral reasoning about world politics as the Catholic Church understands it?").

    No other global institution is as likely to bring the skills of moral reasoning to bear on the task of international organizational reform as the Catholic Church," says Weigel. It would be a tragic lost if the Church were to forsake its potential by granting an "undifferentiated embrace" of the United Nations as it is today.

  4. A thorough reexamination of the just war tradition. Given the Church's vocal opposition to the Gulf War and the deposition of Saddam Hussein by the U.S., Weigel again raises the question of whether the Catholic Church's current position on armed force is tatamount to "functional pacifism" -- "a way of thinking that retains the intellectual apparatus of the just war tradition of moral reasoning but that always comes down, at the bottom line, in opposition to the use of armed force." 5 As Weigel observes, various statements by the Holy Father and members of the Vatican Curia can be marshalled for or against this interpretation, calling for greater clarification of where the Church stands with respect to armed force.
    Several of the "priority issues" I have been discussing here bear on the reexamination of just war thinking for the post-Cold War world: the question of what constitutes "aggression underway" (which bears on the classic just war criteria of "just cause" and "last resort"); the moral status of the UN system (which touches the just war criterion of "proper authority"). Another reality of the contemporary world with which a reexamined and refined just war tradition would have to wrestle is the fact that precision-guided munitions and other forms of high-tech weaponry now make it more likely that a responsible country can use military force in ways that satisfy the in bello just war criteria of no-more-force-than-necessary and noncombatant immunity. Refining Catholic thinking on these questions is essential to the revitalization of Catholic international relations theory.
    It is with some amusement that I read that Weigel's article is an adaptation of "the twenty-sixth annual Thomas Merton Lecture delivered at Columbia University," given Thomas Merton's own pacifistic leanings and vehement denunciation of the U.S. military. Weigel's article is a good condensation of his earlier writings on these issues, and presents a good case for what the Church has to offer to the world; let us hope his call for the "revitalization of Catholic international relations theory" will not go unheeded.

  1. Given it's comprehensive subject matter, this summary is cross-posted to both my "Catholic Just War" and "Religion & Liberty" blogs.
  2. As chronicled in Weigel's book The Final Revolution: The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism
  3. See "Force of law, law of force ". The Catholic Difference. Publication Date: April 30, 2003
  4. See "Moral Clarity in Time of War", First Things 128 (January 2003): 20-2; "Using Military Force Against the Saddam Hussein Regime: the Moral Issues", James Turner Johnson. Foreign Policy Research Institute December 4, 2002. I previously blogged on Weigel and Johnson's questioning of the "presumption against war" on Dec. 6, 2003.
  5. See my post "Pacifism and the end of the Just War Tradition", Nov. 30, 2003.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Insight On The News: WMD's found in Iraq.

Insight On The News has a bombshell of a story in their latest issue:

New evidence out of Iraq suggests that the U.S. effort to track down Saddam Hussein's missing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is having better success than is being reported. Key assertions by the intelligence community that were widely judged in the media and by critics of President George W. Bush as having been false are turning out to have been true after all. But this stunning news has received little attention from the major media, and the president's critics continue to insist that "no weapons" have been found.

In virtually every case - chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missiles - the United States has found the weapons and the programs that the Iraqi dictator successfully concealed for 12 years from U.N. weapons inspectors. . . . [READ MORE]

Fairly substantial investigation, and worth reading in full.

Related link

Thursday, April 15, 2004

George Weigel revisits the case for Just War in Iraq

In his latest column, George Weigel revisits the case for just war in Iraq, and the question that many politicians, pundits and policy makers are asking themselves:

A year later, here's the question posed to those who argued that it would be morally justifiable to use armed force to compel Iraq's compliance with U.N. disarmament resolutions: if you knew then what you know now, would you have made the same call?


Sunday, March 21, 2004

Vociferous Yawpings on Just War Doctrine

Mark Windsor of the blog "Vociferous Yawpings" puts in a word on just war theory:

I feel the need to weigh in on this subject because of the amount of space being used in St. Blogs to argue ideas that are either incorrect, oversimplified or simply misunderstood. . . . I want to make one statement upfront that may put off some people, but hear me out. It is this: Reading DJW in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a fine start, but it is insufficient to simply rattle off each point and see how it applies to a given conflict. It is absolutely necessary, for proper understanding, to look at where DJW comes from and why it exists at all. [Read More].

A thoughtful and much-needed post.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Change of Heart at the Vatican?

From John Allen Jr.'s column "Word from Rome" (January 23, 2004):

The Holy See has not changed its opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Recent weeks have seen a number of subtle signals, however, that it wants to disassociate itself with some of the forms that opposition took, especially the more shrill versions of leftist anti-Americanism and a kind of quasi-pacifist naiveté about the risks posed by international terrorism.

The pope's message for World Peace Day was toned down after officials in the Secretariat of State found some of the rhetoric too sharp, especially suggestions that the United States had ridden roughshod over international law in its invasion of Iraq. In the end, the text not only steered clear of such an accusation, it stated that international law itself needs to be reviewed in light of the new threat posed by stateless terrorism -- an argument President Bush has been making since 9/11.

James Nicholson, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, is sponsoring a conference on "International Law and New Threats" tentatively scheduled for March 26, which will involve Vatican officials in a dialogue on this question.

On Jan. 15, the pope himself spoke in somber tones about terrorism, addressing leaders from the city of Rome and the surrounding region. "Together it’s essential to overcome tensions and conflicts," John Paul said. "It's necessary to fight in compact fashion against terrorism, which, unfortunately, has not avoided touching even this our beloved city."

Last week, the Vatican's new foreign minister voiced understanding for a key Bush doctrine -- so-called "preventive" war, the Italian equivalent for what in American argot is called "preemptive" force. In an exclusive interview with NCR, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo added that such a use of force should occur under the auspices of the United Nations, not individual states, but it was nevertheless a clear sign of understanding for the U.S. position.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Howard Dean

The focus of this blog and website is largely on Iraq and the Catholic just war tradition, but in following the presidential campaign I thought the following letter from Howard Dean was interesting, in light of his current opposition to the "unilateral" action of the Bush administration in Iraq:

". . . We must give, and have given, this policy with our allies and with the United Nations every opportunity to work. It is evident, however, that the cost in human lives in allowing this policy to continue is too great. In addition, and perhaps more importantly for the United States, we are now in a position of ignoring, as many did in the 1940s, one of the worst crimes committed in history. If we ignore these behaviors, no matter where they occur, our moral fiber as a people becomes weakened. As the Catholic Church and others lost credibility during the Holocaust for not speaking out, so will the United States lose credibility and our people lose confidence in themselves as moral beings if the United States does not take action.

Since it is clearly no longer possible to take action in conjunction with NATO and the United Nations, I have reluctantly concluded that we must take unilateral action. . . .

Howard Dean in a letter to President Clinton, dated July 19, 1995.
Reported in USA Today January 14, 2004.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Pollack on WMD's - What Went Wrong?

A good article by Kenneth M. Pollack in this month's Atlantic Monthly (January 2004) on Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong. Pollack served as a intelligence analyist for the CIA and was a leading expert on Iraqi affairs in the Clinton Administration. He is author of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq in 2002. True to his profession, Pollack's article is a good analysis of the state of Saddam's WMD program and the various reasons for the failure of the U.S. to uncover WMD's in post-war Iraq -- or the uncomfortable possibility that Saddam might never have had them to begin with.

A brief observation in light of the recent accusations of ex-Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, that the Bush administration had planned a war in Iraq well before 9/11. Pollack says that "the U.S. intelligence community's belief that Saddam was aggressively pursuing weapons of mass destruction pre-dated Bush's inauguration, and therefore cannot be attributed to political pressure" -- a charge made by many critics of the war.

In fact, the Bush administration's concern for WMD's and the removal of Saddam was based on the precedent of his predecessors, who were firmly convinced that Saddam has reconstituted his WMD's following withdrawal of UN inspectors in 1998. Moreover, says Pollack, this conviction was held by not only the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), the organization established for overseeing the removal of WMD's in Iraq, but "Germany, Israel, Russia, Britain, China, and even France . . . In sum, no one doubted that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction."

Pollack offers what I think is a reasonable explanation why so many -- especially those in the intelligence community, himself included -- were probably deceived.

Friday, January 09, 2004

The Little-Discussed Question of Humanitarian Intervention

I finished Jean Bethke Elshtain's Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World this week. It's very well written, aimed at a popular audience and for that reason easily accessible, addressing the case for the U.S. "war on terrorism" in light of just war tradition. To gain an insight into where she's coming from, please see Michael Cromartie's excellent interview with her in Christianity Today, in which she wonders:

The notion that you must be directly attacked in order for a casus belli to pertain is wrong, for example. A strict interpretation of that requirement would mean we shouldn't have gone to war against Hitler's Germany, either: Germany had not directly attacked us. What was interesting to me is that people who otherwise lament sovereignty in favor of a far more internationalist or "cosmopolitan" outlook were suddenly using sovereignty and non-interference as if these were well-nigh inviolable concepts! 1

The limits of "national sovereignty" has been mentioned on this blog before, and Elshtain raises a valid concern about something I'd like to study further: the proper context for, and justifiability of, humanitarian intervention. While much of the debate over Iraq is centered upon the existence (or not) of WMD's, "imminent threat" and Saddam Hussein's collaboration with international terrorism, Elshtain joins those who would have put humanitarian reasons as the forefront of the case for U.S. intervention in Iraq:

I don't think the Bush Administration got the proportions right in making its case. . . . Saddam is the biggest killer of Muslims the world has ever seen. With some 50 mass gravesites now unearthed in Iraq, the full horror is coming into view. . . . I would have put the human rights issues front and center, the genocide against the Kurds, the destruction of the whole way of life of the Marsh Arabs, the attacks on Shiites in the South, on and on. Read Samantha Power's book on genocide for the details. Here the just war formulations of St. Thomas Aquinas would come to the fore very quickly, given his arguments about the "repression of wrongdoing," applied to the offensive as well as the defensive use of force. A passive toleration of massive injustice and wrongdoing in the name of "peace" is, for Aquinas, a serious offense.

I am currently reading James Turner Johnson's Morality and Contemporary Warfare, on the development of just war tradition (religious and secular) in the contemporary world. Johnson is one of the foremost scholars of this topic in the U.S. (perhaps the world), and his style of writing is very technical and academic -- it makes for exhaustive reading at times, but ultimately worth it.

As I've blogged about earlier, both Turner and George Weigel have criticized the Bishops' document Challenge of Peace for its innnovative notion of a "presumption against violence" -- which they say has no historical basis in the classic just war tradition of the Church, and betrays the influence of modern Catholic pacifists upon the clergy. Framed against the threat of 'nuclear holocaust,' the focus of the document was on the critical need for "arms control and disarmament, efforts to minimize the risk of 'any war,' civil defense, non-violent means of conflict resolution, and the strengthing of world order." Absent from this document, says Johnson, was a section on the possible use of armed force for the promotion of justice -- an issue which is prominent in the classical just war tradition.

Consequently, Johnson sees the U.S. Bishop's 1993 reflection on the 10th anniversary of the pastoral letter, Harvest of Justice Is Sown in Peace, as a major improvement upon the former, because it recognized the integral link between justice and peace, and addressed the issue of humanitarian intervention by the military as a means of implementiing justice in the world. Letting the bishops speak for themselves, they summarized their position as follows:

In situations of conflict, our constant commitment ought to be, as far as possible, to strive for justice through nonviolent means.

But, when sustained attempts at nonviolent action fail to protect the innocent against fundamental injustice, then legitimate political authorities are permitted as a last resort to employ limited force to rescue the innocent and establish justice.

Moreover, in the specific section on 'humanitarian intervention', the Bishops quoted from an address of John Paul II that same year:

Once the possibilities afforded by diplomatic negotiations and the procedures provided for by international agreements and organizations have been put into effect, and that [sic], nevertheless, populations are succumbing to the attacks of an unjust aggressor, states no longer have a "right to indifference." It seems clear that their duty is to disarm this aggressor, if all other means have proved ineffective. The principles of the sovereignty of states and of non-interference in their internal affairs -- which retain all their value -- cannot constitute a screen behind which torture and murder may be carried out. 2

In the past, the U.S. Bishops have been quite vocal about the necessity of humanitarian intervention by the military to correct gross abuses of human rights and restore order ("Harvest of Justice" mentions a variety of situations and countries where intervention might be applicable). In May 1993, Archbishop John Roach, head of the bishops' International Policy Committee, called for intervention in Bosnia in a letter to Secretary of State Christopher. In a lecture on the moral issues at stake in the Iraq debate, James Turner Johnson asks: "Where are these voices now? Are the rights of Iraqis less important than those of Bosnians, Kosovars, and Rwandans?" 3

Given its importance in a document published only a decade ago, one might expect that the issue of "humanitarian intervention" would play at least some role in Catholic discussion of the war over Iraq, or that Bishop Gregory might have made some mention of this in addressing the matter with the Bush administration (in Sept. '02 and March '03). However, much of the debate (online and off), by all sides, has been confined to the question of "imminent threat" and Iraq's potential to harm us -- not on the perpetual state of aggression ("lasting, grave and certain"?) which the Iraqi people had to endure at the hands of Saddam's regime. I believe that the U.S. had sufficient evidence before this war to realize the extent of Saddam's crimes to warrant serious debate on whether humanitarian intervention on behalf of the Iraqi people was necessary. It is my opinion that nothing short of this would have been a deterence. But the reluctance of many Catholics to seriously address this issue in relation to the debate over Iraq is truly unfortunate. 4

  1. Dirty Hands and Concrete Action: A conversation with Jean Bethke Elshtain Interview by Michael Cromartie. Christianity Today Books & Culture, Sept./Oct. 2003.
  2. John Paul II, "Address to the Diplomatic Corps," January 16, 1993, Origins 22:34 (February 4, 1993), 587.
  3. Using Military Force Against the Saddam Hussein Regime: the Moral Issues, by James Turner Johnson. Lecture delivered to members and guests of the Foreign Policy Research Institute on December 4, 2002. Johnson is one of the few religious ethicists who treats seriously the question of humanitarian intervention in Iraq as a reason worthy of discussion.
  4. It is not that WMD's and Saddam's alleged ties to Al Qaeda aren't important -- they should be discussed, and bloggers like Dan Darling do an excellent job of covering these issues.