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A just war in Iraq?

Steve Farrell
web posted February 10, 2003

In the days ahead, as President Bush and his administration turn up the volume on the drums of war to deafening new levels -- it will be well to remember that some of us, even some of us conservatives, still recall and still support the early American and Christian "just war" doctrine.

A scripture held sacred by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, for instance, invites nations "never to give an offense, yea, never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives," and their families, and their religion, and their freedom. It was, mostly, a defensive war doctrine, which promised prosperity to those nations who obeyed it -- and a withdrawal of Divine protection for those who did not -- or in other words it condemned going to war for the love of blood and war, power and wealth, or an inordinate spirit of vengeance or prejudice.

But it isn't a cut and dry position. In the same record, enemies preparing for war, or positioning for war, though not yet attacking the homeland were cut off, surrounded, and routed by pre-emptive strikes, when evidence gathered by spies was placed side by side with past and current attitudes and actions of the enemy. With a fixed and dedicated enemy on the warpath, the religious commentator heralded pre-emptive war as just and wise. Why wait until the enemy has an upper hand, and casualties are high and it is too late?

This seems to be the position of President Bush -- a pre-emptive strike against impending enemy designs, based, his administration claims, on solid intelligence and the voice of history.

The Catholics too, have a just war doctrine that is worth studying in the context of our pending War with Iraq. Some commentators note that this particular dogma justifies defensive war only -- meaning, a response in kind when under actual attack, which they say, disqualifies "Bush's War." They err.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia we read:

"Catholic philosophy … concedes to the State the full natural right of war, whether defensive, as in case of another's attack in force upon it; offensive (more properly, coercive), where it finds it necessary to take the initiative in the application of force; or punitive, in the infliction of punishment for evil done against itself or, in some determined cases, against others."

Three general cases qualify, then, as a natural right under this faith's definition.

1. In defense -- in response to a current attack.
2. In offense -- apparently, when one knows war is inevitable, and that a first strike would minimize the damage to the homeland, and optimize the chances for victory.
3. An after the fact act of justice for an attack against one's nation or against one's ally.

President Bush has certainly framed his arguments consistent with all three.

1. The Bush Administration has noted, US planes flying patrol in accordance with international agreement to which Iraq is a party, suffer regular attacks by Iraq.
2. The Bush Administration maintains that Iraq is secretly building weapons of mass destruction in violation of post Gulf War Treaties, that Iraq is secretly forging alliances with terrorists who threaten violence against the United States, and that Iraq has a butcher at its helm who, has and will use such weapons against the United States and it allies -- especially Israel. To stop Iraq, now, would be to minimize the potential for harm, the Administration argues.
3. The Bush Administration holds, that a continuation of justice for past Iraqi aggression against its neighbors and its own people, justifies a US presence in Iraq. Iraq, however, is in breach of the terms of peace, and so like an ex-con violating patrol, she must pay a price, for the good of humanity.

Despite what some detractors may say, the President has framed his arguments consistent with Just War Theory. Some of the intelligence that underscores the Administration's position is classified. Nevertheless, this is a republic, or representative government, not a direct democracy. The people do not need to have access to secret intelligence, only our representatives do, and they have already seen enough to justify a joint resolution permitting the President to bring down Saddam, by what ever means necessary. This was a done deal months ago.

On the other hand, the President can do three things to strengthen his hand.

One, throw in for good measure, evidence unearthed by the New American, the Washington Times' Insight Magazine, and Judicial Watch, regarding Iraqi sponsoring of the Oklahoma City bombing. The evidence is solid enough that Judicial Watch has sued Iraq for in behalf of the Oklahoma City victim's families. Let's hear more about this.

Two, stop trying to legitimize and empower the United Nations. History will one day prove that no organization in the history of the world has been a greater sponsor state of terrorism and communism than the United Nations. Any permanent peace that follows victory in Iraq, that involves the UN, may only make things worse.

Three, do not permit the exile of Saddam Hussein. This is an old trick of the International Community. Hold an alliance together by failing fully to route one's enemy. Austrian 19th Century Insider, Prince Metternich, revealed how it was that Napoleon was exiled to the nearby island of Elba, following his defeat -- rather than put to death -- so that "the threat of Napoleon" would hold the alliance together. After Napoleon agreed to economic concessions with the Bank of England, Napoleon "sprang forth" from "exile" to lead his army once again -- backed by English money. Saddam Hussein is a mass murderer; treat him accordingly.

Contact Steve at stevemfarrell@aol.com.

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