Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Iraq War: Is it a just war?

"I think we are winning. Okay? I think we're definitely winning. I think we've been winning for some time." - Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the Iraq War 04/26/05

"I just wonder if they will ever tell us the truth." - Harold Casey, Louisville, KY,
October 2004.

Chris Dowd makes an argument from Christian Just War theory in
Unjust & Indefensible - Iraq: A Case Study Commonweal 11/06/06. He summarizes the basic criteria of Just War theory:

When considering Christian thinking about the use of military force as an appropriate response to the attacks of 9/11, it is important to emphasize again how mindful just-war theory is of our own sinfulness and flawed judgment. In "Must We Do Nothing?" [Reinhold] Niebuhr insisted on humanity’s need for constant repentance and self-criticism, arguing that we "must engage in constant self-analysis in order to reduce [our] moral conceit." Taking this need seriously, just-war theory sets the bar very high for jus ad bellum, laying out six stringent criteria for the justification of war. In Love and Conflict, the clearest and most succinct treatment of the criteria that I have seen, Joseph Allen lists them as follows: justifiable cause; right intention; legitimate authority; proportionality; reasonable chance of success; and last resort. The first three were the original criteria systematized by [St. Thomas] Aquinas and are foundational for the others. (my emphasis)
Christian fundamentalists reject the natural-law tradition to which Dowd refers in the following, which is one reason they find it so easy to apply nationalistic judgments to wars:

Just-war theory has a long history, the product of a collaboration across the ages by some of Christianity’s greatest thinkers. Augustine, seeking to reconcile the earlier pacifist tendencies of the church with the realities of a sinful world, was the first to articulate the theory that some wars may be justified. The goal is peace, he argued, and sometimes that goal must be reached by wielding the sword. In the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas systematized Augustine's just-war thought into specific criteria. Behind Aquinas’s analysis lay an appeal to natural-law theory, the notion that rules are written into God’s creation, and that humanity’s task is to use reason to perceive and articulate them. Natural law and the "common good," Aquinas argued, create standards to which we are accountable; and that accountability, writ large at the level of conflict between states, manifests itself as just-war theory.
Dowd shows how the Cheney-Bush administration's decision-making calls into question the justification for the Iraq War - and thereby illustrates one reason why the question of when Cheney and Bush decided on the invasion is such an important one:

[Bob] Woodward’s Plan of Attack recounts the decision-making timeline for the Iraq war. As early as November 21, 2001, with the United States in the initial stages of its action in Afghanistan, Bush ordered Rumsfeld to begin planning for war against Iraq. By December 28, initial plans had already been developed, and Bush had given the go-ahead to begin laying the groundwork for the future invasion. A few weeks later, in his January 29, 2002, State of the Union speech, Bush made his now-famous reference to the Axis of Evil-Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Interestingly, early drafts of that speech contained references to Iraq alone. Rice and then-Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Stephen Hadley recommended adding other states to the list, to avoid tipping the administration’s hand with regard to the secret war planning for Iraq. By March 2002, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet was convinced that the invasion of Iraq was simply a matter of time, and indicated as much to the leaders of two Kurdish groups in Northern Iraq; and in an April interview, a full year before the invasion, Bush told a British reporter, "I made up my mind that Saddam needs to go." (my emphasis)
"Wars are easy to get into, but hard as hell to get out of." - George McGovern and Jim McGovern 06/06/05

, , ,

No comments: