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April 21, 2005

Comments

thomas tucker

it is paradoxical that new weapon systems have made it possible to keep the troops safer, and the local non-combatants less safe.

Rich Leonardi

Paging Chris Sullivan.

One could also argue -- and as then-Cardinal Ratzinger clarified in the CDF note he later issued to the U.S. bishops, Catholics can disagree with the Holy Father's judgment in these matters -- that the precision of modern weaponry suggests that wars can be begun and waged more justly.

Rich Leonardi

... and does anyone know when the Compendium of the CCC (the 4C) is to be released?

Daniel H. Conway

In a time when the previous Pope commented that the center of a Christian's focus is the quest for holiness, how can a person truly seek holiness and seek the enemy's death and destruction? Destruction that includes the annihilation of his water supply (and the civilian water supply-a necessary stategy in both Iraq wars) the destruction of local power grids and infrastructure, and the local transport systems? These are necessary parts of a war today-the bombing strategies on these key "strategic" centers, while spokesmen and women from the military show up on TV and comment these targets and civilian casualties are unavoidable parts of modern war.

War is a willful activity choosing predictable death, destruction, and suffering for non-combatants. And an incapacitated civil society is important in these strategies.

This is not Christian. Supporting war impedes my progress for holiness. This is not The Way, at least not in my Gospels.

Nancy

The posters who were huzzahing and thanking God for Ratzinger Tuesday and Wednesday will be showing their deepest loyalties now. Question the "Bush Doctrine" and watch them turn.

Cheeky Lawyer

Frankly, I like to be challenged and I hope the Holy Father continues to do so. But as a good theologian he knows that this is an area of deep conversation and ongoing debate. As head of CDF, his was one voice but an important one. It will be interesting how he develops things as Pope.

amy

Nancy:

Don't be so quick to judge. You probably weren't reading this blog back in 03, but if you were (and you can actually just search the archives - Feb-May '03), you can see that a substantial number of posters were either

1)outright opposed to the war

2)Really concerned and puzzled at how a preventive war could be understood to come under any traditional understanding of just war.

There is much more nuance than you think, and you would be well to do your homework before you pass rash judgments.

Richard

Then there is Chesterton:

"War is not 'the best way of settling differences; it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you."

Eileen R

Amen, Amy! I'm a Canadian peacenick here! I don't see 'orthodox' as a position inside the church anymore than 'catholic'. Our *church* is orthodox and catholic. We are liberals, conservatives, or what not, but if we are faithful, we are all members of the church, which is orthodox and catholic. Saying "I'm an orthodox Catholic" can be short hand for that, but I think it's misunderstood, people seeing 'orthodox' as a political label of Catholic.

Mike Petrik

I don't see how the Church can change its teaching/Tradition on just war in a way that eliminates the concept. At most, one can argue that modern conditions do not admit to a set of circumstances that would satisfy the criteria. But such a conclusion really does require a denial of history and imagination.

Unless of course we are still proud of one million dead Tutsis.

Rich Leonardi

FWIW, my interest in this matter is more focused on maintaining clarity as to what the Church teaches. The Bush Doctrine, as such, concerns me much less. I suspect that's true for a lot of the posters, many of whom defended the legitimacy of Bush's judgment while still being ambivalent about the wisdom of it.

Unless of course we are still proud of one million dead Tutsis.

Sandro Magister, quoting someone I can't recall, stated "it's one thing to turn your own cheek; it's quite another to turn someone else's."

Maureen

You know, this is what kills me -- that people who were against the war in Iraq assume that people who supported the war must be in love with war itself. The people who support the war, Iraqi and American, are far more likely to have friends and loved ones who are in the thick of things. People who fight wars hate war a lot more knowledgeably than people who stand on the sidelines and whine about them -- and Pope B is a perfect example of this. (I can't imagine there's much uglier war experience than being a 1944 Wehrmacht draftee.)

But if all war is unjust, then what do you justly do with the Hitlers and Saddams of this world? I can choose to be a martyr myself, but can I justly choose it for my defenseless children, or for other people's? Some awfully iffy morality there, I'm afraid.

More to the point, without defining what he meant by "modern weapons", that part of the man's statement was essentially useless. Some modern weapons do tend to hurt bystanders more than combatants. Others tend to minimize collateral damage and make war less lethal.

But frankly, a weapon may cause less damage to property and kill fewer people and still be totally immoral. If you doubt this, check out a few of the more iffy research proposals for non-lethal weaponry. I'd rather die than get hit by some of those nasty little things.

So there's a lot of thought to be done, frankly. I'm glad we've got a Pope who will keep challenging us to think about these things, and it looks like the Prez was glad of that, too. That's what religion is for.

Tom

Was World War II a just war? The weapons and technology used then made possible destructions that went beyond the combatant groups. They went past the combatant groups in spades.

Kevin Miller

Right. Like, for instance, the cheek of the however many Iraqis who've been killed in the violence there over the past two years. It's not entirely clear that we should have turned their cheek for them by creating the situation by overthrowing Saddam.

I have great respect for Chesterton. I might well have great respect for whoever Magister was quoting. But I'm more likely to give weight to our Mater et Magistra than to Chesterton or Magister if they seem to disagree.

Christopher Rake

The posters who were huzzahing and thanking God for Ratzinger Tuesday and Wednesday will be showing their deepest loyalties now. Question the "Bush Doctrine" and watch them turn

I would like to partially fulfill Nancy's prediction, although it is based on a false premise. It is possible to welcome Benedict XVI and legitimately question all kinds of things.

A prescription for suicide, for example, which is what this isolated quote provided by Amy suggests. Hopefully we need not wait for the Vatican itself to be bombed before this becomes clear.

Kevin Miller

(My "Right" was to Rich L. - the intervening comments were posted while I was composing mine.)

al

Mike,
I think here's the way in which the Church could "change" its teaching on war (ie. indicate a greater restriction in principle than previous articulations granted).

As Michael Novak's and George Weigel's interpretations of Just War doctrine, vis a vis Iraq, demonstrated, the notion of a positive title to war to remedy conflicts between soveriegn states, because of the consequences this has for the international order, and because of the obvious impairments in that order to actual acts of aggression (treaty organizations, atomic deterrence, possibility of conflagration), clearly can be subject to abuse.

And so the limitation of the title to war to absolute cases of necessity in self defense seems entirely in keeping with the Natural Law basis of Just War Doctrine.

It should be noted as well, that Pope Benedict's articulated objection to a "preventative", as opposed to "preemptive", war, was premised on a strict interpretation of the Natural Law basis--that you have to have an extant or imminent threat to justify a preemptive act of war.

Which is why he observed that "preventative war is not in the Catechism."

Kevin Miller

(That "Right" was to Rich L. - the intervening comments were posted while I was composing mine.)

Kevin Miller

Finally: There is a difference between "suicide" and "martyrdom." The former is never morally licit. The latter is sometimes morally obligatory.

Kevin Miller

Sorry about the double comment - the first one loaded very slowly.

John Hetman

Comments must always betaken within a larger whole. There were deep reservations about the military actions taken against Sadaam Hussein's regime, to be sure. Questioning the wisdom and justice of these actions is certainly legitimate.

Hussein had ample opportunity to prevent the military actions taken against him thereby sparring much of the additional suffering that he caused. At this very moment, the so-called insurgents can lay down their arms, and peacefully return to raising dates and figs. They would be granted amnesty and probably a decent deal.

This was not a military action of conquest or revenge. It was a considered and discussed action based upon a number of factors that arose from a massive and violent attack on the United States after a series of violent attacks dating back well over a decade.

Pope Benedict XVI can weigh his earlier comments now in light of the outcome of military actions that are producing the foundations of both a larger peace and a young democracy in an area raped by its former government.

It will be interesting in how he nows views the situation in Iraq.

singaporesling

It's funny, in the last few days, I have come to love our good Pope Benedict in a way I never felt towards John Paul the Great.

Let me explain.

John Paul the Great became Pope when I was a month old. He was the only Pope I ever knew and I loved him greatly.

But he was so confident, so dramatic, so sure of himself. He strode the world and, with his training as an actor, he saw the world as a stage.

This was a good and grand thing. He fed off our love and we loved him.

But Benedict is different.

Good Pope Benedict is a shy man, perhaps a humble man. A man who has served under others and a man who is a simple worker in a vineyard.

Think of it this way. John Paul the Great was the popular guy in school, he was the athlete, the actor, the guy who got good grades without studying too hard. His smile lighted our life.

Good Pope Benedict was different. He was the man who attended the plays, who stayed in the background, who helped men like John Paul the Great when they needed help with their paper.

He is a shy man.

A holy man.

I love this and I love him. I feel towards him such love, for their is a vulnerability to him, a shyness that attracts.

John Paul the Second seemed like he was destined for the Papacy, and he was.

Good Pope Benedict would have been happy (perhaps far happier) had he been allowed to retire to Bavaria to read and write.

He is not "great" in the sense that John Paul the Great-- but he is "good" perhaps in a way we have not known in some time.

Goodness is different than Greatness.

After Paul the Sixth and JP I, we needed Greatness.

Now, we need Goodness.

To me he is and always be Benedict the Good.

Long may he reign and Vive il Pappa!

Christopher Rake

The wesbite that provided the quote starting this discussion is an eye-opener--it's a Catholic pacificst site, which works to help soldiers leave the military. They also provided handy tips on subjects including the following:

Topic of the week-- Post your experiences of military recruiters in high schools. What have you found to be successful ways to limit their access?

Sad.

hieronymus

Was World War II a just war? The weapons and technology used then made possible destructions that went beyond the combatant groups. They went past the combatant groups in spades.

I think a distinction needs to be made between a "just war" and a "justly executed war". I don't think the church can outright deny the possibility of the first, but She can always insist that principles of justice are followed as closely as possible, in any war, whether the war itself is just or not. I wonder what Benedict thinks about the development of more sophisticated precision bombing that uses technology to limit civilian damage, rather than to expand it.

Ed

To clarify some technical points here:

The new weapons under reference in that passage are nuclear and chemical. The *really* new weapons enable a level of selectivity unimaginable until 20 years ago. The hottest new system under discussion here at Eglin AFB is the Small Diameter Bomb, which, may I point out, is small. The really new weapons make non-combatants safer than before. Imagine the US Army/Air Corps of 1945 taking Baghdad, and you will begin to grasp my meaning.

Nancy

Amy,
I wasn't a reader in 2003 but have been, almost daily, for 6-8 months. During that time, I've noticed that whenever the attack on Iraq was mentioned, there would be an outburst of support from the same posters who were consistently admirers of Pope John Paul II otherwise. I could almost name them and you can find support for this in the archives. Some of them were so committed to supporting the "Bush Doctrine" that they even insisted that John Paul II supported the invasion, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
What I meant, and what I stand by from observation, and what is evinced in the archives, is that the station at which many John Paul II loyalists left the train was the "Bush Doctrine" - a policy which is clearly inconsistent with Catholic teaching in the Catechism and by John Paul II and now Benedict XVI.

Eileen R

I think the military could do with more moral, upright Catholics, thank you very much, Catholic peace activists.

daniel duffy

A few thoughts:

This is a perfect example of how the Eternal and Unchanging Truths of the Catholic Faith have this annoying habit of actually changing.

I'd like to have someone explain to me (assuming that B16 adopts a purely pacifist stance and does away with the "just war" concept) while it will be OK for conservative, non-pacifist Catholics to defy Church teachings on war but not OK for liberal Catholics to defy Church teachings on contraception between married couples.

"given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups," - This statement is less true today (with the use of precision smart weapons) than during World War II when carpet bombing of civilian targets was necessary to take out a single factory or facility. American and British air forces incinerated entire German and Japanese populations (at Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, Hiroshima, etc.), often deliberately. Does this make WWII unjust?

Rich Leonardi

Like, for instance, the cheek of the however many Iraqis who've been killed in the violence there over the past two years.

Or the cheeks of the several hundred thousand murdered by Baathists and dumped in trenches.

Christopher Rake

Doesn't count, Rich. Wasn't televised.

maura

ooh, just LOOK at all the understanding and forgiveness about disagreement and ambiguity.

I disagree too--I think Just War still exists, though I think that preventive war by definition cannot be just. But the cafeteria Catholicism of the right makes me ill. Call something "prudential", be it war or capital punishment, and they hear "we're free to ignore the Church's teachings and do whatever we want."

I so, so wish that Father Haring was still with us. The middle ground between relativism and blind obedience is the responsibility he spoke of, and it's disappearing. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.

Greg

I notice that the anti war people don't ever suggest a realistic alternative method for dealing with the Saddam's Hilters and other dangerous maniacs of this world.

Moreover, Groups like HRW and others would admit that Saddam killed at least 50,000 people a year for the last 20 years.

According to Human Rights Watch, "senior Arab diplomats told the London-based Arabic daily newspaper al-Hayat in October [1991] that Iraqi leaders were privately acknowledging that 250,000 people were killed during the uprisings, with most of the casualties in the south."

Since the liberation even the Anti-War people cannot come up with a figure higher than 20,000 dead in TOTAL.

So even taking the lowest figures for Saddam and the highest for the US and UK liberation of Iraq, we still have 30,000 less people dead each year for the last two years.

I can't see the downside or the realistic alternative. I Saddam was still in power now and we were still arguing in the UN, there would be more Iraqis dead, we just wouldn't have them on our consciences because he would have killed them not us.

Sydney Carton

This quick quote doesn't seem to explain a lot of problems. First, how would the world deal with Hitlers? Second, does it imply that wars are just if simpler or less-advanced weapons are used? Third, what of the fact that today's weapons are less indiscriminate and more accurate than before?

Dan Crawford

Thomas Tucker writes: "it is paradoxical that new weapon systems have made it possible to keep the troops safer, and the local non-combatants less safe."

Paradoxical? It's the logic of warfare in the 21st century.

al

Maura,
I entirely agree with your statement that a Just Title to Preventative War does not exist.

This is not pacificism, it is the natural law.

Which is why I disagreed strenuously with the Iraq War and its Catholic defenders.

Nevertheless, I believe the Natural Law insistence of Pope Benedict will cause many lukewarm Catholics to distance themselves from the Church.

Which I will mourn, but not wish the Truth of Catholic Doctrine, and Natural Law Reasoning was presented any less clearly to prevent.

marura

"Since the liberation even the Anti-War people cannot come up with a figure higher than 20,000 dead in TOTAL."

What are you kidding me? Have you even heard of the Lancet study?

The "they'd be dead anyway" argument is not thought to carry any weight when it comes to abortion of an unborn child who will die before or immediately after birth & when the complications may also lead to the mother's death. There is thought to be a difference between deaths allowed and actual killing. The concept is exactly the same.

Mike Petrik

al,
I understand your point, even if I am somehat troubled by it. It is one thing for doctrine to develop so as to address previously unaddressed situations; it is another for the doctrine to develop in a way that would render it inconsistent with prior doctrine. I'm afraid that what you are proposing tempts that distinction.
In any case, I would assume that such a development would admit to the possibilty of the defense of others. To not do so would be unimaginable to me.

Rich Leonardi

This mish-mash is proof of why it is essential that we maintain clarity of what the Church actually teaches:

I disagree too--I think Just War still exists, though I think that preventive war by definition cannot be just. But the cafeteria Catholicism of the right makes me ill. Call something "prudential", be it war or capital punishment, and they hear "we're free to ignore the Church's teachings and do whatever we want."

All the more so because of the mocking quotes placed around prudential, the word the Magisterium uses to describe the legitimate discretion of those charged with protecting the common good.

Mike Petrik

Eileen, R.
Forgive me if I misunderstand your last post, but please know that most of the members of the Catholic Peace Fellowship would object to the very existence of a military.

Salaam

al's comments are right on. But clearly this is an issue that requires extensive judgement, no matter how (obectively) the concept of 'Just War' is defined. The Pope may have judged that the invasion of Iraq did not qualify, but he may have been wrong if Iraq had a thousand ICBM's with nuclear warheads set off to fire on such and such a date.

Yes, I know, highly hypothetical, but it remains that each case must be judged on its own merit, and these judgements are not necessarily black and white.

Funny enough, I supported the invasion of Iraq not because I thought there were WMD in Iraq or that Iraq was any threat to the USA, but because the US played a major role in placing and maintaining Saddam Hussein in power, torturing the Iraqi people and destroying the nation, and that it was their responsibility to take him out. For a change, the US was removing instead of installing a dictator, even for ulterior motives, and I think the Iraqi people supported this.

Anyway, as an Orthodox Christian, I am not sure whether pacificism is the best way, or whether there are allowances for war. Currently, my intuition tells me that what makes sense is either complete pacificism or a justification for war on a case by case basis. I don't know if purely objective criteria for just war can exist.

Christopher Rake

What are you kidding me? Have you even heard of the Lancet study

The Lancet "study" was a travesty. In statistical terms, it was a lie. An embarassment in terms of intellectual honesty.

Sydney makes a good, separate point above. In the old days cities would have been simply leveled indiscriminately. Precision weapons and tactics have led to much less collateral damage--although the tactics in some cases have led to the deaths of U.S. soldiers that would have been spared if we didn't care so much about not killing innocents.

Of course that's entirely separate from the terrors of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare, which indeed present a new and horrible scale of potential destruction.

ken

I have wondered what would have occurred instead of WWII if the USA, Britain, etc. preemptively struck (Bush doctrine) at Germany with its aggressive weapons build-up.

maura

Okay. Perhaps I do an injustice to most of the people here.

But, I am telling you, I have had conversations with people who are utterly convinced that they are Good Catholics and I am a terrible one as they are in full acceptance with every single sexual teachings, that "prudential" is being rampantly mistaken for "do whatever you like". They defend not only preventive war, but the preventive use of nuclear weapons, and the use of torture on suspects who may be innocent--in situations where some of them have turned out to BE innocent and we know this. They defend not only capital punishment, but a capital punishment system that is creating a real danger of killing innocents in many states. They have convinced themself either that a "prudential" teaching may be completely disregarded, or that the Church doesn't actually have a clear position in opposition to theirs at all. And they believe this in part because the hierarchy does not do a thing about it.

Senator Santorum's voting record on war and torture is every bit as in defiance of church teaching as Senator Kerry's or Senator Durbin's on abortion.

And you can't argue that Senator Santorum's staunch opposition to abortion makes up for it--Senator Durbin has been the leading voice in the Senate against torture, for fighting AIDS in Africa, for opposing the genocide in Darfur. He also voted against the Iraq war. This seems to count for nothing. I more than understand the idea that you can't balance one innocent life against another, but that seems to be true only for Democrats or only in matters of sex.

I do apologize for arguing against those not present and imputing their views to those who are, though. Forgive me.

maura

I do not have the statistical capacity to evaluate the Lancet study, but it exists & to say that the highest estimate of innocent dead even from war opponents is 20,000, is flatly false.

Al--Okay. Perhaps I do an injustice to most of the people here.

But, I am telling you, I have had conversations with people who are utterly convinced that they are Good Catholics and I am a terrible one as they are in full acceptance with every single sexual teachings, that "prudential" is being rampantly mistaken for "do whatever you like". They defend not only preventive war, but the preventive use of nuclear weapons, and the use of torture on suspects who may be innocent--in situations where some of them have turned out to BE innocent and we know this. They defend not only capital punishment, but a capital punishment system that is creating a real danger of killing innocents in many states. They have convinced themself either that a "prudential" teaching may be completely disregarded, or that the Church doesn't actually have a clear position in opposition to theirs at all. And they believe this in part because the hierarchy does not do a thing about it.

Senator Santorum's voting record on war and torture is every bit as in defiance of church teaching as Senator Kerry's or Senator Durbin's on abortion.

And you can't argue that Senator Santorum's staunch opposition to abortion makes up for it--Senator Durbin has been the leading voice in the Senate against torture, for fighting AIDS in Africa, for opposing the genocide in Darfur. He also voted against the Iraq war. This seems to count for nothing. I more than understand the idea that you can't balance one innocent life against another, but that seems to be true only for Democrats or only in matters of sex.

I do apologize for arguing against those not present and imputing their views to those who are, though. Forgive me.

al

Mike,
I don't view it as a "development", as in intentionally setting out to develop a tradition, I view it as an application, which precludes a previously licit, although not fully circumscribed, interpretation--a discretionary title to war for resolution of conflicts short of absolute necessity of self defense.

Nor to I think in any way the duty to come to the defense of another is in anyway impaired by this application.

What is impaired, though, and I think always was, was the accretion of an number of not-quite-sufficient-reasons to amount to a single, satisfactory title to war.

Mike Petrik

I admit to ambivalence about the Iraq war. That said, I do believe that one must make a prudential calculus of the facts in order to apply the criteria. Unless one is willing to assert either (i) that no set of facts reasonably asserted and believed in good faith could have satisfied the criteria or (ii) that all sets of facts reasonably asserted and believed in good faith would have satisfied the criteria, one must conclude that faithful Catholics are entited to differ. That said, when the Vatican expresses its own conclusion based on its best understanding of the facts, it should be accorded serious weight. And a prudential assessment of the facts necessary to apply the criteria cannot be replaced by a simple utilitarian calculus of ends and means.

Christopher Rake

Senator Santorum's voting record on war and torture is every bit as in defiance of church teaching as Senator Kerry's or Senator Durbin's on abortion.

I don't know what Santorum has voted on regarding torture, but the above is almost certainly mistaken regarding his voting record on the Iraq war (assuming that's what you refer to). A Catholic following church teaching cannot support abortion, but a Catholic following the magisterium could support the Iraq war. For example, despite the opinions expressed by John Paul II, I am unaware of any bishop, cardinal or pope telling me I could not publicly advocate for that war and still receive communion.

maura

"al's comments are right on. But clearly this is an issue that requires extensive judgement, no matter how (obectively) the concept of 'Just War' is defined. The Pope may have judged that the invasion of Iraq did not qualify, but he may have been wrong if Iraq had a thousand ICBM's with nuclear warheads set off to fire on such and such a date."

But that would be a preemptive rather than a preventive war. The key difference there is the imminence of attack--much as an attack must be imminent to use self-defense as a defense to murder in a criminal court. I think a preemptive war may be just, and war in defense of the innocent may be just, but if you're doing the latter you'd better make sure the innocent would want it because you may kill the person you are trying to protect and there is a risk of using the innocent victims as a means to your geopolitical goals rather than ends in themselves. If it's a situation of ongoing or imminent genocide, it seems as if one can be reasonably confident that he would want you to act despite the risks. Saddam certainly committed genocide, but there was not one ongoing or imminent when we invaded. And without that--if tyranny enough is a justification for invasion, we may invade wherever we please.

al

Maura is quite right on the lack of an imminent title to preempt any particular manifestation of Saddam's tyranny.

Which is why war defenders generally adduce them all in attempting to overwhelm their interlocutors.

What's precluded is a perpetual positive title to action based on tyranny, on previous aggression (Novak's argument), on suspicion (the now utterly debunked WMD argument), on non-overwhelming current aggression (no fly zone violations). . .

Salaam

maura and al,
Can you not imagine any hypothetical (but not entirely unrealistic) situation where preemptive war is necessary or where the line between preemtive and preventive is blurred?

Could tyranny ever be a justification for war (or rebellion)? Is there a moral distinction to be made between war and rebellion?

Desert Chatter

It's pretty clear that the present policy of the U.S. on warfare is that the loss of one U.S. military combatant is less acceptable than the loss of any number of enemy combatants and than the loss of a considerable number of non-combatants.

Witness the steady drumbeat about how all our casualties are heroes and all other deaths are somehow faceless.

Sydney Carton

This conversation seems to be getting ahead of itself. The quote implied that wars might be illicit, and thus unjust, merely because of the TYPES OF WEAPONS USED.

But the fact is, more advanced weapons today are more precise, and are less likely to kill indiscriminately. The more advanced, the more likely that the weapon serves the purpose of killing an emeny instead of a civilian.

Additionally, I'll note that the full press release linked above places a slightly different tone on the answers when seen in its entirety:

"Q: Eminence, a topical question that in a certain sense is inherent to the Catechism: Does the Anglo-American war against Iraq fit the canons of a "just war"?

Cardinal Ratzinger: The Pope expressed his thought with great clarity, not only as his individual thought but as the thought of a man who is knowledgeable in the highest functions of the Catholic Church. Of course, he did not impose this position as doctrine of the Church but as the appeal of a conscience enlightened by faith.

The Holy Father's judgment is also convincing from the rational point of view: There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq."

So Ratzinger importantly qualifies that the appeal was not by doctrine, but of a conscience enlightened by faith. Then, Ratzinger switches gears and also says that in his opinion, rationally, there were insufficient reasons to go to war. So there are 2 separate aspects involved: the concsience, and the rational thought.

I'm going to ignore all the stuff about pre-emptive war or whatever, because I honestly don't think that this quote speaks to that. And of course, the real issue for me seems to be the paradoxial call to make all wars illicit based on weapons that have the effect of reducing civilian deaths.

Christopher Rake

I do not have the statistical capacity to evaluate the Lancet study, but it exists & to say that the highest estimate of innocent dead even from war opponents is 20,000, is flatly false.

I do have the statistical capacity to evaluate the Lancet study. It is worthless on its own merits and its conclusions were wildly skewed by its proponents and its own authors.

As reviewed by the liberal online magazine Slate:


But read the passage that cites the calculation more fully:

We estimate there were 98,000 extra deaths (95% CI 8000-194 000) during the post-war period.

Readers who are accustomed to perusing statistical documents know what the set of numbers in the parentheses means. For the other 99.9 percent of you, I'll spell it out in plain English—which, disturbingly, the study never does. It means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused deaths totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000. (The number cited in plain language—98,000—is roughly at the halfway point in this absurdly vast range.)

This isn't an estimate. It's a dart board.

I did a few studies like these in grad school and we're talking Stats 101 here--the science of the study established a 95% confidence level (good standard) that somewhere between 8K and 194K civilians were killed (worthless conclusion, try again). But of course it wasn't promoted that way, even by its authors. Instead, they added 8K and 194K and divided the difference to come up with a totally bogus "average" figure. But statistics don't work that way. If you handed in a homework assignment to Dr. Statistics with that conclusion, you would get a failing grade.

There are many other problems with the study discussed in the link provided. This old rundown at Instapundit had a discussion of the study, the study's debunkers, the debunkers' debunkers, and etc. But the uselessness of the study is best summarized by the following observation from the Slate article:

Imagine reading a poll reporting that George W. Bush will win somewhere between 4 percent and 96 percent of the votes in this Tuesday's election. You would say that this is a useless poll and that something must have gone terribly wrong with the sampling. The same is true of the Lancet article: It's a useless study; something went terribly wrong with the sampling.

al

And on the possibility of divergent "rational" consciences, I think Pope Benedicts remarks about the Dictatorshop of Relativism clarify that possibility. . .

Salaam,
No.
And Yes.

maura

Yes, but Senator Santorum's statements indicate that he has not even taken seriously Church teaching.

Though he is on capital punishment more and more, which is something.

I don't like Durbin's statements about abortion one tiny bit. I don't understand how he's fallen so far away in such a short amount of time. (He was my pro-life Congressman back in the day.) And I don't buy for a moment that the legality ought to be a prudential matter. But as far as his VOTES go--the intervention of the courts, unjustified though it may be, makes this tricky. As I understand it, Senator Santorum's partial birth abortion ban got struck down by three federal courts, while Senator Durbin's third trimester ban--which was laxer in most respects though it did at least forbid all post-viability abortions--would have been upheld.

Leaving Durbin's defense of Roe out of it for a moment--as I said I will not defend him about that--if you were judging them only by their votes, it seems very likely that Durbin's version of the bill would have saved more lives.

And then when it comes to the Supreme Court, a pro-life Democratic politician is in the exact same dilemma that then-Cardinal Ratzinger recognized that pro-life voters are in.

Supreme Court justices do not only decide the law on the issue of abortion. They also decide cases on capital punishment, on the right to counsel for poor defendants and other protections of the innocent, on racial discrimination, on indefinite executive detention, on Guantanamo Bay, on freedom of conscience--it goes on and on. Abortion is not the only issue of life and death that the Supreme Court decides.

Further, when it comes to the right to privacy cases--we adore Justice Scalia now for his denunciations on the right to privacy and the right to bodily integrity. It is a big, big mistake. The same idea, that there is no right to bodily integrity against government intrusion--there was a 1930s case where the Supreme Court held that sterilization of the mentally retarded was constitutional because "three generations of imbeciles is enough." As near as I can tell (I went to law school) Justice Scalia's and Bork's interpretation of the Constitution would force them to conclude that sterilization is allowed; that China's one-child policy of forced abortion would be allowed. I think there IS a right against government invasion of the body and the home, I just think that there is also a compelling government interest in protecting innocent life. But unfortunately, no Supreme Court Justice of the past three decades agrees with me.

So what, then, should I do as pro-life member of Congress? It's far from clear.

As I say: if the only choices are "OBEY OR ELSE" or "ANYTHING GOES"--that will be disastrous for the church, and this is how the American right sees it.

As far as torture goes: Senator Durbin's amendment to ban cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment did get passed 99-0 so Santorum must have voted for it too. But the GOP Senators vote for it knowing full well that it will get stripped out in conference committee. When it comes to the bill to ban "rendition" to Syria and Egypt, when it comes to the vote for Alberto Gonzales for attorney general, when it comes to every single vote on an investigation or subpoena--the Democrats are out there all on their own, without a single Republican supporter.

Plenty of Democrats won't risk themselves on this issue either, mind you. But oddly, the leading Democratic voices in opposition have been Senators Leahy, Dodd, Durbin, Kennedy and Feingold. Four of those five are notoriously lapsed Catholics, are they not?

I don't think that's a coincidence. It is a mistake to assume the Church has no influence with even its defiant members. Every Catholic politician of this generation (not those like Bob Casey Sr. or Harris Wofford--I don't know anything about Casey Jr. but hopefully he's his father's son) seems to have drawn a neat little fence around teachings involving the reproductive organs. The Democrats effectively ignore everything inside the fence & make a sincere effort to obey the rest. The Republicans do the precise opposite.

maura

Christopher--I don't believe you. I'm sure the Lancet isn't perfect but I don't believe they'd publish a worthless study. The best articles I read seemed to indicate the study itself was fine & the abstract & headline were misleading. I trust them more than you, your assertions of authority will not convince me otherwise, especially when moments ago you were pretending that the study did not even exist.

Sydney Carton

al,

I said the conversation was ahead of itself because Amy's quotation implied that wars would be considered unjust now because of the types of weapons involved. That means, even if a war was not preventative or pre-emptive, it would still be unjust merely because of the types of weapons involved.

You're not dealing with that part of the issue. IF all wars are unjust now because of the types of weapons, then there is no need to speak to preventative or pre-emptive wars being unjust.

And my question was, is it really the case that a weapon would make a war unjust if that weapon has the effect of reducing indiscriminte civilian deaths?

I'll progress to the idea of pre-emptive or preventative war once I can satisfy myself that perhaps not all wars are unjust because of the types of weapons used (I'm not talking about nuclear weapons, but JDAMS and precision bombs, etc).

You want to skip ahead of the larger question, and deal with a sub-set of wars: pre-emptive and preventative wars. I'm saying: not so fast, deal with the big picture first.

This is not a case of ignoring what I don't agree with. It's that I want to deal with the bigger question first.

Christopher Rake

Maura, I think you are mistaking me for someone else. I did not say the study does not exist. I said it was worthless.

Naturally I cannot compel you to believe anything. But the science here is very straightforward. The study, on its own terms, established a 95% confidence level that anywhere between 8K and 195K civilians died. In pure scientific terms, there is no more basis to claim that 100K people died than 7K or 195K. Studies like this are usually taken out with the trash,but oddly enough, this one was released shortly before our last presidential election. Imagine.

Speaking of imagine, I imagine the 20K figure being thrown around is based on this website, Iraq Body Count. I cannot vouch for it one way or the other, but the Slate author found it credible and you can hardly conclude the website is pro-war.

Anyway this is why Slate finds their method credible:

There is one group out there counting civilian casualties in a way that's tangible, specific, and very useful—a team of mainly British researchers, led by Hamit Dardagan and John Sloboda, called Iraq Body Count. They have kept a running total of civilian deaths, derived entirely from press reports. Their count is triple fact-checked; their database is itemized and fastidiously sourced; and they take great pains to separate civilian from combatant casualties (for instance, last Tuesday, the group released a report estimating that, of the 800 Iraqis killed in last April's siege of Fallujah, 572 to 616 of them were civilians, at least 308 of them women and children).

Mark Shea

Wait! Yesterday he was a Nazi and today he's The Pacifist Pope? Heads at the NY Times are exploding.

Sydney Carton

maura,

The Lancet study is junk. More here:

http://www.techcentralstation.com/102904J.html

I don't know of anyone other than the rabid left and the most militant pacifists (and believe me, they are MILITANT) who believe in that study.

maura

"maura and al,
Can you not imagine any hypothetical (but not entirely unrealistic) situation where preemptive war is necessary or where the line between preemtive and preventive is blurred?"

Yes, I can actually. But the Iraq war was simply not close to that line, and that was clear before the war.

There are cases that one studies in criminal law where a battered wife shoots her abuser when his back is turned & pleads self-defense. Usually this does not work: he must be imminently about to kill her before she can use deadly force in self-defense.

There is an idea among feminist lawyers that actually, self-defense should not require that deadly force be imminent; only that deadly force is the last remaining way to protect oneself from deadly force. So if you have tried to leave the abuser, and he comes after you; if you have sought protection from the government, and they have failed you; if you cannot flee somewhere where he will not track you down--if you wait until he's choking you to death it's too late, and shooting him with his back turned may be the only way to really protect yourself.

I'm not sure that's right, but it's very parallel to the justification for preventive war. I can imagine a war where this is the last opportunity we have to defend ourself from a nuclear attack on Manhattan, because if bin Laden gets a nuclear weapon it's much too late. But that wasn't the situation in Iraq; even before the war it was quite obvious that it wasn't the situation.

"Could tyranny ever be a justification for war (or rebellion)? Is there a moral distinction to be made between war and rebellion?"

Do you mean violent rebellion?

The difference is, if you are violently rebelling against a tyrant you are doing so in your own defense as well as defense as another.

Defense of another is as morally legitimate as self-defense in the abstract. The problem is, though, that it is not your wives and children or grandparents or homes who are put at risk by the war itself, so there is perhaps a greater danger of going to war without it being truly the last resort. There is a greater danger of self-deception; there is a danger of using the Iraqi people as an excuse when your true motivation is--not oil, I don't believe, but a foolish and prideful geopolitical strategy, or revenge for September 11, or your own power.

Violent rebellions are often not used as a last resort even in one's own country of course--just cause alone does not suffice for just war, and in general peaceful revolutions seem to result not only in fewer deaths but in less tyrannical governments afterwards. Eastern Europe 1989, Ukraine, the Civil Rights movement in the United States, South Africa....but there are times when they are clearly needed, as with the Warsaw uprising.

Here's an odd wrinkle for everyone: was the American Revolution a just war?

I'm obviously glad it happened. But, when I read the doctrine--it seems like it wasn't.

maura

did the New York Times repeat the Nazi slander?

They're certainly liberal but they're usually more responsible than that.

The idea that one has to be a martyr at the age of fifteen or one is a Nazi is the worst kind of collective guilt.

Christopher Rake

In pure scientific terms, there is no more basis to claim that 100K people died than 7K or 195K.

sorry, those figures are one K off--it should read, "In pure scientific terms, there is no more basis to claim that 100K people died than 8K or 194K." It's very much like saying you know your friend is somewhere between Nevada and Kentucky--okay, you're very confident of that, great to rule out California and New Jersy, but thanks for nothing!

al

Its clear that some weapons would make all war unjust.

The use of a weapon, for example, that could vaporize a nation.

By extension, then, largely atomic weapons are unjust because of their indiscriminate destruction.

As for smart weapons, a cause can certainly made that the veneer of destructive circumscription that surrounds such weapons, can deceptively cause a lowering of the standard of war, for "precision" strikes, that adds, rather than substracts, to the notion that modern weapons make just war a less likely possibility.

To say nothing of the expected deterrance such weapons provide, further attenuating the likelyhood that a leader would actually contemplate a genuninely belligerant act, for fear of immediate and precise reprisal.

All that goes to the defensibility of Pope Benedict's remarks from a rational point of view. The extent to which he intended to "develop" the line of thought, will have to wait for further clarification from him, I expect.

Dave Mueller

I think the main questions about the Iraq War, and the only bases on which it could potentially be justified, are the following:

1) Saddam's cooperation with Al-Queda may have justified the war, given Al-Queda's continuing attacks against the U.S. (and to a lesser extent, the entire world.) Here the big question is "how extensive was the cooperation?"

2) A defense of the innocent victims of the various genocides of Saddam's regime. (This may be less admittable if, in fact, there were no genocides going on at the time. However, given a dictator who has definitely killed hundreds of thousands of people over many years, it makes one suspect that it was continuing at least to some extent.)

3) An interesting point is whether the fact that the U.S. was responsible for Saddam getting into power makes them more responsible for his actions, and gives them a greater responsibility to fix it. This isn't really addressed in a just war calculus.

=================

As far as then-Cdl. Ratzinger's comments, I think he was simply trying to say that with weapons that kill more indiscriminately, it makes it difficult to see how a modern war could be just, since one of the requirements is that the war not cause more problems than it solves.

But since, in fact, most modern weapons are MORE AND MORE DISCRIMINATE AND FINELY TUNED, I don't feel that his premise was right on that point.

Neil

If Benedict XVI thinks in the same way as John Paul II, I think that we must say that this reticence about war (and capital punishment) cannot simply be dismissed by saying that "Catholics can disagree," even if this is technically true in specific situations. This is because the presumption against war and the death penalty for both Popes Wojtyla and Ratzinger would seem to have come rather directly from their Christology. I'll repost a comment I made elsewhere about the late John Paul that hopefully shows why we really must take seriously what the Catholic Peace Fellowship has brought to our attention.


I am writing this on the evening of the Pope’s funeral. Perhaps it is time that we looked a bit closer at his teachings. Why did John Paul II take surprising positions on capital punishment and warfare? He declared that “War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations,” and, during his papacy, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace even said, "Modern society has to have, and it has, the means to avoid war." In suggesting that just war theory was practically outmoded, Archbishop Renato Martino compared the just war to the death penalty. Regarding capital punishment, John Paul II had already limited its legitimate use to the “absolute necessity” of self-defense, and, as Evangelium Vitae claims, “such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

These developments, Thomas Rourke tells us, have to do with the realization that human beings, analogous to the divine persons in the Holy Trinity, are defined by their relationships to one another. Sin destroys these relationships – in Maximus the Confessor’s words, “man’s tempter … had separated him in his will from God, had separated men from each other” – but we are reunited with God and each other through the Incarnation. As John Paul II wrote, “The Incarnation of God the Son signifies the taking up into unity with God not only of human nature, but in this human nature, in a sense, of everything that is ‘flesh’: the whole of humanity, the entire visible and material world” (Dominum et Vivificantem), and we all become brothers and sisters in a restored solidarity who can look at the entire cosmos with wisdom and love.

This “taking up into unity” of “the whole of humanity” means that we are to touch Jesus in every single person – “For I was hungry and you gave me food …” (Mt 25:40). In fact, we cannot do otherwise. Seeing the presence of Jesus in other people is not merely an especially “graced,” ecclesiastical supplement to the “natural” way we may see others in, say, the secular courtroom. “Jesus shows that the commandments must not be understood as a minimum limit not to be gone beyond, but rather as a path involving a moral and spiritual journey towards perfection, at the heart of which is love” (Veritatis Splendor). And this rigorous “path,” taking us far beyond any "natural" minimum limit, meant that the pope simply had to remove the death penalty from discussions of just retribution, limiting it to the “rare, if not practically non-existent” cases of self-defense. As Thomas Rourke writes about the Pope’s thought, “the practice of putting to death criminals who are no longer a threat to society weakens the intrinsic link between person and community and thereby helps to diminish the respect that we must have for the life of all human beings, even that of sinners, with whom we are bound both in time and in eternity.” This sort of “respect” is a lot to ask, but, then again, Jesus does not call us toward a minimum.

And who can deny that there are aspects to the death penalty that “diminish the respect that we must have for the life of all human beings, even that of sinners”? The anthropologists Elizabeth D. Purdam and J. Anthony Paredes have written, "Just as Aztec ripping out of human hearts was couched in mystical terms of maintaining universal order and well-being of the state . . . capital punishment in the United States serves to assure many that society is not out of control after all, that the majesty of the Law reigns, and that God is indeed in his heaven." To the Pope, no order or assurance is worth more than the life of a human being, even a sinner, with whom we are “taken up into unity” in the Incarnation, with whom we are "bound both in time and in eternity."

And war? In Evangelium Vitae, the Pope noted, as “signs of hope,” both “a growing public opposition to the death penalty” and “a new sensitivity ever more opposed to war as an instrument for the resolution of conflicts between people.” William Portier says that, even if the Pope was not an absolute pacifist, his claim that morality is not a minimum, but a “journey towards perfection,” centered on love, "shifts emphasis to the kind of concern to minimize bloodshed” that we saw earlier with the Pope’s thought on the death penalty. The Church’s prayers for peace “so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war” (CCC 2307) are not then merely an especially “graced,” ecclesiastical supplement to the “natural” way we are allowed to see others in the realm of politics. When we look at other nations, we really must try to see the presence of Christ, remembering that “Naturam in se universae carnis adsumpsit” (He assumed in himself the nature of all flesh). Even when the Pope did call for a limited “humanitarian intervention” in Bosnia in 1993, it was because, as he said days earlier in Assisi, “In the tormented land of the peoples and nations of the Balkans, Christ is present among all those who suffer and are undergoing a senseless violation of their human rights.”

Why did the Pope take surprising stances on war and the death penalty? In a word, Christology. Are we willing to follow him?

(with minor corrections, Catholicsensibility.blogspot.com, 4.7.05)

Thanks.

Neil

maura

Sydney--I don't agree that no wars can now be just. As you say, that was nearly as true in World War II.

I don't think any use of thermonuclear weapons could be just, but, well, one doesn't have to use them.

This, though:
" "In pure scientific terms, there is no more basis to claim that 100K people died than 8K or 194K."

I am a dingbat about statistics, but even I know that this is wrong. Confidence intervals don't mean that all ranges within that interval are equally likely. 100,000 is not guaranteed but it's much more likely than either 8K or 194,000.

Tech Central Station is not exactly neutral. And that Slate article was not by an epidemiologist.

I think there is a moral obligation for the government to carefully study civilian casualties so there are not these endless arguments. If we're saving the Iraqi people oughtn't we to be at least interested in how many we accidentally kill along the way? I hate seeing the dead used as pawns by both sides to argue for their view.

Sydney Carton

al,

It seems that the world is in a Catch-22: if it makes its weapons more precise to avoid civilian deaths, that may cause a deceptive lowering of the "standard" of war, thus making wars more likely, which would mean that those weapons contribute to a case of making a just war less likely.

It seems then that what you're suggesting is that to avoid the lowering of "standards" in war, precision weapons should be avoided, and more indiscrimite weapons used which ironically have the effect of increasing civilian deaths. This line of reasoning would seem to go against a necessity for proportionality, wouldn't it?

Anyway, I'll admit that further clarification is necessary because there ARE two competing values involved: the precision of the weapon reduces civilian deaths, but MAY lower a "standard" for war. I don't know what "standard" you're talking about, because it doesn't look like classical "just war" standards since it seems to violate the necessity of proportionality. In any event, I think that in any balancing of those factors, the weight should side with that which reduces civilian deaths.

Sydney Carton

maura,

If you're committed to believing that approximately 100,000 civilians died in Iraq, then go ahead. But it's clear to most people that that number is based off a statistic that is entirely bogus and completly without merit. At the minimum, you should know that if you state that number as certain, you probably won't be taken seriously.

Christopher Rake

I am a dingbat about statistics, but even I know that this is wrong. Confidence intervals don't mean that all ranges within that interval are equally likely. 100,000 is not guaranteed but it's much more likely than either 8K or 194,000.

Maura, you are simply mistaken. That is what it means. The reason that confidence levels are usually more useful is that well-constructed studies present narrower bands. A usable study might find e.g. that with a 95% confidence level, 80K-110K people died. Even in that study, however, the science of statistics claims no more certainty that the actual figure is 80K or 100k or 110K.

That is why the Lancet study was such a travesty. Indeed, it said that with a 95% confidene level, 8K to 194K people died. I can say with deep conviction that if I presented this as a useful conclusion to my old stats instructor, he would not have been impressed.

al

An absence of war lessens, absolutely, the possibility of civilian deaths.

Dave Mueller

Neil,
Good post as always, and I heartily agree with regards to the death penalty. Mercy demands us to spare the life of the offender unless self-defense demands otherwise. This is hardly ever the case, at least in the Western world.

As far as war, I think this statement is cryptic: "Modern society has to have, and it has, the means to avoid war." What, I wonder, is that means, according to the Archbishop? If it is the U.N. he is referring to, I must simply disagree.

To be sure, if there is an EFFECTIVE means of ending the injustice that has precipitated the potential war, it must be taken instead.

maura

Christopher, none of what you wrote contradicted the sentence that I wrote.

I flatly don't trust you on the Lancet study so I don't see a use in discussing it further.

Daniel H. Conway

War supporters can contort the scandalous phrase "Love your enemies, do good to those who hurt you" into a demand to kill an enemy in combat in order to show your love for them in the strongest way possible.

Most death counters place the civilian figure at somewhere between only 10 and 20 thousand dead Iraqis.

Christopher Rake

Uh, no al, that is obviously not true. Stalin killed millions during his reign and fewer civilians would have died in the event of a war that overthrew him and subsititued a more genial form of government. Same goes for Iraq right now.

Sydney Carton

al,

What about the Catch-22 about proportionality? It seems absurd to argue for more proportionate means to obtain a just war, only to discover that by having proportionate means suddenly war is now unjust.

al

Uh, no Christopher.
A war may or may not have killed, or prevented Stalin killing the millions he did.

That's the point. War is exchanging the devil you do know for the devil you don't.

Sydney,
No, its not a Catch 22--I offered the arguments about Smart Weapons to demonstrate that they do not constitute evidence that future war will necessarily result in less collateral civilian damage.

maura

"Uh, no al, that is obviously not true. Stalin killed millions during his reign and fewer civilians would have died in the event of a war that overthrew him and subsititued a more genial form of government. Same goes for Iraq right now."

Not after both we and the USSR had the H-bomb, it wouldn't have.

This is not a conclusion one can assume.

Christopher Rake

Uh, no Christopher.A war may or may not have killed, or prevented Stalin killing the millions he did.

You could say the same for WW2. Your objection is weak to say the least. It is child's play to construct a sound just-war argument in that kind of circumstance. If you cannot see your way clear to a just-war foundation for a war to resuce the mass murder of innocents, then you are a functional pacificist.

maura

Finally, as far as torture goes:

there are two bills in Congress now that outlaw the government sending a suspect to Egypt or Syria to be tortured. (The U.S. has been doing this since the Clinton presidency, with increasing frequency under the Bush presidency, & it has now happened to some innocent people.)

Google
--rendition & CIA
--"Maher Arar"
--"Mamdouh Habib"
--rendition & torture
--torture outsourcing

for more information.

If you go to this website, you can look them up. The House bill # is H.R. 952 and the Senate bill # is S. 654.

Please consider writing your Senators or Congressman & asking them to cosponsor it. This is especially important if they sit on the House or Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Right now it looks like they have precious little chance of making it out of committee but it doesn't have to stay that way.

Just war doctrine is a hard issue without easy answers. Whether to send our prisoners to Egpyt, Syria or Uzbekistan to do as they wish with, has a very easy answer.

Sydney Carton

al,

If we can't know whether precision weapons will necessarily result in less civilian damage (because they would supposedly increase in use because they're so proportionate), then why should we care about proportionality at all? Anything that reduces individual damage caused in wars, as smart weapons do, may be seen as inducement to their frequent use, and thus ironically increasing the damage overall. So why care about proportionality when it may be seen as an inducement to frequent use?

Christopher Rake

Christopher, none of what you wrote contradicted the sentence that I wrote.

If you cannot see the difference between claiming that 1. A study is more confident that 100K people were killed than any other figure and 2. A study claims between 8K and 194K were killed, but cannot say what figure in that range is more likely--if do not agree even that there is a difference between those two claims, then I agree there is nothing more to discuss.

As for the H-bomb comment, of course we can examine a variety of scenarios where war is and is not justified. Risking mass nuclear annihilation certainly would be a factor you want to plug in there.

Neil

Dear Dave,

Thank you very much for your generous response. You are right that Archbishop Renato's statement, "Modern society has to have, and it has, the means to avoid war," was a bit cryptic, especially when it was reported in newspapers. But I think that he was pointing, not just to the UN, but to the various sorts of peacekeeping that have been developed. Now, these different "means" might not always be recognized or completely effective, but it would seem to be obligatory that, as Catholics, we really try to better support and develop these "means to avoid war" with at least the the hope that they will eventually render war almost unthinkable. I expect that Benedict XVI will foster these efforts, even if they continue to fail to attract as much attention as they deserve.

Perhaps a good place to begin looking for concrete evidence of peacekeeping is on the webpage of the Community of Sant'Egidio. They discuss their "method" here:

http://www.santegidio.org/en/pace/pace4.htm

Regarding the Kosovo situation in 1999, you can read this short article by Glen Stassen:

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj9907&article=990710

Thanks.

Neil

Victor Morton

Al wrote:

Sydney,
No, its not a Catch 22--I offered the arguments about Smart Weapons to demonstrate that they do not constitute evidence that future war will necessarily result in less collateral civilian damage.

The very essence of a Catch-22 is precisely that one DOES offer arguments for both ends of it.

The problem that Al's not seeing is with the "thinkability" argument he makes at one end -- that precision-guided weapons making war more likely because planners think destruction will be minimal and so become more bellicose. Assuming it was offered seriously and not in any-weapon-to-hand mode, then that necessarily means that the best weapons of all are those that make war absolutely "unthinkable." Meaning nuclear weapons, the bigger the better or something like the Doomsday Device in DR. STRANGELOVE. And this argument, known in the trade as "high deterrence," flatly contradicts the plain meaning of the Benedict quote that started this discussion.

al

Christopher,
I said above I can "see [my] way clear to a just-war foundation for a war to resuce the mass murder of innocents".

Its your reasoning that's the problem.

We don't know whether or not more people would be killed by any given conflict, than the people saved. That's why its not a "proportional" calculus, its a "proportionate" calculus--in cases where a grave violation of justice that can be resolved in no other way, there can be a just use of war.

Its the intrinsic justice of the action, rather than some proportionalist evaluation of goods, that governs just war doctrine.

al

Sydney,
Sorry, that's a specious dilemma.

The desire to reduce the collateral damage of weapons is entirely accidental to the impact that the type of weapons available may have on the conditions allowing for just war.

Donald R. McClarey

I trust the pacifists among us will disclaim the protection of the US military in any future conflict, to be true and consistant in their beliefs. As for me I rather like Pius XII's quip to Mark Clark the commander of the US army in Italy in World War II. Mark Clark apologized for the noise his tanks were making after the Allies entered Rome in WWII. The Holy Father responded, "General, your tanks can make all the noise they want, whenever they are coming to liberate Rome." If such an eventuality were to occur in the future, I am sure any Pope would welcome a military force coming to free Rome from a cruel occupation.

Daniel H. Conway

Benedict has commented like this about the catechism, in regard to the death penalty as it "develops a road, an evolution.”

Heads are exploding all over the political spectrum, Mr. Shea.

Benedict has never been a "pleaser" in terms of his public comments. He has never been one to try to appeal to his "base."

An important attribute following John Paul.

Sydney Carton

al: "The desire to reduce the collateral damage of weapons is entirely accidental to the impact that the type of weapons available may have on the conditions allowing for just war."

That doesn't seem so, given the quote from the Pope that Amy mentioned.

Victor Morton

Sydney:

Whenever Al dismisses you with a flick of the wrist and the word "specious" or "sophistry," you know you're right.

And when Al starts contradicting his very own words, you know you are in the right. He now says:

"The desire to reduce the collateral damage of weapons is entirely accidental to the impact that the type of weapons available may have on the conditions allowing for just war."

But here is what he wrote that started this mini-thread:

"As for smart weapons, a cause can certainly made that the veneer of destructive circumscription that surrounds such weapons, can deceptively cause a lowering of the standard of war for "precision" strikes, that adds, rather than substracts, to the notion that modern weapons make just war a less likely possibility.
AND
"All that goes to the defensibility of Pope Benedict's remarks from a rational point of view."

Pope Benedict's remarks were:

"given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war'."

Daniel H. Conway

Mr. McClarey,

Pacifists routinely live in difficult and violent areas in the US, have been killed in peacemaking actions, and have lost their lives in soup kitchens in this country. I recall the Mass for one such person and the family's subsequent open heart and their forgiveness of the murder of their young son.

Pacifists in disarmament actions are confronted by police violence. SOA activists routinely do months and months of jail time in federal penitentiaries, confronting the most violent members of society in the penal system.

The Schaffer-Duffy's of Worcester have flown to such difficult places as Bosnia during the massacres there to promote peace.

Pacifists in the inner city have brought drug wars to end and stopped drug sales. Gumbleton serves in a neighborhood and provides te sacraments in a world of weekly shooting deaths.

This is their non-violent witness to the Gospel. Show some respect.

al

Sydney,
The specious dilemma is yours, not Benedicts.

The attempt to reduce the destructive capability of weapons is an act, with a correlative intent, which can be considered wholly in abstraction from the subsequent determination as to whether those weapons increase the threshold for war or decrease it.

Except for those who view war as a good, and thus the increase of the threshold for its practice as an evil.

Most people actually view the increase of the threshold for war, and the correlative decrease of its likelyhood, as a good.

And thus the creation of weapons which may increase that threshold is a good.

Which was why probably the US Bishops signed onto MAD. Not to say they were right in their reasoning about the unforseen evils that nuclear arsonals would beget. But the increase of the threshold for war, can be,as their reasoning demonstrates, considered in prescinsion from the attempt to lessen the harm of particular weapons.

maura

I think that the more precise weapons are good things but I think if you believe the CNN military specialists about how clean war has become you are quite foolish. They are not as precise as advertised, they are very expensive, and they are not even options in many cases when you're talking about terrorists/insurgents*.

We didn't use smart bombs on Fallujah.

I have to say, as someone familiar with the debates over contraception and abortion--the hawks makes very similar arguments when it comes to war and peace that the left makes when it comes to contraception and abortion. I realize that one is labelled official doctrine and one is not, but the arguments are very, very similar.

*I'm not being squeamish--Zarqawi is obviously a terrorist as is anyone attacking civilians. I think there are some insurgents who don't do this, though I could be wrong.

Donald R. McClarey

"Pacifists routinely live in difficult and violent areas in the US, have been killed in peacemaking actions, and have lost their lives in soup kitchens in this country."


Yes, and none of them would have had an opportunity to do anything but for a huge number of Americans who died in our wars. Decrying our military while enjoying the protection it provides is wrong. Few people who post on this blog would have any freedom, or even life itself, except for the US military.

Victor Morton

But Al is still refusing to see the other horn of the "thinkability" argument he is making -- namely that more destructive weapons are better, hair triggers are better, and the Doomsday device is best of all, i.e., increased destructiveness is good because it deters all war, period. This flatly contradicts the plain meaning of Benedict's words as Cardinal Ratzinger -- namely that we should be thinking whether "it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war' " because "new weapons ... make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups," i.e., increased destructiveness is bad even to the point of putting war's licitness itself in doubt.

It's not good enough to defend one horn of a dilemma as rational, which is all Al's latest note does.

Sydney Carton

al,

Victor was right to compare and contrast your quotes on this matter. They flatly contradict each other. If you say, now, that the use of precision weapons can be considered in abstract apart from the likelihood of their future use, that's NOT what you said earlier when you noted that: "they add, rather than substract, to the notion that modern weapons make just war a less likely possibility."

I think you have to sort out your thinking on the matter. Quite frankly, I think you entriely forgot about proportionality. And now you're minimizing it, since you're suggesting that the best weapons to have are the most destructive ones, precisely because they increase the threshold for war and thus would preclude most wars (only by those who gave a damn, I might add).

Frankly, I never thought I'd see you suggest that nuclear weapons are a better weapon to have over a precision bomb. Amazing.

I'd hardly consider this dillemia specious. You're suggesting that the "creation of weapons which increase the threshold is a good." Thus, let's build more nuclear missiles and forget about precision bombs. This is not a specious matter, it's very serious with important policy consequences.

Eileen R

Maura:
I flatly don't trust you on the Lancet study so I don't see a use in discussing it further.

Maura, this is about *statistics* not about trust issues.

Christopher Rake

We didn't use smart bombs on Fallujah

I don't know about smart bombs, but we used all kinds of smart weapons and tactics in Fallujah. This included being exceptionally careful about not immediately attacking mosques even when they were used as combat havens by the enemy. This led to more deaths by US troops. The care taken by U.S. troops in this conflict is exceptional and almost certainly unprecedented.

Sydney Carton

grr. I apologize for the rampant spelling errors in my posts. Hopefully you guys can still understand me.

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