« Liberalism, yadda, yadda yadda | Main | The agonies of generally editing »

July 14, 2005

Comments

Carrie

Given the widespread dispersion of the book, and given that the children who are reading it are the future of America, and given the nature of the series as it dovetails with the changes in our culture, I would say that the importance is equal, though the war had more immediate impact.

But when it comes to our own children, their future belief in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church directly influences whether they will spend eternity in heaven or elsewhere. Parents have direct impact on their children's spiritual development. For this parent, anyway, that is monumentally more important than a war taking place an ocean away that will be fought and won or lost according to the dictates of those in power while anything I say or don't say about it will have about as much impact as a drop of water in the ocean.

As the prayer goes, "Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to kow the difference between the two."

William Bloomfield

It's a nice try by Jim, but he's comparing apples and oranges.

Evaluating the merits of a book can be easily evaluated by a Pope (or prefect of the CDF). Everything he needs to know is right there in the book.

Evaluating whether or not Saddam really had weapons of mass destruction is less easily evaluated by a Pope. And that's why the Catechism specifically reserves the judgment regarding just war to those who have responsibility for the common good. See Catechism, Paragraph 2309.

Eric Giunta

1) First off, I don't know of anyone who's claiming that the Pope's personal opinion on the Harry Potter books is binding on Catholics. Just that it should be given due weight.

2) The Church, even on a matter of just war, does have the right to impose even her "prudential judgements" on the faithful. The Church, therefore, may choose to forbid Catholics from fighting in a given war. She has done this in the past by excommunicating rulers and emperors whose campaigns she thought unjust, and could so forbid in future wars.

However, in the case of Iraq the Church made no such binding judgement.

The one exception was the major Archbishop of the Romanian Catholic Church, He actually forbade his flock from fighting in the war, under pain of mortal sin. He choose to impose his judgement, which was binding only on Romanian Catholics.

So while the Church usually reserves this judgement to the secular soverign, she may assume it herself when she feels strongly enough that such must be done.

Zippy

Evaluating whether or not Saddam really had weapons of mass destruction is less easily evaluated by a Pope.

It isn't so difficult to evaluate now. At best, attacking Iraq was a mistake. And if it was a mistake then we ought to admit that to ourselves.

Celine

Zippy rightly states, "At best, attacking Iraq was a mistake. And if it was a mistake then we ought to admit that to ourselves."

And a mistake of such magnitude casts grave doubt on the "prudence" of the judgment of those who made it. They have lost their trustworthiness and credibility. Henceforth, any deference that would otherwise be accorded their judgment should be denied.

Ed the Roman

To talk about WMD as the sole reason to depose an aggressive fascist who vocally and materially made common cause with a variety of terrorist groups is to put very narrow blinders on.

Christopher Fotos

It isn't so difficult to evaluate now. At best, attacking Iraq was a mistake. And if it was a mistake then we ought to admit that to ourselves.

At best, attacking Iraq will be the keystone to defeating the murderous cult of jihadist terrorism. A death cult whose members are working at this very moment to acquire WMD so they can annihilate us more efficiently than possible in the London tubes.

Go back to sleep.

Mike Petrik

Agreed, Ed, and to talk of WMD as the sole stated basis for such an effort is also blatant and dishonest revisionist history. Neither of these facts, however, demonstrates that the war was justified; but some of the war's critics as well as its supporters seem to have no problem playing with truth to make their case. In the end, I don't think we can make a case either way to the point of moral certainty. I'm inclined to think we were right to invade Iraq, but I respect those who believe otherwise. Similarly, I'm inclined to think the Harry Potter books are completely benign, but I respect those who believe otherwise. Accordingly, I think good Catholic parents are equipped to make the necessary prudential judgement for their own children.

Zippy

Instead of typing the same stuff over again I'll refer you to my posts here and here. Be sure to read the comments too.

kathleen reilly

"And a mistake of such magnitude casts grave doubt on the "prudence" of the judgment of those who made it. They have lost their trustworthiness and credibility. Henceforth, any deference that would otherwise be accorded their judgment should be denied."

Celine, I thought you were talking about Rome for a minute. in which case i might have agreed.

Seriously, maybe clerics in Rome should stop worrying about US foreign policy and children's fairy tales BOTH, and pay attention to the myriad, urgent, distressing issues that exist in their bailiwick. Currently, however, they seem to be fiddling while the-church-everywhere-but-Rome burns.

Jim Cork

"I think good Catholic parents are equipped to make the necessary prudential judgement for their own children."

Exactly, Mike. I would like to think we can all agree on that.

Zippy

Agreed, Ed, and to talk of WMD as the sole stated basis for such an effort is also blatant and dishonest revisionist history.

I don't recall saying that WMD were the sole stated basis, as if "stated basis" were the end-all of objectivily determining whether an act was or was not just. Is it blatant and dishonest revisionism to put words in other peoples' mouths? If you want to address what I have actually said, go read it (including the comments) and address it.

Mike Petrik

Zippy,
Your 11:29 post stated (i) that it isn't difficult now to assess whether Saddam had WMD and (ii) that the war was a mistake. Prsumably the latter was intended to follow from the former. I apologize for any unfair inferential liberties. My point was only that the casus belli, as articulated by the Bush Administration, was never limited to WMD, though that is the presumed implication of the argument that since there was no WMD there was no casus belli. As I also point out many war supporters have also played history games in order to support their case. I'm not interested in hijacking this thread to engage you in a fruitless debate about the morality of the war in Iraq. I know where you stand and respect your opinion.

kathleen reilly

PS: I agree that statements about Iraq and Harry Potter are not comparable. the Harry Potter statement calls attention to itself as a teaching to the flock (because of the Catholic-upbringing subject matter and who made the statement) as opposed to a general statement about the Iraq war, which the church merely comments on as a passive observer.

TheLeague

I've been reading a book called Seeing Islam as Others Saw It. It's a critical, academic analysis of the contemporary accounts of the first Muslim conquest of Christendom.

It's a sobering read. I'm going to blog about it later this evening at my own blog, and so spare everyone here a really looonng comment. Everyone should read it, whether you support the war on terrorism or not.

Mark Shea

Jim:

Welcome to the Cafeteria. When the Pope confirms the prejudices of Faithful Conservative Catholics[TM], he's a Sage who's opinion (on a matter of which he know precisely *nothing* unless he's read the Harry Potter books) deserves "due weight" (aka "If you disagree with him there's a real question about your fidelity"). But when he offers a private judgment that challenges the prejudices of Faithful Conservative Catholics[TM], well... what does *he* know? An out of touch curial bureaucrat? Sure "pre-emptive war is not in the catechism" as he says. But such abstract theorizing (while we should give is "due weight") weigh only as much as a feather compared to the rock solid certainties that American policy needs take precedence over Just War teaching.

Jim: I award you double bonus points for your very sound observation of St. Blog's ideological foibles.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Whenever prelates make comments about things out of their ken (foreign policy, war, economics, children's literature) they not only make tremendous fools of themselves (cf, USCCB) but they also dilute their prophetic voice (if they ever had one in the first place). Catholic prelates have neither the discernment nor the perspective to know when their comments matter and when they don't. And Catholics who have to look to the bishops for every little thing do not have the discernment that Christ requires His followers to have.

Now, to those of you who oppose the Iraq War, some questions:

Would you like Saddam Hussein back in power?

Would you like his evil sons alive again?

Would you like his regime to torture, rape and kill its fellow citizens?

If you don't, then SHUT THE (EXPLETIVE DELETED) UP!

Strange, but in all of the Vatican's bluster about "just war," none of the abuses mentioned above were ever addressed with the same degree of intensity.

Ah, Catholic "social justice." Great for Arab dictators. Bad for victims of sexual molestation.

Splinters. Planks. Eyes. Rinse and repeat.

Zippy

My point was only that the casus belli, as articulated by the Bush Administration, was never limited to WMD, though that is the presumed implication of the argument that since there was no WMD there was no casus belli.

I appreciate your comment Mike. It is indeed my position that we would not have gone to war without the WMD conjecture, that therefore it was a necessary justification (other side effects are not moral ends), and that absent an actual WMD threat the war was/is at best a mistake and more likely unjust. (It is my position that the Afghan war is/was almost certainly a just war though).

That doesn't imply anything about what the Bush administration said/says or thought/thinks, though, since the Bush administration is perfectly capable of being mistaken as to both facts and moral reasoning, and in fact is mistaken as to moral reasoning and was mistaken as to facts.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Zippy (and other Iraq War opponents), I suggest you read the following:

"1) Without question, Iraq was a nation that provided "safe haven" for terrorists with "global reach". Among them were terrormaster Abu Nidal, Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the conspirators in the 1993 WTC bombing, "Khala Khadr al-Salahat, the man who reputedly made the bomb for the Libyans that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over...Scotland,"Abu Abbas, mastermind of the October 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking and murder of Leon Klinghoffer," & "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, formerly the director of an al Qaeda training base in Afghanistan" who is now believed to be leading Al-Qaeda's forces in Iraq. Quite frankly, any war on terrorism that didn't tackle that nest of vipers would have been a war in name only.

2) As George Bush has said many times, the war on terrorism CANNOT BE WON without stopping rogue nations from supporting terrorist groups. Since we had more than a decade of experience that showed it was impossible to reason with Saddam, it was clear that war was the only way to stop him from supporting terrorists. In other words, as long as Saddam Hussein remained in power, the war on terrorism would have been unwinnable.

3) As Vladimir Putin revealed, Russian intelligence believed Saddam was planning terrorist attacks inside the US,

"I can confirm that after the events of September 11, 2001, and up to the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services and Russian intelligence several times received...information that official organs of Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist acts on the territory of the United States and beyond its borders, at U.S. military and civilian locations."

Because George Bush acted, we may have been spared Iraqi terrorist attacks here in the United States.

4) One of the likely reasons that we've seen such a decrease in Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel is because Saddam is no longer around to pay the families of suicide bombers $25,000 per homicide bombing. How many buses and pizza parlors full of Israeli women and children would have been blown into chunks by now if John Kerry had his way and Saddam were left in power?

5) While Iraq has not been implicated in the 9/11 attacks, Iraq has had ties to Al-Qaeda for more than a decade. The evidence of this is irrefutable and the people who are denying it are doing so for political purposes. Here are just a couple of quotes that prove what I'm saying...

"(Abu Musab al) Zarqawi was said to have received medical treatment in Baghdad in May and June of 2002 after being wounded in Afghanistan during the war. His leg was amputated, U.S. officials say, by a surgeon in Iraq. Before the war, Secretary of State Colin Powell pointed to Zarqawi's al Qaeda-affiliated group that he said was operating inside Baghdad, as evidence of ties between al Qaeda and Iraq." -- Today, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who was in Iraq before the war began, is leading terrorist attacks against the Coalition and Iraqi people.

"Credible reporting states that al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs." -- CIA Director George Tenet in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee on October 7, 2002

6) Because we're fighting in the Middle-East, terrorists who might otherwise be coming to America to kill civilians are coming into Iraq to fight our troops. George Bush prefers it that way. He'd rather have the best trained soldiers ever to walk the planet fighting the terrorists in Iraq rather than here at home. If John Kerry had his way, we might have civilians being attacked by those same terrorists in the streets of New York, LA, or Chicago. Which makes more sense; soldiers fighting the terrorists in Iraq or civilians being attacked by them here in the US?

7) Even though the Deulfer report has revealed there were no stockpiles of WMD in Iraq, it also says that they were waiting for an opportunity to produce them,

"ISG has no evidence that IIS Directorate of Criminology (M16) scientists were producing CW or BW agents in these laboratories. However, sources indicate that M16 was planning to produce several CW agents including sulfur mustard, nitrogen mustard, and Sarin."

What the Deulfer report is saying echoes what the man Deulfer replaced, David Kay, said earlier,

"Even those senior officials we have interviewed who claim no direct knowledge of any on-going prohibited activities readily acknowledge that Saddam intended to resume these programs whenever the external restrictions were removed."

Weren't we better off taking Saddam out when he didn't have WMDs than waiting until he did have them in stock?

8) Iraq was not completely free of WMDs. "10 or 12 sarin and mustard gas shells" have been found. Furthermore, it's of course possible that there are more we haven't found yet. There was also plenty of radioactive material Saddam could have given to terrorists to make a dirty bomb. So did Saddam Hussein have the capability of giving WMDs to terrorists? Yes, he did. Apparently, John Kerry has no problem with that.

9) Because we invaded Iraq, nations like Iran and North Korea cannot blithely disregard the idea that we will attack them and they'll be much more likely to make a deal with us, just as Libya did. As Mark Steyn said,

"You don't invade Iraq in order to invade everywhere else, you invade Iraq so you don't have to invade everywhere else."

10) Obviously Saddam had such poor judgement that it was dangerous to allow him to stay in power. Just look at this quote...

"It would be naive to the point of grave danger not to believe that, left to his own devices, Saddam Hussein will provoke, misjudge, or stumble into a future, more dangerous confrontation with the civilized world....He has supported and harbored terrorist groups, particularly radical Palestinian groups such as Abu Nidal, and he has given money to families of suicide murderers in Israel. ...We should not go to war because these things are in his past, but we should be prepared to go to war because of what they tell us about the future."

You know who said that back on 10/09/02? John Kerry. He was right the first time.

11) By taking out Saddam Hussein, we freed more than 25 million Iraqis and are helping them towards Democracy. This is no small thing given that Democrats justified military intervention in places like Bosnia and Haiti SOLELY on humanitarian grounds."

more to come....

Joseph D'Hippolito

Since we haven't found WMD in Iraq, a lot of the anti-war/anti-Bush crowd is saying that the Bush administration lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Well, if they're going to claim that the Bush administration lied, then there sure are a lot of other people, including quite a few prominent Democrats, who have told the same "lies" since the inspectors pulled out of Iraq in 1998. Here are just a few examples that prove that the Bush administration didn't lie about weapons of mass destruction...

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." -- From a letter signed by Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara A. Milulski, Tom Daschle, & John Kerry among others on October 9, 1998

"This December will mark three years since United Nations inspectors last visited Iraq. There is no doubt that since that time, Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to refine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer- range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies." -- From a December 6, 2001 letter signed by Bob Graham, Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford, & Tom Lantos among others

"Whereas Iraq has consistently breached its cease-fire agreement between Iraq and the United States, entered into on March 3, 1991, by failing to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction program, and refusing to permit monitoring and verification by United Nations inspections; Whereas Iraq has developed weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological capabilities, and has made positive progress toward developing nuclear weapons capabilities" -- From a joint resolution submitted by Tom Harkin and Arlen Specter on July 18, 2002

"Saddam's goal ... is to achieve the lifting of U.N. sanctions while retaining and enhancing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. We cannot, we must not and we will not let him succeed." -- Madeline Albright, 1998

"(Saddam) will rebuild his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and some day, some way, I am certain he will use that arsenal again, as he has 10 times since 1983" -- National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Feb 18, 1998

"Iraq made commitments after the Gulf War to completely dismantle all weapons of mass destruction, and unfortunately, Iraq has not lived up to its agreement." -- Barbara Boxer, November 8, 2002

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability." -- Robert Byrd, October 2002

"There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat... Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He's had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001... He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn't have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we." -- Wesley Clark on September 26, 2002

"What is at stake is how to answer the potential threat Iraq represents with the risk of proliferation of WMD. Baghdad's regime did use such weapons in the past. Today, a number of evidences may lead to think that, over the past four years, in the absence of international inspectors, this country has continued armament programs." -- Jacques Chirac, October 16, 2002

"The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." -- Bill Clinton in 1998

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security." -- Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

"I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons...I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out." -- Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003

"Iraq is not the only nation in the world to possess weapons of mass destruction, but it is the only nation with a leader who has used them against his own people." -- Tom Daschle in 1998

"Saddam Hussein's regime represents a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally, Israel. For more than two decades, Saddam Hussein has sought weapons of mass destruction through every available means. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons. He has already used them against his neighbors and his own people, and is trying to build more. We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons, and we know that each day he gets closer to achieving that goal." -- John Edwards, Oct 10, 2002

"The debate over Iraq is not about politics. It is about national security. It should be clear that our national security requires Congress to send a clear message to Iraq and the world: America is united in its determination to eliminate forever the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction." -- John Edwards, Oct 10, 2002

"I share the administration's goals in dealing with Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction." -- Dick Gephardt in September of 2002

"Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." -- Al Gore, 2002

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction." -- Bob Graham, December 2002

"Saddam Hussein is not the only deranged dictator who is willing to deprive his people in order to acquire weapons of mass destruction." -- Jim Jeffords, October 8, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." -- Ted Kennedy, September 27, 2002

"There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein's regime is a serious danger, that he is a tyrant, and that his pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated. He must be disarmed." -- Ted Kennedy, Sept 27, 2002

"I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." -- John F. Kerry, Oct 2002

"The threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real, but as I said, it is not new. It has been with us since the end of that war, and particularly in the last 4 years we know after Operation Desert Fox failed to force him to reaccept them, that he has continued to build those weapons. He has had a free hand for 4 years to reconstitute these weapons, allowing the world, during the interval, to lose the focus we had on weapons of mass destruction and the issue of proliferation." -- John Kerry, October 9, 2002

"(W)e need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. We all know the litany of his offenses. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. ...And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. That is why the world, through the United Nations Security Council, has spoken with one voice, demanding that Iraq disclose its weapons programs and disarm. So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real, but it is not new. It has been with us since the end of the Persian Gulf War." -- John Kerry, Jan 23, 2003

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandates of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them." -- Carl Levin, Sept 19, 2002

"Every day Saddam remains in power with chemical weapons, biological weapons, and the development of nuclear weapons is a day of danger for the United States." -- Joe Lieberman, August, 2002

"Over the years, Iraq has worked to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. During 1991 - 1994, despite Iraq's denials, U.N. inspectors discovered and dismantled a large network of nuclear facilities that Iraq was using to develop nuclear weapons. Various reports indicate that Iraq is still actively pursuing nuclear weapons capability. There is no reason to think otherwise. Beyond nuclear weapons, Iraq has actively pursued biological and chemical weapons.U.N. inspectors have said that Iraq's claims about biological weapons is neither credible nor verifiable. In 1986, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran, and later, against its own Kurdish population. While weapons inspections have been successful in the past, there have been no inspections since the end of 1998. There can be no doubt that Iraq has continued to pursue its goal of obtaining weapons of mass destruction." -- Patty Murray, October 9, 2002

"As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process." -- Nancy Pelosi, December 16, 1998

"Even today, Iraq is not nearly disarmed. Based on highly credible intelligence, UNSCOM [the U.N. weapons inspectors] suspects that Iraq still has biological agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, and clostridium perfringens in sufficient quantity to fill several dozen bombs and ballistic missile warheads, as well as the means to continue manufacturing these deadly agents. Iraq probably retains several tons of the highly toxic VX substance, as well as sarin nerve gas and mustard gas. This agent is stored in artillery shells, bombs, and ballistic missile warheads. And Iraq retains significant dual-use industrial infrastructure that can be used to rapidly reconstitute large-scale chemical weapons production." -- Ex-Un Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter in 1998

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. And that may happen sooner if he can obtain access to enriched uranium from foreign sources -- something that is not that difficult in the current world. We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction." -- John Rockefeller, Oct 10, 2002

"Saddam’s existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose a very real threat to America, now. Saddam has used chemical weapons before, both against Iraq’s enemies and against his own people. He is working to develop delivery systems like missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that could bring these deadly weapons against U.S. forces and U.S. facilities in the Middle East." -- John Rockefeller, Oct 10, 2002

"Whether one agrees or disagrees with the Administration’s policy towards Iraq, I don’t think there can be any question about Saddam’s conduct. He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do. He lies and cheats; he snubs the mandate and authority of international weapons inspectors; and he games the system to keep buying time against enforcement of the just and legitimate demands of the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States and our allies. Those are simply the facts." -- Henry Waxman, Oct 10, 2002

tcreek

Why pay attention to Europeans who condemn the United States for the war on terror when they don't do the same for our involvement in WWI and WWII? We were then in no danger from WMDs or anything else. What gave us cause to spend all those billions and lose all those lives and cause all that destruction when we were not threatened in those wars?

The Islamic terrorists are very much more a threat to the citizens of the United States than Hitler ever was or could have been. If the terrorists had the opportunity and the means they would kill every man, woman, and child in this country. Could anyone doubt that? But the biggest terror threat will be in Europe as we have recently seen in Spain and London.

Nothing changes. The 21st century is starting out the same as the 20th began and ended. The United States is the only country with the will, the means, and the guts to take on the great evils of the world, whether it be fascism, totalitarianism, Nazism, communism or Islamic terrorism and defeat them. And the greatest benefactors of these efforts were, and will be, Europeans.

So we do know why there is condemnation of the U.S. now but was not then, don't we? "Conscience does make cowards of us all".

The collective unconscious of the European mind has a sense of guilt in not having the will, the means, the guts, to overcome the evils that threaten them. And they resent the fact that the United States does. Our last two popes, great and holy men, seemingly are not immune from this mindset.

Zippy

Would you like Saddam Hussein back in power?

Would you like his evil sons alive again?

Would you like his regime to torture, rape and kill its fellow citizens?

Those questions are irrelevant in evaluating whether the war was just or not, because saving Hussein's people from him was not the moral end of the war. It was a (desirable) side effect. But if Hussein had stood down, allowed free and open inspections, and continued to torture his people, we would not have gone to war against him. Ergo saving the Iraqi people was not the moral end of the war.

Zippy

Terrorism, even armed with nukes, is a short-range weapon. The way to stop it from harming the US as a practical matter is to not allow devout Moslems into the country in the first place.

Rick

Would you like Saddam Hussein back in power?...

No.

But I would like the 1700+ dead US soldiers back, the 15,000 wounded ones unmaimed, the caught-in-the-crossfire Iraqi innocents alive, the Iraqi infrastructure undamaged, and the $200 billion taxpayer dollars back in the Treasury — or out of the deficit.

And all this seems a very high cost to get Iraq out of Saddam's hands, and into the hands of Islamic militants.


Ed the Roman

Zippy,

I'm pretty sure we'd have taken Saddam down, WMD or not. WMD got most of the press, but it reminded me of Chesterton's hypothetical demand for a case for civilization: there are so many things you don't know where to start.

Mike Petrik

Zippy,
Honestly, I don't want to be party to hijacking this thread to discuss an issue that not only is only marginally germane, but is also one that will not succeed in changing views. That said, I would point out that there is a difference between motive and warrant. One can make the case that the terrors cited by JH were an important motive but that Saddam's disregard of his treaty obligations re WMD etc supplied the legal warrant. Also, it is not clear to what extent motive matters in a just war. If FDR's motive for assisting Britain and France was a secret economic interest would that render the war unjust? What if Congress's declaration against Japan was motivated entirely by political expediency? My point here is only to suggest that this debate has countless layers that warrant a more appropriate forum as well as more time than most of us are prepared to give it, I think (although I would be willing to enter into a limited email exchange on the topic with any correspondent who is willing to be patient with a busy fellow). While I appriciate many of JH's observations, I offer the same sentiment to him, for what it's worth.

smmtheory

It isn't so difficult to evaluate now. At best, attacking Iraq was a mistake. And if it was a mistake then we ought to admit that to ourselves.

You're right, it isn't so difficult to evaluate now. It was before-hand when intelligence was limited by the presence of a murderous dictator. But your conclusion that it was a mistake is not an inescapable conclusion. Saddam's connection to terrorism is well documented, and that was one of the determinants. Saddam continued to militarily assault our troops in theater, and that was one of the determinants. Saddam continued to defy the international community with respect to disarmament and documentable evidence of such, and that was one of the determinants. And certainly, freeing the Iraqi populace from a murderous dictator was one of the determinants. The only thing that is noteworthy of possibly being a mistake is the belief that WMD existed in Iraq prior to the beginning of invasion. It has not been rigorously disproved that the WMD ended up going to Syria before we could capture it. And the only people that might know that for sure aren't talking about it. So it is hard to see on what grounds this action should be considered a mistake.

The antiquated methodology of war in the Just War Doctrine is what needs to be adjusted. It's not necessary any more to amass troops on a border to begin a war, or kill thousands of civilians. ICBM's and Cruise missiles have taken that out of prominence. That we did amass troops on the border before going to war was the indication of our reticence in going to war. At ANY time prior to his capture, Saddam could have averted the war by compliance. Does that count in your calculations of whether or not this war was a mistake?

Zippy

The antiquated methodology of war in the Just War Doctrine is what needs to be adjusted.

I understand the position, and I discussed it on my blog. Just as left-liberals want the Church to modify Her stance on sexual morality because of putatively changed circumstances, right-liberals want the Church to modify Her stance on just war because of putatively changed circumstances.

Zippy

I'm pretty sure we'd have taken Saddam down, WMD or not.

I think it is virtually certain that we, as a community, would not in fact have decided to go to war without the WMD-terrorist conjecture.

Zippy

If FDR's motive for assisting Britain and France was a secret economic interest would that render the war unjust? What if Congress's declaration against Japan was motivated entirely by political expediency?

The personal motives of individuals are not relevant. Individuals do not make war, communities do. But if the community went to war for economic expediency that would indeed be unjust.

Zippy

At ANY time prior to his capture, Saddam could have averted the war by compliance. Does that count in your calculations of whether or not this war was a mistake?

No, it doesn't. "He defied us" is not a valid justification to go to war.

catholic

"Now, to those of you who oppose the Iraq War, some questions..."

Have I been mistaken to believe the end does not justify the means? I've heard it said as a moral imperative on more than one occasion that one may not do evil that good might result. In this particular case, though you may be trying to justify the war, in the middle of the war, using rationalizations and hindsight, this war still does not meet the criteria for a Just War laid out in the Catechism.

peace

William Bloomfield

To refocus this debate and reaffirm my point (which as yet stands unrebutted):

Evaluating Harry Potter novels is far different than evaluating the Just War criteria.

Apples.

And.

Oranges.

(That might also help to explain why no one is debating the merits of Harry Potter, and why commenters are once again re-hashing the merits of the Iraq War.)

Mike Petrik

Zippy,
But isn't community intent as elusive as legislative intent. Hypothetically, what if it can be demonstrated that most people in a community desire to go to war for illegitimate reasons, but some people want to go to war for legitimate reasons. Is the war objectively illegitimate? If so, does that require the latter group to oppose the war notwithstanding their personl motives and reasoning?
A related example: A man sees a woman being assaulted. He rescues her solely because he is motivated to be recognized as a hero. Does that render his action morally unacceptable?
Another example: Assume five men are assaulting a woman. Three men observe this and it is recognized that they would have no practical hope of intervening successfully unless all intervene together. One observer knows that his two colleagues are only interested in fame, though he just wants to rescue the victim. May he participate in this "community" endeavor? Can the endeavor be classified as just or unjust based on the predominant motive?

smmtheory

I understand the position, and I discussed it on my blog. Just as left-liberals want the Church to modify Her stance on sexual morality because of putatively changed circumstances, right-liberals want the Church to modify Her stance on just war because of putatively changed circumstances.

You keep saying this, but the changes in war methodology are not just putative. They are in fact definitive. To tie these two together just serves to obfuscate the issue. You are using one to prop up your arguments for the other. Bringing up morality dodges the necessity of defending your own arguments.

brendon

but is also one that will not succeed in changing views.

That's not true. The arguments that Zippy and Al made in these comment boxes changed my mind on the issue a few months ago. So the arguments mattered in at least one instance.

On a side note, I'm never sure that these discussions use the term "prudential judgment" from CCC 2309 correctly. It doesn't mean that those who have responsibility for the common good (President, Congress, &c.) get to make any decision they want. It means that they must use the virtue of prudence to make the judgment. It is my understanding that the virtue of prudence is the virtue of the practical intellect that allows a person to seek good ends through the use of good means. If the means chosen are not good, or if the end itself is not truly good, then the judgment is not "prudential" by definition. That is, at least, my understanding.

catholic

"Since we haven't found WMD in Iraq, a lot of the anti-war/anti-Bush crowd is saying that the Bush administration lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."

It isn't that we haven't found WMD. It is that they never existed and that the Bush administration, assisted by the conservative noise machine, set out to deceive the American public as to their existence. That some Democrats were sucked into the lie is understandable. How could they think the Bush administration, regardless of political differences, would lie about the intelligence data and plunge the US into an unjust war?

You don't have to believe me that the Bush administration set out to purposefully deceive the American public. Take the word of the head of British intelligence who said the same thing to Blair in July of 2002. Read the Downing Street memos. Pull your head out of your partisanship and realize this deception is far worse than Watergate.

peace

Boniface McInnes

Yeah, sure, its another example of American blood thirst.

And it ain't limited to Bush.

It ain't limited to those who voted for Bush.

It ain't limited to those who supported the Republican Party short of voting for Bush.

But it surely includes Clinton, those who've voted for him, and those who have supported his party short of voting for him.

You're all teeth in a cog in a machine of death and destruction, and all the dismay at this particular war is just so much petty nothingness. The blood covers the hands of all those who endorse the American system as it stands.

Anything else is just weaseling out of your own responsibility, your own culpability. Sad. Pathetic.

TheLeague

Didn't this get started from Jim "34 % American"'s non sequitor regarding Harry Potter and the Iraq War?

I can't see why you can't agree with the Pope's two-year old comment on Harry Potter, and disagree with the official Church stance on the War. Since the two have absolutely nothing in common why can't this be a reasonable stand?

BTW: I wouldn't take the Cardinal's two sentence comment to mean a rejection or an endorsement. He was just being nice.

Mike Petrik

catholic,
"Never"? Are you not aware that it is undisputed that Saddam did in fact have WMD during much of the 1990s? And are you unaware that both Congress and the UN also believed that Saddam had WMD immediately before the invasion, based on the same intel that the Bush Admin had? Could it be that they were all simply mistaken? Why must we automatically conclude that the Admin lied in saying they believed Saddam had WMD?
Talk about partisanship!

chuckc

Just for the sake of argument, what war was the most recent "Just War"?

TheLeague

catholic:

"It isn't that we haven't found WMD. It is that they never existed ..."

You're right they never existed. Saddam didn't gas those Kurds, they all just tripped and feel over.

Joe Magarac

Mr. Bloomfield suggests that the pope's private opinions on books are as different from his private opinions on the justness of the Iraq war as apples are different from oranges.

I disagree. The popes can condemn books and place them on an Index. The popes can condemn wars and excommunicate their participants.

These days, most popes prefer not to condemn books or wars. But that doesn't mean that popes are incapable of doing either, more likely to do one than the other, or more able to do one than the other.

The fury with which some folks have reacted to Jim's comment suggests that he's touched a nerve.

Zippy

But isn't community intent as elusive as legislative intent?

Sure, or as not elusive, depending on your epistemic perspective. Elusive, puzzling, etc are not synonyms for nonexistent, nor are they synonyms for relative, nor are they synonyms for "discountable in moral reasoning".

May he participate in this "community" endeavor?

Sure. The question of the morality of the individual acts of an individual soldier is a different one from the question of the morality of a war undertaken by a community.

Zippy

Just for the sake of argument, what war was the most recent "Just War"?

Afghanistan.

On another note, we should be more careful about saying "the Pope's this and the Pope's that" when talking about Cardinal Ratzinger's work. Appointment to the Chair of Peter is not a retroactive act, as far as I am aware.

Zippy

You keep saying this, but the changes in war methodology are not just putative. They are in fact definitive.

The technological changes in the prosecution of war are not any more or less putative than the technological changes in the carrying out of sexual acts. I use the term "putative" with respect to moral categories, but you can feel free to drop it in the one case as long as you also drop it in the other.

c matt

But its not really apples and oranges.

Both the Pope's opinion on the war and HP are prudential judgments; thus, either we give both opinions equal deference (that is, serious consideration but not necessarily binding upon conscience), or neither one any deference. The inconsistency comes when those who like HP, but dislike the war, point to the Pope's pronouncements on the war and say True Catholics Must Listen and Try to Understand His Wisdom, but with his opinions on HP they say Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain.

Jim Cork

TheLeague said: "I can't see why you can't agree with the Pope's two-year old comment on Harry Potter, and disagree with the official Church stance on the War. Since the two have absolutely nothing in common why can't this be a reasonable stand?"

I didn't say you couldn't. I said that with regards to Iraq, "many people protested that we were not bound by his private opinions, and that there was room for legitimate disagreement." The same holds true for Harry Potter. There's room for disagreement.

john c

Maynard Fimble was told that "you can't compare apples and oranges," but, he thought, they are both eatable, grow on trees, are about the same size, are good for you, have a peel, come in many varieties, and are approximately round in shape, thus, to his horror and guilt, he realized that he was comparing them and wondered what punishment awaited him and on whose order.

Charles Jaworski
Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mention
Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2004

TheLeague

Jim Cork: "There's room for disagreement"

I agree. Well met.


Oh, Zippy, you said the A-word. Ah, yes, Afghanistan. Of course, Afghanistan was a "just war," right?

No. You see, the jihiadists were just as pumped to fight in Afghanistan as they now are in Iraq. If we hadn't invaded Iraq, then there would probably be tens of thousands of jihadists heading through a complacent Lebanon, a willing Syria, an actively supportive Iraq, through base-camps in Iran. They would be coming from the north, through the Pankisi Gorge -- away from Chechnya. And they would be training at the jihad and poison camps already established by...al-Zarqawi (north) and Saddam Hussein (south).

Afghanistan would be a blood bath, and the same people who are calling Iraq the "quagmire" would be calling Afghanistan the "quagmire." And very few people would be associating the term "just war" with Afghanistan.

c matt

I can't see why you can't agree with the Pope's two-year old comment on Harry Potter, and disagree with the official Church stance on the War.

You can. You can agree w/ him on Potter, disagree on war; agree on war/disagree on Potter; agree on Potter and war; disagree on Potter and war; you can like green eggs and ham, etc.

But you can't say (with consistency) his opinion on the war matters, but on Potter doesn't.

Zippy

Oh, Zippy, you said the A-word. Ah, yes, Afghanistan. Of course, Afghanistan was a "just war," right?

I am reasonably certain that it was, yes.

c matt

Of course, at this point, there is still some question as to exactly what is his position on HP. It seems to be one of caution against seeing magic as a force to dabble with, but not necessarily a blanket prohibition on the book.

What I don't get is the complaints that B16, or Fr. Amorth, don't have the "creds" to criticize the literary worth of HP. That misses the point. B16, to the extent he has an opinion, does not seem to be offering an opinion on its literary merits. Ditto Fr. Amorth. For all I know, they could think its writing is fabulous (all the more to be concerned with it).

Its the potential occult impact they seem concerned with, not whether HP exhibits noun-verb agreement, is free of dangling participles, presents full character development, uses metaphors properly, presents clear plot development, etc. A lung doc may know diddly squat about architecture - I therefore might not heed his opinion that a particular building fails in its attempt to incorporate Greco-Roman elements in its design. But when he says failure to use proper respiratory equipment can lead to asbestosis in the process of erecting said building, he is well within his field of expertise.

Mike Petrik

Zippy,
I never suggested that "elusive" was synonymous with non-existent, relative or discountable in moral reasoning, though it may be that "community intent" is non-existent simply as a logical matter, if not epistemological. If so, I suppose that it would then be both non-existent and discountable. More specifically, it would seem that for "intent" (or "motive," if that is more precise) to be evaluated one must identify a single moral agent, and I doubt that a community counts as such, at least under Catholic moral theology.
In any case, without regard to the identity of the moral agent, it is interesting, is it not, that at least in some cases a soldier can fight an unjust war if his motives are not defective. Of course, it follows that a citizen can support an unjust war if the war's status as unjust is a function of the moral agent's defective motive and the citizen's motive is not defective. An analogous example might be the example I hypothesized above regarding the three on five street combat. The primary observer in that example might properly encourage his colleagues to assist in the battle notwithstanding their defective motivations.

Zippy

...it is interesting, is it not, that at least in some cases a soldier can fight an unjust war if his motives are not defective.

Until such time as he discovers that, objectively, the war is unjust. We can only be personally culpable for the things we actually choose. But if we choose the wrong thing accidentally, it is a mistake, not a just choice. So fully extracted from the subjective the most we can say is that the Iraq war was either unjust or a mistake.

Justice does come in two modes, as taught by St. Thomas Acquinas, and I don't think that a modern individualist account of justice that treats communities as amoral actors is coherent. I think you may be conflating subjective intent or motive with objective moral end. The moral end of the act of a community is what the community is attempting to do, which can be ascertained by asking what the community would alter its plans to do as circumstances are modified. And it is clearly the case that the moral end of the community in the Iraq war was not to free the Iraqi people, since we would not have pursued that end for its own sake.

To deny the possibility that a community can have moral ends is to deny that communities exist at all, because (some of) the essential components of a community are common action and common good.

Zippy

...since we would not have pursued that end for its own sake using the same means, is what I should have written.

Donald R. McClarey

I have rarely been prouder to be an American than I am today because of what we are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are attempting to bring representative government to two nations which have almost no experience of it. It is a gamble, as were the attempts to bring such governments to West Germany and Japan after WWII. The alternative to helping to install such governments throughout the Arab world, however, is a war of extermination such as certain trolls have long been preaching and which the Islamo-fascists wish to initiate. In an era of portable nukes either we are able to convert the Middle East to a region of stable and free governments, or we will have to take terrible steps to ensure our own survival.

As to Harry Potter, I think the Pope's private letter, prior to his becoming Pope, has about as much moral significance as his opinion as to whether pepperoni is the best topping for pizza.

derringdo

Hey, don't look at me-I think he's wrong on both subjects, assuming he's being quoted correctly :P

john c

Pepperoni!? Bratwurst*, surely!

(* which no one can stop me pronouncing as though it were made from ground up wicked children)

Lynn S

Fascinating to watch this post morph into Iraq. I have not been commenting here long, but continue to be impressed by both the variety of views and the flexibility of mind. On Potter -- it's a children's book with magic. Hmm, So are the Chronicles of Narnia, but I guess the magic part can be discounted by the allegory.

On Iraq

Joseph

1. began by making the point that Hussein was a bad guy and the world is better off without him. Humanitarian intervention is justified then. Ok. Why not invade North Korea? Burma? Belarus? Equitorial Guinnea? Zimbabwe? Sudan? Cuba? Haiti? Uzbekistan? Syria? Iran? Saudi Arabia? One writer commented that liberals had used the rationale of humanitarian intervention re: Bosnia. True enough. Republicans lambasted them for that. The issue of national soveriegnty comes into play here, even when a government is manifestly unjust. We did not invade Iraq when Kurds were being gassed (with chemicals purchased from the US during the Iraq/Iran war), Marsh Arabs being killed because nations that value international stability do not easily cross the national soverignty line. In fact in the 80's and early 90's when these atrocities were occuring we said very little.

Joseph continued with a long list

2. Hussein's Iraq as a terrorist haven. Add to that list Pakistan (an ally) Syria, Iran, Afghanistan (still, though the Afghan government is trying to fight it), Egypt, Saudi Arabia. Oh and Abbas was sheltered by Libya. It is a truism that state tolerated terrorism must be stopped and that has been US policy for many years (9/11 made aggressive action acceptable) But Hussein himself was no friend to Al Qaida -- an organization which also viewed him with contempt. Did Iraqi agents have contact with Al Qaidi, yes. But one would expect any competent intelligence service to have done that -- one keeps an eye on one's enemies.

3. Putin's statement. Putin also claims there is no torture in Chechnya (look up Chechen history sometime, it isn't pretty what the Russians have done there). Putin supports brutal dictatorships in Belarus and Uzbekistan. Putin claims he is not clamping down on democracy. I find it difficult to believe him, somehow.

4. Fighting terrorists in the Iraq prevents them from coming here. Wow. And the hundreds, now thousands of innocent Iraqis caught in this crossfire for our safety may one day be a bit well unhappy about the whole experience. But that is not the great danger. Intel analysts now believe that the terrorists in Iraq (which are more numerous than before) are gaining invaluable training and experience. That's chilling.

5. WMD -- yes Iraq had chemical weapons we know that from the Kurds and the war against Iran. The 10- 12 shells that were found were also found to be not useful. Morever, analysts now believe that Hussein was trash talking in order to scare Iran -- his biggest worry as an invader. Virtually everyone believed our intel that Hussein had WMD. It was faulty intel. You'd think we'd have learned. Our intel also told us that there was a missle gap, a bomber gap and a dollar gap with the Soviets. None of those estimates were correct. Intel also told us that terrorists were operating an aspirin factory in Sudan so we bombed it. It was an aspirin factory. We should be learning that it is unwise to use intelligence as a basis for going to war. And that a "pre-emptive" war had best actually pre-empt something or America loses credibility. Without a catastrophic event like 9/11 we will have a much more difficult time persuading anyone to join us in a pre-emptive venture.

6. The war in Iraq has warned off North Korea. Really? Before Iraq war, no nukes in North Korea. After Iraq war, nukes in North Korea. We gave them an incentive to hurry up that project. As for Libya, those negotiations preceded the Bush Administration and should largely be credited to the British.

7. Less violence in Palestine is much more attributable to a new Palestinian government and Israeli willingness to stop settlements and come to the table.

All of that said, regardless of why we are in Iraq it is critical that we do the job right. Unfortunately the Administration has so far botched the occupation hugely. Examples: There are not enough troops. 2. infrastructure is wholly lacking. 3. distribution of funds for rebuilding has been a disaster. 4. While some of our politicians blithely criticize the UN oil for food scandal (which was enabled by France, Russia and China), we ignore Halliburton and other companies which have now multiple times been fined for misbehaviour. 5. We may yet have civil war in Iraq (indeed some of the "terrorist insurgency" is that -- Sunni's fighting Shia's for control. 6. We have made a recruiting ground for Al Qaidi which previously had made the American troop presence in Saudi Arabia its call to arms. 7. We have inspired new hatred from Abu Gharaib and Guantanamo.

The Administration needs to change course in Iraq and get a grip on these things.

Celine

Lynn S.:

Thanks to you, I don't need to spend half the evening writing in response to the by now really boring and desparate list of Reasons Why the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq Is a Blessing.

However, I must mention the human "collateral damage" that has been inflicted since we set about on this little adventure in building the Great Society in the Middle East: Somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 Iraqis killed. There is now a good argument that continuation of the War is immoral because it has caused disproportionate harm, and promises to continue to do so. That more harm would come if we get out of Dodge than if we continue the gun fight is sheer speculation, and those who promised flowers in the streets, WMDs galore, swift victory, and transformation of the Middle East into a second Eden have been disqualified from making such an argument in any case. Their political judgment is tainted and cannot be trusted.

TheLeague

What were those numbers again? 3000000K were killed!!!!! No, wait, 60000000000000K Iraqis were killed.

If I'm not mistaken Saddam killed more, but whose counting when we're talking about the UN's Favorite Dictator?

$50 billion stolen in the greatest fleecing of a poor bedraggled people in human history. No wonder France, Germany and Russia didn't want to invade, they were going to make out once sanctions were lifted. Looks like for some, it was all about the oil.

What? You haven't heard about the oil for food scandal? I suggest you stop getting all your information about the Middle East from Thomas Friedman column.

He's the Thomas Kinkade of Middle East analysis.

Zippy

On Potter -- it's a children's book with magic. Hmm, So are the Chronicles of Narnia, but I guess the magic part can be discounted by the allegory.

My own view on Potter vs. Narnia is that the Narnia stories are much better stories, but the close allegory to Christianity makes them more likely to teach heresy inadvertently than the obviously pagan Potter.

Zippy

The alternative to helping to install such governments throughout the Arab world, however, is a war of extermination such as certain trolls have long been preaching and which the Islamo-fascists wish to initiate. In an era of portable nukes either we are able to convert the Middle East to a region of stable and free governments, or we will have to take terrible steps to ensure our own survival.

I don't think the nonviolent option of denying devout/radical (I use the terms interchangeably in this case) Moslems entry into our country has been seriously considered. Terrorism is a short-range weapon.

And in any case, even if we thought we had no moral options, that wouldn't justify an immoral one.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Would you like Saddam Hussein back in power?...

No.

But I would like the 1700+ dead US soldiers back, the 15,000 wounded ones unmaimed, the caught-in-the-crossfire Iraqi innocents alive...

Rick, so would I. I would also like to see the 3,000 who died on Sept. 11 back. I would like to see those who died in Beslan, Bali, Istanbul, Madrid, London, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, the Khobar Towers, on the USS Cole and in every Israeli target of Palestinian suicide bombers back.

What you fail to realize, Rick, is that defeating terrorists who wish the world to submit to their fascist religion will not be painless. It will not be quick. It will not be easy. But it must be done. To expect it to be done without loss of life is fantasy.

As George S. Patton said, nobody won a war by dying for his country. They won by making the enemy die for his country.

I wish it were different, Rick. Unfortunately, it isn't.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Would you like Saddam Hussein back in power?

Would you like his evil sons alive again?

Would you like his regime to torture, rape and kill its fellow citizens?

Those questions are irrelevant in evaluating whether the war was just or not...it was a (desireable) side effect...

Ah, yes, the ol' "the ends never justifies the means" shell game, practiced by twits who love endless esoteric discussion after the fact.

I'm sure those questions aren't irrelevant to Iraqis who were brutalized by Saddam for more than 25 years, and his Ba'ath Party for longer than that.

Then again, I'm beginning to learn after three years of exposure to Catholic blogs that many (if not most) Catholic bloggers don't really give three micrograms of dessicated rat droppings for the innocent. They would rather argue about what constitutes "just" war, with many people using their arguments to express their contempt for this country -- or their sycophantic loyalty to a pope who appeased Arab dictators (and Islam in general) in the final years of his tenure while ignoring the pleas of Middle Eastern Christians.

Just look at the reactions to the clerical sex abuse crisis on this here blog alone. The number of people making excuses for the hierarchy's and (especially) the papacy's misfeasance is legion.

Catholic Social Justice (TM): Crucifying the innocent on the cross of esoteric pseudo-intellectuality since 1286....

Joseph D'Hippolito

Lynn S, several points:

1. My points about WMD in Iraq is that foreign intelligence agencies, Pres. Clinton and leading Democrats during his adminstration all believed that Saddam not only had WMD, but would use them. He not only used them against Iraqi Kurds but also against Iranians when Iran and Iraq fought each other in the 1980s.

2. Regarding the "less violence in Palestine," I suggest you read the following:

http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3111238,00.html

The PA has no intention of settling for a state on the West Bank. They want all of Israel, and they want to exterminate the Jews in the process. Don't be fooled.

3.Regarding Guantanamo, read:

http://www.nationalreview.com/murdock/murdock200507120852.asp

4. Regarding Iraq as a "breeding ground" for terrorists, read:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/825ijtne.asp

5. Regarding relations between Iraq and al-Qaeda, read:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/804yqqnr.asp

6. Regarding Pres. Bush's "botched job" in Iraq, read:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/803ajasz.asp

7. For a historical perspective on U.S. military intervention in Iraq, read:

http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson071205.html

Lynn S

Joseph,

I have read those sites. I have also read from a variety of other sources. I have also listened to what military officials have had to say about troop levels (something I wish the SecDef would do). Stubbornly clinging to news sources and stories that support your point of view without checking other sources leads to error -- similar to what we did with the intel re: Iraq WMD.

1. WMD, I pointed out that Hussein did use chemical weapons on Kurds and Iran in the 80's and early 90's. And then went on to say everyone believed the intel, but the intel was faulty. And if we are going to build a basis for pre-emption our intel had better be right. There has been some reporting that alternate intel views were squelched, but not much. One known case is that State objected to parts of Pres. Bush's inaugural address and Secretary Powell's UNSC presentation. There should be an investigation as to how the intel got it so wrong and steps should be taken to try to make sure that doesn't happen again. But to have that kind of an inquiry the Administration would have to admit it made a mistake.

2. The PA is hardly a monolithic organization. Different factions have different views.

3. Guantanamo -- Fairly disturbing information is coming out. And frankly right now whether it is a systemic problem as some assert or whether it was the action of a few, the USG needs to do something about it as public opinion abroad is negative and getting worse. The Administration needs to propose a new set of laws to address a new category -- neither criminal nor true POW. AG Gonzales and company are right in my view in creating the illegal combatent status, but they were wrong in not holding some kind of tribunal (not necessarily US civilian courts) to determine that status. The Administration is also wrong when it allows Generals in command to escape even a reprimand. Generals are responsible for their units -- behaviour that crossed the line should have been caught and stopped.

4. Breeding ground for terrorists and training ground: suggest you read the many articles on the CIA and military reporting just that.

5. Everyone knows there were relations between Al Qaida and Iraq. What is not known is the nature of those relations. It does not appear that they received material support. In any event it is very clear that Iraq was not involved in 9/11 as the Administration implied and the American electorate was certainly allowed to believe.

6. Botched job -- so much has been written about this that there is too much to cite to.

7. For an historical perspective see the British occupation of Iraq.

But really Joseph your line of argumentation is a clear echo of what the Administration says. No need to worry, its hard work. Mission accomplished and the insurgents are in the last throes. There are WMD, oops, well Sadam was a bad guy anyway so that makes it ok and anyway the real goal is to establish democracy. Well ok, the Administration should level with the American people.

Personally I had real qualms about this war. We hadn't finished the job in Afghanistan (still haven't) and it meant committing our military in such a way that if we need them elsewhere well, the US military is a mighty force but it doesn't have the manpower to fight in another engagement right now. But that's all water under the bridge because the Adminstration committed America to this and now it must be done right. Post-war planning was clearly inadquate and that has yet to be fixed.

tcreek

I think it is much more reasonable to take advice from someone about a book they have not read than about a war they have not fought.

TheLeague

Lynn S.

6. Botched job -- so much has been written about this that there is too much to cite to.

Of course, because everyone knows how to occupy a country. It's so easy. I especially love the armchair socialists at the NYTimes and Washington Post telling the State and Defense folks what's botched and what's not.

If, in a year's time, Iraq is stable, half our force is gone, and it can maintain its border integrity, what will you be whining about? No WMDs?

BTW: I'm not hearing much whining from my Catholic socialist friends about our 60+ year occupation of Germany. Don't you think it's time we end that occupation?

You also said: "they were wrong in not holding some kind of tribunal (not necessarily US civilian courts) to determine that status"

They have. One of the Generals in charge of Gitmo tribunals spoke this week at the Catholic Information Center in DC. There are three tribunals, one is to ascertain a status for these child-raping, head-chopping, poison-making, church-bombing, women-stoning, hand-sawing maniacs. Another is actually try them. And, quite frankly, I forgot what the third was for.

They deserve civil rights. Yeah, and a few hugs and an apology for the Crusades. That'll turn them around. After all, they just have a bad case of the self esteem blues.

Zippy

Ah, yes, the ol' "the ends never justifies the means" shell game, practiced by twits who love endless esoteric discussion after the fact.

If you want to argue that the end justifies the means you are free to do so. But don't pretend that you are arguing as a Catholic.

Lauda Jerusalem Dominum

Rick, so would I. I would also like to see the 3,000 who died on Sept. 11 back. I would like to see those who died in Beslan, Bali, Istanbul, Madrid, London, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, the Khobar Towers, on the USS Cole and in every Israeli target of Palestinian suicide bombers back.

And of course Iraq had nothing to do with any of these (with the exception of giving money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers). You certainly can't lay Madrid and London at the foot of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, now, can you?

TSO

If the Iraq War was unjust, then the Gulf War was unjust because the Iraq war was a continuation caused by ceasefire violations.

Ignoring the ceasefire agreement was certainly a viable option, though at the risk of rendering future ceasefires meaningless and thus encouraging other rogue states.

Is it worse to be unpredictable (in the sense of sometimes hewing to agreements and sometimes not) or to be predictable (i.e. having the world know where we stand and how we'll recact)?

Bush has been pretty much the exemplar of predictability which pretty sad results. Perhaps intrigue and subterfuge are underrated.

Lynn S

League:

Botched job in post-war began with bickering between foreign policy agencies and without a real recognition that what President Bush said in his 2000 election campaign was correct. The US military is not designed for long-term peacekeeping work; it is not a law enforcement organization, it is not a development agency. Iraq won't be stable in a year. Five years maybe it will be approaching stable.

And you should seriously re-read my post. I didn't whine about WMD didn't say the public was misled. I did say that our intel was faulty -- meaning it sucked and we should fix that (is that easier to understand now?)

Gtmo -- yes we have tribunals because the Supreme Court forced it. And you really read into what I had to say be assuming I think these guys can be rehabilitated, patted on the head and let go. They should be held for as long as it takes, their whole lives if necessary. But it should be done under color of law not as it is done now. Can you stop having a knee jerk response now and provide a considered view?

Zippy

Ignoring the ceasefire agreement was certainly a viable option, though at the risk of rendering future ceasefires meaningless and thus encouraging other rogue states.

Again, I think it is manifestly false that we would have invaded without the WMD-terrorist conjecture.

Of all of the supplemental justifications I do think this one is the best though. It happens to be the one that was tried on the Holy Father (Sullivan and Novak weren't dumb enough to try the "its for humanitarian reasons" one on PJPII).

But I think we are kidding ourselves if we believe that we would in actual fact have invaded based on violation of the cease-fire alone. We essentially ignored violation of the cease-fire for years, and would have continued to ignore it if not for 9-11. So violation of the cease-fire was not the reason we invaded: it was not the end toward which we employed the means of war, it was just one item on the list of desired side-effects.

Zippy

I wrote:
Again, I think it is manifestly false that we would have invaded without the WMD-terrorist conjecture.

In other words, Just War doctrine requires a threat that is lasting, grave, and certain. Violation of a cease-fire that we had not enforced by invasion for ten years is clearly not that threat. The putative threat was the terrorist-WMD conjecture, which is certainly lasting and grave, but, as it turns out, not certain.

The "continuation of Gulf War I" line of argument rests on the fallacy that once a war is started we no longer have to justify it. But that is not the case. If the lasting, grave, and certain threat has ceased then our moral warrant to prosecute war ends.

I'll forestall the usual objection asking whether a mushroom cloud in an American city is necessary to provide the certainty: no, it is not. All that is required is for us to be certain in the ordinary sense. But no amount of gravity can substitute for certainty. The standard for certainty is that we should have been actually correct in fact about the Saddam-terrorist-WMD conjecture. We were not.

Mike Petrik

Zippy,
Two points:
First, even without regard to WMD reasonable people can differ as to whether Iraq would have presented a lasting, grave and certain threat (either to us or its neighbors) but for the our continued prosection of the Gulf War by enforcing its cease fire conditions.
Second, I'm inclined to think that the Bush Administration would have favored invading Iraq even if it believed that Iraq no longer had WMDs. Indeed, the stated casus belli was, as you know, much broader than that. It is true that much of the public support for the war was a function of the WMD, and one can infer that without the WMD threat public support would have been inadequate to prosecute the campaign. Perhaps, but that is an unproven inference. In any case, what is more certainly true is that we would not have invaded Iraq if it had not chosen to be in continuing violation of its cease fire agreement.

Zippy

Second, I'm inclined to think that the Bush Administration would have favored invading Iraq even if it believed that Iraq no longer had WMDs.

I don't doubt that for a moment, but that doesn't mean that the administration would be right in so doing, nor that the country would have in fact gone to war under those circumstances.

It is my belief that the Iraq war would not have occurred at all had it not been for 9-11 and the conjecture about Al Qaeda getting WMD's from Saddam and using them on us. It is further my belief that nobody can reasonably differ with that assessment: that anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding himself.

So someone's beliefs are not reasonable. It is entirely possible that it is my beliefs that are unreasonable. But there is no doubt that someone's beliefs on this topic are unreasonable. I do not think this one can be papered over under the auspices that reasonable people can disagree. Either I am being irrational and/or refusing to accept the facts, or the side arguing that the Iraq war was just is being unreasonable and/or is refusing to accept the facts.

I mean, I empathize with the other side. I was willing to give the administration the benefit of the doubt in the beginnning: I was willing to trust that they had access to factual information I do not, and that the Pope does not, and if so the war would be just. If the competent authority had in fact been certain, the just war criteria could probably have been met.

But that has turned out to not be the case. The competent authority was not certain.

smmtheory

Zippy said:

I don't think the nonviolent option of denying devout/radical (I use the terms interchangeably in this case) Moslems entry into our country has been seriously considered. Terrorism is a short-range weapon.
And what makes you think that the terrorists would not have had access to nuclear capable long-range missiles if Saddam had been left in power?

Lynn S

smmetheory,

Could be the fact that Hussein did not have nukes.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Lynn S. (and Zippy and everyone else), I strongly suggest you read the following:

http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson200507150804.asp

TheLeague

Lynn S

This is from a CNN report, 2004

The senior adviser to Iraq's Interior Ministry blamed U.S. forces Tuesday for not securing facilities where the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency says equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons has vanished.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/12/iraq.nuclear/

Zippy

Joseph:

I appreciate the link, but the problem is that I am not a lefty. I am fully aware that the Michael Moore/George Soros left are not just fruitcakes but evil fruitcakes, and that the standard left-liberal narrative is at least as wrong as the standard right-liberal (these days called "conservative") narrative. I have paleo-ish tendencies, so I tend to be critical of both left- and right-liberals, although American paleo-liberals have as many intellectual flaws as their more politically significant modern political enemies.

My main identity is as a Catholic, though.

smmtheory

Lynn S,
Read my question again. I said nuclear capable, not nuclear equipped. Although that still does not guarantee that Saddam would not have had them in the future when sanctions were lifted. Are you for some reason arguing that Saddam would not have seen to obtaining nuclear weapons or manufacturing chemical weapons if sanctions had been lifted?

Zippy

And what makes you think that the terrorists would not have had access to nuclear capable long-range missiles if Saddam had been left in power?

You mean, what makes me think Islamic radicals wouldn't have ICBM capability to reach the US right now if we hadn't invaded Iraq? The same thing that makes me think that Osama bin Laden would not have turned into a pink bunny: that is, that I have no reason to think it would be the case.

There are some stories in Scripture about sovereigns who thought they saw a threat a generation or so out and took action immediately to nip it in the bud. But Herod and Pharoah are not usually thought of as the good guys.

Lynn S

Joseph,

Your national review article loses me on the first line. I have not once suggested that American culpability has anything to do with 9/11 or terrorist attacks. And in fact do not believe American culpability is a root cause. That does not prevent me from seeing issues in the way the Administration has presented the war in Iraq (as distinguished from the global war on terror). And even there I said I had qualms (about not having finished in Afghanistan, about spreading US military might too thinly).

Honestly, this is what makes me think dialogue with conservatives is virtually impossible -- you have equated my reservations and disagreements as believing in American culpability. Liberals are just as bad depending on the issue. We need some militant moderates.

League,

Two key points 1. Could -- there are a few items that could be used conventionally or could be used for nukes. 2. US military did not secure it because we did not have enough troops on the ground because the Administration did not listen to the uniformed services.

SM,

OK. Hussein was not nuclear capable. Could he have developed that, of course, but it isn't that easy to do or every oil-rich dictatorship would already have done so. With sanctions lifted, I think Hussein would have gone back to business as usual. Please note I have never said that the war in Iraq was the wrong decision, but I keep repeating, our intel was bad and that needs to be fixed.

TSO

Let's not kids ourselves -- if the Iraq War began two months instead of ten years after Hussein began violations few would've a problem with it. The time lag bothered people even though - ironically! - that time (coupled with economic sanctions) was given to Hussein in order to help avoid war. For the left, the good guys can do no good.

Katherine

"I suggest you stop getting all your information about the Middle East from Thomas Friedman column.

He's the Thomas Kinkade of Middle East analysis."

I was opposed to the Iraq war (unlike Friedman), and suspect we have all kinds of differences about it, but this made me laugh out loud.

I'm no expert on Just War theory, and I think it is wise of the Church to designate its application to a given conflict as a prudential matter. But what I have read of it seems utterly at odds with the Bush Doctrine of "pre-emptive war"--the scare quotes are because I believe it is a doctrine of preventive rather than pre-emptive war; pre-emption implies an imminent threat. Are there any articles by Catholic writers attempting to square the two?

Joseph D'Hippolito

Lynn S., I don't consider you a leftist "moonbat." My point was not to insult you. My point was to provide differing viewpoints. Whatever doesn't apply to you will not apply to you; you know best what does and doesn't.

As far as these articles reiterating the Bush Administration's perspective, few people who support the Iraq War diverge from that basic perspective (including Andrew Sullivan, who has taken severe issue with the abuses at Guantanamo). They may disagree (as Sullivan does) with particulars (number of troops, especially guarding the Iraq-Syria border) but they don't disagree on the basic strategic premise.

Lynn S., what would you do differently if you had the opportunity? I'm not trying to bait you into a flame war; I'm seriously interested. You appear to be well-read on the issue, so you must have some ideas.

smmtheory

There are some stories in Scripture about sovereigns who thought they saw a threat a generation or so out and took action immediately to nip it in the bud. But Herod and Pharoah are not usually thought of as the good guys.

Yeah, yeah, and there's also the story about the Israelites commanded by God to kill all the prior occupants of the land of milk and honey (a location similar to currently existing Israel) too, ostensibly to head off a threat. What's your point?

Zippy

What's your point?

That preventive war is immoral, and supporting preventive war is immoral. It goes against Catholic teaching and the natural law.

Zippy

For the left, the good guys can do no good.

I agree that that is true of the left: that is, that to left-liberals, right-liberals can do no good because left-liberals have a self-serving understanding of "good". But the fact that the mainstream opposition to right-liberalism is an even worse left-liberalism does not create a moral warrant for right-liberals to engage in preventive war.

Joseph D'Hippolito

That preventive war is immoral, and supporting preventive war is immoral. It goes against Catholic teaching and the natural law.

Zippy, ask those who lost loved ones on 9/11, in Beslan, in Bali, in Istanbul, in Madrid, in London, in Casablanca, in Dar es Salaam, in Nairobi and on the USS Cole whether they give a rat's posterior about "Catholic teaching and the natural law."


Zippy

Well Joe, we seem to have come to an understanding that the Bush Doctrine is against Catholic teaching and the natural law, and that when faced with it one must in fact choose sides. That is refreshingly honest.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.