Is it a Just War, or Is it Just War?

I don’t particularly like the term “chickenhawk,” though as a Vietnam vet I’ve been known to use the concept in arguments with others who have known next to nothing about the effects of war. Despite my distaste for that word, I liked most of what Dave Rogers had to say November 14th about Christopher Hitchens’essay in Slate. In particular, I agreed with Dave that the Bush administration and the warbloggers purposely exaggerate the dangers from Iraq in order to convince others that we must invade now.

Obviously Sadam is a miserable excuse for a human being, and it’s doubtful his own people would miss him, but that doesn’t mean that he’s likely to use “weapons of mass destruction” against the USA. Certainly he was willing to use them against his own people and against Iranians, but that’s because they had no viable counter threat. However, he didn’t use them against us in the Gulf War, precisely because he knew that their use would immediately result in the end of he and his regime.

Using that argument to justify an unprecedented American first strike on Iraq, in my opinion, is totally unconvincing. Although I could well image a religious fanatic like Bin Laden turning to such weapons, I find it difficult to imagine any scenario under which Sadam would use such weapons. I don’t think he is religious enough to want to die as a martyr for the Islamic cause.

Worse yet, the argument doesn’t even consider the moral issues involved in such an attack. It’s too bad that more of the arguments about whether we should or shouldn’t invade Iraq don’t focus on the moral issues discussed in this article in the Christian Science Monitor. If more arguments would focus on the moral grounds discussed in the “just war theory” at least we would have a consistent way of judging them rather than having to rely on name-calling and red herrings to help us decide how we feel.

Of course, perhaps the reason so few refer to the concepts of a '"just war" may be because the Catholic Bishops, using those very principles, recently expressed opposition to America's invasion of Iraq.

2 thoughts on “Is it a Just War, or Is it Just War?

  1. I have to agree with you Loren. From the talking heads to the administration there is a dearth of moral analysis taking place. I think the only circumstances that will cause Saddam to use WOMD against the US wil be when he’s trapped in his last bunker in full knowledge that under no circumstances will he be allowed to leave that bunjer alive, no surrender available – this administration wants him dead. At that point he will use them, until then he will keep them leashed as a potential bargaining chip.

What do you think?