Stephen Hand is webmaster for Traditional Catholic Reflections, and an adamant opponent of the Iraqi War. His words will be in green. This is drawn from lengthy discussion threads (Part One / Part Two). Readers who want the complete dialogue including all the many citations (and the original context), are urged to read those threads. Here what I will do is present our own words back and forth, and then link to the citations we provided: both to the original source and the post in the discussion threads where it starts being cited (either abridged or entire). That way the flow of the discussion can be kept intact and the length of this paper can be far less. Others joined in on the discussion, too.
Link to Part Two of This Dialogue
As for analogies, they all fall short, clearly, but here's how I constructed it at Musings some weeks ago:
" I Think My Neighbor Has a Cache of Something Aimed at Me---
.....after all, we have fought before and he had them then. I kicked his arse good and made him burn his baseball bats. But I've seen his lights on late at night for too many months now; too many years. I know he's up to something and besides, his house is lying smack on a fertile field which my grandfathers said was rightly ours. He broke into a house next door once, about 15 years ago.
The other day when I circled his house as I do daily since the last fight, he threw rocks at me and my boys. I blew in two of his windows to retaliate. He's always watching me and I'm always watching him. He says I beat my wife but I know he beat his wife and kids. I've seen the welts. I'm going to kill the bastard, and he knows I can do it as others have learned too, get rid of him somehow if the cops don't do it by March, wail into him when he least expects it. Or maybe I'll tell him the exact day. It's all the same. Then his wife and kids can be free, whether they know it or not. Then I can claim what is mine anyway. Then the neighborhood will be safer for everyone, even if they hate me for it. I call the shots around here, not that SOB.
As for analogies, they all fall short, clearly
This one is worse that that: I would deny that it is an analogy at all (sorry!).
. . . but here's how I constructed it at Musings some weeks ago:
" I Think My Neighbor Has a Cache of Something Aimed at Me---
The possibility of Saddam having possessed nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction was not a wild guess: it was the consensus of most of the free world's intelligence agencies, and even consensus in domestic politics at the time (John Kerry and other liberals like him agreed with President Bush). After all, Israel destroyed an Iraqi nuclear facility many years ago (in 1981, I think it was). I have heard from at least two sources that these weapons were moved into Syria shortly before the invasion.
.....after all, we have fought before and he had them then.
Well, then if that was based on eyewitness testimony and hard evidence, then it is nothing to be scoffed at.
I kicked his arse good and made him burn his baseball bats.
Nice try at minimizing and ridiculing very serious concerns. Simply making fun of an opposing position with this sort of tactic doesn't accomplish anything that I see.
But I've seen his lights on late at night for too many months now; too many years. I know he's up to something and besides, his house is lying smack on a fertile field which my grandfathers said was rightly ours.
We aren't in Iraq fighting over whether their land is ours or not. That would be far more applicable to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not this.
He broke into a house next door once, about 15 years ago.
And Saddam killed many thousands of his own people . . .
With weapons we and Holland and others provided him to use on the Iranians. Iran used biological weapons too. It was a war.
The other day when I circled his house as I do daily since the last fight, he threw rocks at me and my boys. I blew in two of his windows to retaliate. He's always watching me and I'm always watching him. He says I beat my wife but I know he beat his wife and kids. I've seen the welts. I'm going to kill the bastard, and he knows I can do it as others have learned too, get rid of him somehow if the cops don't do it by March, wail into him when he least expects it.
This war isn't about petty conflicts and "kicking someone's butt" for selfish reasons and motivations. This was a madman. He had designs on other countries (as we saw in the Gulf War). He had connections with terrorists (which is undeniable). We went over there to rid the world of that menace and to grant the people freedom. Prior to that Iraqis had to put up with being gassed or having their weddings crashed, and having Saddam's sons rape and kill the bride, etc.
Or maybe I'll tell him the exact day. It's all the same. Then his wife and kids can be free, whether they know it or not.
Another unworthy attempt to ridicule our efforts. We are willing to go and have some of our fine young men and women die so that Iraqis can have the freedom of self-governance and life without being watched by a thug or terrorized by inhuman barbarians who think nothing of life. We're not there to kill Iraqis, but to kill their oppressors: the sort of folks who will blow up a group of children as they were being given candy by US soldiers, or who will strap explosives on themselves and blow up a market.
I think Iraqis have sent a clear message that they want to be free and govern themselves, since they voted at a 70-75% ratio of the voting population: proportionately far more than we do in America.
Then I can claim what is mine anyway.
We are not "claiming" what we purport to be "ours," but rather, we are giving the Iraqi people back what is rightly theirs (freedom and self-determination).
Then the neighborhood will be safer for everyone, even if they hate me for it.
Iraq is clearly a safer place than it was, and (far from hating their liberators) Iraqis are most grateful for that. Now, that doesn't mean they would like a long occupation. I'm for withdrawing as soon as it is feasible, but not until significant risks to what has been achieved have been minimized.
I call the shots around here, not that SOB.
That's right: now the people call the shots: not the SOB and madman/tyrant Saddam Hussein. That makes me proud of the US military, not ashamed of it. Who else goes around fighting for the freedom of others? We fought for the British and French in WWII, for South Koreans and South Vietnamese, and for several Muslim populations in recent conflicts; also for the Muslim Kuwaitis. That's "anti-freedom" or "anti-Muslim"? I don't see how.
Thanks for visiting my blog and for the interaction. That's why I disagree with your analogy. It ain't personal; it is strictly an ethical-political disagreement.
Well, we'll agree to disagree here. In 1991 or 92 the UN watched Saddam destroy his WMD's per UN mandate (which is why they were not found, nor pointed to by Iraqi insiders). The rest (which had all been sold to him by the U.S, Holland, etc) had a very short shelf life as the UN weapons inspectors attested. By 2003 wha tvery little that was left was useless on the shelfs. We have sensors which can detect them easily.
See this one report. There are many more.
The UN Weapons Inspectors wanted more time in 2003, which the Bush Administration would not allow them. Empirical evidence was rejected in favor of "preemptive" war which, as Cardinal Ratzinger said has no place in Catholic Just War theory and is not even in the Catechism.
Moreover, Iraq, was weakened by 10 years of sanctions, surrounded by Arab and other Islamic enemies, had virtually no friends and did not use WMD's against the invading U.S. troops which they surely would have if they had them.
Israel alone could have taken care of Iraq if it had truly possessed WMD's (as the earlier attack on their nuclear plant showed). No one really believed in any constructed scenario that there were intercontinental ballistic missiles with range sufficient to carry WMDs across the Atlantic and thus pose a threat to the US.
The so-called "intelligence everyone had" was largely the partial speculations of The U.S. and Britain both of which ignored and suppressed abundant intelligence which contradicted that scenario. This is in all the very familiar scholarly literature on the subject. No need to cite chapter and verse.
Richard Butler, chief weapons inspector 2002: On American and Bristish Hypocrisy with respect to WMD's
Bush's Nuclear Hypocrisy
Lew Rockwell: War and the Economy, 2003 [citation]
One could go on endlessly...Rockwell again, This time on Fr. Neuhaus:
Warmongers Who Change Their Minds [+ citation] [2nd citation]
Much more from TCR on all the above issues.
It is amazing, if one takes the time to do the studying, to see how many dictators the U.S. propped up all over the world. And not a complaint about how many people they murdered (usually the poor) while they were our "friends" doing our bidding...but then, if the Dictator tried to make his own decisions, apart from Washington, well then Washington exiled or killed or otherwise demonized him. The dictators placed or aided by Washington only had to act on their own apart from Washington (regardless for good or for evil) and that was enough for the Masters in Washington to act against them. It was "interests" (not good or evil) that mattered.
We must become more realistic and humble about our country's footprints of greed and imperialism (with all major powers) which is now completely in the open for all who are interested in actually studying it objectively.
Catholics, by contrast, are universal. We place no nation on earth above God and identify no nation with God's will. All are subject to the criticism of the Gospel. The fact is the poor today want after so many centuries of exploitation their share, and in order for them to have it we must lower our standard of living. This will require metanoia. Today the U.S. is resisting, but it is inevitable.
The Church is on the side of the poor.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on definition of the legal indictment CRIME AGAINST PEACE [citation].
The Bush administration waged war largely on the grounds that some intelligence could not rule out the presence of WMD's. Otherwise it would have been incumbent on the administration to seek a UN or ICC indictment / action on the grounds of genocide, torture, etc (but then why no concern for intervention in Rwanda where the evidence was horrific and fell on deaf ears?) and then waited for the international community, speaking through international organs, to decide whether and when war would be necessary, or merely indicting Saddam Hussein and bringing him to trial like that other dictator friend of the US, Senor Pinochet.
Likely the latter would have been chosen (indictment of Hussein) and none of us would have had a problem with that.
To launch aggression for genocide or torture not presently going on when the UN was asking for more time to decide all matters and when the intelligence was ambiguous at best as even CIA officials admit, and as the Downing Street Memo shows in cynical fashion, is arguably a crime against the peace as defined at Nuremberg.
The United States lately has backed off respect for international institutions because, many allege, it fears its own leaders could fall under indictment.
Now, if one reads all the links provided, as I hope you will, and others similar and even more compelling which exist but which I don't have time to gather myself, I think I have made the case in an accumulative time of less than an hour and a half.
Nuremberg Prosecutor on Legality of Iraqi War [citation]
Jus Cogens: Could humanitarian intervention justify the invasion of Iraq? By Troy Rollo [citation]
As for Jesus supposedly being some sort of pacifist, see my papers:
Pacifism vs. "Just War": Biblical & Social Factors
Dialogue on Christian Pacifism and "Just War": Biblical and Social Factors (vs. Edward Hamilton)
For an excellent web page which compiles a great deal of material on this subject (from both sides), see my friend Christopher Blosser's:
"The Catholic Just War Tradition and the War in Iraq - Resources"
Pope Benedict XVI wrote in June 2004:
3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
("Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion - General Principles", in L'espresso)
Fr. James V. Schall wrote on 8 July 2005:
The One War; The Real War [citation]
"The Just War Case for the War" By George Weigel (March 31, 2003) [citation]
Follow-up on ...Jus Cogens:
Human Rights Watch: War in Iraq: Not a Humanitarian Intervention
St. Robert Bellarmine wrote,
As a second condition for legitimate warfare, a just, certain and not doubtful cause is required.
(De Officio Principis, Cap XXI )
A powerful ruler is not a good judge, however, concerning the justice of his own [war] cause against a weaker ruler. His desire of expansion may influence him to presume a good cause to be present, when in reality it does not exist. Nor can he rely too much upon his own domestic counselors. Foreign, disinterested and impartial judges are better qualified to make such decisions.
(quoted in Grotius, De Jure Belli et Pacis, Bk 1. Ch III)
Dave cites: HAS THE HOLY FATHER CONDEMNED U.S. ACTION? by Carl Olson, 3/26/2003. [citation]
Jesus and violence?
Our Lord told Peter "one sword is enough" when Peter desired to take two into Gethsemane. The irony is exquisite since Our Lord knew one sword would never be sufficient repel the Temple police. How he pitied Peter's lack of understanding.
Then, poor Peter, after using the sword on a temple Guard hears the words "put back thy sword, Peter!" and...then... is forced to watch the man healed!
Jesus said, If my kingdom was of this world my men who have fought so that I would not be delivered".
He forgave His murderers who were Roman occupiers and was considered mad by the Jewish zealots who wanted nothing more than to overthrow the yoke o f Rome.
See my article for more on this: Christ Came to Perfect the Law The Matter of War.
Let us prefer the Holy Father himself to Carl Olson and Weigel et al:
There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, 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'.---Expect changes in the Catechism in light of new situations.
----Cardinal Ratzinger / Benedict XVI
Bush vs. Benedict: Catholic Neoconservatives Grapple With Their Church's Just War Tradition
Hi Dave: I will forever prefer the prudential judgements of the Popes who process 2,000 yrs of infallible Catholic princples in making such judgements over the National Review and Rod Dreher.
Dave cites: The Clinton View of Iraq-al Qaeda Ties, by Stephen F. Hayes (12/29/03)
As I told Chris Blosser, when I shifted from integrist circles to the Ecclesia Dei model, where I have remained ever since, I took much good from integrism, which hearned also from my Catholic Worker days: abiding love of the Tridentine Mass, Byzantine Liturgies....and a healthy suspicion of imperialism (expansion of markets). The integrists are not given enough credit for their brave Catholic stance against power.
Some Catholic conservatives, who are much more sophisticated theologically, broke my heart by an apparent uncritical surrender of their Catholic discernment to government military adventures, the arms trade, etc.
Are you claiming that popes possess all the intelligence information and knowledge of terrorist and realpolitik goings-on that US Presidents (or even Senators on intelligence committees) possess?
If you say yes, I'd like to see the reasons why. If you say no, then, seeing that popes and the Church grant nations the right to render such prudential decisions, as part of ther divinely-ordained function, it is perfectly-permissible for Presidents and those who agree with them to respectfully differ with popes' judgments. The Catechism clearly states as much, as did Pope Benedict in a quote above.
And they make such decisions based on far-greater knowledge of the intricacies of these international crises and ethical dilemmas.
It's not "Pope Benedict's opinion vs. Rod Dreher's opinion."
Rather, it is:
"the prudential judgment of national leaders, whose function and right is to make such judgments vs. a contrary but not binding opinion of a pope, who has far less particular information upon which to make such a judgment, being a spiritual, not a political leader."It is showing no disrespect whatsoever to differ in such a way. If I, for example, allow my children to have a different opinion from mine on some issue we are talking about, where I could just as easily have "pulled rank" and disallowed them to have a dissenting opinion, they neither violate the command to "honor thy parents" nor necessarily disrespect me in a dissent.
The Bible undeniably grants parents authority over children, but it also urges them not to exasperate their children. Likewise, husbands have headship in a marriage, but this is explained in such a way that husbands are to be servants of their wives, and love them as Christ loved the Church.
Even the sublime authority of popes does not wipe out all possible dissenting positions in good faith, by Catholics and leaders of nations, obliged to make serious decisions about war and the protection of the innocent and the furthering of justice and rescuing of the oppressed and downtrodden.
Here is an interesting response by George Weigel to a panel of Mennonite critics:
Responsum ad Dubia (June 2003) [citation]
Here is an extraordinary article about the development and application of classic just war theory to the modern geo-political situation and technology:
"Just War, As It Was and Is," by James Turner Johnson, First Things 149 (January 2005): 14-24. [citation]
Saddam's WMD Moved to Syria, An Israeli [Top General] Says
By IRA STOLL - Staff Reporter of the Sun, December 15, 2005
At one level it has always been the case that government officials say they know more than the Pope, but the Holy Father has access to the whole spectrum of global opinion.
I didn't ask that; I asked whether he has all the intelligence that governments have. If you concede that, then that is a crucial component for possible situations in which it is permissible to dissent from the pope, without any diminishing of respect whatsoever.
The Holy See reserves the right to declare its prudential judgement, which Catholics above all cannot take lightly, on the morality of any world conflict, based on Catholic morals, Just War criteria and other immutable principles, all of which go into the processing of such prudential judgements.
Of course no one who is a faithful Catholic takes it lightly. But since the pope himself and the Church give governments the right to make the final decisions in these matters, there will inevitably be times when they dissent from the pope's opinion. What is so hard to understand about that? Why does it bother you so much?
Even atheists who read JPII and Benedict know what they are saying, though Catholic Americanist Neocons do not.
Which "neocons" do not understand what the popes are saying? I want hard evidence, please.
But along other lines, I cannot trust Islam as a brotherly egalitarian religion, quite frankly, and this is why I think we should not be stirring a global bees nest that could set the world on fire for the next century and beyond. It is insane to do so.
Note the reasoning here. What if we had said this about Communism?:
Based on this reasoning, we would not have opposed the Communists. There would have been no Cold War, no Korea, no Vietnam. There would also have been no collapse of the Soviet Union and Communism in Eastern Europe. The Berlin Wall would still be there. We obviously should have let them be, because it would have been "insane" to oppose them. Millions more would have died than already did. President Reagan and Pope John Paul II wouldn't have brought about the downfall of Soviet Communism.
"But along other lines, I cannot trust Communism as a brotherly egalitarian
political system, quite frankly, and this is why I think we should not be stirring a global bees nest that could set the world on fire for the next century and beyond. It is insane to do so."
How about the Nazis?:
"But along other lines, I cannot trust Naziism as a brotherly egalitarian political system, quite frankly, and this is why I think we should not be stirring a global bees nest that could set the world on fire for the next century and beyond. It is insane to do so."Naziism wasn't global, of course, but it was rapidly expanding all over Europe, and the similar system in Japan was taking over the other half of the world.
Based on your reasoning, we would not have opposed Nazi Germany. There would have been no World War II. There would also have been no collapse of the Third Reich. The concentration camps would still be there (and scarcely a Jew would be alive in Europe). We obviously should have let them be, because it would have been "insane" to oppose them. Millions more would have died than already did. President Roosevelt and Pope Pius XII and Winston Churchill wouldn't have brought about the downfall of Nazi German tyranny and genocide.
On the other hand, we are not opposed to Islam in the first place, but a gross perversion of it. That's why we have defended several Muslim populations in the last 15 years (Somalia, Bosnia, Kuwait, etc.).
So anyway you look at it, this particular argument of yours doesn't fly.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most hideous nations on earth relative to human rights abuses (Syria is much more "modern" with respect to treatment of women, etc, though I don't trust Syria itself. How the US---apart from oil---could make friends with the Saudi's while aggressing on an already weakened Iraq (10 years of sanctions) some 15 years after its last claims on Kuwait, is beyond me.
President Bush and his neo-con friends have, it seems to me, shown reckless disregard for the peace of nations in jumping on Iraq, which, to the Arab mind (Read James Laffin) can only be interpreted in the most dire light. Poor Bush, ten years before he became President was hitting the bottle. Quite frankly he was not equal to what he recklessly started. Iraq was surrounded by Arab enemies who should have been left to take care of the problem as the Arab League requested. Bush disregarded wisdom and only God knows how long we will reap the consequences. Iraq has become a recruiting propaganda the likes of which we have not seen. As Murtha says, "we have become the enemy".
Read The Arab Mind by James Laffin to consider more of what I mean.
Regarding Jihad and prudential judgement of the popes vis a vis this war, it is precisely military occupation which is guaranteed to increase and foment Jihad, which is what makes this aggression so tragic, born of the most grievous myopia. As for prudential judgement, as Daniel McCarthy puts it succinctly, . . . [citation from The American Conservative, August 29, 2005]
Dave, you write, "Note the reasoning here. What if we had said this about Communism?..the Nazi's...?"
As serious scholars note, the Cold War was the contest between two imperialisms that ultimately proved horrific beyond belief in the loss of lives and needless since neither side could morally or economically afford the unbelievable expenditure on arm at the expense of the poor and middle class. A nation (whether theirs or ours) which uses war to create jobs is bankrupt morally..
Catholic theology does not question the right of a people to defend themselves if they are directly attacked, even if there is a higher way as I state here, which will likely cost far fewer lives.In Vietnam we were not directly attacked. The war cruelly wasted over 50,000 (!) American lives and untold numbers of Vietnamese. We interfered with a people's right to self-determination which they had decided to resolve via civil war. In WWII we were directly attacked at Pearl Harbor. But, even here, WWII bombardier Howard Zinn (who directly bombed Germany and killed many by his own testimony) says there was a better way.
We could be a wonderful country, leading by example, if we would only cease waging war to protect our "interests" which are based on a disproportionate consumption of the world's wealth and natural resources.
A note on pacifism:
My approach to theology is dialectic. It has always seemed to me that saying "I am a pacifist" is like saying "I am a saint, I am a martyr". One cannot know for certain until one is in that position.
However, pacifists are, with others, clearly peacemakers and so I will hitch my wagon to any who are exploring the alternatives to war. My greatest mentors are pacifists, but not all.
If someone came into my house in the middle of the night and I lived alone, and pointed a gun at me, I HOPE....I can only say HOPE....I would have the spiritual courage to plead with them to consider their souls fate in killing me. If it was clear they were going to do so, i HOPE...again I can only say HOPE....I would have the love to lay down my life as Christ did for my mudere, for the world and Church, and to atone for my sins.
But if someone came in to the house at 3 AM and my wife, who has MS, is with me, I have an obligation to fight, if reason and pleas fail, in order to protect her. Someone else is involved.
Tom Cornell, a good friend and for years editor of the Catholic Worker in its early and best days, says people were always asking him 'what if your sister or someone was being raped in the park?" he said he always replied, "I would fight to save her, but war ain't no rape in the park, brother!"
War is so often related to the expansion of markets, the grasp for territory, the vanity of leaders, etc., etc, history shows.
We must find ways to resolve international conflicts apart from war. Police actions (limited in scope and force) of an international nature to capture war criminals and bring them to justice, in my opinion, should be left open and immediately after the direct attack on 9/11 TCR advocated just that openly in an editorial. Iraq however is something altogether different, a geopolitical construct and strategy. That aggression in my opinion cannot be justified. There were other ways. Again, Bellarmine, JPII, Benedict...
We are living in a nuclear world. We must put all of our efforts into stopping the chain reactions that could lead to it.
I would really encourage anyone who wants to understand our views to read Dr. John Hubert, contributing editor of TCR, and former supporter of the war. His thought and writing on this matter is meticulous and there is hardly an objection raised here that he has not almost exhaustively treated.
Dr. John Hubert:
The war in Iraq was based tragically on faulty premises that is; an incorrect diagnosis of cancer (the alleged presence of weapons of mass destruction which Saddam intended to use against the United States). . . . now that we know thereOkay; I deny this premise, and I do based on the following evidence. I already cited an article above in which an Israeli general stated that WMD's were moved to Syria 6 weeks prior to the invasion:
were no WMD’s in Iraq prior to the invasion.
Saddam's WMD hidden in Syria, says Iraq survey chief
By Con Coughlin (25/01/2004), The Daily Telegraph [citation]
END OF PART ONE
Proceed to Part Two