War between the United States of America and Iraq appears imminent, probably within days. As I indicated in "A Simpleton's Gospel," published in Christ or Chaos, President George W. Bush might view himself as a twenty-first century version of President Thomas Woodrow Wilson, crusading for the cause of American "democracy" and "freedom" abroad, if, that is, he knew much about Wilson's regrettable presidency. Alas, Bush believes that the cause of the American Gospel of Democracy and Freedom, which he takes for granted as being beyond question, provides him with the moral legitimacy to make war upon foreign despots who pose no real or immediate threat to the national security of the United States of America. This is a needless, morally unjustified war that will put Americans more directly in danger than if Saddam Hussein were allowed to die from a natural death in the years ahead.
As one who was born in 1951 at the height of the Korean War and the Cold War, it took quite a long time to unlearn the nationalistic lies that part of the fabric of our popular culture. Although the effort to contain the spread of Communism was indeed justified, not all of the methods we used to do so were moral. Some of them were quite repugnant. As a Catholic, I had to come to understand that the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law apply in all of the circumstances of life, including warfare. "All's fair in love and war" is an application of Machiavellianism, not Catholicism, to the events of life and the world.
The Cold War and our efforts to defend ourselves against Japanese aggression during World War II aside, a Catholic has to understand that almost every war the United States has fought since the inception of the Constitution falls short of justification by means of the Just War Theory explicated by both Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. This includes the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the so-called Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and American involvement in the European theater of World War II (even a United States Senator named Harry Truman noted in 1941 that it was wrong to provide assistance to the Soviet Union, saying that it would likely be the case that the forces of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin would decimate each other without suffering the loss of a single American life). The Vietnam War involved a noble effort to defend the South Vietnamese people from the Communist North Vietnamese, but was planned by social scientists in the Pentagon who had convinced themselves that use of quantitative analysis and computer program models could guide American troops in the jungles of Southeast Asia. To note this is to detract not one whit from the valor exhibited by those who have served in our armed fores in those wars. Not at all. It is only to point out that they were sent to fight needlessly in wars that did nothing to provide true security for this nation.
The War between the States enlarged unjustly the powers of the Federal government, denied the principle of the sovereignty of the states and the revocable nature of the Union, and engendered cultural hostilities in the South-and elsewhere--that are not yet fully resolved (and have led to the politics of "victimology" on the part of black leaders). The Spanish-American War was waged on false premises to involve the United States on the global scene, winding up with the irony that a former colony of the United Kingdom became a colonizer of other peoples, imposing upon them various forms of Protestantism and Masonry designed to supplant the "superstition" of Catholicism. The administration of Woodrow Wilson provided overt and covert aid to the Masonic revolutionaries in Mexico, knowing full well that thousands of Catholics were being tortured and executed. Indeed, The New York Times condemned him on December 6, 1914, for his support of the bloodthirsty Mexican revolutionaries. And it was Wilson's hatred of Catholicism and his zeal in promoting the American Gospel of Freedom and Democ racy that prompted him to get the United States involved in World War I. That war, dubbed "The Great War" or "The World War" in its time, was not being fought in Europe for the cause of democracy. Wilson made it such so as to overcome the natural and justified resistance of Americans to become involved needlessly in foreign wars. Indeed, it was Wilson's grand plan for the reordering of Europe, a veritable New World Order, that paved the way for the triumphs of Hitler and Stalin on September 1 and 15, 1939, respectively.
Obviously, the last war to have been constitutionally declared as such was World War II. Every conflict since that time has involved something short of an actual declaration of war, a little nicety required by Section 8 of Article I of the United States Constitution. President Bush believes that a Congressional resolution passed last year after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States authorizes him to root out terrorism wherever he finds it, including Iraq. The Joint Resolution adopted recently by Congress is not, obviously, an actual declaration of war.
Although some Catholic neoconservatives, such as George Weigel, have concluded that the conditions outlined in the Just War Theory have been met in the instanced of the impending war with Iraq, others of us, who dearly love our country, disagree. My own review of the Just War Theory follows in two parts.
The first three points today, and the last three points in part two tomorrow.
1) There must be a real and imminent threat posed by an aggressor to a nation's security (or to the security of a neighboring nation unable to defend itself). No such threat exists from Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The Bush administration has provided zero evidence about the stockpile of chemical weapons Hussein is said to have. Even if he is trying to build nuclear weapons, he has no way of delivering them to the continental United States. Communist China and North Korea provide a more imminent and realistic threat against the security of the United States than Saddam Hussein. Saudi Arabia and Yemen are proven breeding grounds for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda networks. The Saudi government has never cooperated with the United States to track down those who bombed a residence housing American military personnel in 1996. Why is there no talk of attacking Saudi Arabia or Yemen?
There is only the slimmest, anecdotal evidence linking Hussein to Osama bin Laden and the other al-Qaeda terrorists. It is wishful thinking on the part of Bush and his advisers to want to project such a link onto global public opinion as being so when it is not. President Bush's October 7, 2002, address did not answer these questions. The continued assertion that something is so does not make it so, no matter whether the public has been convinced to believe in such positivistic assertions.
A retired Marine lieutenant general tells me that I am wrong, that he has seen information he cannot divulge that proves Hussein is a real and imminent threat to this country. If the threat has been so imminent throughout the course of the last few months, however, why has the administration waited until after the midterm Congressional elections and until after the resolution adopted by the Security Council of the United Nations to take action. I don't get it. If a threat is truly real and imminent, then it requires an imminent response.
Doesn't Hussein pose a threat to his own people? Maybe. However, as will be demonstrated in my review of the condition of proportionality, the level of the threat Hussein poses to his own people does not justify the sort of military response under consideration by the United States. Indeed, it is possible we will kill, inadvertently, you understand, more innocent people in our crusade to oust Hussein that he has killed since he assumed power in 1969. And it is not at all clear that there is anyone in Iraq poised to succeed him without a real power struggle. How is "democracy" imposed on a country which has no experience of the wonders provided by such modern enlightenment? See Wilson, W., above.
Insofar as weapons of mass destruction are concerned, we should be more concerned about the weapons of mass destruction found in our own nation: the scissors, the scalpel, the suction machine, the saline solution bottle, the interuterine device, the birth control pill, the abortion pill, the morning after pill, and the hands of so-called physicians, trained to "murder mankind in the womb," as the pagan playwright Juvenal noted in the second century A.D. We kill far more people every year by means of abortion, both chemical and surgical than Saddam Hussein has killed in all of the thirty-three years of his repressive rule in Iraq. We are more of a threat to innocent life than Saddam Hussein will ever be.
2) All peaceful means to avoid armed hostilities must be exhausted. Yes, Saddam Hussein has not lived up to the terms of the post-Gulf War United Nations resolutions. He has not permitted arms inspectors to have full and unfettered access to places where nuclear and/or chemical weapons are being manufactured and warehoused. Is the next step from this to be all out war, though? There are means to deal with Hussein, including an occasional well-placed military strike upon targets that have been proven beyond question to contain weapons of mass destruction, short of full-scale war. To jump from the failure of a foreign leader, who poses no direct and immediate threat to the security of the United States, to permit weapons inspections to full-scale war is to make a jump over reason itself. If Hussein is a threat to regional peace in the Middle East, he is Israel's problem to deal with ,not ours. How long must the United States serve, as Patrick J. Buchanan noted so ably over a decade ago, the "Amen" corner for Israel, putting members of our armed forces needlessly at risk to do Israel's bidding?
3) The goals must be well-defined and have a reasonable chance of being realized. In other words, there must be a reasonable chance for success in the pursuit of narrowly defined goals. Goals are to be defined narrowly so as to limit the harm caused by a needlessly protracted war, yes, even when a nation is prosecuting a just cause.
If President Bush believes that one of the goals of a war against Iraq is to make the United States "more secure," then anyone with a modicum of common sense would have to come to the conclusion that George W. Bush is badly misled. Again, I will discuss the matter of American security in tomorrow's second part of this reflection. However, even if the United States can remove Saddam Hussein from power after destroying, once again, the infrastructure of Iraq and killing thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqis, this will do nothing to make the United States more secure. Indeed, scores of suicide bombers will be motivated to avenge our military action. American military action against Iraq at this time makes this country far less secure-and gives the Federal government the excuse it desires to put further restrictions on speech and movement within our own borders.
It is not clear what specific levels of military force will be necessary to remove Hussein from power. He has bunkers throughout the country. He has more doubles than the late Francisco Franco. Yes, the United States has the brute force to bomb Iraq into the stone age, as the late Air Force General Curtis LeMay said what we should do to North Vietnam when he was introduced as George Wallace's Vice Presidential running-mate on the American Independent Party ticket in 1968. (Lest Howard Phillips pick me apart on that one, I do know that Wallace had at least one other running-mate listed in some states. The rules for ballot access required him to list a candidate in some states before LeMay agreed to run with him. Howard will know the name.) If the use of said force does force the removal of Hussein, either by death or exile, then Iraq will be dependent upon the largesse of American taxpayers for decades so that it can be rebuilt. And there is no guarantee that someone worse than Hussein might rise to the surface in a few years to topple an American puppet regime, mobilizing a virtual guerilla jihad against American forces stationed there for years on end. What kind of success is that?
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
TOMORROW: Part Two of The Real Enemies Are Within
Note: [bold, brackets and italicized words used for emphasis]
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives