September 11, 2002

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"To everything there is a season" and a reason.


   Some final points to consider.

   There will be some people who differ regarding the "wisdom" of this forthcoming war based on what they see as insufficient grounds to date proffered by Mr. Bush.

   Wisely St. Augustine's principles for Just War do not directly request wisdom from our leaders, rather prudence and self-control. Governments are entitled to make mistakes as long as they make them justly. Those that would accuse Bush of injustice for attacking Iraq should be equally ready to shoulder blame for an equal or greater injustice, if one day we wake up and Tel-Aviv or London are destroyed. I wonder if they would or whether they would just sit there wringing their hands at the "injustice of it all"?

   Readers may also worry about the risks of alienating further Arab nations and even NATO allies or a host of other issues. When I was asked to write this article, I was asked to defend the "just war" principles according to St. Augustine and those Catholic teachers that follow him. None of these principles concern alliances, international politics, the price of oil, your opinions, stock-options, trade-sanctions or any other ifs, buts or maybes. They are very simple principles to apply, precisely because the total picture is very complex. Nor are these principles at all concerned with keeping a majority of the electorate happy. Voters may have all manner of reasons why they don't want their country to go to war, economic, cultural, personal, none of which affects whether the war is just. There are those that say that every diplomatic channel has not been exhausted. That may well be the case, but diplomatic channels are for diplomats and at some point leaders have to decide diplomacy has failed. For those with long memories cast your mind back to the Gulf War when months of threats and deadline slipping finally ended when allied forces fired their first shot in anger 5 ½ months after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Is half a year long enough to find negotiated solutions when Kuwait is living under a brutal occupation? Would it be long enough for you if YOU were living under occupation by Iraq? If yes, then it is long enough.

   Saddam Hussein agreed to 27 resolutions at the end of that war in the terms of surrender. How many has he delivered on? Four. How many weeks do you have to negotiate with a man like that? Some perhaps, not many. Gulf War II (as I am sure CNN will call it), might be another Vietnam, America might suffer massive casualties, (unlikely but possible) but once again the outcome does not affect whether it was a "Just War", but purely the situation as George Bush understands it, in good faith, when he makes each decision to start, escalate or change strategy. Morally he must also stop the war when the objectives have been met, though he can change the objectives during the war if once again there is JUST CAUSE to do so. He must cease fighting if for some reason it is impossible to fight on without breaking a principle. For example, total nuclear annihilation can NEVER be just; since it would violate almost every Augustinian principle. At some point a leader MUST stop pressing the button and call it quits.

   For any hand-wringing liberals who have got this far and not fainted from the realization that mankind still has a sinful nature and is NOT evolving into a loving brotherhood who will beat their swords into ploughshares anytime soon, let us take a look at the most recent European reactions to this war and see whether these ancient Christian civilizations with their deep cultures and museums full of art, can come up with any solid objections, trumping the wisdom of St. Augustine, to entering a war with Iraq.

   "We are still far away from achieving peace in the Middle East - to talk about an attack against Iraq now is wrong," Herr Schröder said. "Under my leadership Germany will not take part in that."

   If not now, when? This may sound like a nice sentiment but think about the consequences if America followed the German position. There hasn't been peace in the Middle East for as long as any of us can remember. Optimistically peace could not be established for at least 5 years, maybe 10, meaning we give Saddam that much time to complete his weapons program, just as we gave "Herr Hitler", one of Herr Schröder's former countrymen.

   If Iraq are developing weapons of mass destruction, then we had better strike sooner than that. If they are not then why strike at all? Why wait till peace is established in the Middle East to start a war? Germany make reliable cars, but their leader's logic is KAPUT.

   Postscipt: Schröder later said that he would not allow Germany to participate EVEN WITH a mandate from the UN.

   France too was deeply critical. Dominique de Villepin, the Foreign Minister, said that Washington should NOT take action against Iraq without UN approval.

   The French are saying this because they know the UN will never approve for political reasons. The UN is not a super-nation with authority granted to it by God, to judge the nation states. It is an invention of man, a political tool. It does not, I repeat does NOT have the necessary principle of the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ as its goal. The UN utterly rejects God and wants to exert control over America and other countries to stop them EVER acting unilaterally, through institutions like the International Criminal Court. Since Iraqi weapons of mass destruction are most likely to fall on Israel, followed by the USA and the UK and not a wide spectrum of other countries, it is not in the interests of those other countries to support a war against Iraq. In fact it is in the interests of other countries (they believe) to see US power and foreign influence greatly reduced. The French and other European countries would rather wait for the state of Israel or indeed for America to be attacked by Iraq, despite the fact that this may unleash regional nuclear war, because they are not in the firing line under those circumstances.

   In recent history the French have made some appalling military and political decisions, one of which was treating Germany like dirt after WW1, thereby violating Augustin's "cruelty of revenge principle", by extracting unjust concessions and reparations. The next was thinking they could hold the Maginot line, massively underestimating the Germans, who overran them in 6 weeks (yes really SIX WEEKS!!!), thereby violating the principle of "a reasonable certainly of winning". Finally, France was responsible for not nipping the conflict in Vietnam in the bud during the 9 years they were there, (1945-1954) as the British managed to successfully do in Malaysia. So First World War, America helps France; Second World War, American Liberates France; Vietnam, America helps France again after they have managed to split the country in half and handover the north to the Communists. Today America needs moral support from its allies. Non!

   This demonstrates to me at least that the French are not to be regarded as experts either on simple justice, justice in war or military strategy. If they ever do join you in a war, the most useful way to employ them is cooking in the kitchen where they can't cause too much mischief.

   In conclusion - There has never been a "temporal" power in the history of the world that has had greater strength, economic or military than that of the United States AND that has used that power more judiciously in the interest of the world as a whole. I sleep well at night knowing that fact, and I am no flag waving American patriot, but an Englishman and proud of it.

      "To everything there is a season,
      a time for every purpose under the sun.
      A time to be born and a time to die;
      a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
      a time to kill and a time to heal ...
      a time to weep and a time to laugh;
      a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
      a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
      a time to lose and a time to seek;
      a time to rend and a time to sew;
      a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
      a time to love and a time to hate;
      a time for war and a time for peace.

      Copyright 2002. Gregory Grimer.

September 9, 2002
CATHOLIC PewPOINT commentary