Enter your email address to receive updates by email:

subscribe in a reader like my facebook page follow me on twitter Image Map
Podcast Message Line: 512-222-3389
Logos Catholic Bible Software

« SDG IN DC #1: The Great Elevator Escape | Main | New CDF Document! New CDF Document! New CDF Document! »

September 17, 2007

Comments

SDG

Well, that's good news.

Of course, I wonder how that would compare to the popularity of Bush and the USA among the same populations?

Or, as the author puts it:

While it is good that many Muslims are recognizing that terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda are a common threat, many polls show that much remains to be done to improve foreign perceptions of the United States.

Yes, "much remains to be done," in the sense that we've done a lot of damage and turning around and doing something else would definitely be a good idea.

Still, it's nice to see indications that US unpopularity hasn't necessarily translated into increased al-Quaeda popularity. That's definitely good news.

Jamie Beu

> turning around and doing something else would definitely be a good idea.

Yes, as long as that "something else" is not "cut and run".

How about this suggest: get rid of the cut-n-run Democrats who keep publicly insulting the U.S.A. This is near-treasonous behavior in time of war, and those 10%-25% who still support bin Laden take much of their solace in the words of our own politicians.

John J. Simmins

I warned them about the goat stealing.

SDG

Yes, as long as that "something else" is not "cut and run".

How about this suggest: get rid of the cut-n-run Democrats who keep publicly insulting the U.S.A.

FWIW, I'm more concerned with the pros and cons of what we're actually doing than with whatever politicians are saying about it. Politicians on both sides spin, it's what they do. If the occupation had been better handled, it wouldn't matter what Democrats were saying about it. Conversely, getting rid of Democrats isn't going to do a whole lot to improve the situation in Iraq (as beneficial as it might be in some other ways).

Esau

How about this suggest: get rid of the cut-n-run Democrats who keep publicly insulting the U.S.A. This is near-treasonous behavior in time of war, and those 10%-25% who still support bin Laden take much of their solace in the words of our own politicians.


In addition to cut-and-run democrats, how about the Media that seems to do all it can to do but negative stories about the U.S. in the war.

It's kind of ironic that the very folks who are advancing the goals of the enemy in terms of psychological warfare are citizens of the U.S. themselves!

The enemy need not waste time or effort in psywarfare since the American Media has done a great job demolishing the U.S. reputation all by itself!

Esau

Corrigendum:

In addition to cut-and-run democrats, how about the Media that seems to be doing all but negative stories about the U.S. in the war?

SDG

Esau, I think your Corrigendum needs a Corrigendum.

Robert

SDG wrote:

Yes, "much remains to be done," in the sense that we've done a lot of damage and turning around and doing something else would definitely be a good idea.


This is not a rhetorical question, and perhaps it is a stupid one, but can you specify exactly kind of damage you're refering to? Obviously this was a war, so are you talking about infrastructure, lives lost, or something else?

Also, is there some way to conduct a war without causing a lot of damage?

Which leads me to my third question, what is the "something else" we should be doing?

Thanks,
Robert

Ed Peters

Stealing goats. How despicable. Hell hath no place hot enough for some people.

Ed Peters

Seriously, the Moselm world could turn over OBL in 24 hours if it wanted. When THAT happens, I'll give some credence to polls about his popularity declining therein.

bill912

Goat rustling?

"Take all the rope in Texas
Find a tall oak tree
Round up all of them bad boys
Hang 'em high in the street
For all the people to see"

Esau

Esau, I think your Corrigendum needs a Corrigendum.

SDG:

Why? You don't think the negative stories the American Media often feature keep publically insulting the U.S. just like the cut-n-run Democrats?

Beau

The problem with popularity polls is that they are snapshots of a point in time - they may not even represent a trend (lying with statistics 101). The media loves polls because they lend themselves to sensational news.

Right now, bin Laden is unpopular in the Muslim world. Why? Because a lot of the Islamic faithful are on the receiving end of the terrorism. They are the people getting killed, and they are the ones whose goats are being stolen. Let bin Laden make another big strike against the U.S. and his popularity will surge again. In other words, right now bin Laden is doing a lot of things that people don't like, but they'd tolerate and support his actions if they brought results.

If that sounds like cynicism, try it the other way around...

Bush's popularity is fairly low right now. Why? Because he's spending a lot of tax payer money, and quite a few of our U.S. troops are dying on foreign soil. Let bin Laden be captured and brought to justice, and Bush's popularity would soar. In other words, right now Bush is doing a lot of things that people don't like, but they'd tolerate and support his actions if they brought results.

People like a winner. If somebody scores a big triumph, their popularity goes up. If the person doesn't get results, their popularity goes down.

SDG

Robert: This is not a rhetorical question, and perhaps it is a stupid one, but can you specify exactly kind of damage you're refering to?

FWIW, my political opinions are few and tentatively held. Here is one: It seems credible to me that the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion was badly bungled, and that whatever opportunity the US had to go into Iraq with the goodwill and cooperation of the Iraqi people and transition effectively to a functional democratic Iraqi government went up in smoke and fire due in large part to our mistakes. I think we made new enemies, and gave occasion to old ones, where it was not necessary to do so. That's prescinding from the question whether the war was a good idea to begin with. Granted the decision to do to war, I don't think we did a competent job of planning and execution.

Esau: Why? You don't think the negative stories the American Media often feature keep publically insulting the U.S. just like the cut-n-run Democrats?

That's what you meant to say. That's not what your Corrigendum actually says. :‑)

Esau

That's what you meant to say. That's not what your Corrigendum actually says. :‑)

Thanks, SDG, for the clarification!

I admit, this morning I've been less than stellar in my communication -- and, unfortunately, it's not only here!

Appreciate the feedback!

Esau

If somebody scores a big triumph, their popularity goes up.


Not necessarily so --

Take for example the Stock Market.

When it was rocking under Bill Clinton, he got major points for it.

However, when the Stock Market roared and passed the 13,000 points mark, did anybody give credit to Bush?

Nope --

The only one who did in passing was that crazy guy from Mad Money.

Now, I'm not saying that either presidents are responsible for the stellar performance of the Stock Market then; I'm just saying that there is a noted bias in the attribution of its success when it comes to the public's perception.

Eric

I am just grateful that I live in America where at least I know my goats are safe.

John J. Simmins

If we learned ANYTHING from 9/11, it's that no one's goats are safe.

Esau

I am just grateful that I live in America where at least I know my goats are safe.

Not when I'm cooking Goat Curry!

Smoky Mountain Herder

I keep my goats in a bomb shelter. They're safe, thank you very much.

Smoky Mountain

Seriously, the Moselm world could turn over OBL in 24 hours if it wanted. When THAT happens, I'll give some credence to polls about his popularity declining therein.

I disagree strongly with this. In the US, wanted criminals can hide-out and avoid capture for years regardless of popular opinion polls.

SDG

What Smoky said.

Ed Peters

Ok. Maybe. But perhaps, too, you guys underestimate the degree of social pressure that Muslims can bring to bear on each other.

For that matter, criminals can (typically) hide out precisely because they are "popular" or are de facto anonymous. Supposedly, OBL is neither.

John J. Simmins

Ed,
Look at how long some of our prominent politicians have been fugitives from Canon Law!

Kasia

Yeah, I'm afraid Smoky Mountain is right. Especially in the parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan where bin Laden is most often rumored to be hiding, all it really takes is a small, dedicated cadre of devotees. There's a lot of very rugged terrain that is well-suited to hiding someone who doesn't want to be found, and a relatively low population density. Communications stink, roads (such as they are) stink...it's the proverbial needle in the haystack. You could have 99% of the Muslim world actively agitating for him to be handed over (as opposed to just disapproving of him and his tactics), and it would still be a heck of a lucky break (or a miracle) to find him.

Think about that guy who hid out for years after bombing the Olympic Games. He only got caught when he headed into a densely populated area. There aren't that many densely populated areas in Waziristan.

David B.

It seems credible to me ...that whatever opportunity the US had to go into Iraq with the goodwill and cooperation of the Iraqi people and transition effectively to a functional democratic Iraqi government went up in smoke and fire due in large part to our mistakes.

My 2 cents:

Senior Bush's decision to not invade Irag after he defended Kuwait(thereby betraying the Iragi dissidents who thought he would help them against Saddam) brought about an attitude of apathy among the dissidents with regards to helping any foriegn power-especially the U.S.-to overthrow The Creep.

FWIW

Alex

When Osama bin Laden died, George Washington met him at the Pearly Gates. He slapped him across the face and yelled, "How dare you try to destroy the nation I helped conceive!" Patrick Henry approached, punched him in the nose and shouted, "You wanted to end our liberties but you failed!" James Madison followed, kicked him in the groin and said, "This is why I allowed our government to provide for the common defense!"

Thomas Jefferson was next, beat Osama with a long cane and snarled, "It was evil men like you who inspired me to write the Declaration of Independence."

The beatings and thrashings continued as George Mason, James Monroe and 66 other early Americans unleashed their anger on the terrorist leader.

As Osama lay bleeding and in pain, an Angel appeared. Bin Laden wept and said, "This is not what you promised me."

The Angel replied, "I told you there would be 72 Virginians waiting for you in Heaven. What did you think I said?"

Alois

What John J. Simmins said.

Esau

What OJ Simpson said.

bill912

Alex, I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read your post, or I'd be drying the computer right now! LOL!

Foxfier

David B.-- Very true.

Sometimes I think the politics of my entire adult life are just damage control.

I admire the late prez. Reagan, but if he hadn`t left after the Marine barracks bombing, it`s doubtful the other terrorist attacks--9/11 being the latest-- would have happened.

(FWIW, I think his mistake was expecting a bunch of folks without a christian background to act like Christians. A mistake many are still making.)

Anon

I sometimes wonder if it wouldn't be wiser to look at Bin Laden not as a sinister comic-book mastermind plotting world domination (like Cobra Commander or Blofeld), but as a modern day version of a very old menace. Although his motivation is ideological and political, not financial, there is a strong case to be made that UBL is a kind of modern-day pirate leader.

Think about it. Hijackings, disrupting travel, hidden investment and money laundering... stealing goats, too. When the forces of the great world powers come after him, he makes himself hard to find. The guy's behavior is strongly similar to that of many ancient and modern pirates. Granted, they don't usually blow themselves up, but neither do Bin Laden and his lieutenants- they have lackeys do that, just as pirate leaders were willing to sacrifice a few men to capture the prize for the rest of the crew.

Frankly, the easiest way to get rid of UBL is just shell out more money for the bounty- we only have about $50,000,000 on his head right now, which is peanuts compared to what it would take to catch the guy. Put a billion dollars on his head, and the Russian Mafiya or some East Asian gangs will put together an operation to take him down, if only for the profits. It has to be cheaper than the amount of money we're spending now.

Tim J.

True, Anon. Turn up the heat. Lord knows we have the cash.

francis 03

I don't like the ransom idea, precisely because it could get shady, profit-seeking organizations involved. I know, many of them probably already are, but still . . . I feel like one big reason America has engendered so much ill will across the globe is that we've so often taken an ends-justifies-the-means approach to our foreign policy: we don't care who does it, or how they do it, as long as what we want gets done. And it often comes back to bite us anyway-- remember that we supported the Taliban and other groups like them against the Soviets, apparently on a theory of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

If we realized how poorly our actions on the global stage (spreading immorality and engaging in Machiavellian policies) reflected our national ideas (freedom, equal rights, the decency of the common man, etc.), I think that would go a long ways toward restoring our ability to really get things done in the world.

francis 03

Wow. I said "ransom." I meant "bounty." What a dummy.

Esau

And it often comes back to bite us anyway-- remember that we supported the Taliban and other groups like them against the Soviets, apparently on a theory of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

francis03,

AMEN!

The Enemy of my Enemy IS STILL MY ENEMY!

Anon

I think it's true that there might be very unscrupulous people attracted by a large bounty, but on balance, I think it would probably be better than the current approach, both in terms of actual morality and American image. Obviously, I think the bounty would have to be for him to be captured alive- we don't execute people without trials, no matter how obviously guilty they are.

Regarding world image, though, a bounty would be a targeted way of going after terrorists- it doesn't require us to overthrow whole governments, send in a massive occupying force, and conduct constant raids and surveillance to catch the guy (who, in all probability, has skipped the country). I think there is a lot more ill will- and a lot more moral problems- with large-scale occupation and invasion, and in the long run, these aren't as effective as a bounty.

You're absolutely right, though, that our actions do reflect poorly on the world stage, and this hinders our ability to get things done. It seems like every 30 years or so, we have to clean up the mess we made 30 years before. My guess is that if we do beat Al Qaeda and their ilk, we'll have made a new enemy in the process, and that enemy will attack us 30 years from now.

Foxfier

Anon-- you maybe right, but from what I've seen of the folks who hate us, I wouldn't want them to *like* us.

The stort of Muslims that attack us also require sevral male witnesses for a woman to be found to be raped-- otherwise, she will be killed for infidelity. Among thousands of other nasties.

Saddam had rape rooms, he killed thousands of his own folks, his sons were caricatures of an argument against monarchy.

I am not sure I'd want to live in a country where such folks did NOT hate us.

SDG

I am not sure I'd want to live in a country where such folks did NOT hate us.

A lot of Saddam's people hated Saddam, and hated him long before they hated us. Many of those who now hate us didn't necessarily hate us when we first arrived in Iraq.

Don't forget how effortlessly the US troops pushed toward and took Baghdad -- there was next to no resistance. Saddam's army saw the writing on the wall and they stood down and let us in. Many of those same people are now our bitter enemies. Iraq has become exponentially harder to occupy than it was to invade and conquer.

I don't think it had to be this way. It seems to me that had we done better, Iraq would be in much better shape than it is, the US would not be as hated as we are, and our forces would not be as thinly stretched and unprepared for another major confrontation in some other part of the world.

Brian Schuettler

To get a good historical perspective on the essential role of the tribal culture and how it relates to the debacle in Iraq I recommend Steven Pressfield's interview entitled IT'S THE TRIBES, STUPID...at his website http://www.stevenpressfield.com/content/op-ed1.asp

his sons were caricatures of an argument against monarchy.

No they weren't! You want to know why? Because Saddam was NOT a Monarch! He was a despot! How DARE you enfilthify the noble name of Stuart by comparing the true Jacobite kings of England to such despotic filth!

Foxfier

SDG- a lot of the "resistance" is imported. Some of it is the same SOBs thinking they have a chance, now, I'd bet. (You didn't actually *say* that Iraq hates us now, but I just wanted to be very clear. ;^))

Can you imagine what it would do to the various nasty folks in power around Iraq if they managed to reach, say, Israel's level? The Jew hatred can be worked against Israel, but Iraq, on the other hand.....

Honestly, Iraq would be in the best shape if the first Pres. Bush had just gone through and finished it then. A bit hard to make folks believe that you're really going to help them, this time, when you bailed last time.... Doesn't help to have half the gov't over here hollering to Leave Now, either.

Honestly, I don't much trust what I see on the news. It doesn't match up with the guys I know over there, it doesn't match up with the folks who blog from over there, and a lot of it just ticks the "bleed and lead" box. Going from that, I don't have a whole lot of information that I *can* form views off of; way too much politics, and way too little real information.

Foxfier

Annon-- and the difference between a guy with absolute control of a country who is expected to pass it on to his son and is called a king and a guy with absolute control of a country who is expected to pass it on to his son and is called a despot would be....?

(FWIW, you got a giggle from me!)

Mary

and the difference between a guy with absolute control of a country who is expected to pass it on to his son and is called a king and a guy with absolute control of a country who is expected to pass it on to his son and is called a despot would be....?

A king does not merely expect to pass it on. The laws of the kingdom require that it be passed on to his son or other heir. Whether the laws are obeyed is another matter.

Brian Schuettler

If the king is subject to the "laws of the country" to determine whether he "can" pass his kingdom to his son, does the king, in fact, then have absolute control? The law can just as easily say that the king "cannot" do so.

Mary

Here's a proverb for you: The king is under the law for it is the law that makes him king.

Foxfier

Brian- I believe Mary is pointing out the more recent, English style of Kings.

It's kind of like the word "cow." It refers specifically to a female bovine-- but it's used as a general term.
King tends to be used specifically to refer to a more English style of monarchy; however, it also just means a male monarch.

I didn't honestly think it worth arguing about, really.

Brian Schuettler

Yes, a constitutional monarchy is what it is called. I didn't realize my little comment would be construed as an argument, just a intellectual qualification, that's all.

SDG

SDG- a lot of the "resistance" is imported.

And a lot of it isn't, too. And regardless whether or how much was imported or domestic, the point is that we weren't ready for it. We planned and prepared for something that was supposed to be a lot easier than this, and when we got something a lot harder, we dropped a whole bunch of balls.

Apparently, there were some people in the military brass and in the intelligence community and so forth who understood how hard this would be -- who wanted a lot more troops and a lot more planning, who wanted to work with the Iraqi military that wanted to work with us, rather than cutting them loose and turning them into enemies, etc.

Unfortunately, it looks like there was a small group of people at the top that thought they knew better and weren't listening to countervailing opinions.

Foxfier

SDG- I think that last one describes just about every angle of human action.

Mary

Yes, a constitutional monarchy is what it is called.

If you look at any sort of monarchy, up to the most absolute, you will notice that the laws of the kingdom provide for the succession. The laws might be broken, the king might alter them, but they are there.

SDG

SDG- I think that last one describes just about every angle of human action.

I dunno. Human beings are always sinful; I don't think they're always incompetent. Sometimes people in charge do due diligence and avoid catastrophic consequences. When that doesn't happen, they should be held accountable.

If we can't do better than this, it almost begins to look as if in practice there may be no such thing as a just war. Just war doctrine, according to the Catechism, requires "serious prospects of success" and stipulates that "the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated."

Without remotely downplaying the atrocities of Saddam's regime, it seems to me at least arguable that between military and civilian casualties, stuff destroyed (theirs and ours), tossing Ahmadinejad the bonus of eliminating his main rival in the region, diverting time and energy and resources away from fighting al-Quaeda and severely compromising our physical ability (as well as our political will and international cred) to respond to other potential threats around the globe, and the specter of Iraq's far from certain future, the total picture may be significantly worse today than it would have been had we not invaded.

Esau

"...diverting time and energy and resources away from fighting al-Quaeda and severely compromising our physical ability (as well as our political will and international cred) to respond to other potential threats around the globe, and the specter of Iraq's far from certain future, the total picture may be significantly worse today than it would have been had we not invaded."


Hindsight is always 20/20.

Yet, I can remember when most people back then were, for the most part, all for the invasion of IRAQ.

But, now that we have finally experienced its consequences; it seems that everybody is denying they were ever for the invasion that they originally supported in the beginning.

I would have loved to have tape recorded all the 'hoorahs' and what not from both the Democrats and the Republicans who are now acting as if they opposed the war ever since.


If we can't do better than this, it almost begins to look as if in practice there may be no such thing as a just war.

You're just finding that out now?

SDG

Yet, I can remember when most people back then were, for the most part, all for the invasion of IRAQ.

Most politicians, certainly. This is not about Dems right, GOP wrong; I'm not saying that. The larger issue, though, is that whether the invasion itself was legit is one question, and whether the invasion and occupation was abominably mishandled is another.

You're just finding that out now?

So you were against invading Iraq?

I don't accept that it had to be like this. I think invading Afghanistan was legit. If we had stopped there and focused our attention solely on stabilizing and rebuilding Afghanistan, very likely we'd be way ahead of the game now. But some people were gunning for Iraq, wanting to finish what Bush Sr. started, and the rest, so far at least, is history.

Esau

So you were against invading Iraq?

I was just saying that the theory of a just war seems more illusory when you consider the inevitable destruction that occurs in spite of its supposed just purpose.

I'm not anti-war by any stretch of the imagination. Personally, I feel it becomes a necessity in certain situations.

Yet, all in all can one really label something in such a seemingly euphemistic fashion and expect that all for wont of a more appealing label, we can actually escape all the horrors which is the very essence of war; that is, in its very core, really is the intentional murder of human lives?

Esau

Just to ensure that the response is placed in its proper perspective, my above comments were addressing the following:

"If we can't do better than this, it almost begins to look as if in practice there may be no such thing as a just war. Just war doctrine, according to the Catechism, requires "serious prospects of success" and stipulates that "the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated." "

SDG

General Sherman said "War is hell," meaning: and therefore in war you are free to discard moral considerations and do whatever is deemed necessary. The attempt to humanize war and subject it to the scrutinies of moralists is a fool's game ("You cannot refine it"). All that matters is taking the most expeditious route to crushing the enemy and ending the conflict.

The Catholic Church upholds the absolute primacy of the moral order as surpassing and coordinating all other areas of human activity -- including war, which is subject to just war doctrine.

The views of General Sherman and the Catholic Church are mutually exclusive. If Sherman is right, the Church is wrong, and vice versa.

Esau

SDG,

Even in the throes of a so-called just war, there will be inescapable destruction and massive lost of innocent lives -- all of which are the natural result of war, regardless of whatever label we apply to it to suit our needs, be it truly just or otherwise.

You might argue that the lost of innocent lives are unintended in such a war; however, what else would one expect given the fact that it is war?

Just because one has applied the label 'just' to it doesn't void the fact that there will be the lost of innocent lives regardless.

SDG

My friend, you're (again) rebutting a claim I haven't made. I never said a just war must avoid all loss of innocent life.

J.R. Stoodley

It is a matter of proportionality. The killing of innocent people in a war is an evil. As such it can never be done intentionally and should be strenuously avoided even as an unintended side effect of an action. However, sometimes due to the imprecision of modern weapons civilians will likely be killed in an otherwise just action. In such cases we have to try to balance the evil of such civilian killing with the evil of failing to take military action against a grave threat. Ultimately it becomes a choice of the lesser of two evils.

Personally, since the death caused by military action is pretty much certain but the threat posed by the enemy is often less certain or hard to compare, I tend to lean toward applying the "err on the side of life" principle to war when the situation is at all dubious.

Foxfier

SDG- The main reason this war has been, to steal that phrase, "hell" is that we view the other side as human-- the bad guys don't return the favor.

If we were actually removing their humanity, Iraq would be very peaceful-- and a crater in the ground. Instead, we ship in food, we rebuild buildings because they need it, we train their people, we avoid human casualties (so much so that opponents have felt the need to lie and hugely inflate the numbers-- one accusation had the US killing roughly a third of the country's official population.)

We've found unrecorded weaponry one level below UN defined WMD, we saw trucks crossing the border prior to invasion, we've found infrastructure for the production of WMD and much of the WMD that was in Iraq's possession and "inspected" is missing. Oh, and we confirmed again that Saddam was paying the families of suicide bombers.

Frankly, I think the Iraq war *can* be justified via just war theory.
(And I also know that we haven't had a Pope in ages who is utterly bat-crit crazy enough to THINK of saying so*-- it would cause a blood bath and quite possibly destroy the entire world. Can you imagine a Crusade with nukes?)

*Not accusing the Pope of lying, nor of anyone else. I simply give him credit for not provoking a new holocaust.

SDG

FWIW, Foxfier, I'm not remotely implying any moral parity between us and the enemy. That doesn't mean we aren't woefully behind where we should be. I'm sure you will agree with me that there are lots of rungs on the moral ladder above al-Quada that are still totally unacceptable places to be.

We've done some rebuilding, yes, but how much? As much as we promised? As much as we needed to? Of the $18 billion-plus earmarked by Congress in 2003 for water, electricity, health care, education and the like, how much was actually spent rebuilding Iraq? I've heard it may be as little as half; the rest seems to have been diverted to fighting insurgents and other non-rebuilding projects.

Now Iraq is far from rebuilt, security costs continue to rise, and we're not putting up any more rebuilding money. When we begin pulling out in earnest, will we truly be able to say that Iraq is better off than before we invaded?

Regarding the pope: IIRC, John Allan says that it's pretty clear, even given the oblique Vatican approach to politics, that the Vatican did not object to the invasion of Afghanistan. The signals were quite different on Iraq -- it seems clear that there was active disapproval there. You can disagree if you want, of course.

Brian Schuettler

“Is the war that has been announced against Iraq a just war? ‘All I can do is invite you to read the Catechism,’ Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger replied with a mischievous grin, ‘and the conclusion seems obvious to me?’ For the guardian of Catholic orthodoxy, the obvious conclusion is that the military intervention that is taking shape ‘has no moral justification’ (September 20, interview on the Italian national news program). The Catechism, Ratzinger explained, does not embrace a pacifist position a priori; indeed, it admits the possibility of a ‘just war’ for reasons of defense. But it sets a number of very strict and reasonable conditions: there must be a proper proportion between the evil to be rooted out and the means employed. In short, if in order to defend a value (in this case, national security) greater damage is caused (civilian victims, destabilization of the Middle East, with its accompanying risks of increased terrorism), then recourse to force is no longer justified. In light of these criteria, Ratzinger refuses to grant the moral status of just war to the military operation against Saddam Hussein. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith added another consideration: ‘Decisions like this should be made by the community of nations, by the UN, and not by an individual power.’”

All indications are that Pope Benedict hasn't changed his opinion.

The lack of due diligence by those prosecuting the war is another matter entirely and they obviously failed both strategically and tactically. Regardless of how you feel about the war, it is morally unjustified and militarily an embarrassing disaster

Mary

Even in the throes of a so-called just war, there will be inescapable destruction and massive lost of innocent lives -- all of which are the natural result of war, regardless of whatever label we apply to it to suit our needs, be it truly just or otherwise.

You might argue that the lost of innocent lives are unintended in such a war; however, what else would one expect given the fact that it is war?

By this argument, a doctor cutting off someone's leg must intend to cripple the patient. In fact, in Catholic ethic teaching, he can intend to save the patient's life from an infection and accept that it will cripple the patient.

By the same token, well -- Saint Augustine once wrote that peace and war had a competition in cruelty and peace bore off the prize. The question can be: how can the fewest lives be lost?

Esau
...The killing of innocent people in a war is an evil. As such it can never be done intentionally and should be strenuously avoided even as an unintended side effect of an action. However, sometimes due to the imprecision of modern weapons civilians will likely be killed in an otherwise just action. In such cases we have to try to balance the evil of such civilian killing with the evil of failing to take military action against a grave threat. Ultimately it becomes a choice of the lesser of two evils.

Personally, since the death caused by military action is pretty much certain but the threat posed by the enemy is often less certain or hard to compare, I tend to lean toward applying the "err on the side of life" principle to war when the situation is at all dubious.


J.R. Stoodley,

Thank you for being the Voice of Reason!

The killing of innocent people in a war is an evil.

Precisely!

due to the imprecision of modern weapons civilians will likely be killed in an otherwise just action. In such cases we have to try to balance the evil of such civilian killing with the evil of failing to take military action against a grave threat.


YES, brother -- that's just it --

When we engage in war of any kind, be it 'just' or otherwise, there is that inevitable 'evil' of killing the innocent.

It is forseeable no matter how one puts it.


This is why I took issue with SDG's comment:

"If we can't do better than this, it almost begins to look as if in practice there may be no such thing as a just war."

Do better how?

Yes, there are/were mistakes made; but war is war -- even if one were to be as careful as possible, the loss of innocent lives is inevitable.

That is the reason why, in a way, there really is no such thing as a 'just' war since even in a 'just' war, there is the inescapable devestating loss of innocent lives regardless.

Foxfier

Regardless of how you feel about the war, it is morally unjustified and militarily an embarrassing disaster

Incorrect.

Leaving aside the morally unjustified charge, since I don't feel like beating my head against cement at the moment, we overthrew a military-based country in less than a month. We had *amazingly* low death-tolls-- insert the obvious but sadly needed point that any death is sad and horrible-- and there is a democracy of sorts, rather than an updated version of Ghenis Khan-style government. This, despite the neighbors trying to make it fail, despite the remains of the monsters from the prior government making trouble, despite the tribal nature of the Middle East, despite the very well based fear that the US would cut and run again, leaving anyone who helped them hanging out for the hyenas to tear apart.

No, it didn't go perfectly. Yes, there are probably things we could have done better. But we can't *know*-- and I'm willing to bet that no matter what we'd done, there would still be "if only---" to deal with; it is human.

Mary-- where exactly is that quote? It seems very, very fitting-- and might be just the thing to get my guy to read more of the old writings.

David B.

SDG,

Saddam's army saw the writing on the wall and they stood down and let us in. Many of those same people are now our bitter enemies.

I think that the troops "laid down their weapons" and then turned to guerrilla warfare-they didn't suddenly like us (not that you said that they did).


Apparently, there were some people in the military brass and in the intelligence community and so forth who .... who wanted to work with the Iraqi military that wanted to work with us, rather than cutting them loose and turning them into enemies, etc.

Whoa! Did you just say that WE turned them into our enemies!?!
When last I looked, free will was something God gave to all men, not just we Americans. I need you to 'splain that for me, my friend.

nomen

SDG

Esau: I'm not sure you understand either J.R. Stoodley or myself. Stoodley can speak for himself, but as I see it his post is more convergent with my position than yours.

Stoodley's argument militates (so to speak) against the use of force in general: His presumption (like Thomas Aquinas) is strongly against any war or use of force, with a difficult uphill battle (there I go again) to establish that it is ever justified in any particular circumstance.

Just as a person is presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt (which means that a person who is likely guilty by a simple preponderance of evidence must still be found not guilty), war or use of deadly force is presumed unjustified until proved justified, with all the margin of error on the side of refraining from war and violence.

The conclusion is not that since war is messy, messiness is not an argument against war.

You are correct to say "Yes, there are/were mistakes made; but war is war -- even if one were to be as careful as possible, the loss of innocent lives is inevitable."

You are mistaken in thinking that this supports your next sentence, "That is the reason why, in a way, there really is no such thing as a 'just' war since even in a 'just' war, there is the inescapable devestating loss of innocent lives regardless."

We agree, apparently, that the killing of innocent people in a war is an evil. We also that it is inevitable in any war.

What Catholic just war doctrine teaches is that some wars and some military actions are justified in spite of inevitable civilian casualties, while other wars and military actions cause unjustified loss of life.

We cannot simply brush aside loss of life because it's "inevitable." As Stoodley said, it's a matter of looking at the evil to be prevented, the good to be achieved and the total good or harm of action vs. inaction.

How familiar are you with the principle of double effect in moral theology? Our two recent skirmishes here at JA.org over the Church's teaching on artificial nutrition and hydration and now just war theory both turn on the principle of double effect, which it seems to me I am defending and you are effectively resisting. Perhaps you might look into it.

SDG

I think that the troops "laid down their weapons" and then turned to guerrilla warfare-they didn't suddenly like us (not that you said that they did).

At the moment my understanding is that they laid down their weapons because they knew Saddam was going down and they thought if they cooperated with us they'd get a better deal. Instead, we disbanded them and put the entire Iraqi entire military machine out of work overnight. Looking back -- like I said, this isn't my ball of wax, but it's supposed to be somebody's -- that seems like a really bad idea.

Foxfier

SDG- from the folks I know who have *talked* to those guys, it was a very good idea. The military they disbanded tended to promote those who killed lots of innocents and helped any of the sons pick their rape victims. (Unfair advantage-- I was on a ship that took a bunch of Marines over there; most of my guys aren't the type to blog, but they do talk.)

Esau

SDG:

The difference is that in J.R. Stoodley's comments, there is the admission of 'evil' in both acts:

In such cases we have to try to balance the evil of such civilian killing with the evil of failing to take military action against a grave threat.


Thus, a 'just' war can be more aptly described as a 'necessary evil' in certain circumstances; but it is an evil nevertheless.

It is an evil precisely in that in it, there is yet the considerable casuality of innocent lives.

As I've said previously, I have no qualms about going to war for just reasons (e.g., Iraq may be considered, in fact, a 'just' war); however, one cannot avoid the fact that it is an 'evil' in spite of the label we apply to it for the very fact that we know with certainty (no ifs, ands, or buts about it) that the death of hundreds of innocent people will result from it.

In that sense, what St. Paul says in his epistles about "we must never do evil in order that good may come of it" might actually apply even here to some extent.


Mary had given the following example:

"By this argument, a doctor cutting off someone's leg must intend to cripple the patient. In fact, in Catholic ethic teaching, he can intend to save the patient's life from an infection and accept that it will cripple the patient."


There is a problem with the analogy offered in that not only does it directly involve the person in question (a patient who may even be willing to accept the risks inherent in such a medical procedure); but also it does not address the fact that in war, there are innocent victims who die not because of a treatment that will save their very lives, but because the decision makers have decided that their deaths are acceptable because of the outcome.

In that sense, it seems a bit like consequentialism.

SDG

Foxfier: I won't bandy opinions with your Marine friends. I can only say that in spite of their opinion, I find the contrary interpretation plausible. As I say I hold this opinion tentatively, but at the moment I find it persuasive.

Esau: Again, Stoodley can speak for himself, but Catholic moral theology distinguishes between evil effects, which are not inherently moral evils, and evil acts (or acts with evil ends), which are moral evils.

We can never do moral evil, or act toward an evil end. Nor can we act in a way that will cause evil effects disproportionate to the good to be achieved. That is what distinguishes Catholic moral theology from consequentialism. It's all in the law of double effect.

If the total consequences of our invasion of Iraq has more bad consequences than good, which seems quite plausible to me, then to the extent that human failure on our side was responsible for this state of affairs, our leaders are guilty of moral evil.

Foxfier

SDG-- I don't like it, but I'm pleased to be able to disagree without being called a Nazi or worse.

Probably part of why I still hang around here. ;^p

David B.

At the moment my understanding is that they laid down their weapons because they knew Saddam was going down and they thought if they cooperated with us they'd get a better deal. Instead, we disbanded them and put the entire Iraqi entire military machine out of work overnight. Looking back -- like I said, this isn't my ball of wax, but it's supposed to be somebody's -- that seems like a really bad idea.

We are in agreement. Yet, I wonder [mostly to myself :-)]: just what could the army have done with 50,000 guys with no abilities other than to shoot in one direction?

David B.

Boy! the post titled "Cy, The Cyclops Kitten " is taking on a life of its on! People are posting periodically,

Mary

Mary had given the following example:

"By this argument, a doctor cutting off someone's leg must intend to cripple the patient. In fact, in Catholic ethic teaching, he can intend to save the patient's life from an infection and accept that it will cripple the patient."


There is a problem with the analogy offered in that not only does it directly involve the person in question (a patient who may even be willing to accept the risks inherent in such a medical procedure); but also it does not address the fact that in war, there are innocent victims who die not because of a treatment that will save their very lives, but because the decision makers have decided that their deaths are acceptable because of the outcome.

There is no problem with my analogy, and you are shameless to say that there is. That the person benefited is not the person harmed does not matter to the question of intention.

And if it did, you would have to say that a drug company intends to kill people who will die owing to an unforeseen allergic reaction to the drug.

Mary

Now that I've Googled it--

The Augustine quote is from _City of God_. Bk. III, Ch. 28.

And in fuller version:

"Peace and War had a competition in cruelty; and Peace won the prize.For the men whom War cut down were bearing arms; Peace slaughtered the defenceless.The law of War was that the smitten should have the chance of smiting in return; the aim of Peace was to make sure not that the survivor should live, but that he should be killed without the chance of offering resistance"

Clark

The doctor intends:
to cut off the leg
to save the patient's life
to earn more money
and to play golf afterwards.

Foxfier

Mary-- thank you greatly. That should make the Elf perk up his ears!

SDG

The doctor intends: to cut off the leg to save the patient's life to earn more money and to play golf afterwards.

Cute, B'Clark, but of course the money and the golf are the doctor's motive, not his intent. The intent is to cut away tissue (in this case encompassing most of a leg) that has become pathological and will kill the patient unless it is severed.

Awakaman

Wow and these facts were contained in an article written by Bush Apparatchick Karen Hughes. I'm sure Goebbles wrote articles in the mid-1940's about how the people of the US and UK were about to overthrow Roosevelt and Churchill.

David B.

Ad Hominem won't further your point.

Tim J.

Yay! Congratulations to Awakaman for engaging Godwin's Law.

He does forfeit the debate, but wins a nice washer/dryer combo as a consolation. The washer is permanently set to "spin".

Esau

And if it did, you would have to say that a drug company intends to kill people who will die owing to an unforeseen allergic reaction to the drug.


Mary,

Yes, there's a BIG difference between the analogy you offered (as well as even this one) and that of a war, be it 'just' or otherwise.

In this analogy, drug companies are trying to save those they are treating whereas in war, those innocent lives lost are not being saved; they are, in fact, killed with our full consent.

You might say it is similar to the terrorist on a plane with a load of innocent passangers headed for a large city.

Would you shoot down that plane or not?

Would you consider it right or wrong to take such action as shooting it down?

Similarly, you have a dictator who was believed to have had nuclear weapons and could have maliciously used it against us.

Do we attack him knowing that if we did innocent lives would be at stake just as in the previous scenario?

Of course, we do since there is the lesser of 2 evils that must be chosen -- we cannot help but kill those innocent lives that are at stake there (just as in the aforementioned scenario) in order to save millions of other innocent lives.

But, at the same time, we must not lose sight of the fact that though there is just reasons for the action; this is yet an evil nevertheless, which I am thankful for David B. for not losing sight of this fact.

For in both situations, we allow the deaths of several innocent people in order to save other innocents in their stead.

Again, I am not against a 'just' war.

I am not even against the Iraq War.

I am merely saying that whether or not we apply the label 'just' does not negate the fact that it is a war wherein 'evil' is, in fact, committed.

That is why I appreciate David B.'s comments in that he does not gloss over this very fact!

The comments to this entry are closed.

January 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31