Today is the third anniversary of our invasion of Iraq.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say on the subject of war (paragraph 2309):
The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine. The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.
How does the War On Terror stack up?
the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
In contrast, the damage inflicted by terrorists is temporary, minor, and random.
all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
In contrast, other means (international police effort such as is used against the Mafia or drug cartels, for example) have not even been considered.
there must be serious prospects of success;
The prospect for success is nil. If Osama bin Laden himself came down from the hills of Pakistan (or up off the beach at Aruba, or wherever he is) to sign the surrender document in the War On Terror, the Basque nationalists of ETA would be unimpressed and the Tamil Tigers would ignore it. This is a “war” on a tactic and the tactic will outlive us all, and outlast all the governments of earth currently extant. It can be, and has been, argued that the current prosecution of the War On Terror has resulted in the production of yet more terrorists.
the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
Shall we talk of the civilians in their thousands already dead by bullets and bombs, and the civilians in their thousands more made miserable or sickened and killed by liberating Baghdad from electricity and running water? The power of modern means of destruction has been unleashed on urban areas, with predictable results.
It may be that the War On Terror is a metaphor, like the War on Crime, the War on Poverty, and the War on Want. But the Specter gunships and Squad Automatic Weapons are, I assure you, entirely concrete.