Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Just War.

I have been promising this piece for sometime and here it is. Not too long ago over at The Corner this article was pointed out in regards to the contradiction between the conservative movement's position on Iraq and the Vatican's.

The article is When War Must Be The Answer by James V. Schall a professor of government at Georgetown University.

He starts off with two quotes:
It has been the fault of both pacifism and liberalism in the past that they have ignored the immense burden of inherited evil under which society and civilization labour and have planned an imaginary world for an impossible humanity. We must recognize that we are living in an imperfect world in which human and superhuman forces of evil are at work and so long as those forces affect the political behaviour of mankind there can be no hope of abiding peace.

- Christopher Dawson, "The Catholic Attitude to War," 1937

While the effects of sin abound - greed, dishonesty and corruption, broken relationships and exploitation of persons, pornography and violence - the recognition of individual sinfulness has waned. In its place a disturbing culture of blame and litigiousness has arisen which speaks more of revenge than justice and fails to acknowledge that in every man and woman there is a wound which, in the light of faith, we call original sin.
- John Paul II, Address to American Bishops, May 14, 2004

Mr. Schall starts off by exploring the utopian bumpersticker ideas about war. For example "War is harmful for children and other living things", "The answer to violence is not more violence", "War never solved anything", etc. We have all seen them. The problem is these ideas are rooted in utopian ideals. Noble ideals to be sure but not achievable by fallen man.

We do not have to go back too far to find examples of instances where it was war and only war that put an end to grave injustice. Everyone but the most obtuse recognize the grave evil of Nazi Germany from the 1930s and 1940s. Again only the most obtuse would suppose rational discussions with Adolf Hitler would have accomplished the restoration of justice to the Nazi subjects. There is no doubt in fact it is a certainty the only thing that would have put the concentration camps of Germany out of business was what did it, unrelenting warfare against that evil.

In fact if one follows events very closely one notices a few things that go on in most disputes. There are two parties one with the upper hand and the lower hand. The lower hand demands justice and the upper hand says "lets talk about it". Now, be aware I am just talking about how these affairs usually work out, not the justice of one cause or the other. In fact the "upper hand" is completely willing to talk about it and usually they will talk about it forever. This is how Iran is dealing with its acquisition of islands in the Persian/Arabian Gulf. The UAE complains Iran is acting improperly, Iran says well now why don't we talk about it. Iran can frankly talk about it all day and all night long. Nothing will change unless Iran is bought off or is made by force to return the islands. Again, I am not dealing with the specifics of that very real situation.

How does talking about it (negotiating) change this situation? It DOES NOT! In fact the futility of talk and treaties was adequately demonstrated in the runup to WWII. Hitler talked all the UK and the French wanted, he signed all the treaties presented to him. None of them mattered a bit. What finally put an end to Hitler's depredations was war.

No, war should never be entered into lightly but the fact there are people in this world who do not live by usual standards of decency needs to be reckoned with.