Support the Troops- Here's One Way

The idea of supporting the troops is not one where you find a whole lot of argument. Of course in the Vietnam era there are the stories of how hippies used to spit on servicemen, calling them “baby killers”. I’ve heard that scenario repeated so many times, I’m starting to wonder if this reaction was really so widespread, or if it got an urban legend boost at some point. I’m sure this type of thing happened, I was too young to take in the riots, the protests against the Vietnam War to fully appreciate the dynamic of the times. But in any case, we are now pretty much united in the notion that while a given war may be unjust, we don’t blame the average man or woman in uniform. In fact, we seek ways to honor or show respect for them, even if we are seeking to end the conflict in which they are engaged. This is a good thing on the whole.

I would like to draw upon the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church to come up with some concrete ways to show support for the average soldier- to empower the troops to be moral agents, not just unthinking machines of war at the beck and call of the politicians.

I quote from the Compendium’s chapter on the promotion of peace, I recently wrote a summary of the chapter for an upcoming book from Pax Romana. The idea here is that soldiers must know that they have a moral choice when it comes to participating or not participating in the acts of war, and in a given war itself. Even if you have signed up to serve as part of your nation’s self-defense, or to be an agent of peace by stopping an aggressive, violent force such as in an ongoing genocide- you still have a right to say yes or no. You should have the legal right to say no to an order that calls for you to do something immoral- like targeting innocent civilians, or dropping an atomic bomb for example. And, if there is a war that is decidedly unjust in your estimation, you should have the right to choose an alternative public service, should you already be under contract to the Armed Forces.

Yes, this would make the military of our nation more complicated, more difficult to organize. But morality trumps efficiency. Our troops have human rights of their own, and they have human rights that they must respect- sometimes you cannot serve God and Mammon simultaneously. If you choose to serve God, you shouldn’t be punished as an American. If a Catholic servicemember drew the conclusion that the Iraq invasion was unjust, he or she should have had the right to ask for alternative service. Does this right exist among contracted members of the U.S. Armed Forces? I’m not sure, but if not, we need to lobby for this right for our troops.

I imagine what could have been if thousands of Catholic service members had decided that going into Iraq was not part of a legitimate national defence, and they took in the prudential judgment of the Pope, the Holy See, and the U.S. Bishops for the most part. What if they had stood up against the many forces in American life that were pushing for the invasion- both major political parties, the mass media, and even many individual priests and parishes? This is the type of leadership that the Church should be inspiring. Individual responsibility for moral actions of self and of state. Here are some relevant passages from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:

b. Defending peace

502. The requirements of legitimate defence justify the existence in States of armed forces, the activity of which should be at the service of peace. Those who defend the security and freedom of a country, in such a spirit, make an authentic contribution to peace.[1054] Everyone who serves in the armed forces is concretely called to defend good, truth and justice in the world. Many are those who, in such circumstances, have sacrificed their lives for these values and in defence of innocent lives. Very significant in this regard is the increasing number of military personnel serving in multinational forces on humanitarian or peace-keeping missions promoted by the United Nations.[1055]

503. Every member of the armed forces is morally obliged to resist orders that call for perpetrating crimes against the law of nations and the universal principles of this law.[1056] Military personnel remain fully responsible for the acts they commit in violation of the rights of individuals and peoples, or of the norms of international humanitarian law. Such acts cannot be justified by claiming obedience to the orders of superiors.

Conscientious objectors who, out of principle, refuse military service in those cases where it is obligatory because their conscience rejects any kind of recourse to the use of force or because they are opposed to the participation in a particular conflict, must be open to accepting alternative forms of service. “It seems just that laws should make humane provision for the case of conscientious objectors who refuse to carry arms, provided they accept some other form of community service”.[1057]

109 Responses to Support the Troops- Here's One Way

  • faciamus says:

    It’s the height of hypocracy to disagree with the war but to “support the troops” at the same time. The troops are the ones conducting the war! As we learned at the Nuremburg Trials, the excuse, “I was just following orders”, is not valid, especially from a Catholic perspective, as it negates an individual’s conscience in making decisions.

    There is also a HUGE difference in national defense and what is currently happening today, waging aggressive, interventionist wars that have nothing to do with legitimate self-defense.

  • Tim Shipe says:

    Here’s the thing- someone may sign up for the armed services after something like 9-11 with the comprehension that the nation will probably go to war with an aggressive state or terrorist organization- and then the political class decides to divert or take advantage of the chaos to start up an unjust war that has nothing to do with the original pretext for which the young soldier signed up for action.

    This is pretty much how I see what happened with the Iraq invasion- it was a betrayal on many levels- but on one level it was a betrayal of those men and women who signed up for military service after 9-11, and then somehow found themselves in Iraq, not Afghanistan chasing Bin Laden. There must be some provision for the conscience in such circumstances, if we are a Nation under God, we must respect that if our soldiers have the right to their conscience, they will be another check on the powers that decide to war or not to war. It is then the responsibility of the elders, to take cues from Mother Church, and educate the young and help form their consciences correctly, so they may see through the sometimes wicked designs of those in power.

    So no- I disagree that someone who even suspects they may have moral qualms about fighting in war is crazy to sign up in a volunteer military- if that is the case then no one in their right mind and heart should ever sign up for the military- if their conscience is to be forfeited so completely. There is a higher contract between Man and God- to deny our soldiers a conscience-clause at any point in his/her career is to make that person into a mere weapon of the state- too often a weapon in the hands of one man- the president (and his chosen advisors). How dehumanizing.

  • Foxfier says:

    I’ve heard that scenario repeated so many times, I’m starting to wonder if this reaction was really so widespread, or if it got an urban legend boost at some point.

    Three uncles had it happen to them, when they got off the plane home. One of them was on his way back because his swift boat had been blown up, and he was the only survivor– woke up holding his buddy’s hand. The rest of his buddy was on the other side of the river.

    It wasn’t hippies. It was normal looking people, mostly.

  • Tim Shipe says:

    Ok- I accept that the stories coming out of the Vietnam era are accurate- that was a side point setting the stage for my central thesis- any takers pro or con on my proposal- and if anyone has information on the legalities currently in play for service members who refuse immoral orders or who chose to conscientiously object to a new conflict that comes up after they have volunteered and signed a contract with the Armed Services- I would appreciate that update.

    I would only add that instead of just terminating the contracts of those soldiers who disagree with the moral status of say the invasion of Iraq for example- that they may continue on in public service- for example to serve out their time helping the nation or internationally with disaster relief, fighting fires, and the like- I believe that those who join the military are usually motivated to no small degree by a solid sense of patriotism and public service- the fact that they want nothing to do with an unjust military conflict is actually a big indicator of their moral fortitude, not some failure of patriotic duty- quite the opposite- unjust military actions only undermine the health and well-being of any nation.

  • Foxfier says:

    It’s the military, not social services.

    If folks can claim a “moral objection” to fighting and thus get out of fighting, you’ll just have leaches sign up to get the bennies without the danger. Same thing happened when they use to have the policy of female sailors with children never having to work on ships.

    Those who refuse unlawful orders have to be very, very sure they’re unlawful– if they’re right, they’re in the clear; if they’re not, they’re in jail.
    If you’re sure enough to risk the lives of fellow soldiers, sailors and Marines in refusing an immoral order, you’d better be sure enough to risk some jail time.

  • Tim Shipe says:

    No one is addressing the source point of my proposal- the Catholic social doctrine- it seems there is no meeting ground in Catholic circles if there is no coherent attempt to base one’s views on a Catholic principle derived from natural law or divine revelation. I’m not talking about “unlawful orders”, I am talking about immoral orders- the law is what needs to be changed to address the right to conscience protection- for the sake of us all. And the military does more than just fight, they are often called to do things like disaster relief- see the National Guard, and how in international crises many times it is military personnel performing “social services” to those in desperate need.

    Yes, you have the possibility of individuals abusing the spirit of selective conscientious objection- but the alternative is one that removes a critical right and responsibility to follow one’s developed Catholic conscience- if one is Catholic- I thought this was supposed to be a Catholic forum?

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    The irony, of course, is that some of the same people who called US troops ‘baby killers’ were also most vocal for legal abortion.

    That said, our soldiers did engage in atrocities in Vietnam. To look the other way is not patriotism, but moral cowardice.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Some atrocities Joe, but consideration should be given that for the enemy we were fighting, the NVA and the Viet Cong, My Lai type massacres were an everyday occurence. Unlike our opponents, American troops were subject to prosecution for such activities. It should also be kept in mind that the vast majority of Americans served honorably in Vietnam and more than a few helped the civilian population of South Vietnam in building schools, churches, temples, bridges, hospitals etc.
    http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq67-5.htm

    Of course the Catholics of Vietnam suffer from bitter persecution still from the Communist government, something that would not be occuring today if the US and South Vietnam had won the Vietnam War.

  • Yes, you have the possibility of individuals abusing the spirit of selective conscientious objection- but the alternative is one that removes a critical right and responsibility to follow one’s developed Catholic conscience- if one is Catholic- I thought this was supposed to be a Catholic forum?

    I think that the tension we’d see here from a Catholic point of view (and which people are expressing above) is between the need for the rule of law balanced against the primacy of the conscience.

    On the one hand, “I was under orders” is not an excuse for committing a grave moral evil. On the other, if people only obey orders when they think it’s a good idea, then the whole concept of authority breaks down completely.

    Theologians have struggled with this over the centuries, include St. Thomas Aquinas, who argued that one was generally required to obey even wrongful laws and orders — the fault landing upon the giver of the law. In truly grievous matters, however, one must refuse to obey and suffer the consequences.

    Here is where, I think, the legitimate argumentation on how these issues should be replied in regards to the military come in. On the one hand, the military will at times involve situations where immediate obedience is very important to preserving the lives and safety of many other people. It is, thus, very important that authority itself not be broken down.

    And yet, clearly, from a Catholic point of view it’s is not desirable that people be forced to do things contrary to their conscience.

    While different people are going to his different balance points on this, I think it’s certainly not out of line for a Catholic to argue that it is acceptable for the potential consequences for disobeying orders to be very severe — and rely upon the judgment of a court of inquiry as to whether the soldier in question was indeed being ordered to do something wrong.

  • Foxfier says:

    Theologians have struggled with this over the centuries, include St. Thomas Aquinas, who argued that one was generally required to obey even wrongful laws and orders — the fault landing upon the giver of the law. In truly grievous matters, however, one must refuse to obey and suffer the consequences.

    While different people are going to his different balance points on this, I think it’s certainly not out of line for a Catholic to argue that it is acceptable for the potential consequences for disobeying orders to be very severe — and rely upon the judgment of a court of inquiry as to whether the soldier in question was indeed being ordered to do something wrong.

    Bingo.

    I really wish folks would stop assuming that those who don’t agree with them were ignoring the Catholic Church’s teachings, though– unless it’s as black and white as the abortion issue, it’s a heck of a big assumption. It really doesn’t do anything but make folks less likely to listen to what I really hope are your good-faith arguments.

  • Tim Shipe says:

    Good- The post by DarwinCatholic is getting to the higher ground. I can see the twin demands of justice for the need for authority lines to be intact and for the individual conscience to be a check on that authority. Now how do we string together these two demands in a functioning society?

    I do think that there should be an opt out when it comes to a new war scenario that pops up down the road from when a young person signs up to serve in the military. Like I said, if Catholics had stood up within the military to beg off participating in the Iraq invasion- wow- what a witness to the nation and the world that would have been- but few have access to good parents, teachers and pastors, who would deliver the Magisterium views to the young- and most “elders” are simply afraid to be seen as unpatriotic- so the political elite have little problem in pursuing wars good or bad- at least in the beginning.

    So- I do think that there should be a pretty open process for selective conscientious objection to going to particular war- and they should have the option to serving in some capacity that is of benefit to society like I mentioned above with disaster relief or prep, fire fighting, etc.. This could be a clearly written law.

    As for choosing to disobey specific commands in a war that the soldier agrees is just, this would have to be handeled much, much more delicately- given that someone might pull out the conscience clause out of cowardice or some other negative motivation. So- what to do? There needs to be a thorough list drawn up of possible scenarios that may apply for conscience protection- the rules of engagement should be clear for all soldiers- from the top-down. There is nothing new under the sun, so with all the wars fought in the past, we can foresee most if not all the kinds of things that must never be done- not even in war. Targeting civilians is terrorism- the grey zone is when you have cold calculations of civilian deaths as collateral damage- this is something that requires a lot more soul-searching than we have had as a nation up to now. As well the use of landmines and weapons of mass destruction need to be addressed. And of course- torture- and what constitutes torture from a practical application point of view. Geneva conventions, international law and such are relevant here.

    Now if someone disobeys and order that is the result of his/her laziness or fear or some such thing, there must be a tribunal that can sort that out- and be well known so that individual soldiers are clear about what the conscience protections are all about- and what they are not about. All of this is premised upon an educated populace and sophisticated military command and informed rank and file service men/women.

    I would compare this to the conscience protections we demand for health care professionals- they shouldn’t be told- hey abortion and contraception is perfectly legal- if you want to be a doc, a nurse, a pharmacist et al, you better be prepared to dispense/perform/refer these type of medical options to patients. Well- we don’t agree with this as Catholics do we? Well, I would put soldiering in a similar category- we shouldn’t be excluded from the ranks of the military just because we may have some real objections to some future order or war the rest of our brethren are being charged with carrying out. Catholics are the Salt- we must be a stinging example for the community sometimes- we are not to hide out in the woods, the Church has citizenship status now, and all that comes with it.

  • Foxfier says:

    You assume we all agree with you that the Iraqi war is immoral. (we being Catholics in the military at the time of the Iraqi war)

    That’s a very big assumption, especially as it has now been over six years– the longest standard contract I know of– and there hasn’t been a huge number of Catholics leaving the military “because the Iraqi war is immoral.”

  • Tim Shipe says:

    You are right – but I don’t get it- and I am not proud that Catholics are no different from the rest of the population when it comes to wars like Iraq, or abortions, contraception, or whatever- all it proves to me is that there is a huge disconnect between the Church’s teachings and official leadership, and the majority of lay and religious Catholics in this country. If I am wrong I hope to God that Jesus Christ will show me through the purgatorial process how I got off-track and should’ve seen that invading Iraq was the honorable thing to do, and that maybe abortion reduction policies were enough, and fighting for national legal status for the unborn was imprudent and unconstitutional- if I am wrong- I want some indication from above- I don’t want to be alienated from the packs on the Right and the Left- but at present my conscience does not feel clean if I don’t disagree publicly with many things going on in our society. I do like Joe Hargrave for the most part however!

    On some issues we can agree to disagree- but when innocent human lives are ended as a consequence to some policy decision or another- you can expect that the agreement will be one made through clenched teeth, and the fight for the truth will go on until Jesus himself will have to separate us and instruct us on who was right and who was wrong, and why, and how much culpability we each have for the decisions we made in this life. I don’t want to win arguments, I want to save lives, and address injustices past and present- to improve the world for the next generation.

  • e. says:

    I have yet to understand the gall of such Catholics who go to the extent of visciously characterizing the Iraq War as something so heinous and immoral when you consider the fact that it essentially overthrew an abominably ignoble regime which committed unspeakable acts of murder not only countless innocents of its citizenry but also family members too.

    Just because for certain Catholics, it didn’t satisfy the formal requirements of the Just War doctrine doesn’t necessarily mean that the toppling of such tyrannical forces inimical to Good and wont to take hundreds of innocent lives is itself an atrociously immoral act.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    E,

    When two of those “certain Catholis” include the current and former pope, I think we have grounds for thinking such.

    “I have yet to understand the gall of such Catholics who go to the extent of visciously characterizing the Iraq War as something so heinous and immoral when you consider the fact that it essentially overthrew an abominably ignoble regime which committed unspeakable acts of murder not only countless innocents of its citizenry but also family members too.”

    By this criteria it is more immoral to not intervene in any number of places in Africa or Asia where the dictators are actually worse and the loss of life more severe.

    In any case, basic Catholic morality says that evil may not be done even if good will come of it. If the reasons for going to war are wrong, then the good side-effects can’t later be invoked as a justification.

    And if I’m wrong then the Catechism as I understand it makes no sense and I’m in the wrong religion.

  • I think you’d find, Joe, that the same Catholics who don’t have any problem with serving in the Iraq War would have little problem with following orders to liberate any of those other dictatorships as well.

    It strikes me that one of the basic disagreements among Catholics at this time is whether a war failing to meet the just war criteria necessarily means that participating in it as a soldier is immoral. Shakespeare answers the question thusly:

    KING HENRY V
    …methinks I could not die any where so
    contented as in the king’s company; his cause being
    just and his quarrel honourable.

    WILLIAMS
    That’s more than we know.

    BATES
    Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know
    enough, if we know we are the kings subjects: if
    his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes
    the crime of it out of us.

    WILLIAMS
    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath
    a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and
    arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join
    together at the latter day and cry all ‘We died at
    such a place…

    I think there’s a great deal to this, though I’d adopt something of a middle position:

    There are, it seems to me, to different ways one might argue a war fails to meet just war criteria:

    - the war’s aims are actively immoral (e.g. exterminate the Armenians)
    - the war’s aims are essentially admirable, but there is dispute as to whether there might still be some distant hope that the issue could be resolved through other means, or whether the evil being righted is in fact greater than the likely evils of fighting a war, or whether one’s country has the “standing” to be the prosecuting power in a war.

    If the former, I think it would pretty much be one’s duty to be a consciencious objector, and accept whatever suffering came as a result of this.

    If the latter, however, I don’t see that soldiers serving in the war would be morally at fault, though it might be that God’s judgement would rest heavily upon the ruler who made the decision to go to war.

    Now, it seems to me that the US wars in the 20th century over which there is controversy among Catholics as to their justice (WW1, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq War) fall very much into this latter category — and so I’m not sure that it’s appropriate to be shocked that there aren’t more Catholic consciencious objectors.

    I tried to cover this in some detail here:

    http://darwincatholic.blogspot.com/2008/02/is-fighting-in-unjust-war-evil.html

  • e. says:

    Joe,

    When two of those “certain Catholis&”; include the current and former pope, I think we have grounds for thinking such.

    With all due respect, the consensus between Two Popes don’t make a right; if such provides a remarkably compelling case, would you want me to submit herein the same between not just two but even a number of morally decadent midiaeval Popes, whose agendas which seemed to serve more worldly matters dictated papal policy and thought then?

    In other words, such things which are not strictly a matter concerning Faith and Morals are those where there can be legitimate diversity of opinion amongst Catholics.

  • Foxfier says:

    I do wish you’d refrain from accusing those of us who disagree with you on the Iraqi war of being in the same level as those promoting abortion.

    It is not, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger even pointed out:
    Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

  • restrainedradical says:

    Selective conscientious objection is not allowed. I think it’s nothing short of scandalous that this haven’t been an issue in the Iraq war.

    It wouldn’t necessarily render the armed forces ineffective. There’s lots of ways to get around the problem. You can have financial or promotional incentives or adjust the length of service.

    The way I see it, if you can’t get someone to fight voluntarily, it probably isn’t worth fighting for.

    ————–

    I don’t like how “support the troops” is thrown around. What does it mean? If by “support” we mean that we pray that they aren’t killed or maimed and that we should care for the wounded and the families of those killed, then I agree that it’s not controversial. But if by “support” we mean success then I proudly did not support the troops in Iraq. I say that in the past tense because I do support the rebuilding of Iraq.

  • From your comments, Catholic Militarist, it is clear that you want Catholic soldiers to leave their consciences at the door when they join up, or that if they foresee themselves as having any “qualms,” they should not join.

    Having moral qualms about killing is part of what makes us human, Catholic Militarist. You want to dehumanize soldiers. Great way to “support the troops,” eh?

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Catholic Anarchist when you have an all-volunteer military people who have qualms about fighting in wars are not compelled to do so. I think that is great. People who join up on the other hand should clearly realize that there is a very good chance that they will have to go to war. They should not be able to weasel out of their commitment by suddenly proclaiming themselves as opposed to fighting in a war when it is their turn to go. If they feel conscience bound not to do so, they should be willing to be subjected to the legal penalties that apply to such disobedience. The military Catholic Anarchist is not grad school where someone can merely ditch a course if it proves tough. The military is for adults who understand what a commitment is and who are willing to stand behind the oath they took when they joined up.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    E,

    “In other words, such things which are not strictly a matter concerning Faith and Morals are those where there can be legitimate diversity of opinion amongst Catholics.”

    I never argued otherwise. You were the one who said you didn’t “understand” why so many Catholics were opposed to these wars.

    I’m simply saying that the opposition of the last two Popes probably has something to do with it.

    As for this “faith and morals” line, it is quite tiresome, and I mean no offense. War is a moral issue. Economics is a moral issue. What the “morals” part of “faith and morals” apparently means for some people – and this may or may not include you – is personal morality.

    I say that is an erroneous and narrow understanding of what is encompassed by “morality”. And I think Lumen Gentium, paragraph 25, removes any excuse for not taking the positions of the Papacy seriously:

    “This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.

    Does this mean you may not ever disagree with a Pope? I don’t think so.

    What I do think it means, however, is that it is not the people who agree with the Papacy whose Catholicism ought to be questioned. The burden to reconcile one’s Catholicism with a position one has taken on a political issue ought to rest with the person who is dissenting from the opinion or the teaching of the Church. I think that is reasonable.

  • Donna V. says:

    Michael I. : you once bashed military chaplains and scoffed at Servant of God Fr. Capodanno because the man gave his life in Vietnam ministering to Marines on the battlefield. You would deny soldiers dying on the field Holy Communion and Last Rites. Apparently, they’re unworthy of spiritual solace during the last moments of their lives – they should just die like animals in the mud. And you accuse others of dehumanizing soldiers?

    Like foxfier, I have no idea how a military in which each soldier could pick and choose his own fights could possibly function. It’s a completely untenable idea.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Darwin,

    “I think you’d find, Joe, that the same Catholics who don’t have any problem with serving in the Iraq War would have little problem with following orders to liberate any of those other dictatorships as well.”

    I’m sure most of them would not.

    But I reject the notion that the long-term goal of the US government is to “liberate” various peoples from oppression. The history of the 20th century does not support that thesis. The history of US involvement in Iraq does not support that thesis.

    Our own ambassador intimated to Saddam Hussein, before the first Gulf War, that the US would not take a position on a future invasion of Kuwait. Getting Saddam out of the way and securing control of the world’s second largest oil reserves has been a goal of the US government since the Carter Doctrine.

    Before I hear the usual replies, no, securing the oil supply has little if anything to do with oil profits and oil companies, and everything to do with maintaining “full spectrum dominance” as outlined in the Project for a New American Century.

    This is not conspiracy theorizing. These folks are openly and proudly American imperialists, and they were in positions of power for 8 years. Nor is this leftism. Many on the right understand and acknowledge this, such as Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan. This is an acknowledgment of the stated imperial ambitions of the US government and a rejection of them as entirely incompatible with any theory of a just war.

    Even, I must say, an unjust war that inadvertently ends up causing a good thing (the overthrow of a dictator).

    Consider, for instance, if one group of robbers decides to murder and plunder a rich drug dealer. The act is still intrinsically evil, even though it means that the drug dealer will be put out of business, which is in itself a good thing.

  • Foxfier says:

    Yeah, because we went in and took their oil….

    Um…wait, no, we spent blood and gold, and they got to keep the oil.

    Dang, we’re incompetent at this taking over countries thing!

    I suppose the rebuilding in Japan and such is part of our crafty plan? (It did result in some pretty dang cool allies, and we got anime and access to Pocky from the deal, so maybe….)

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “Our own ambassador intimated to Saddam Hussein, before the first Gulf War, that the US would not take a position on a future invasion of Kuwait.”

    Are you contending Joe that we lured Hussein into invading Kuwait so that we could conquer Iraq? If so, why didn’t we do so at the end of the Gulf War when his army was falling apart?

    As to your argument that the policy of the US was not to liberate people in the last century I beg to differ. Germany, Italy and Japan are functioning democracies. The people of South Korea are not subject to Dear Leader. Iraq is a functioning democracy, albeit with a rocky road ahead of it. The people of Eastern Europe are free of Soviet hegemony. France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Denmark were all freed from the Nazis. China, whatever its other problems, is not a colony of Japan. The list could go on for considerable length.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “Yeah, because we went in and took their oil….”

    If you don’t think we have ultimate control as to which companies from which particular countries will have access to that oil, I’d say you were wrong.

    As I clearly said, it is not about oil profits. It is about controlling a vital geostrategic resource, a plan that dates back to – again – the Carter Doctrine.

    “Are you contending Joe that we lured Hussein into invading Kuwait so that we could conquer Iraq?”

    It is a possibility. There is a lot of speculation about April Glaspie’s meeting with Saddam Hussien – different versions of transcripts all suggesting more or less the same thing.

    “If so, why didn’t we do so at the end of the Gulf War when his army was falling apart?”

    Who can say? It is obvious that by the war’s end, the US government decided it wanted Saddam to stay in power, standing by while Saddam suppressed Shiite and Kurdish uprisings (I suppose that all had something to do with “liberation” as well).

    My guess is that it was decided that the destabilization of the area would prove to be more trouble than it was worth. I think the goal has always been to control who has access to the Persian Gulf oil reserves, not necessarily direct appropriation. We know that some of the same people who encouraged the invasion in 2003 also had a better idea of what would happen back in 1991 (they weren’t talking about being greeted as liberators then, but assuming what actually did happen, a decade of sectarian strife).

    Tactics change, but the strategy, I believe, has remained consistent over time.

    “As to your argument that the policy of the US was not to liberate people in the last century I beg to differ. Germany, Italy and Japan are functioning democracies.”

    That is an effect of the war – it was not the purpose, nor the aim of the policy. There is a difference, as I have tried to make clear. Italy went fascist in the early 20s. Japan militarized in the 30s. Conquering them had nothing to do with bringing them democracy. It just so happens that the conqueror imposes his system on the conquered.

    That said, I wouldn’t begrudge WWII – Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan posed serious threats to the future of humanity. Some might disagree but I would call it a just war. I wouldn’t say, however, that it was a war waged with the specific aim of bringing democracy to the conquered countries.

    “The people of South Korea are not subject to Dear Leader.”

    The US supported its own dictator in South Korea, Syngman Rhee.

    “The people of Eastern Europe are free of Soviet hegemony.”

    And the US free of its number one military rival. Effects do not equal policy aims. It’s a lovely coincidence, but there are enough examples where the effects weren’t democracy, but things far worse.

    “The list could go on for considerable length.”

    So could the list of countries and peoples that have suffered terribly as a result of US imperial ambitions, beginning with the Native Americans and ending with the couple million Iraqis that died as a result of sanctions and the invasion.

    No one asked them if they wanted to be liberated. Just like no one asks an unborn baby if it wouldn’t mind a shot at life in spite of having say, an abusive drunk for a father.

  • Foxfier says:

    If you’re utterly wed to the notion that we’re every conspiracy leadership rolled into one, there’s clearly no way I’ll sway your mind.

    If you think that bringing democracy to Iraq was the only reason we went there, I clearly cannot sway your mind.

    If you’re willing to ignore the affirmations that Saddam was a danger that have come out since the end of the war, as under-trumped as they have been, how could I hope to sway your mind?

  • Our own ambassador intimated to Saddam Hussein, before the first Gulf War, that the US would not take a position on a future invasion of Kuwait. Getting Saddam out of the way and securing control of the world’s second largest oil reserves has been a goal of the US government since the Carter Doctrine.

    Well, that was Hussein’s version of the interaction. I don’t know that I’d consider him a very reliable source on the topic.

    I’d agree that political instability in the Middle East is treated more seriously in other parts of the world, since the ability of some antagonistic regime to choke off the world’s oil supply is seen as a major threat to peace. However, I don’t really by the theory that what we’ve just seen is the wind-up of a twenty year long campaign to set up a puppet regime in Iraq. That fits the facts very poorly indeed.

    This is not conspiracy theorizing. These folks are openly and proudly American imperialists, and they were in positions of power for 8 years. Nor is this leftism. Many on the right understand and acknowledge this, such as Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan.

    As I’ve written in the past, I think there’s some truth to the description of the US being imperial in a certain sense — much the same one as the Roman Republic was. (Nor do I necessarily see that as a bad thing.) However, forgive me if the fact that a theory is endorsed by Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul does not necessarily remove it from the realm of conspiracy theories for me. ;-)

    However, even taking it that the US, like the Roman Republic, is imperialistic in the sense of constantly moving on to secure a further horizon, I don’t necessarily see how that makes all its wars unjust.

    Also, I’m not sure that it really works to judge the justice of a war by the motives which a leader may theoretically have at some unspoken level, rather than the stated and obvious aims of the war. For instance, there’s the theory out there (as I recall, at least dallied with by Pat Buchanan) that FDR basically provoked the Japanese into attacking us so that we could get into WW2 and thus become a dominant world power. However, whether this is true or not strikes me as of little relevance to whether WW2 was a just war to participate in — though it might, if true, have something to do with how FDR himself was eventually judged.

    For those of us who are not the ones actually making the decision, the most simple war aims would seem to me to be the relevant ones. In this regard, toppling the Baathist regime in Iraq strikes me as a fairly admirable goal — even if the dark reason for it was in fact that Dick Cheney was once rejected by an Arab girl he asked on a date during college.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Fox,

    I’m not some sort of rigid ideologue, ok?

    But I don’t think there is a conspiracy. I think anyone with enough interest can research the development of US foreign policy and its geostrategic thinking, and come to their own conclusions. You can read what PNAC has written – its public.

    It’s sad that we come to think of certain concepts as “conspiracies” only because the majority of the people have not taken the time to simply check what is public knowledge. There is no conspiracy, just an epidemic of ignorance, and I don’t know how to say that without it sounding insulting, though I really don’t mean it to be. Ignorance is simply an absence of knowledge that has nothing to do with intellectual capacity. Very intelligent, thoughtful people support the Iraq war. I don’t think they are bad because of it. But I do think that knowledge of the aims and goals of a series of US administrations cannot be brushed off as paranoid conspiracy wankery.

    Are you open to that idea? Or are you “utterly wed” to the notion that US policy is always benevolent in both intent and consequence? If you are, I just don’t know how I’ll be able to sway your mind!
    :)

    “If you think that bringing democracy to Iraq was the only reason we went there”

    Did I ever say that? What would give you the idea that I believed such a thing? I’m simply responding to those who see the democratization of Iraq as a justification for the war – whether it was intended, or whether it is a coincidental benefit. In either case, and for somewhat different reasons, this motive and/or effect cannot make an unjust war a just one.

    “If you’re willing to ignore the affirmations that Saddam was a danger that have come out since the end of the war,”

    We throw out evidence that is obtained illegally all the time, because we have a system of justice, not arbitrary power. There is also an international system of justice, which the Papacy has given pretty strong support to. Many have argued, and I’m inclined to agree, that the US invaded Iraq unilaterally because it could not convince the world that its cause for war was just.

    But you can ALWAYS hope to sway my mind. Always. :)

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “Who can say? It is obvious that by the war’s end, the US government decided it wanted Saddam to stay in power, standing by while Saddam suppressed Shiite and Kurdish uprisings (I suppose that all had something to do with “liberation” as well).”

    No Joe, what it actually means was that, contrary to paranoids like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan and their soulmates on the Left, there was no grand scheme. Hussein took us by surprise in invading Iraq and we liberated it, and Joe that is how the Kuwaitis viewed it, and there was no invasion of Iraq because we had not gone to war for the purpose of taking the Iraqi oil. If you are going to toss out conspiracy theories Joe, have some facts to support them.

  • Like foxfier, I have no idea how a military in which each soldier could pick and choose his own fights could possibly function. It’s a completely untenable idea.

    Yet this is precisely what the Roman Catholic Church calls for: selective conscientious objection. Take it up with the Church.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Darwin,

    How about I forgive you for mixing up what I said. I invoked Buchanan and Paul to show that it is not leftism.

    I invoked the public nature of the statements made in favor of empire to show that it is not a conspiracy.

    “However, I don’t really by the theory that what we’ve just seen is the wind-up of a twenty year long campaign to set up a puppet regime in Iraq. That fits the facts very poorly indeed.”

    Perhaps I will forgive this strawman as well, and remind you that even the most powerful nation in the world cannot snap its fingers and make things happen, like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. Iraq holds the worlds second largest oil reserves – that is worth more than a few decades of waiting and planning. Oil is still the life blood of industrial societies and those that wish to industrialze further. Saddam was doing business with all of the US rivals – “Old Europe”, Russia, China, etc.

    “In this regard, toppling the Baathist regime in Iraq strikes me as a fairly admirable goal — even if the dark reason for it was in fact that Dick Cheney was once rejected by an Arab girl he asked on a date during college.”

    And so we throw what I understand to be a basic understanding of Catholic morality, to say nothing of the more specific just war theory, right out the window?

    If something as frivolous as what you suggested happened to be an additional motive, it would be one thing. If the real motive is in fact imperial ambition, however – something I do not believe is justifiable – that a good thing will also result cannot make it morally right.

    I respect you Darwin, but your trivialization of my arguments is not appreciated in the slightest.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “If you are going to toss out conspiracy theories Joe, have some facts to support them.”

    Again, what conspiracy theory?

    I don’t think it is crazy at all to say that the specifics of the strategy changed over time. Rumsfeld and Cheney knew in 1991 what overthrowing Saddam would entail – prolonged sectarian violence.

    As I said, the real concern was to ensure that the world’s second largest oil reserves did not fall entirely into the hands of a major rival of the US. In 1991, it didn’t seem as if that would happen. But under the sanctions, and this simply is a fact, Saddam sought to deepen his business ties with all of America’s major international rivals, including Russia and China.

    I think it was Saddam’s developing ties with US rivals that served as the catalyst for the invasion. And if someone wants to make a case that that is a reason for a just war, fine. But when even Bush was making stand-up jokes about the “missing WMD” and getting laughs from all the Washington insiders, don’t tell me that that was the reason…

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “Conquering them had nothing to do with bringing them democracy. It just so happens that the conqueror imposes his system on the conquered.”

    Japan attacks us Joe and we utterly defeat them, as we utterly defeated Germany and Italy with the assistance of our allies. We then establish democracies in Italy, Japan and in West Germany. In just a few years each of these nations have their sovereignty restored to them and receive massive assistance from the US. Calling this a simple imposition of a system by a conqueror gravely understates the generosity of what the US did after prevailing in the most savage war in history.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Also, as much as I love you guys, I’m not going to argue with three at a time. So I’ll leave at that.

    I’ll also say this: I don’t think anyone’s position on this war makes them a better or worse person. So my respect level for each of you doesn’t change a wit. This will be an issue where we disagree, but hopefully that doesn’t mean we all can’t still get along.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Joe, we would have to disagree about far more than foreign policy for us not to get along. Now if you were to contend that Jerry Lewis is a genius for the ages—then things might get serious!

  • I’m sorry if I came off as trivializing your points. I disagree with them, but my lightheartedness was simply that — an attempt to be lighthearted.

    Perhaps I will forgive this strawman as well, and remind you that even the most powerful nation in the world cannot snap its fingers and make things happen, like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. Iraq holds the worlds second largest oil reserves – that is worth more than a few decades of waiting and planning.

    Well, I think we pretty clearly could have rolled all the way to Baghdad in ’91 — and indeed, the main reason I support the recent Iraq War is that I very much thought that we _should have_ rolled all the way to Baghdad. While I do, indeed, accept that one cannot simply roll in all of a sudden to right the world’s wrongs, once Hussein handed us a just cause to remove him on the metaphorical silver platter, I think we should have taken the chance to get rid of him, as one of the more oppressive current dictators.

    Like I said — I agree that the US is far more sensitive to unstable regimes in the Middle East than elsewhere because oil is a strategic resource (and thus in effect a major weapon in the hands of any regime there.) What I disagree with, unless I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying, is the idea that the US has been gradually working towards setting up a subsidiary regime of sorts in the Middle East. I’d put it rather lower level than that: The US is highly sensitive to possible threats there (more so than elsewhere) since a regime in the Middle East can hurt us by cutting off oil without having the ability to actually strike at North America. So whenever trouble has come up on the Arabian peninsula, the US has tended to react fairly quickly. However, like Republican Rome, once the US has done whatever minimum is necessary to assure a secure horizon there, it tends to back off and let things run their course until the next problem arises.

    And so we throw what I understand to be a basic understanding of Catholic morality, to say nothing of the more specific just war theory, right out the window?

    Again, the Cheney example was intended to be humorous (the FDR one was serious) but the basic point was serious: It doesn’t seem to me that from a just war point of view we’re required to search about for what the “real reason” for the war is likely to be, but rather look at the declared and obvious aims and judge those.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    I have to admit I’m torn between two contradictory ideas here. On the one hand, I tend to agree with the notion than in an all-volunteer military you shouldn’t be able to pick and choose when and how you will fight — you made a commitment, you stick to it. But on the other hand, Tim raises an excellent point about how we don’t want that kind of “commitment” demanded of all medical personnel with regard to abortion or euthanasia.

    I note with some interest that back in the early Clinton administration (1993-94), when a ban on abortions being performed at overseas U.S. military hospitals was lifted, the military had a VERY hard time finding doctors willing to perform them! Although they were not ordered to perform abortions, I am sure these military doctors would have had no problem refusing such an order which they found to be gravely immoral, even if it meant losing their rank or being less than honorably discharged.

  • Tim Shipe says:

    503. Every member of the armed forces is morally obliged to resist orders that call for perpetrating crimes against the law of nations and the universal principles of this law.[1056] Military personnel remain fully responsible for the acts they commit in violation of the rights of individuals and peoples, or of the norms of international humanitarian law. Such acts cannot be justified by claiming obedience to the orders of superiors.

    Conscientious objectors who, out of principle, refuse military service in those cases where it is obligatory because their conscience rejects any kind of recourse to the use of force or because they are opposed to the participation in a particular conflict, must be open to accepting alternative forms of service. “It seems just that laws should make humane provision for the case of conscientious objectors who refuse to carry arms, provided they accept some other form of community service”.[1057]

    Let’s not forget where this post began- with commentary attempting to apply something from the authoritative Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. I don’t see how faithful Catholics can simply duck this type of resource- how does one get to thinking as Christ and His Church does on something as important as War, and not take in something that is comprehensive and authoritative such as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church- which states up front that it is rendering the complete body of social doctrine in conscise form.

    If you have read the chapter on promotion of peace from the Compendium, and disagree with my application and conclusions- I can respect you and your views as a fellow Catholic- I will still press ahead with my own case- but at minimum we have to be formed similarly in conscience as Catholics- or else we might as well make this blog a generic the-american.com. I don’t see how the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas can simply trump the social doctrine of the Church as presented by the current Magisterium. And who better to apply the Just War principles than this same Magisterium- I don’t believe that the previous popes of the past century have been naive about the global conditions- particularly not the last two popes- and their views were reaffirmed by the U.S. Bishops as a body, and most every other Hierarchical national sources as I read on Zenit.org in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.

    On a side note- I am no genius, but my own reading and travel had indicated that a Muslim population in the Middle East is not going to take kindly to American or European military conquest and occupation in their homeland- you may have some unique communities like the Kurds, but the history of the “Great Game” has pretty much ruined the idea that foreigners are going to come into the Middle East and transform things for the sake of the common man in those places. An excellent clinical study on this is David Fromkin’s A Peace to End all Peace. The Middle East is not the place where Americans can set up shop and be trusted by the native populations- no matter how bad the leadership is there- especially when we have had a hand in helping most of the bad guys in the region- I recall in basic training in 1981 how we would get periodic updates on how our “friend” (seriously- that is how he was described) Saddam Hussein was doing in his war with Iran. Of course, he wasn’t a nice guy then either. The problem here is that the “Great Game” is really just a huge social sin- there isn’t a Game, there are people who have been getting it from every end as Fromkins details. And if you want even more information I recommend Steve Coll’s huge book detailing how we nurtured the Jihadists in Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight the Soviets- at first just to bloody them- kill as many Russians as we could through proxies- there was little sense that these Jihadists could actually win. How does that fit into Just War and any idealism for the poor people of Afghanistan- Ghost Wars is the title of that book.

    One should look to the Compendium’s chapter on the International Community for more guidance on how we should be behaving in a global community. The social doctrine is solid, it is consistent, it doesn’t veer off on the whims of a particular pope or two- it is the clear signal of truth amidst all the ideological noise from the Left and Right.

  • Tim Shipe says:

    A young service member- probably with kids at home- you all expect him to just pay for his conscience by going to jail or being punished in a way that would jeopardize his ability to support his family- you are so sure that this cruel state of affairs is the only way to proceed with our military? Really? How many of you wanna-be saints (and I am one myself) would be so willing to disobey immoral orders or refuse to go off on an unjust military action- if your wife and kids were going to be the ones to pay for your conscience? What do you think the Pope would advise you on this issue? Is your solution really that no one with a potentially Catholic conscience ever sign up for the military in the U.S.? How could anyone predict whether the next war pushed for by an American president and a gutless Congress will be close to being just? Who can predict just who the president is going to be in election cycles?

  • A young service member- probably with kids at home- you all expect him to just pay for his conscience by going to jail or being punished in a way that would jeopardize his ability to support his family- you are so sure that this cruel state of affairs is the only way to proceed with our military?

    I think that people’s reaction to this has a lot to do with how important they consider order to be, and also how likely they think it is that Catholic soldiers will be given immoral orders or be ordered off to a war which they consider it immoral to participate in.

    In regard to the latter concern, I would suspect that a further area of disagreement is the issue I mentioned above as regards to whether it is immoral for a soldier to participate in any war he thinks may not or does not fully meet the Church’s just war criteria, or whether the necessity of conscientious objection only applies in those cases where the aim of the war is actively evil.

  • In regard to the latter concern, I would suspect that a further area of disagreement is the issue I mentioned above as regards to whether it is immoral for a soldier to participate in any war he thinks may not or does not fully meet the Church’s just war criteria, or whether the necessity of conscientious objection only applies in those cases where the aim of the war is actively evil.

    If a war does not “fully meet the Church’s just war criteria” then it IS “actively evil.”

  • Suz says:

    Donna V. : agreed.
    A United States soldier is required NOT to obey an unlawful order. A Catholic is required not to obey an immoral order (as clearly taught by Holy Mother Church). Hopefully the incidence is rare, and the crossover considerable, in our military.
    The system for dealing with conscientious objection has been in place for awhile.
    If a serviceman objects to a particular assignment (say, Iraq rather than Afghanistan), the military reserves the right to deny the objection if it is judged to be spurious, and deploy the soldier as planned, in which case I think a Catholic man or woman—rather than deserting, for example, or acting in a subversive manner—could with clear conscience serve in that theater honorably, in a spirit of obedience to lawful superiors. And, upon returning home, not be excoriated for said service, especially by fellow Catholics.
    If the objection is accepted, then it would be up to the military authorities to deem whether a service member is suited for other duties or training (likely with demotion and reduction in pay), or not fit to continue wearing the uniform of his particular branch. This latter case may be where wider options for “supporting the troops,” as originally suggested by the post, come into play: funds raised for a needy family, perhaps, or loans to assist with education in another line of work. I would not favor creating a giant safety net, which might encourage objections for less than honorable reasons, but there is no cause to deny those individuals who wish to extend charity to discharged objectors a means of doing so on a case-by-case basis.
    Now, in terms of a conflict in which US Military participation is universally condemned by the Catholic Church, which I pray never materializes, then the difficulties would be extreme indeed. For all American Catholics, and most particularly those in uniform. But I’m not losing sleep worrying over future wars. (And if I was a young and able wanna-be saint, that concern would not keep me from signing up, because the future belongs to God.)
    It seems rational to assume that the many thousands of Catholics serving in our country’s forces over the last several years (or decades) do not have malformed consciences, but are fighting for what they believe is a just and honorable cause: the protection of the United States of America (specifically) and the promotion of liberty worldwide (generally—but with an eye to the future security of the USA).
    On a closely related topic, now that Treats For Troops has had to shut down, does anyone here know of a reliable source for sending care packages to soldiers? Thanks.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “It doesn’t seem to me that from a just war point of view we’re required to search about for what the “real reason” for the war is likely to be, but rather look at the declared and obvious aims and judge those.”

    Darwin,

    Would you say that about any other country?

    It often astonishes me that some of the same people who are nothing but skeptical of the government’s intentions when it comes to welfare or some other domestic program often dismiss the notion that anything other than the official story of the government could possibly be true.

    Governments lie. They have lied throughout history. They lie even more today because it has become more and more unacceptable to resort to war to achieve policy aims.

    I mean seriously, the Nazis claimed they were invading Poland because it posed a threat to their security. So did the Soviets when they invaded various Eastern European countries. The US never accepted those claims at face value, but by this argument, their citizens ought to have accepted them and then marched off without complaint in “defense” of their countries.

    It really, really bothers me when the US is somehow set above and apart from the general flow of history. Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about the military industrial complex – was that conspiracy theorizing too?

    No, Darwin, with due respect I totally reject the notion that we do not have some obligation to investigate the historical circumstances of a given war, of the government that wages it, and whether or not the claims it makes are either true or moral.

  • It often astonishes me that some of the same people who are nothing but skeptical of the government’s intentions when it comes to welfare or some other domestic program often dismiss the notion that anything other than the official story of the government could possibly be true.

    YES.

  • Eric Brown says:

    Joe, spot on! I read somewhere you supported Huckabee in the GOP primary. So did I! You’re going for some sort of agreement award, or something. I’m not sure if it’s because I agree so much or not, but I think you are so reasonable. :)

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Eric, well, I think you and I come from a very similar place, having read your conversion story. We walked down a similar road, you might say.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “A young service member- probably with kids at home- you all expect him to just pay for his conscience by going to jail or being punished in a way that would jeopardize his ability to support his family- you are so sure that this cruel state of affairs is the only way to proceed with our military? Really?”

    I certainly do. Let him make his case at his court martial. Let him complain to his representative in Congress. In short, let him convince people of the rightness of his stance, and be ready to pay for the consequences of his disobeying orders. To do otherwise creates buffoonish situations like this:

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=104009

    You cannot have any sort of military if the members get to pick and choose what wars they will participate in. Each member cannot be their own Secretary of State. No one forces people today to choose to be in the military and they should only do so if they are clear on the purpose of the military which is to fight in conflicts ordered by the political leadership of this nation. If that bothers them there are multitudes of career paths in the civilian world.

  • Rick Lugari says:

    The soldier, like everyone, is bound by their conscience, but that is of little comfort when one is struggling with an issue and there aren’t clear lines. Conscience does make room prudence, however. One can by bothered by a thing, but his conscience will/must examine and weigh the alternative. It’s not a perfect world and making the moral choice isn’t always cut and dry. God knows what you were confronted with and knows your will. It’s entirely possible to come to the conclusion that doing the thing that troubles you results in less evil than the consequence.

    Soldiering is a noble profession but it is wrought with danger, physical and spiritual. All the more reason to appreciate those who take on that burden. Now I can’t say with surety that this is the way to think of it, but it is the way do. I think when it comes to matters of jus ad bellum the soldier has a lot of leeway, that it’s not his call, nor is he culpable if the military action is objectively unjust. And I use the word objectively unjust, because people of good will and properly formed consciences can come to different conclusions often times.

    Where I think the soldier is held particularly morally liable is in his actions while serving – matters of jus in bello. This is where the stakes of conscience are raised in degree and the alternative choice, regardless of their consequences can become more necessary.

    Take Iraq for example. Let’s say a soldier was troubled by it, that he thinks it was or may have been an unjust action. He can reasonably decide that he will continue to honor his word and follow orders from his superiors, embark to Iraq, and do whatever good he can in a bad situation and serve as a good example for his comrades. He may get there and find that he is indeed doing great good for others. He may find that he is ordered to do (or asked to participate in) something immoral. This is where his conscience becomes critical. Where the moral choice is his and directly effects his soul and his relationship with God. And it is in a case like this that he has a duty not to obey AND to escalate the situation any way he can.

    I actually hate these threads because there always seems to be something important missing. It seems one side never considers it, and the other side takes it for granted and doesn’t acknowledge it. It’s all well and good that we have centuries of thought and teaching to draw upon, and that principles and considerations can be somewhat reduced to a formula. Thing is, entering values into that formula isn’t so cut and dry, there values needed are derived from, and limited by, the inputs and the human person. But it’s the human person that gets lost when we focus on the formula.

    The soldier in the field is a real live person with a soul. God loves him as much as he loves combox pontificators (perhaps more if we’re to weigh Jesus’ words and relationships with the Roman soldiers). Whatever choices and events led to that soldier standing where he is, God is there. A soldier in battle is often times scared, in a struggle, perhaps even feeling like a victim. His heart is aching and most are praying. Nothing moves you to get closer to God than desperation, and God is always there. The soldier praying to make it through combat is being heard on the terms of his and God’s relationship, that the evil W. started an unjust war is of no consequence to God and that soldier.

  • No, Darwin, with due respect I totally reject the notion that we do not have some obligation to investigate the historical circumstances of a given war, of the government that wages it, and whether or not the claims it makes are either true or moral.

    Joe,

    I’m not rejecting whether one has any obligation to evaluate the historical circumstances and the truth of the justifications made — I’m arguing that one doesn’t need to take into account secret and unstated motives of the rulers of the country.

    Thus, I’d hold that the US invasion of Iraq was justified because removing the Baathist regime was, given the historical realities of that regime, an object worth fighting a war to achieve.

    I would not hold that the German invasion of the Poland was justified, because Poland was clearly not a threat to Germany and anyone paying any attention at all to the rhetoric coming out of Berlin at the time could tell that Poland was being taken simply to provide more land and resources to the east.

    Now, if the US were to suddenly announce that it was going to invade some completely run-of-the-mill country in order to “liberate” it (Canada, Hungary, South Africa, etc.) or because it was a regional threat, I’d clearly not take the claim at it’s face value.

    However, there are a small number of incredibly brutal and oppressive regimes around the world which, if the US or UN or some other major country or coalition had cause and reasonable chances of success to liberate, I would be very strongly inclined to support the operation. And Iraq was one of these. Indeed, Iraq was fairly unique among these in that it was routinely violating the cease fire that ended the Gulf War, had previously invaded one of its neighbors and had a nearly successful nuclear program, we had incurred (and failed to fulfill) a moral obligation to the people who had risen up against Hussein in 91, we had troops in the region which the Iraqis were routinely taking pot shots at, and the attempt to use the “peaceful means” of sanctions had caused, by most accounts, more suffering on the part of the actual Iraqi people than either war did.

    Really, the only thing I can see wrong with the Iraq war is that it was eleven years late — and caused a huge amount of suffering among the Iraqi people (and much greater religious and ethnic conflict) as a result.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “Really, the only thing I can see wrong with the Iraq war is that it was eleven years late — and caused a huge amount of suffering among the Iraqi people (and much greater religious and ethnic conflict) as a result.”

    I concur.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    Neither Jesus nor His predecessor, John the Baptist, ever insisted that the soldiers or other government types they met (tax collectors) give up their professions. While Levi/Matthew the tax collector did quit his job to follow Jesus, Zacchaeus didn’t — he simply promised to do his job honestly, give to the poor, and repay fourfold anyone he had cheated.

    Christ did not insist that the centurion quit the army, instead He praised him for having greater faith than any of the Jews He’d met.

    When soldiers and tax collectors came to John the Baptist asking what to do, John didn’t tell them to quit their jobs; he told them to do their jobs honestly, not cheat or harass anyone, and be content with their pay. Obviously John did not think their professions were inherently immoral or treasonous, even though many Jews would have regarded them as such (since Rome was an occupying power).

    Jesus and John knew there would be plenty of “occasions of sin” in those professions, and that there would be times that soldiers or tax collectors would be ordered or encouraged to follow or support unjust government policies or do something wrong. Yet, neither insisted that their followers quit those professions.

    So I would guess the same is true of the Catholic soldier — he or she can serve and obey all legitimate orders, and need not avoid enlisting because he or she “might” at some future date be asked to fight an unjust war. And even if the U.S. did fight a war that was unjust from a policy point of view, the soldier could still serve in it honestly and obey all legitimate orders. Perhaps such soldiers could be a force for good and discourage their comrades from engaging in clearly immoral actions like abuse of POWs, attacks on civilians, etc.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    I would think the people whom God would hold responsible for waging an unjust war would NOT be the soldiers but the government officials who made the decision to wage that war.

  • You cannot have any sort of military if the members get to pick and choose what wars they will participate in. Each member cannot be their own Secretary of State.

    You have said this repeatedly. But again, the Catholic Church insists that selective conscientious objection is a right that soldiers have.

    I would think the people whom God would hold responsible for waging an unjust war would NOT be the soldiers but the government officials who made the decision to wage that war.

    That’s a reasonable thing to think according to the logic of nation-states, but the Catholic Church teaches that soldiers are responsible for their actions, period.

  • e. says:

    I take it toppling a murderous regime like Hussein’s is just the most God-awful, immoral thing in the world; especially considering his atrocious record:

    But on the ground in Iraq, tha fall of Hussein is yielding an overwhelming human story of great loss. Families have become gravediggers, sifting through dirt with their fingers to recover every bone and scrap of cloth of Saddam Hussein’s legacy.

    While these scenes may bring closure to families, they are painful nonetheless. And the families are only now starting to flock to this site.

    “Be quiet. Slowly, slowly, that’s it,” says Fadil Sadoun’s cousin Hassan Sadran Hussein, as he directs men with tattooed hands and heavy-stoned silver Shiite rings on their fingers, as they feel through the dirt three feet down in the grave.

    “Search well, don’t leave anything,” Hassan says, when more of the skeleton is revealed, and more dirt clawed away with a shovel. “Take your time.”

    Bones pile up on a graveside blanket, making the sound of dry wood clattering together when more bones are added.

    Fadil Sadoun was first taken by security police in 1991, and held at Abu Ghraib prison for two years. When the overtly religious man was arrested again in 1996, he didn’t come home. Instead, he was executed in 1997, given a number, and buried.

    The loss seems unbearable for son Mustapha, who weeps uncontrollably a few feet away, his tears staining his pale blue shirt. Other family members try to comfort him, and finally have to carry him away, to the van that brought a wood coffin to collect the patricarch’s remains.

    “Oh my father, my father!” Mustapha chants with a broken voice. “You should be happy-Saddam is gone.”

    As dawn turns into a hot, blindingly bright and windy morning, more families arrive with scraps of paper scrawled with numbers, and with rudimentary coffins in tow. They walk purposefully along the rows of graves, scanning the markers as if searching for a familiar face in a crowd.

    Beneath their feet are the morbid secrets that will define the toppled regime. Bureaucratic efficiency was masterful here. Numbers of graves are finally being matched to names of missing political prisoners by custodians of the cemeteries, who can finally speak out.

    The executioners may be gone, but the cruel pain they inflicted endures.

    “These are the victims of the crimes of Saddam Hussein,” says Mohamed Hussein, who dropped upon grave number 288-of his brother, Ali Hussein-when he found it. He clenched the dirt in his fists, broke down, and leaned for support on a coffin that had clearly been used before.

    “Tell the world,” he says. “My brother prayed, and they took him from the street.” Ali’s coffin was carried to a truck, and placed alongside another coffin. That one held the remains of a pair of brothers of a neighboring family, found in a single grave.

    While Iraq’s modern history is being written today with freshly revealed documents, the opening of Hussein’s torture chambers, and the testimonies of officially sanctioned killers, it is the buried treasure here that tells Iraq’s true story.

    “This was to keep Saddam on his throne. He would do anything,” says Jassim Mohamed, whose 70-year-old uncle, in grave number 886, was killed with his militant Islamic son at their home south of Baghdad in October 2000. “Anyone who opposed him, he would kill them.”

    Among the staunchest of those opponents was Tariq Abu al-Hewa, a 27-year-old militant who lay 20 feet away, in grave number 834. He was arrested in 1999, executed in 2000, and operated with an Islamist group–even using a nom de guerre–that tried to kill senior members of the ruling Baath Party.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0428/p25s01-woiq.html

    Some ‘moral’, ‘Pro-Life’ Catholics y’all turned out to be.

  • e. says:

    (…continued…)

    “Saddam was a criminal, a dictator, and fascist,” says Khalid. “I thank the Americans a lot-we praise them for ending Saddam, with God’s help.”

    “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have found the corpse,” adds cousin Riath Idramis.

    And Hussein’s henchmen may have been waiting for the 13 bodies to arrive at the bleak, windswept cemetery about a mile away, possibly to put them into the 14 unmarked, empty graves that already had been dug there, beyond the last marker for grave number 993.

    Abadi Jabbar found himself there at those empty holes Friday, as he searched for the remains of tribal cousins. Already he had found five. Still missing, according to the scrap of paper gripped in his right hand: numbers 867, 974, and 977.

    When asked what this scene told him about Saddam Hussein, he replied: “You are the great witness. You have seen it with your own eyes.”

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    E,

    If you can’t behave yourself, I’ll behave for you. Your deliberate lie about my view of the Catholics who support the Iraq war has been deleted.

    I will remind you that I said:

    “I don’t think anyone’s position on this war makes them a better or worse person. So my respect level for each of you doesn’t change a wit. This will be an issue where we disagree, but hopefully that doesn’t mean we all can’t still get along.”

    That’s all.

  • e. says:

    Sorry, Joe, but to see how the Gore Vidals and Norm Chomskys now rule this so hapless modern world; suffice it to say, one can easily succumb to outright resentment, if not, bitter rhetoric.

    That said, in consideration of statements in toto (not necessarily even targetted at solely your own), I truly do not see how one can take the opinion of Rome or even the Pope, for that matter, and extend it far beyond its actual intent and even to the extent of seemingly infallible decree.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    E,

    I deleted your second post because I’m not interested in your take on my actions or motives. You don’t like it, go post at another blog.

    “Sorry, Joe, but to see how the Gore Vidals and Norm Chomskys now rule this so hapless modern world; suffice it to say, one can easily succumb to outright resentment, if not, bitter rhetoric.”

    Is that an apology?

    “I truly do not see how one can take the opinion of Rome or even the Pope, for that matter, and extend it far beyond its actual intent and even to the extent of seemingly infallible decree.”

    If you aren’t including me in that “one” then we’re ok, because that’s not what I did. It never said it was infallible decree. You wondered why so many Catholics had a problem with the war, and I offered the opposition of two Popes as a possible explanation.

    That’s all – I never said their opposition meant you had to oppose it too, but I will say that if you want to criticize those of us who share the opinion of the Papacy, the burden is on you and not us to reconcile the position with Catholicism. And I don’t say that it is impossible to do so.

  • e. says:

    Joe,

    Quit it with your calumnies; unless, of course, you consider Catholicism nothing more than an abstraction to be admired as ideal rather than to be practiced at all.

    Again, I find it ironic that you should lecture me on motives and actions when you yourself were the one who notoriously imputed such malicious motives.

    If there was a misinterpretation on my part, you could have simply said so; instead, you prefer to engage in mere calumny.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    There is no calumny here.

    You said I argued something that I didn’t, something so contrary and foreign to what I actually said that it could only be a deliberate misreading.

    Is that not a calumny?

  • e. says:

    Joe:

    Then why did you seemed wont to demonize my comments with the rather calumnous mischarecterization “deliberate lie”?

    You could have simply (and more charitably) called to question whatever egregious misinterpretation you might yourself seem wont to address in my cited comments; I would have more gracefully applied, in kind, a more fitting responsio that would have requested, in turn, certain clarification as to the manner of quotes eminating from your earlier comments.

    Still, I find myself at awe these quotes from you:

    What I do think it means, however, is that it is not the people who agree with the Papacy whose Catholicism ought to be questioned. The burden to reconcile one’s Catholicism with a position one has taken on a political issue ought to rest with the person who is dissenting from the opinion or the teaching of the Church. I think that is reasonable.

    …and even the more recent:

    I will say that if you want to criticize those of us who share the opinion of the Papacy, the burden is on you and not us to reconcile the position with Catholicism.

    So, in other words, opposing a murderous regime such as Hussein’s, whose innocent victims number in the hundreds, if not, near a thousand; is not only immoral but, above all else, anti-Catholic?

    God help us.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Alright E,

    It is simply amazing to me that you can, in the same post, complain about something and then actually do it.

    “So, in other words, opposing a murderous regime such as Hussein’s, whose innocent victims number in the hundreds, if not, near a thousand; is not only immoral but, above all else, anti-Catholic?”

    The first problem here is “in other words”. Meaning, in YOUR words, not my words – in your reinterpretation of my words.

    Is this not bearing false witness? Is this not calumny? If you want to know why I said “deliberate lie”, look no further.

    Why you bother to highlight in bold, I don’t know. I never said that holding a different opinion is “anti-Catholic” – a phrase you made up and put in my mouth. I said it isn’t impossible that your position could be reconciled with Catholicism, but that it is you who needs to show how it can be – not us.

    Please tell me you understand the difference between these things.

    Furthermore,

    You think supporting the Iraq war is all about “opposing a murderous regime”. But no one who opposed the Iraq war was actually in favor of Saddam’s regime.

    Lets say for the sake of argument that this war was really about “liberation”. A ridiculous argument in my view, but lets go with it for a minute.

    No one asked the Iraqi people if the loss of several hundred thousand lives (millions if we include the Clinton era sanctions) and the near total destruction of their social infrastructure was a price they themselves were willing to pay for being rid of Saddam. No one asked them, I surmise, because it had nothing to do with the reason for America’s decades-long involvement with the Persian Gulf.

    Only a sociopath does something for someone who didn’t ask for it and then insists that they thank them for whatever positive benefits it may have wrought. Some people may end up thanking the US – some Iraqis may believe it was worth it. I’m willing to wager that there are millions of who have lost friends and family who do not see it that way.

    I don’t know how old you are, but did you oppose US policy when it was in favor of Ba’athism as a counterweight to communism and to Islamic militancy in Iran? When the US and Europe armed Saddam with biological and chemical weapons in the 1980s? Did you oppose those policies? Would you in retrospect?

  • e. says:

    Joe:

    Clearly, as even made evident above, you bear remarkable hostility toward my person, which is perhaps why you continue to engage my comments as well as myself with such continud prejudice.

    The fact that I had even asked in the manner of a question did not even invite charity on your part; only a continued stream of subsequent uncharitable mischarecterizations and false accusations of “bearing false witness”.

    Rather than engage the topic any further (as it seems whomsoever should run contrary to a certain seemingly ‘infallible’ opinion; apparently, their catholicism must be called into question), I shall cease any and all responses in this regard and bid you adieu, less we truly forget what exactly it means to be ‘Christian’.

  • Catholic Anarchist, contrary to your obvious sincere belief, you and the Magisterium are not one and the same.

    No, we’re not. But I at least listen to them and incorporate them into my view. You ignore them, period. This thread is clear evidence of that.

  • Tim Shipe says:

    Well- this post is nearing the end- a bitter end. I asked a non-Catholic friend to read through the post and the comments, and his reaction was interesting. He asked if it was normal for Catholics to argue with little or no reference to the Catholic leadership or official teachings? He said that while I seemed to be putting the challenge out to draw upon some official teaching of the Church, the reaction for the most part were arguments made from secular perspectives with no backing from official Church ideas or teachings.

    I have to agree- I run into this sort of thing all the time in Catholic Democratic circles- they are fine with bringing in the papal speeches, the encyclicals, and Compendium et al, if the topic is one where they feel that these sources agree with their position- but if not, then comes the distancing, the belittling, the side-stepping of anything coming from Rome, from the USCCB, is to be expected. And in that cafeteria of Catholic political thought and activism there is a left and a right side- apparently there is a line that everyone but a few Catholic politicos’ can see, that separates the two sections of the cafeteria. When one walks in and among the two sides, you can hear the such similar language and anger- only it is directed at those at the other side of the cafeteria. When you sit down for a chat, as long as the topic stays in a safe zone- like abortion in the right side of the cafeteria, or war on the left side of the cafeteria- the tone stays friendly as long as you agree and your use of official Catholic resources will be welcomed, or even praised. But dare not to draw upon those sources if you are going to argue an opposite point-of-view in this cafeteria.

    I can see that Joe (and a few others) and I are able and willing to walk around the cafeteria because there is good, healthy food scattered around rather indiscriminately. But it is a problem if you linger and strike up discussions- because you have entered a mine field more than a Body of Christ zone. There is a worldview that supersedes the worldview that comes from the Church teachings and the proposed application of those teachings/principles by the official leadership of the Church- that world is either Left or Right- all sun or all darkness. A place where demons like “Norm” Chomsky leave behind trails of lies to try to fool people into seeing through a type of patriotism that is better off blind. And there is another place where women who have had abortions try to spread lies about how traumatic abortion really is once you understand what happened to you and your child. In the Catholic cafeteria, depending on which side of the cafeteria you want to sit, you will have to pick one of these places.

    The problem here is that I presented a pretty clear suggestion from a pretty clear Catholic principle regarding the rights and duties of soldiers and those who send soldiers off to war, drawing upon the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. I added later in the thread that it would be appropriate for any Catholic commentator to read the chapter in the Compendium on the promotion of peace, and make some conclusions drawing from the larger chapter perhaps. No takers, the whole Iraq War came into the discussion and naturally, the right side of the cafeteria immediately started distancing themselves from the popes and official Catholic leadership- and so the arguments go back into the usual self-destructive circles. I wish there was a place outside of the pope’s speeches, the encyclicals, the official social doctrine resources, where I could just go and stay and find fellowship. But our world and our country is not that place- we have a Catholic American world that is either in love with Barack Obama, or Sarah Palin- ugh-

    At least here at American Catholic we do have some range- there is not much of an amen corner- but I would like all those who seem to find themselves very, very comfortable in their political parties, with their ideological heroes, to just remember that it is only in the Church’s official teachings, and in her continuing Apostolic leadership that we are able to transcend our times- the Church is the expert on humanity- she is our prophetic voice- do not look past her when advised by me or anyone- from the left, right or center- if someone tells me to read something from the catechism, the compendium, an encyclical, or even from a papal speech or a usccb document, to put a check on one of my public or private positions on such and such a topic- then I will do it- that to me is what being a faithful Catholic is all about- the obedience of faith- not in some minimalist interpretation, but in the fullness of realization that the Way in politics is very hard to find and stay with- so many ideological and nationalistic trap doors- but if we at least stay close to the Hierachical teachings and advice then we have a fighter’s chance. If one wants to ignore all the Catholic Hierachical advice leading up to the Iraq invasion, or the Gulf War/Sanctions prior to the latest- then it really is on you to find all the worldly sources that say that you and President Bush I and II really knew better than our Church’s leaders. That is not an attack, that’s a Catholic fact- I only address myself to those who would make claim to being orthodox Catholics- most liberal Catholics would not claim that title, but many conservative Catholics seem to want to collapse the two terms- conservative/orthodox. Not that being conservative would necessarily indicate support for the Iraq Wars- note Pat Buchanan/Ron Paul.

  • Tim,

    For what it’s worth, I think the reason that people are mostly drawing on practical reason or natural reason in this conversation is that the question is a fairly practical one: Should the regulations in the military specifically make provision for allowing service members to opt out of a specific war they have moral objections to. And as a related item, should there be a specific expection in the punishments for disobeying orders whereby someone is excused from obeying orders his thinks are immoral.

    Now clearly, from a Catholic point of view, it’s morally incumbant upon all of us to act according to our consciences. On that point, I don’t think you’ll find any disagreement at all. The disagreement seems to be around to what extent it makes sense to create provisions for difference of judgement between superior and subordinate in a war situation as to what is a moral action.

    If called on it, I’d be basically supportive (with a few reservations) of allowing people to request movement to a non-combat role or a different theater of operations when asked to go to a war they believe to be unjust — but in regards to refusing to obey orders I’m inclined to be reliant upon courts of inquiry to determine whether the order was, in fact, immoral rather than creating a situation in which people are actively encouraged to question every order.

    I think there’s fairly good Catholic precident for this. (For example, in his Rule, St. Benedict directs that the monks must obey their superiors even when they believe their superiors to be acting unjustly.) And since it is basically a question of implementation rather than the moral directive to obey one’s conscience, I don’t think it’s necessarily surprising that people are generally referring to natural reason rather than Church documents.

    That said, and at the risk of allowing Michael to continue to be utterly scandalized by people other than him daring to talk, I hope that you’ll continue to bring these kind of conversations into the square here so that people can have the chance to discuss them and be aware of the breadth of Catholic opinion. I don’t think I’m too optimistic to say that everyone here takes the teachings of the Church seriously, though working from different assumptions and tendencies, and it’s refreshing to have a forum where Catholics who are both truly serious about their faith and truly diverse in their political viewpoints can come together and discuss things.

  • Tim Shipe says:

    I appreciate the summing up Darwin- I like your comparison to the directives to Benedict’s monks- that is in keeping with the specifically CAtholic spirit we invoke around here- which is the only point of spending time here among Catholics- I would say on that point that the call of a Benedicten monk is on a different order than someone like me at 18 signing up for the military. As a religious monk you are walking a very narrow path where you are putting everything into that religious call- so unusual obedience is to be expected as a sign of your serving God most directly. In joining the military we are not told that we are giving our souls over to the state- we are responding to the sense of duty to country to protect her, but not to lose our sense of obedience to God first and foremost. And this is the sticking point- the messy part of living as a good Catholic and as a good citizen. There is going to be tension points- and this “Support the Troops” post is my way to introduce some tension since it is my understanding that someone who believed as a CAtholic that the call to go to Iraq was not just, then he/she did not have legal recourse to selective conscientious objection- and this is a place where I think we should be making some noise as Catholic citizens.

    I think about things as the teacher I am, what if I don’t alert my young charges to the views of the Hierarchy on something like Iraq, because you know, you don’t want to stir up problems, people/parents/administrators questioning your patriotism- now what happens if you just look the other way maybe with the added justification that this is a prudential judgment of the Hierarchy- and so some of your charges go off to war blissfully unaware that there are any serious moral qualms coming from the leaders of their Church- since their parents, teachers, and parish priests never brought the Holy Father et al’s views to their attention.

    Suppose one of these young men or women comes home permanently and badly disabled from the fighting, and during the course of rehabilitation starts reading the Church documents, and the “Pope Speaks” and such things- and he/she comes across the many and consistent opinions coming from Catholic Hierarchies around the world, all saying in essence that the Iraq Invasion was not a good candidate for a just war- what if the reaction of that soldier is- “Wait a minute, I went to Mass every sunday, I went to Catholic high school- no one ever brought this information from our Church leaders out to me!”

    I went through these thoughts during the lead up to War in Iraq- when most of the mass media and both political parties were pushing for the Invasion- I collected all the info I could from Zenit.org at the time- the Pope’s words, the various Holy See reps, the CAtholic Hierarchies in the U.S., some from across the world. I collected them and copied them and distributed them to all my classes. I opened up the discussion with my students. I have no idea how many students took in the info or even cared- but I had to do it for the sake of my good conscience. And for the sake of my own good conscience, I need to press the case for this selective conscientious objection for the average servicemember- given that it will bring some headaches to central command- I still believe it is a necessary check on the powers that be who decide our wars for us- just like the conscience-clauses are necessary for our health care professionals.

    One is of course, free to dispute or disagree with the Catholicity of my views stated here- but I appreciate that there be some basis for your disputation coming from our shared Catholic social doctrine or applications thereof- natural reason cannot totally erase our need as orthodox Catholics to base our public views on something directly in our social teaching treasury. We may be able to make an appeal outside Catholic circles on natural law and reason alone- but the Church is our way of perfecting that natural reasoning- as such I think we should try to reference these sources as often as is possible- this should help calm the discussions since we will be reacting to something officially Catholic, and not just our personal riffs or sentiments.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “Very true, Tim. Which is why so many people have found many of the bloggers here to be utterly scandalous.”

    Catholic Anarchist, considering the fact that you voted for the most pro-abort candidate in our nation’s history, and have frequently been at odds with the teaching of the Church on any number of topics, I will consider that comment to be a feeble attempt by you at humor.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Tim, if my kids had been in your class I would have demanded equal time to present an opposing view. Schools, Catholic or not, should not allow teachers to propound their political views to a captive audience.

  • e. says:

    Tim Shipe:

    So, like Joe, you are of the shared opinion that those who do not share the same opinion as you do concerning the Iraq War should not even dare be called Catholic?

    Perhaps one should go further and proposed excommunication even on a matter such as this, which do not even reside on the realm of infallible decree?

    Are we then to suppose that every ordinary opinion of the Church, all Catholics must bind themselves to upon pain of loss of soul?

    And they thought the Age of the Homintern was over; God help the innocent Catholics who merely differ in the application of Catholic principles in matters not even close to being strictly within the realm of infallible decree concerning the matter of Faith & Morals; unless, of course, your admiration for murderous tyrants like Hussein is so remarkably profound, you feel it such a waste to let so saintly a man as he to expire as he did!

    While I personally submit myself with all fidelity to the infallible decrees of Rome; in matters where even the Vicar of Christ himself as well as the Church Universal allows legitimate diversity of opinion, you and your rather draconian cohorts do not even allow so much as difference and opinion and, indeed, even call into question the Catholicism of those who do differ.

    Perhaps I should, for my part, list several of the instances in history where previous successors of Peter had rendered their own ordinary opinions of certain matters that were based likewise on principle; would you similarly believe that those who differed from these deserved such remarkably damning treatment too?

    If we are to speak of bloody wars and seemingly just conflicts; do you really want to open the forum to such severe scrutiny as this?

    Again, for my part, I remain a loyal son of the Church; apparently, you, Joe et al. serve an entirely different Standard; one which would make hail not the actual prescriptions of the Vicar of Christ but substitute instead that which is pursuant to your own viciously draconian will.

    God forgive you and your comrades; there were those who were identical to yourselves in the past — these were the same who not only unjustly put to death the innocent of the Church but also her saints as well, merely because of their rather pernicious puritanism.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    E,

    You complain about slanders and calumny and then you say something like this:

    “So, like Joe, you are of the shared opinion that those who do not share the same opinion as you do concerning the Iraq War should not even dare be called Catholic?”

    Veiling your deliberate misinterpretations of another person’s position in the form of a question doesn’t fool anyone. Absolutely nothing Tim or I has ever said would ever lead a reasonable person to conclude such a thing, or to even ask it.

    “Dare even be called Catholic”? No one even implied such an extreme position. Why, for the love of heaven, would you say such a thing?

    You have slandered us, E. If you have any dignity or conscience, you will apologize to Tim and to me.

  • Tim Shipe says:

    I take it then “e” that you haven’t spent the time reading the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church? Why not just say so, and spare me the dramatics- all I asked was that if you are Catholic you would want to try to base your views on something of a Catholic basis if there was something out there- I already stated that if one did so and disagreed with my conclusions then so be it, that is hardly the same thing as trying to execute you like a “saint”. If ignorance of the Social Doctrine somehow makes you a better Catholic, I am lost in the logic. If you have a better approach that includes other Catholic teachings I’d love to read it for my own edification- but your current line of thinking is way over-the-top.

  • e. says:

    “If ignorance of the Social Doctrine somehow makes you a better Catholic, I am lost in the logic.”

    The “Comp-comp-comp-endi-um of Soc-soc-social Doc-d-Doctrine”? Apologies, but apparently only the gifted elites of Catholic soceity and, most especially, the cognoscienti of this blog read and, indeed, is capable of understanding such material.

    And, for your information, just because I differ on a rather ordinary matter as this (i.e., Iraq War) does not mean that I am ignorant of such teaching.

    First, in much of what Joe had written, he implies within the sections of his earlier comments that those who happen to differ in opinion as regarding the Iraq War; their Catholicism should rightly be questioned.

    Second, you come in with a subsequent comment with such remarkably perjorative tone that you condescendingly virtually call those who differ as Cafeteria Catholics.

    Now, allow me to elucidate on something that seems to escape the both of you:

    Just because I happen to differ on such a matter as the Iraq War does not mean that I am unaware of the Church’s social teaching; even further, it does not even mean that anything contrary to such opinion is, without question, erroneous.

    You and he would make it seem that (just as an example to illustrate a point) those who did not adhere to then Senator McCarthy’s Witch Hunt does not mean that I, myself, was not anti-Communism; indeed, it means, more precisely — or, at the very least, with those more endowed with cognitive ability, that while I agree with the principle of anti-communism so espoused, I do not myself agree with its application in the immediate matter.

    However, rather than waste my time, only to subject myself to the pettiness (“Norm”) and utter unrelenting persecution (questionable catholic by Joe, cafeteria catholic by Tim) simply for a difference in opinion as concerning something the lay outside the jurisdiction of infallible decree as the Iraq War; I shall take leave of this thread, as I had originally intended (my return was only due to Tim’s screed concerning we in the Cafeteria), less we show to the entire world in cyberspace just how ‘Catholic’ we all actually are.

  • Catholic Anarchist, considering the fact that you voted for the most pro-abort candidate in our nation’s history, and have frequently been at odds with the teaching of the Church on any number of topics, I will consider that comment to be a feeble attempt by you at humor.

    Catholic Militarist, the Church did not forbid me from voting for Barack Obama. You have no ground to stand on regarding that prudential judgment.

    I am not “at odds” with Church teaching on “any number” of topics. Once again you seek to misrepresent me.

    You would think that a self-proclaimed “pro-life” Catholic would take the Church’s teaching on soldiering seriously, as it potentially involves matters of life and death, particularly the deliberate killing of human beings. I’d suggest that you try applying JPII’s The Gospel of Life to military service, but it’s clear that for you military life in the u.s. is something unable to be criticized. Shut up, soldier, and kill. Do not ask questions, do not use your God-given moral agency — that which makes us human — in matters of war. Do not question your government (unless it’s a democratic administration, eh?). On this LIFE ISSUE, you are the one profoundly at odds with your Church and the Gospel of Life.

    If you truly respect soldiers, you would respect them as human persons, as moral agents. You clearly do not. You idolize soldiers so long as they do not act humanly. That is a profound dehumanization and shows them utter disrespect. We can now quite clearly see through your “love” of soldiers.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Catholic Anarchist you disagree with the Church on ordaining women, homosexuality, the just war teaching of the Church, just to name a few. Your allegiance has always been to your far left political agenda, as anyone who has any familiarity with your comments and posts would quickly realize.

    As to soldiers Catholic Anarchist, since I was one of them, a distinction I am sure you will never share, I have a great deal of sympathy for them. Anyone who wants to go to war is in need of a psych exam. However, some of us realize that in this imperfect world we will not remain free long unless we have those willing to serve in the military. Once you join the military you take this oath: “I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” The oath does not say if I agree with the war being fought, or if I feel like it. Those who cannot take this oath in good conscience should not take it. Those who do and violate it, must stand ready to defend their action and to take the consequences. That is what adults do Catholic Anarchist. They do not take oaths that they will not carry out when the going gets tough. Of course in regard to you this will make as much sense as a lecture on chastity to a cat. You think the US is evil and anyone who serves in the US military is serving evil. Thank God so few people join you in your totally wrong-headed world view .

  • Catholic Anarchist you disagree with the Church on ordaining women, homosexuality, the just war teaching of the Church, just to name a few. Your allegiance has always been to your far left political agenda, as anyone who has any familiarity with your comments and posts would quickly realize.

    Rather than simply saying I “disagree” with the Church on women’s ordination and/or homosexuality, it might do you some good to consider that on each of those issues there are aspects in which I both agree and disagree with the Church. On the just war tradition, you are simply 100% inaccurate. And again, on just war teaching, you have some nerve accusing me of disagreeing with it considering your comments on this thread in which you clearly reject the Church’s teaching on war.

    For example:

    Once you join the military you take this oath… The oath does not say if I agree with the war being fought, or if I feel like it. Those who cannot take this oath in good conscience should not take it. Those who do and violate it, must stand ready to defend their action and to take the consequences. That is what adults do Catholic Anarchist. They do not take oaths that they will not carry out when the going gets tough.

    This comment simply does not reflect the mind of the Church. You have not dealt sufficiently with the fact that the Church demands that nations respect selective conscientious objection. This is part of the just war teaching that you claim to believe in. It’s yet another example of how you CLAIM to believe in Catholic just war teaching but do not take it seriously in the least.

    Your allegiance has always been to your far left political agenda, as anyone who has any familiarity with your comments and posts would quickly realize.

    Yes, being anti-abortion and attending the pro-life march is clearly a “far left” position. Again, all you can do is misrepresent people that you disagree with.

    You think the US is evil and anyone who serves in the US military is serving evil. Thank God so few people join you in your totally wrong-headed world view .

    I do not think “the US” is “evil.” Even if I did, one would not have to share that belief in order to take the CATHOLIC CHURCH’s view of selective conscientious objection seriously.

    Have you, Catholic Militarist, ever personally judged a war waged by the united states of america as unjust and unsupportable by Catholics?

  • John Henry says:

    The oath does not say if I agree with the war being fought, or if I feel like it. Those who cannot take this oath in good conscience should not take it. Those who do and violate it, must stand ready to defend their action and to take the consequences. That is what adults do…They do not take oaths that they will not carry out when the going gets tough.

    A couple points for consideration:

    1) It seems to me that the quote above overstates things a bit. For instance, a person may join the military, and then twenty years later find that they believe a given conflict is immoral. For a Catholic in that situation, I think it’s perfectly ‘adult’ and, in fact, virtuous to conscientiously object.

    2) I think the Catechism is helpful here, as it suggests both that the public authorities have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense,” and that “Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms

    This suggests to me that some level of deference is due to those entrusted to the common good, but that the deference due to civil authorities is far from absolute. It seems to me that a pacifist like Michael would tend to minimize the level of deference owed to public officials, whereas Don, who has served in the armed forces, is more sensitive to the importance of deference. As long as neither denies 1) the right of public authorities to impose duties of self-defense on their citizens, or 2) the right of citizens to conscientious objection in some form, then neither is outside the guidelines in the Catechism.

    That, of course, is just my reading of the Catechism; perhaps interjecting with yet another point of view will prove unhelpful. Here is the relevant section of the Catechism:

    2309 The evaluation of [just war] conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

    2310 Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.

    Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.107

    2311 Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms; these are nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other way.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    “On the just war tradition, you are simply 100% inaccurate.”

    Catholic Anarchist I recall reading in a thread on Vox Nova you stating that all wars were unjust and that the Church should abandon the Just War doctrine.

    “This comment simply does not reflect the mind of the Church.”

    Rubbish, my comment does not reflect your mind. The military makes allowance for conscientious objectors. It does not make allowance for people who suddenly decide that they oppose a war just as they are called up to fight in it. Those individuals have to stand up for their beliefs at a court martial and in the arena of public opinion. To do otherwise would be to allow people to spit on their military oath whenever they found it convenient to do so for their own well-being. Those who believe that a war is truly unjust should welcome the opportunity to make their case.

    “Yes, being anti-abortion and attending the pro-life march is clearly a “far left” position.”
    While voting for the most pro-abort President in our nation’s history and constantly hectoring the pro-life movement. With “pro-lifers” like you Catholic Anarchist, who needs pro-aborts?

    “I do not think “the US” is “evil.” Even if I did, one would not have to share that belief in order to take the CATHOLIC CHURCH’s view of selective conscientious objection seriously.”

    Bravo Catholic Anarchist! That is the first time I can recall seeing you capitalize any reference to your native country. Your hatriotism towards America is legendary in Saint Blogs.

    “Have you, Catholic Militarist, ever personally judged a war waged by the united states of america as unjust and unsupportable by Catholics?”

    Asked and answered as we say in the Law Catholic Anarchist. “10. Has he EVER come to the conclusion that a war waged by the United States of America is unjust? Or have all of them, in his opinion, been just?”

    The Mexican War. In that I agree with Ulysses Grant.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/05/29/miguel-diaz-claims-to-be-pro-life-is-he/

  • Catholic Anarchist I recall reading in a thread on Vox Nova you stating that all wars were unjust and that the Church should abandon the Just War doctrine.

    Your recollection seems to be flawed. The just war doctrine is a helpful tool, if taken seriously. And if taken seriously, the result is that virtually all wars (especially those initiated by the u.s.a.) are necessarily unjust. The Church’s teaching on war has moved to a place analogous to its teaching on the death penalty: that wars can theoretically be “justified” in the abstract, but very rarely, if ever, in real life. If just war tradition is not going to be taken seriously, and if it is only going to be misused by Catholic Militarists such as yourself, THEN it should be abandoned because it is not doing what it is meant to do. THAT is my position. You no longer have an excuse for misrepresenting me on this point.

    The military makes allowance for conscientous objectors. It does not make allowance for people who suddenly decide that they oppose a war just as they are called up to fight in it.

    It in fact DOES make the allowance for selective conscientious objection and insists upon it. It’s the only way to take the sacredness of the human conscience seriously, and the Church knows this. You are simply wrong. (Perhaps you not only misrepresent your opponents, you intentionally misrepresent the Church?) Your thinking here is driven by u.s. military “ethics,” not Catholic social thought.

    While voting for the most pro-abort President in our nation’s history and constantly hectoring the pro-life movement. With “pro-lifers” like you Catholic Anarchist, who needs pro-aborts?

    My hope is that the u.s. “pro-life” movement would become more pro-life by listening to what the Church teaches on the interconnectedness of life issues.

    Your hatriotism towards America is legendary in Saint Blogs.

    “Legendary” is a good choice of words, as legends involve both truth and exaggeration. My views on “america” are easily reviewable, and it would be difficult to make a strong case that I “hate” america. Much of the “legendary” position I hold on “america” is sheer fantasy, dreamed up by folks like you who need blog enemies.

    The Mexican War. In that I agree with Ulysses Grant.

    One war. Nice. You are a serious disciple of the Church’s teaching on war, I see. If only you ever agreed with the Popes on war.

  • From the Compendium of the Church’s Social Doctrine:

    Chapter Eight
    The Political Community

    III. Political Authority
    c. The right to conscientious objection

    399. Citizens are not obligated in conscience to follow the prescriptions of civil authorities if their precepts are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or to the teachings of the Gospel. [820] Unjust laws pose dramatic problems of conscience for morally upright people: when they are called to cooperate in morally evil acts they must refuse.[821] Besides being a moral duty, such a refusal is also a basic human right which, precisely as such, civil law itself is obliged to recognize and protect. “Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected not only from legal penalties but also from any negative effects on the legal, disciplinary, financial and professional plane”.[822]

    It is a grave duty of conscience not to cooperate, not even formally, in practices which, although permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to the Law of God. Such cooperation in fact can never be justified, not by invoking respect for the freedom of others nor by appealing to the fact that it is foreseen and required by civil law. No one can escape the moral responsibility for actions taken, and all will be judged by God himself based on this responsibility (cf. Rom 2:6; 14:12).

    From the U.S. Catholic Bishops, The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace: 10th Anniversary of The Challenge of Peace, 1993:

    We repeat our support both for legal protection for those who conscientiously refuse to participate in any war (conscientious objectors) and for those who cannot, in good conscience, serve in specific conflicts they consider unjust or in branches of the service (e.g., the strategic nuclear forces) which would require them to perform actions contrary to deeply held moral convictions about indiscriminate killing (selective conscientious objection).

    As we hold individuals in high esteem who conscientiously serve in the armed forces, so also we should regard conscientious objection and selective conscientious objection as positive indicators within the Church of a sound moral awareness and respect for human life.

    There is a need to improve the legal and practical protection which this country rightly affords
    conscientious objectors and, in accord with the just-war tradition, to provide similar legal protection for selective conscientious objectors.

  • One war. Nice. You are a serious disciple of the Church’s teaching on war, I see. If only you ever agreed with the Popes on war.

    Michael,

    It’s a mark of your usual disingenuousness that you ask specifically ask Donald to name one war, and then turn around and mock him for naming one war. Seriously, do you think you stand any chance of convincing people to accept your beliefs in regards to the requirements which Christianity places on people when you can never find it in your heart to react to people in a remotely Christian fashion? Read of your comment and Donald’s again and ask yourself: if someone who doesn’t know all the history between you two reads both comments, which of you two will they think has a truly Christian and human understanding of war and the demands placed upon soldiers?

    Also, I’m not necessarily sure you want to “go there” with your last sentence that I quoted. Donald doubtless agrees with a number of papal pronouncements on war — such as the calling of the crusades, the defense of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the defense of the papal states against the nationalist forces of Victor Emmanuel. You, of course, probably disagree with the popes on all of those.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Of course Catholic Anarchist what the bishops proposed in 1993 flies in the face of Pius XII’s Christmas message of 1956 in which he condemned selective conscientious objection, at least in democratic states.

    In regard to the teaching of the Just War doctrine Catholic Anarchist, I thank you for the clarification. You support it as long as it condemns wars you oppose, and you abandon it when it does not.

    Catholic Anarchist my statement in regard to the military and conscientious objection is absolutely correct. Conscientious objection is recognized, selection conscientious objection is not. As the statement of Pius XII indicates, selective conscientious objection is a doctrinal innovation in the Church. Actually support for any conscientious objection, except for clerics, is a doctrinal innovation of the last century. In that regard American law actually recognized the rights of absolute conscientious objectors before the Church did.

    Your dedication to the pro-life cause is underwhelming.

    As for your hatred of this country it permeates most of your writing. A good sample is set forth in the many jabs you make at America in your explanation as to why you were going to vote for pro-abort Obama.

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/11/03/why-i-decided-to-vote/

  • Darwin – Please, let’s not be silly. The Church of today has repented the sin of the Crusades.

    Of course Catholic Anarchist what the bishops proposed in 1993 flies in the face of Pius XII’s Christmas message of 1956 in which he condemned selective conscientious objection, at least in democratic states.

    Yes, it does. News flash, Militarist: Church teaching changes!

    In regard to the teaching of the Just War doctrine Catholic Anarchist, I thank you for the clarification. You support it as long as it condemns wars you oppose, and you abandon it when it does not.

    The fact is, I am with the Popes when it comes to their judgments of modern wars and you are not. That’s the bottom line.

    Catholic Anarchist my statement in regard to the military and conscientious objection is absolutely correct. Conscientious objection is recognized, selection conscientious objection is not.

    Only a fool or a liar could continue to parrot the mistaken idea that the Church does not recognize selective conscientious objection. You are deliberately choosing to ignore it, but it’s Church teaching.

    As the statement of Pius XII indicates, selective conscientious objection is a doctrinal innovation in the Church. Actually support for any conscientious objection, except for clerics, is a doctrinal innovation of the last century. In that regard American law actually recognized the rights of absolute conscientious objectors before the Church did.

    Sure, it’s an “innovation.” But it’s Church teaching nonetheless. And you continue to ignore it.

    Your dedication to the pro-life cause is underwhelming.

    As is yours. Not to mention your dedication to authentic Catholic social doctrine.

    As for your hatred of this country it permeates most of your writing. A good sample is set forth in the many jabs you make at America in your explanation as to why you were going to vote for pro-abort Obama.

    Jabs = hate?

  • I just reviewed my post on why I voted for Obama. Interesting that you did not quote anything from the post that would indicate that I “hate” america. But thank you for doing your part to contribute to the myth that I “hate america” and to draw attention to my writing.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    1.The Church of today has repented the Crusades Catholic Anarchist. You wouldn’t care to link to this precise apology would you?

    2.Church teaching Catholic Anarchist has to be considered as a whole. I believe a papal statement would require another papal statement to invalidate it. Would you care to point to such a papal statement, not a statement of a council, but a papal statement?

    3.Catholic Anarchist the opinion of a Pope on a war has never been binding on Catholics. If you understand anything about the Just War doctrine you would understand that. As it happens I do agree with most papal positions regarding conflicts over the past 1700 years.

    In regard to modern conflicts would you include the Spanish Civil War in that category? How do you view the position of Pius XI in regard to that conflict?

    4. Catholic Anarchist your reading comprehension really cannot be so low as to fail to discern that I was writing about the US military’s position in regard to conscientious objection? Please try to at least read what I have written and not what you imagine I have written.

    5. Catholic Anarchist, in addition to my political work for the pro-life cause I have also been a Birthright volunteer and a member of the board of the crisis pregnancy center in my country for the past decade. For the past five years I have been president of the board of the crisis pregnancy center. I will let our readers judge if that is underwhelming. I am sure I could have done more.

    6. Catholic social doctrine Catholic Anarchist is not far left political stances, no matter how much you wish it was.

    7. You want another example of your hatriotism? Here is your Fourth of July salute:

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/07/03/happy-4th-of-july/

  • I’ll only comment on #5. The rest I consider worthless to debate further. You are at the front of the Cafeteria line on the issue of war. american policy is your moral guide.

    On #5 – You obviously have a record of anti-abortion activity. But what i said was that your dedication to the pro-life cause (and I understand the term “pro-life” in the Catholic, not american societal, sense) is underwhelming. Your readers are able to judge that, I’m sure.

    Again, you see what you want to see in my posts. There is nothing in my 4th of July post that would indicate “hatred” of america, only an insistence that we reject american civil religion in our Catholic churches. But again, thanks for helping to make me “legendary”!

  • This is the oddly maddening thing about trying to talk to you, Michael. On the one hand, you say such incredibly and obviously badly argued things that one itches to respond — yet on the other you display fairly little interest in understanding what other people have to say and giving it a fair hearing, so at the same rational level there’s seemingly little point in responding.

    You say that you agree with the Church’s just war teaching, yet you reject nearly the entire history of it and say that what you agree with is one modern interpretation of it which suggest that war is almost never justified. When the fact that this is a minority viewpoint in Church history is pointed out to you, you exclaim, “Church teaching changes!”

    Yet if Church teaching changes drastically, then clearly at some times the Church is teaching what is true, and at other times what is false. And if that’s so, why should we be convinced (especially by your brief and acerbic comments) that your interpretation of the current teaching (based not on something like the Catechism of the Catholic Church but on a speculation Cardinal Ratzinger made a number of years ago in an interview) is correct?

    You say that we should agree with the popes in regards to what wars are just, yet when specific several wars endorsed by popes over the course of 800 years you brushed that off with “the Church has apologized for the crusades”. (Technically, that’s not true. Pope John Paul II expressed sorrow for a number of clearly wrong acts that were committed by the crusaders, but he did not actually say that the Church was wrong to call the crusades, nor that the various promises of plenary indulgences attached to crusading — in a proper state of contrition and sacrifice, obviously, as with any indulgence — were invalid.) Instead you follow up by saying you agree with popes about modern wars.

    Except as Donald pointed out you probably don’t agree with Pius XI in regards to the Spanish Civil War. Or with Pius XII in regards to the allied cause in WW2. Or with John Paul II in regards to the NATO campaign in Bosnia. Even with the US war in Afghanistan there were decidedly mixed messages from Vatican spokesmen and no statement either way from the pope, as I recall.

    So basically, you agree with some modern popes about some modern wars so long as they agree with you — and by golly someone is a terrible Catholic if they don’t share your convictions in that regard.

    You consider this a convincing argument? I have a lot of respect for people who think that the Iraq War did not meet just war standards (which as I recall includes roughly half the active contributors this blog) but your kind of foolishness draws neither respect nor belief.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    “Pope John Paul II expressed sorrow for a number of clearly wrong acts that were committed by the crusaders, but he did not actually say that the Church was wrong to call the crusades”

    A good distinction to make, as well. It isn’t very popular today to acknowledge that the First Crusade was a defensive war launched at the behest of an ally calling to the West for help.

    It’s off topic, kinda, but my ancestors, the Maronite Lebanese, benefited greatly from the protection of the crusaders. The Turks really were engaged in persecution of Christians, they had conquered many territories that were a part of the Christian Middle East and North Africa.

    The crusaders also did not try to impose Christianity on the local Muslim population, at least not on a large scale. So it was never a war waged to convert by the sword. I believe it was a legitimate defense of Christendom from an enemy that had been aggressive for a good 400 years or so prior to that point.

    I’m sure Michael and others will not only vehemently disagree, but accuse me of apologizing for religious imperialism or some other terrible thing. Well, I put up with it from the right when I criticize America’s wars, so I suppose I can deal with it from the left when I defend those called by the Church.

  • Dale Price says:

    “I’m not concerned about convincing you.”

    You’re not concerned about convincing anybody. Posturing, tossing “treats” at your opponent like an alpha baboon and making sure everyone knows you aren’t like that conservative/”militarist” tax collector over there are your modus operandi.

    Enjoy the ego trip, kid.

  • e. says:

    Joe said:

    “A good distinction to make, as well. It isn’t very popular today to acknowledge that the First Crusade was a defensive war launched at the behest of an ally calling to the West for help.

    It’s off topic, kinda, but my ancestors, the Maronite Lebanese, benefited greatly from the protection of the crusaders. The Turks really were engaged in persecution of Christians, they had conquered many territories that were a part of the Christian Middle East and North Africa.

    The crusaders also did not try to impose Christianity on the local Muslim population, at least not on a large scale. So it was never a war waged to convert by the sword. I believe it was a legitimate defense of Christendom from an enemy that had been aggressive for a good 400 years or so prior to that point.”

    Too bad this little bit submitted by Joe above and other such points in fact is lost on the bigoted nitwits on the History Channel; if anything, their Two-Part indictment.. err.. special, “The Crusades: The Crescent and the Cross“, maliciously produced an utterly insidiously dark, villainous portrayal of the Pope, the Church and all of Christendom then, attempting to make the Muslims nothing more but saintly innocent, peaceful people into whose hands the Holy Lands rightfully belonged and, even more, were perfectly governed thereby with only justice and remarkable virtue, unlike the vile Crusaders who didst anything except plunder, rape and heinously murder.

    The American Catholic should’ve sicced Joe on these wretched anti-Catholic bigots.

  • Tim Shipe says:

    Ok- since this was my post -originally anyway- I feel some responsibility to wrap things up and attempt a little peacemaking- especially given the nature of the post in the first place.

    There are two main areas covered in this thread- with a third being the Crusades as a late entry- which I am going with Joe H.’s historical accounting of the basic facts.

    I quoted the Compendium’s teaching on the principle of conscience-protection for our troops- which I thought was a necessary reform for our U.S. military services- both for orders that would be immoral and for a selective conscientious objection option for situations where one has signed up in good faith to serve but gets thrown into a unjust war- I used the 9-11/Iraq Invasion as a controversial real-life example.

    The basic question over just how exactly we should or could enact some basic conscience protections for the troops got deep-sixed by the debate on the Iraq War’s justification- which brought out a mini-war among churchmen and their “pens”. I chose that time to bring out my Catholic Cafeteria parable of sorts- which was seen as being specifically targeting those who supported the justness of the Iraq invasion. It was meant to be a much broader statement on the American political situation of very clearly drawn lines in the sand between those who proudly proclaim their “liberal” or “conservative” bonafides. But the connection to the Iraq situation was unavoidable, and I should clear the air a bit.

    I do think that the Iraq invasion was immoral, but it isn’t something that is going to found in a permanent Catechism under “Iraq Wars”. It is an application of Just War theory, and the prudential judgment guidance offered by the Church Hierarchs, and by the facts on the ground. For me, Iraq was an easy call because what I understood of the situation from the facts on the ground to the guidance offered by the Hierarchy was a straight-line. And so, I took an early and strident opposition on moral and practical terms.

    This obviously isn’t how everyone Catholic took in this War- and while there is wiggle room on a prudential judgment of social doctrinal principle- when you are dealing with the life and death nature of warfare or not, you are going to have some life and death struggles in spirited debate. The tone is going to be war-like because we are talking about war- war which kills or saves depending on your perspective. Now I don’t think one is necessarily a bad or incomplete Catholic in rejecting a prudential judgment of the Magisterium or the various Hierarchical bodies of Bishops- but it is one where I believe we have to tread very lightly when taking a public position that runs contrary to the popes et al- even on prudential matters. One had better have an overwhelming amount of evidence from the ‘facts on the ground’ to overturn the assessment by our Church leadership. Am I wrong to make these kind of assertions of how good well-meaning Catholics should proceed as a matter of process in their decision-making and public statements? I open this point up to the forum.

    I am not a pacifist, I do believe that the Church has developed an appreciation for the idea that to err on the side of non-violence is a better option when in doubt. The Iraq situation was something clear to me, but the Afghanistan War is another thing- the facts on the ground seemed to support a war against the Taliban for harboring Bin Laden, and the Church leadership did not offer any clear guidance yea or neigh, so for me it has come down to a murky search through some of the recent history of Afghanistan and the whole building up of the Jihadist movement by Western and Saudi/Pakistani interests originally to bloody the Soviets and further internal Islamic competitions. Like I said, this war in Afghanistan is really murky for me in ways that Iraq was not.

    I do believe that when one supports a war, even though you are not fighting it, you are to some degree on the hook morally for it. So, I am a bit on the hook for what is happening in Afghanistan- the deaths of civilians keep me from maintaining a comfortable distance- and the growing risk to our troops as well. I look at these things as an elder, a middle-aged father who is past his days as a brash inexperienced youth without a strong stake in the global community. My kids are in the mix now- so all of this is very personal- how I (we) leave this world is of paramount importance- I don’t want to face Jesus Christ with a weak conscience either!

    So – yes- I will continue to challenge the judgment of Catholics who supported going into Iraq- I will not say they are bad Catholics, but it is in the nature of the debate of warfare to engage in polemics and heated rhetoric. We all need to check our consciences- all the time- me included of course. I tend to give extra-heavy weight to the Magisterium and other Hierarchical documents and commentaries/letters/speeches- this is in no small part due to the fact that these type of communications played a huge role in my personal conversion to Catholicism- so I am extra-sensitive when Catholics seem uninterested or not as impressed with Church sources of guidance and doctrinal formation.

    I apologize for using sarcasm at times in responding to others here- I hope this post will heal some rifts, and we can maybe find some common ground on my original posting to help our troops- particularly our Catholic troops to be able to serve our country militarily, but also to serve their Catholic-consciences, which may put them at odds with the political class at times of war, or with superior officiers during the heat of war. If there could be a listing of potential situations where conscience-clauses could be invoked by individual soldiers- so that we could minimize the abuse of conscience-clauses which could lead to a break-down of authority or encourage cowardice and sloth- this would be the way to proceed- if we agree in principle that soldiers, just like health care professionals, have a right to conscience protections so they can do the work they are suited for, but also be protected from punitive hardships should they need to invoke their well-developed consciences. Our Catholic soldiers, like our Catholic health care professionals, can help our nation by serving the front lines of our public conscience development. God Bless everyone, Christ’s Peace everywhere. Shall we close this thread on a positive?

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