Our war in Iraq failed to meet one single criterion for Just War. There was no lasting, grave, and certain threat, and this led to the Duplicity Tango.
Step 1 of the Duplicity Tango: Ignore the people calling to finish the inspections and prophesy the certitude of finding WMDs.
Step 2: When no such weapons are found, suddenly turn on a dime and deny that Bush had never claimed the threat was “imminent”. Suddenly, the new truth was that the claim of an imminent threat was all a product of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Ignore the fact that in saying this, Bush apologists were acknowledging there was no lasting, grave and certain threat and therefore no casus belli.
Step 3: When ISIS walks into a room a week or two ago and finds some gas canisters, lie that Bush is vindicated. But a moment’s thought about this find should raise some questions. Is it really probable that after a diligent search for WMDs conducted by an occupier with every reason to have brandished WMDs aloft and shout “Vindicated!” and a decade of occupation in which nothing was found, is it really likely that some goons from ISIS are going to waltz into a little room in a facility we knew all about and discover what we could not find in a decade?
No. It’s not. And just a little homework uncovers the fact that this “discovery” now being trumpeted by the press who cheer-led for this catastrophe is indeed something both the UN and we knew about and never regarded as a threat (which is why we didn’t bother to destroy the stuff).
So: Here is the latest lie in the Duplicity Tango: Hussein had chemical weapons. But was cooperative in most extent with the UN. The narrative that the war opponent said Hussein did not have WMD’s at the time of the Iraq War of 2003 is incomplete. The more complete narrative: sanctions are working, UN supervision is working, no WMD development or production is occurring, and no undeclared WMD’s exist in Iraq. Which was upheld by CIA files, ISG notes–and the Bush administration.
The UN and the US knew that CW caches existed in Iraq, but were controlled and supervised. It has been since the Iraq War of 2003 that supervision has fallen apart.
“The UN? Who cares what those Euroweenies wusses think?” That brings us to the next point of Just War doctrine: competent authority. For, you see, *we* cared what the UN thought and invoked it as competent authority every time we invoked UN Resolution 1441 in order to claim a casus belli. But when the UN said “Don’t attack Iraq. Let the inspections continue” we blew them off with “We will go to war at a time and place of our choosing.” So the criterion of competent authority is not even close to being satisfied, much less clearly satisfied. And in Just war doctrine *every* criterion must be *clearly* satisfied since the point of just war doctrine is that the burden of proof is on those who want to take human life, not on those who want to save it.
Nor was the war remotely a “last resort”. Our refusal to wait for inspections makes that clear. We blew past lots of less radical expedients in the rush to war. So we failed that criterion as well.
And when it comes to the final criterion of ius ad bellum–the likelihood that evils created by the war would not vastly outweigh the evils it cured—future pope Benedict found it no mystery to predict that a war as poorly justified as this one would result in catastrophe:
“Proportion between the possible positive consequences and the sure negative effect of the conflict was not guaranteed. On the contrary, it seems clear that the negative consequences will be greater than anything positive that might be obtained.” Cardinal Ratzinger, April 2003
The irony is painfully acute. Eleven years ago, in response to a terrorist attack by a group of anti-American religious fanatics, the United States invaded an Arab country with hardly any jihadis, or very few of them, to overthrow a secular dictator. Today, with much blood and money having been spent, northern and western Iraq is full of jihadis, and the U.S. government is figuring out how to prevent them from overrunning the rest of the country.
And for a finisher, we have successfully destroyed a 1600 year old Church and the people responsible for it are demanding to be listened to again as they urge us on to another war that no more meets just war criteria this time than it did last time.
Moral: people who lie you into war will also lie to justify their catastrophic judgment and should not be trusted. As a great man once said:
But, Mark, if we can’t go to war and smash things up more to fix the last smashing up, what else can we do?
At this point, there are no good options. But we can start by giving priority to welcoming every refugee-especially every Christian refugee–our nation’s recklessness has created and sending food and medicine instead of bombs, bullets and depleted uranium. It’s the least we Catholics owe a sister Church our country’s policies have effectively murdered.
Aid to the Church in Need is one way to help.