Michael Denton of For the Greater Glory wrote a wonderful piece on just war doctrine and America that appeared today in LSU’s The Daily Reveille. It is a good example of how a Catholic applies the principle of the dignity of the human person across a number of issues. Here’s my favorite section, but do read the whole thing:
For centuries, governments at least pretended to be waging wars according to these rules [just war doctrine]. Every government wanted to appear to be the just defender of life and liberty.
Contrast this with our world today. The Bush administration did not need [to] justify the Iraq War with morals but rather used utilitarianism. Even Bush’s opponents mostly argued not that the war was immoral but that the weapons that made the war useful did not exist so the war was not really useful. So we decide whether to kill not because it’s right or wrong but whether the killing helps us out. How selfish have we become?
This thread has continued in the presidential debates. The Republicans are waging a debate about which forms of torture are valid. Under the just war doctrine, torture is never permissible. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., in response to a question about what he would do to extract information from a terrorist about a nuclear device, boasted “I’m looking for Jack Bauer at that time!” He went on to imply that water boarding and other techniques would be quite acceptable. According to ABC News, the procedure requires that “prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.”
It is disgusting that the Republicans find this acceptable. Unfortunately, their Democratic counterparts are not much better. The frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., chastised Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for saying he would never use nuclear weapons against terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to The New York Times. Maybe it’s me, but a big mushroom cloud for a few guys in caves? Have we lost our minds?
Our country is founded on the idea that every single human life is precious. Unless we return to the idea that we should never promote the destruction of innocent human beings or the torture of anyone, then we will soon find that what we are really torturing is our consciences, and what we are really destroying is ourselves.