An excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article which offers a very good analysis, five years out, of the war in Iraq, which I feel meets the qualifications of a Just War as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“2307 The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life. Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war.
“2308 All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.
“However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.”
“2309 The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. the gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
“- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
“- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
“- there must be serious prospects of success;
“- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
“These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine.
“The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.
“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.”
Wall Street Journal
America and Iraq
March 20, 2008
Five years after U.S. and coalition forces began rolling into Iraq on their way to Baghdad, it’s easy to lament the war’s mistakes.
The Bush Administration underestimated the war’s cost — in treasure, and most painfully in lives. The CIA and every other Western intelligence agency was wrong about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. failed to anticipate the insurgency and was almost fatally late in implementing a counterinsurgency. It allowed the U.N. to design a system of proportional electoral representation that has encouraged its sectarian political divisions. And so on.
These columns have often discussed these and other blunders. But we have always done so while supporting the larger war effort and with a goal of victory that would be worthy of the sacrifice. Five years on, and thanks to the troop “surge” and strategy change of the last year, many of the goals that motivated the original invasion are once again within reach if we see the effort through.
No one should forget that the invasion toppled a dictator who had already terrorized the region and would sooner or later have threatened American interests. This by itself was no small achievement. Saddam’s trial was a teaching moment for that part of the Arab world that used to cheer him; his hanging, however crudely carried out, was a warning to dictators everywhere.
Iraq may not have had WMD, but Saddam admitted to American interrogators that he planned to reconstitute his WMD effort once U.N. sanctions collapsed. The capture of Saddam persuaded Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi to abandon his nuclear program and seek a reconciliation with the U.S. This in turn led to the rolling up of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan’s proliferation network, whose arms extended to Iran and North Korea.
Strategically, Iraq has gone from being one of America’s two principal enemies (with Iran) in the region to one of its two principal allies (with Israel). Iraq’s government, for all of its shortcomings, demonstrates that a Shiite-led government need not be a theocracy. The invasion did prompt thousands of jihadis to emerge from places like Saudi Arabia and Morocco to fight the “crusaders and infidels.”
Thousands of them are now dead or in prison, however, and the radical corners of the Arab world have learned that America cannot be defeated by a strategy of car bombs and assassination.
The strategic case for toppling Saddam also rested in part on the idea that a free Iraq would provide a strategic counterweight to Iran and Syria, as well as an ideological counterexample for a region where autocracy is the norm. The potency of that combination has been demonstrated by Sunni Arab hostility to the new Iraqi government; by Iran, Syria and al Qaeda efforts to destabilize it; and by those in the West who have sought to denigrate the effort as a way to diminish U.S. power.
Today, those efforts have largely failed. A new generation of European leaders has no interest in humiliating the U.S. and understands the danger of a chaotic Iraq. Al Qaeda has been nearly destroyed as a fighting force in Iraq and has lost support in the Arab Street with its brutality against Iraq’s Sunni Arabs. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Sunni states are belatedly coming to terms with the new Iraq as they conclude that the U.S. won’t leave in defeat.