Friday, April 11, 2003

Well, the lack of logic continues in the press. Here in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA I read Cal Thomas the other day "explaining" *cough* how the quick win in Iraq proves A) the war protestors wrong and B) discredits activists who protested the war but not against Saddam (he singled out Martin Sheen). And I also read from a senior fellow at the Center for the American Experiment (a local think tank) how churches are discredited for opposing war with Iraq when it was obviously moral to end evil. She then drew parallels between the opposition of some churches to WWII and such as "evidence" or moral failure.

Whew. Where to start.

First of all, just because you win does not mean that you were right. Let me repeat that - winning does not make you morally, ethically, or otherwise superior except in a limited military sense. To think otherwise is to propose that might makes right. This is a wonderful concept for people who are certain they can't lose, but it is otherwise a crock. So to argue that America's swift vistory in Iraq implies that America is morally or ethically superior to the Ba'athist regime currently in place is a failure of logic, both rational and moral.

Second, ol' Cal must not know much about Martin Sheen. Martin was complaining about America's involvement with Saddam's Iraq in the mid-'80's. Yup, when the government and conservatives though Saddam was a good ally because he was fighting those evil Iranians, Martin Sheen was pointing out that Saddam was a scumbag. Cal Thomas needs to invest in access to good news databases and use them, because this is a total failure of responsibility on his part. As a journalist he is supposed to research and report on the facts, even in an opinion piece. His failure paints him as no better than the Iraqi Information Minister.

And as for the Center's senior fellow (Katherine Kersten, I believe) she was a bit too disingenuous. She complains about the Catholic Church opposing the current war and then tries to use a broad brush to paint mainstream Christian churches as appeasers who opposed war with Hitler and the first Gulf War. She fails to mention (naturally) that the Catholic Church supported World War II, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and even urged America to fight the Nazis before the average American was willing to. Why does she omit this? Well, that's obvious - if she admitted that the Catholic Church led the way in the opposition of Hitler and the Nazis, supported the first American War in Iraq, and now opposes the current war it would greatly weaken her argument. Therefore, the inconvenient facts must not be mentioned. She must focus on religious organizations who oppose all war and then argue that such steadfastness in the face of contrary popular opinion is weakness.

Catholic Just War Theory is pretty comprehensive. It is based upon 2,000+ years of moral, ethical, and theological thought made in the real world, developed by people in places like the collapsing Roman Empire, the Latin Kingdoms, Europe of the Middle Ages, WWI and WWII Europe, Soviet Russia, Vietnam, Korea, and El Salvador. People who were in charge of kingdoms, and people trying to save war orphans from starvation. People attempting to halt to collapse of civilization itself, and people trying to oppose men like Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. Its pretty clear. It supported the First Gulf War as the liberation of the conquered and oppressed Kuwaitis. It opposses the current war as a war of aggression.

About 10 days before the War in Iraq started the American envoy to the Vatican City met with His Holiness, John Paul II. The Pope is an excellent scholar: he speaks 11 languages, reads as many more, and is considered an excellent theologian and political theorist. As a priest, bishop, cardinal, and pope he directly oppossed the communist regimes of his homeland while living there and facing the possibility of assassination for speaking out. It can be argues that his direct opposition and the moral weight he added to groups such as the Polish Solidarnosc were directly responsible for the changes in opinion and outlook that led to the fall of the Soviet Union (and this is much more likely that the conservative claim that Ronald Reagan beat the sommies). He has directly opposed tyrants in their own lands time and time again, sometimes flying around the world to stand in range of their rifles while he repudiates them.

Considering these facts, you wonder what the American envoy, as representative of George W., was there for. Did he want tips on how to oppose (an depose) Saddam? Was the President seeking moral or ethical support from the Pope? No, it was none of these things.

The envoy was there on the orders of President George W. Bush to make a request. What was that request?

That the Pope change Just War Theory so that it would support the American invasion of Iraq.

And I think that that is the most damning example of the attitude of the American government that I can recount. In the face of overwhelming opposition from world leaders, world citizens, and many Americans, the president sent an envoy to the head of Christ's Church, a man that may be the greatest opponent of tyranny in the last 200 years, to request that he change a moral/ethical/theological doctrine based upon millenia of work by some of the greatest thinkers and leaders in history, all for his won temporary political advantage

If a playwright or novelist were to create a fictional character with as much overweening arrogance as any senior member of the current administration, it would be considered to be a metaphor similar to the denizens of an early Greek tragedy - so unbelievable as to be ludicrous.

But they run America, the most militarily and economically powerful nation-state in the modern world.

And it is clear that they intend to continue to use this might as they see fit.

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