We need to review a few of those circumstances in a new light. But let us first note that war is not always to be evaded. Sometimes it is morally obligatory.
It would have been morally wrong, for instance, for the United States to have fallen back and defended only the continental United States during World War II. Agreed?
In any case, the Vatican itself encouraged the humanitarian intervention in Kosovo, and has expressly approved the war against the terrorists, although not the war against Iraq.
But in what way is the regime of Milosevic in Kosovo less horrific than the barbaric practices of Saddam Hussein in Iraq? (There are many personal testimonies to the unendurable tortures Saddam has inflicted on tens of thousands of families in Iraq.)
Read the whole thing here. I am really not sure what I think about the war in Iraq. What I know is that I am not a pacifist. I think true pacifism is untennable as a Christian position. In this respect, Michael Novak brings up an important point, with which I agree: that, sometimes, violence is morally obligatory. Usually morally obligatory violence involves defending the helpless. Its all fine and good to turn the other cheek when you are yourself attacked. But what about when the defenseless are attacked, and you have the power to stop it, albeit violently? What if your wife or your child were attacked? Would you really passively resist the assailant, or would you fight him tooth and nail? Would you be WRONG to resist him violently? I cannot see that you would. Maybe I am wrong. And maybe this is not the situation regarding the US invasion of Iraq, or for that matter of any particular war. But that is far from obvious to me. Saddam Hussein was, after all, a brutal tyrant. And just because there are lots of other brutal tyrants whom the US has NOT attacked does not mean that the US is necessarily unjustified in its attacking one of them. Now again: before you get all up in arms about my being "pro war" -- remember: I am not saying that the US WAS justified in attacking Iraq; but rather just that it is not clear to me that the US was NOT justified, as almost everyone around me seems to assume with a "Well, duh" degree of insouciance.
To be clear: if you are a pacifist, please explain your counterintuitive belief that, e.g., if your family were attacked by pirates intent on rape and murder, you would be morally wrong to use violence in defending your family. If you are not a pacifist but believe the US invasion of Iraq was unjustified, it might be helpful if you would say what circumstances did not obtain with regard to Iraq that otherwise would have justified an invasion. And remember: I am asking about MORAL justification. I don't care about international law and that sort of thing. And I'm also not asking isolationists to exaplain themselves. I think I understand isolationism, in a way that I do not understand pacifism. (I disagree with the isolationists on other grounds -- but that's for another day.)
And to be clear about the intuition I am trying to illuminate, it is this: that killing tens of thousands of unarmed civilians, systematically instituting and ordering that others be tortured and raped, that these are sufficient for morally justifying one's violent overthrow. Maybe not; but if not, why not?