Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A "Just" Pre-emptive Attack?

[For your review: A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified. A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority. Even just causes cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society deem legitimate. A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause. Further, a just war can only be fought with "right" intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury. A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success. Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable. The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought. The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered. States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered. The weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians. The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.]

On May 3, 2006 Russell Shaw, editor of Our Sunday Visitor, wrote, “ From the perspective of traditional "just war" thinking, the possibility of a U.S. strike against Iran raises moral questions similar to those raised in the case of Iraq. One focuses on the morality of a pre-emptive military strike. Just-war theory envisages military action by the victim of an aggressor's attack. But advocates of pre-emption argue that letting the other side strike the first blow makes no sense when the first blow is likely to involve the use of nuclear weapons. That points to questions like how imminent an attack must be before pre-emptive action would be justified and, in the case of a nation thought to possess weapons of mass destruction, how much evidence is required that the weapons really exist? The nuclear, chemical and biological weapons whose possession by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was said to justify the U.S. attack in 2003 have never been found. Unilateralism also is an issue. Would the United States be justified in going it alone, or nearly alone, in Iran, or would a U.N. authorization be necessary in order to legitimize an attack?”

To which I ask: What "legitimacy" is there in U.N. authorization of a unilateral attack on Iran by the U.S? How many Islamic nations can the U.S. attack before our hubris plunges the planet into a level of unrestrained terrorist chaos essentially indistinguishable from World War Three? Does the Just War Doctrine have any relevance in an era in which arrogant national leaders see no meaningful distinction between U.S. foreign policy and God’s will? Has there ever been, and will there ever be, any war in which "ALL non-violent options" were, or will be, exhausted before the use of force was, or is, justified?