What to make of Iraq, Part 2-ish

In my 7 AM posts Tuesday and Wednesday, I started discussing some of the issues surrounding the War in Iraq.  I haven’t ever dealt with it much on this blog.  It’s the main engine driving liberal Catholics these days, though, and it really needs to be addressed.

My first encouter with Michael Iafrate, through whom I discovered Vox Nova, was in a discussion where I had quoted Fr. Robert Levis, the Diocese Erie priest and Gannon professor and frequent EWTN host.  On one installment of his program Web of Faith, Fr. Levis observes that, “If priests were doing their jobs, most priests in America would be in jail.”  He noted that he himself had been arrested three times: twice for protesting abortion and once for protesting war.  Not knowing the context of the quotation, or my position, Mr. Iafrate instantly presumed I was a Hypocritical Republican (TM) and accused me of not appreciating the “seamless garment,” etc.

I don’t, BTW.  But that’s another story.  I prefer Fr. Pavone’s metaphor of the House where some issues are the foundation, some issues are the roof, some issues are the pillars, and other issues are the walls and decor.

Iafarte fancies himself a “Catholic anarchist” and is a radical pacifist.  He colored my initial impressions of Vox Nova ,which deserves a bit of credit for being more well-rounded than its founders or its banner would seem to indicate.

Anyway, the war is an issue where I’m really moderate, leaning left. 

I have never been 100% comfortable with it, the way many conservative Catholics seem to be.

I am inclined on most counts to be against it.

However, I also feel that

1) something needs to be done to free people from oppression.  I find it silly that liberals send out petitions on various situations (Haiti, Darfur, Afghanistan under the Taliban), and basically want everyone to say to the dictator in question, “Nyah, nyah, we don’t like you!”  But they won’t actually take action to *stop* that dictator

2) I think humanity needs to have learned a lesson from World War II, so the theory of preventive war as promulgated by neoconservative Catholics (George Weigel, Michael Novak, and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus), seems to have some merit (though the Vatican has rejected it) in its motivation, if not its principle.  Also, the fact that the neocons are more “war hawks” than the “paleocons” (who can go either way) seems to say something about the adage that a “Neoconservative is a liberal who’s been mugged.”

So, as I ponder these questions and relay the various dimensions I’ve been taking into consideration, I pose that as the fundamental question:
You have someone like Saddam Hussein.  How do you deal with him?  How do you stop him from torturing and murdering his own people?
Secondly, how do you stop him from engaging in war?  Is it right to defend a weaker country that has been unjustly invaded by a stronger?  Is only self-defense justified or is defense of a weaker third party justified?

Whatever else, I do not think that George W. Bush made the right case for justifying the invasion of Iraq.  Rush Limbaugh made a better case than Bush did.    Alleged WMDs should have been at the bottom of the list, evidence in the pile, not the centerpiece.  I also think that the “Catholic delegation to Rome” made the same error.

*If* the War in Iraq was justified, it was justified on the basis of the 1991 Gulf War.  Technically, we never signed a full fledged peace treaty in 1991.  We only signed a cease fire.  There were several conditions placed on that cease-fire.  One of the conditoins were the sanctions that John Paul II roundly condemned.

The main reason the US did not invade Iraq in 1991 was the hope of arriving at a peaceful solution while containing Hussein from his stated goal of invading several neighbors. 

We established “no fly zones.”  He violated them.  We banned him from researching WMDs.  Whether his government succeeded in making them, or they were secreted off to Syria, or whatever, is irrelevant.  He was not, under UN rules, to be researching them, and he definitely was.  It was inspectors under Clinton who first insisted there was a WMD program in operation.  Plus, he even violated the terms of the sanctions by manipulating the Oil for Food program.  So Iraq was in numerous violations of the 1991 cease fire agreement.

And Clinton spent 8 years attempting “diplomatic” solutions with Saddam Hussein while the Iraqi people suffered.  Clinton even bombed Iraq once or twice, and no one batted an eyelash.

Secondly, 9/11.  Bush always insisted there was a link between Iraq and 9/11.  That may have been largely wishful thinking on his part, I don’t know.  Everyone seems to have different evidence.  This person on the Right insists on this CIA evidence or that corroboration from a foreign government, while that person on the Left says it’s just a lie ,and this CIA operative or that foreign government proves it.  

There are claims that al-Qaeda had a training camp in Iraq, and that there were other funding avenues and such. 

Regardless, there is *one* link. 

In 1941, the United States were officially a neutral power.  The Monroe Doctrine was still in force.  The US had intervened in World War I, only because German U-Boats attacked US ships (and that was done after America had provided under-the-table assistance to European Allies, and done numerous other tactics to encite the wrath of the Kaiser).

Similarly, when World War II broke out, the US was neutral.  Many Americans (including Henry Ford) overtly supported the Axis.  Public opinion was mixed on which side, if any, the US would take if they entered the war.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, like Woodrow Wilson before him, wanted to get involved in the war.  So he helped the Allies by providing “under the table “foreign aid and by doing various things to incite the Nazis.  He even had people stationed on the East Coast.  They expected an “unprovoked” U-Boat attack like in the first world war. 

No, the US was taken by surprise.  On Sunday, December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i.  The US declared war on Japan.  Hitler praised the Pearl Harbor attacks, and the US took that as an act of war, declaring war on Hitler as well.

OK, on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the US was attacked.  We all know that, right?
OK.  I was getting out of daily Mass.  Ironically, one of the first times I’d ever gone to daily Mass since Allie was born.  The guy in the car next to me rolled down his window and said, “A plane just hit the World Trade Center!”  That was somewhere around 9:45.

I went home to my apartment and watched the news unfolding.  Another plane.  Then a plane hitting the Pentagon, which had us folks in Northern Virginia scared out of our boots, especially those of us with relatives in the Pentagon (Mary’s father was not working at the Pentagon that day, as he often did, but her uncle was, and, we later learned, her uncle’s sister was the clerk  at the hotel where the terrorists stayed before the hijackings.  She was later beaten to death after reporting that to the authorities).

OK, so, while some people said “Osama bin Ladin” or “al Qaeda,” no one knew who was responsible for the attacks.  But, shortly after they happened.  (My mind says 11 AM eastern time; it was one of the very first things that came out), one person *did* praise the attacks. 

Saddam Hussein.

I was surprised we didn’t declare war on Iraq that morning.  When everyone, even some of our long time enemies, were condemning this unprovoked terrorist attack, Saddam Hussein was praising it.

So, there.  If the War in Iraq was just, it should have been justified not on the basis of hunting down alleged WMDs, but on the basis of

1) continuing the 1991 War (whether that was just is a second matter)


2) Saddam Hussein’s de facto declaration of war on 9/11/01.

One response to “What to make of Iraq, Part 2-ish

  1. As chance would have it, I stumbled upon your blog after searching for ‘war’ among Catholic blogs.

    I applaud you for thinking through this issue so deeply. I think you might find my resource of Catholic Peacemaking helpful as you continue your thoughts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s