Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ask The Neo-Con, Part 2

Today's question was posed last year but remain relevant. It's from Bruce, who says the Iraq war is unjust:
There is a desperate dance going on to pretend that this war is as cheap and pain free as Wolfowitz and Rumsfield promised it would be. Sorry, people are dying in very large numbers. That is what war does. . .

But I guess it is more important to talk about outliers than confront the simple fact that war is not good for little girls and other living things. Bush chose this war, many, many people were enablers, and no amount of inventorying deck chairs on the Titanic is going to change the fundamental realities here.
Bruce, your polemics are infantile, uncorroborated and impractical:
  1. Have you been asleep since, say, the mid-80s? If not, how did you manage to miss:
    the central distinction of our era--that our enemies deliberately target unarmed civilians while America spends billions and sacrifices soldiers to avoid such collateral casualties.
    Unlike radical Islamic terrorists, America's not targeting civilians. Surely that's preeminent over other "fundamental realities" here, right?

  2. Up to now, I thought it impossible to debate the justness of war without referencing, and addressing, the "Just War Doctrine." Regardless of whether one is Catholic (I'm not), the doctrine reflects 1500 years of scholarship and philosophic investigation, refined by Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) -- the Dutch legal theorist who first articulated "freedom of the seas". The Just War Doctrine universally is considered "the most influential perspective on the ethics of war and peace":
    Just war theory can be meaningfully divided into three parts, which in the literature are referred to, for the sake of convenience, in Latin. These parts are: 1) jus ad bellum, which concerns the justice of resorting to war in the first place; 2) jus in bello, which concerns the justice of conduct within war, after it has begun; and 3) jus post bellum, which concerns the justice of peace agreements and the termination phase of war.
    For your reference, the Just War Doctrine is codified in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, beginning at paragraph 2307. I'll leave proof to the student.

  3. Exactly how much is freedom worth to 25 million Iraqis? The Iraqis are grateful for our intervention, and support America's continued military presence. And liberty in Iraq reduces risks to our freedoms. In any event, Bruce plainly has abandoned the left's commitment to "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

  4. Bruce hates war. So do I. But opposing all war isn't a decision--it's avoiding action. And it was the centerpiece of John Kerry's foreign policy platform:
    He insists that, under his leadership, America will "only go to war because we have to." But that's a false dichotomy. Under President Clinton, America intervened in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo by choice, not because we "had to." Whereupon our military saved innocent lives. This "Kerry doctrine" reflects his confusion about the role of force in general, and military tactics in particular. It also kin to the sort of blather peddled by Hollywood's "idiot famous" such as Cheryl Crow--who famously declared, at the 2003 Grammy Awards, that "war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies." Tell that to black Africans in the south of Sudan today; Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s; Czechs and Poles in the 1930s; or European Jews in the 1940s. Innocent victims don't have the luxury of choosing, much less avoiding, enemies.
    Enemies often start wars--as radical Islamic terrorism did long ago. Wars kill. Regrettably, some unintended deaths and damages are unavoidable; unintended consequences can never be reduced to zero. As a result, the mere existence of civilian causalities or property damage cannot be determinative for the decision to use force.

    Bruce's gooey utopianism actually is pacifism cloaked in post-modern platitudes. There's a real world out there, if you haven't noticed, containing real people who want us decapitated or forcibly converted to Islam.
Conclusion: Westerners have the right to argue:
[D]emocracies routinely discuss and debate such questions without risking revolution. Freedom of speech and freedom from unnecessary government are prized by liberals and conservatives alike. Not to mention freedom of religion--try that in Saudi Arabia.

Yet many . . .liberals oppose the global campaign against Islamic terrorism. That is, they insist the U.S., Britain and Australia are governed by fascists, in contrast to their pet dictatorships such as Saddam's torture state, Cuba's threadbare but repressive Marxism and North Korea's deadly work camps. Citizens of those countries have no rights. This is, to say the least, a warped moral inversion.
Two years after the invasion, Iraqis have -- for the first time -- democracy and liberty. Bruce doesn't care. Can someone so casual about promoting and preserving civil rights really be considered "liberal?"