Obama and Romney are nearly identical on most issues but the one exception may be on life-issues and the Catholic church. Obama has proven himself to be the most pro-abortion President in our country’s history and has opposed the Catholic church at every turn. How does Romney, on the other hand, live up to the Culture of Life?
The Vatican strongly opposed the Iraq war as it represented a direct violation of just war doctrine . However, Romney supported the invasion and the troop surge. Per The New York Times, moderator Tim Russert asked Romney during a 2008 presidential debate if the Iraq war was “a good idea worth the cost in blood and treasure we have spent.” Romney answered, “It was the right decision to go into Iraq. I supported it at the time; I support it now.” As New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait explains, Romney’s debate answer came at a time when it was already clear that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction.
Now, with no new information available, Romney states that in hindsight he would not have invaded Iraq knowing that there were no weapons of mass destruction. Romney’s latest comments come only a few days after the U.S. marked the end of the nearly nine year conflict. The Republican contender has not been shy in his criticism of President Obama’s handling of the troop withdrawal. This past Sunday, BBC News reported that Romney said, “I think we’re going to find that this president, by not putting in place a status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi leadership, has pulled our troops out in a precipitous way and we should have left 10-, 20-, 30,000 personnel there to help transition to the Iraqis’ own military capabilities.”
The pro-life movement is well aware of the horrors of abortion but most are not aware of the staggering cost of this unnecessary and unjust war. Opinion Business Research, estimated that the death toll of Iraqi citizens between March 2003 and August 2007 was 1,033,000. Furthermore, over 4 million people were displaced in one of the largest refugee crises in history and over 140,000 new cancer cases have been reported (depleted uranium being the suspected cause). Finally, the Iraq war has resulted in 4,484 American military casualties and 33,186 wounded. Additionally, the economic hardships and continued adverse health effects inflicted upon the Iraqi populace can be expected to continue for decades to come.
So, Romney was for the Iraq war that violated Christian just war doctrine, even after it became clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction, and he was in favor of continued occupation of up to 30,000 personnel 9 years after the initial invasion. When he did finally change his position it was after the war ended and not based on the grounds that the war was immoral but because there were no weapons of mass destruction – an irrelevant point regarding the war’s legitimacy as far as Christian just war doctrine is concerned.
Romney is opposed to talking to the Taliban despite the fact that the Afghan war began well over a decade ago. This speaks of a fight first, diplomacy last mentality that is the polar opposite of what just war doctrine dictates is necessary for a war to be considered just, stating that a declaration of war or continued hostilities must always be the option of last resort, with diplomacy being the first – not the other way around. Additionally, Romney is opposed to Obama’s timetable to end military involvement in Afghanistan by 2014 despite the facts that Afghanistan wants us out even sooner, such a timetable has the support of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and NATO, and such a timetable would still leave us with a war that lasted 13 years – more than half of my entire life. Contrast that with World War II which lasted only six years, of which the United States was only involved in for four.
Romney refuses to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against Iran in a preemptive strike to prevent them from developing their own nuclear arsenal. In a June 2007 New Hampshire Republican debate, Romney was asked if he agreed “that the use of tactical nuclear weapons, potentially, would be possible if that were the only way to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb?” Governor Romney responded that “You don’t take options off the table, but what you do is stand back and say, ‘What’s going on here?’ You see what’s happening in Sudan and Afghanistan, in Iraq and Iran. All over the world, we’re seeing the same thing happening, and that is people are testing the United States of America.” In 2011, Romney advocated both overt and covert means to get Iran to stop its nuclear weapons development program. He said that “Ultimately, regime change is what’s going to be necessary.” Keep in mind that preemptive nuclear strikes against Iran’s nuclear reactors would result in an estimated 3 million civilian deaths and compromise the well-being of another 71 million people. Even Obama’s own aggressive foreign policy, while still subpar, is more conservative, showing more restraint than Romney’s.
Our own intelligence agencies admit that they have zero evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons but as far as just war doctrine is concerned the point is irrelevant. The use of nuclear weapons, because of their indiscriminate destruction, are never morally permissible. Additionally, the US Catholic Bishops point out that any military action against Iran at this point would be immoral:
“In Catholic teaching, the use of force must always be a last resort. Iran’s bellicose statements, its failure to be transparent about its nuclear program and its possible acquisition of nuclear weapons are serious matters, but in themselves they do not justify military action.”
“Discussing or promoting military options at this time is unwise and may be counterproductive. Actual or threatened military strikes are likely to strengthen the regime in power in Iran and would further marginalize those in Iran who want to abide by international norms. And, as the experience in Iraq teaches, the use of force can have many unintended consequences.”
Romney is surprisingly silent on this topic but what we do know is that he supports drone strikes in Pakistan. Obama has eagerly expanded the CIA drone campaign: the program has targeted rescuers, funerals and weddings and has killed an estimated 385 – 775 civilians – but the drone campaign has attempted to lower that number by defining all males of military age within a drone strike as “combatants” unless categorically proven otherwise post-mortem. The “kill list” is decided unilaterally by Obama-appointed assassination czar John Brennan and, ultimately, Obama himself. The legal rationale for what can only be referred to as an executive death panel is a secret memo drafted by the office of legal counsel and unavailable for the public to read. Considering that Romney supports drone strikes, supports an interventionist foreign policy more aggressive than Obama’s own, and has in no way condemned the CIA drone campaign, the appointment of an assassination czar, or Obama’s own involvement in the program it seems unlikely that Romney would do much, if anything, to dismantle the CIA drone campaign. In fact, its possible that he may simply replace Obama as the solitary man who says who lives and who dies.
Romney opposes torture but supports “enhanced interrogation” including waterboarding. The Catholic church and the culture of life are categorically opposed to the use of torture under any circumstance and, unfortunately, “enhanced interrogation” is just a euphemism for torture; such is the case with waterboarding.
Some conservative Catholics argue that because the church does not have a specific stance on a specific torture technique then it cannot be torture, and if it is not torture than it cannot constitute inhumane treatment of prisoners, and therefore if it is not inhumane treatment then it is perfectly compatible with Catholic moral teaching.
However, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.” Furthermore, the exact rubric for defining torture is listed below:
The Church defines torture formally (i.e., what makes an action torture):
1. violation of human dignity in the form of
2. intentional mental and/or physical harm in order to
3. use a human person as a means (or instrument) for some producible end
4. against that person’s will.
At low intensity, waterboarding intentionally inflicts mental harm against the prisoner’s will in order to extract information or as punishment, and at even moderate intensities can be lethal. Thus, waterboarding constitutes torture and is an intrinsic evil in violation of Catholic doctrine. For anyone not convinced or who believes that waterboarding is just “splashing prisoners with water – and besides its effective and they deserve it anyway” I recommend that you read this article on waterboarding written by Malcolm W. Nance, a counter-terrorism and terrorism intelligence consultant for the U.S. government’s Special Operations, Homeland Security and Intelligence agencies and a 20-year veteran. Here’s an excerpt describing the same waterboarding used by the CIA and supported by Romney:
Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.
Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following in regards to the death penalty:
Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”
As the most powerful nation on Earth with one of the most secure prison systems I believe that it is safe to say that cases in which execution is absolutely necessary are nonexistent and therefore use of the death penalty in this country cannot be justified. In 1994 Romney supported the death penalty. In 2005 Romney brought forward a death penalty bill in an attempt to bring the death penalty back to Massachusetts. When testifying, “Romney asserted that, rather than serving to put terrible criminals to death, the major benefit of the legislation would be to pressure the accused into accepting guilty pleas for life sentences, rather than risk execution. As then-District Attorney, now-Congressman Bill Keating explained, that is precisely an argument that had recently been made by the state’s top court for the possible unconstitutionality of the death penalty — that the accused, innocent and guilty alike, could be pressured to plead to anything just to avoid it. An unconcerned Romney testified optimistically that the state might end up saving money by avoiding actual trials.”
As with drone strikes and other issues like the NDAA not addressed here Romney seems more concerned with streamlining serious life-and-death issues by “avoiding actual trials” to save time and money at the expense of due process, the constitution and, most horrifying of all, innocent human lives. Mitt Romney still supports the death penalty today.
Up to this point, presidential candidate Mitt Romney has failed to live up to the culture of life in his public capacity as a politician on every single issue. On the death penalty and torture I rate him just as bad as Obama while on the issue of assassination I rate him slightly better – but only for a lack of a firm stance. On the issue of unjust war Romney has made it clear that he endorses a foreign policy even more aggressive than Obama’s own and therefore actually rates worse than Obama.
There will be a second part to this article published within the next couple days which will cover euthanasia, abortion, contraception and gay marriage.