US Bishops: The United States Cannot Justify Preemptive War in Iran

While politicians employ escalating political rhetoric purporting the urgency of our situation regarding Iran and how we must use preemptive military force against Iran the US Catholic Bishops have stated the contrary view that, even considering the prospect of a nuclear Iran, we cannot engage in preemptive war. That was back in 2007 when we were hearing the same hysterics about the “urgency” and the “danger” of Iran and how we must attack them before they attack us. Yet, five years later we’re all still here and while relations in the Middle East are even more precarious than ever they don’t have to be. We could drop our sanctions and initiate free trade and genuine diplomatic exchange between the United States and Iran and minimize the already exaggerated threat of Iran or we can continue to slowly give ground to fear-mongering chicken hawks endorsing immoral and, frankly, stupid policies. The US Bishops on an attack against Iran:

US Catholic Bishops have said that while the prospect of Iran developing nuclear weapons is unacceptable, in the absence an immediate threat, the USA and other nations must pursue a diplomatic solution to the present confrontation.

The message came in a letter issued by the church to US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice late last week.

It was signed by Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida, on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The bishops are reacting to escalating political rhetoric and news accounts speculating about a potential pre-emptive use of force against Iran, supposedly to deter further possible nuclear weapons ambitions.

“From a moral perspective,” Bishop Wenski wrote, “in the absence of an immediate threat military action would constitute an act of preventative war.”

The Catholic Church, he noted, teaches that “engaging in a preventative war without clear proof that an attack is imminent cannot fail to raise serious moral and juridical questions.”

The bishops make clear their assessment that the Iranian situation does not presently constitute an immediate threat.

Under the ‘just war’ tradition of moral reasoning, before military action could be considered, say the bishops, all non-military alternatives must be exhausted.

Options, they suggest, range from diplomatic and economic incentives, increased international involvement and cooperation, to economic sanctions.

Catholic and other Christian peacemakers say that the churches’ stance should be for nonviolence, not for the justification of military action.

The bishops have also called on US leaders to change the nations’ current nuclear posture to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used against non-nuclear threats. They have appealed for greater, more sustained progress toward nuclear disarmament in the spirit of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The full text of the Catholic bishops’ letter is available at:

Additionally, on March 2nd 2012 the U.S. bishops urged U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to work to reduce nuclear arms and maintain security in the Middle East in a letter about Iran from Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines. Bishop Pates chairs the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic bishops (USCCB). In the letter, Bishop Pates explicitly states that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran does not justify military action:

“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.”


What’s the Point in Staying in Afghanistan?

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

The United States has been in Afghanistan for more than 10 years. And President Obama insists we will remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2014. CNN’s Jack Cafferty asks: why?

Of course, this is what Ron Paul has been saying for years now. Lets end our wars, brings our troops home to safety, and rely on diplomacy, free trade, cultural exchange and a strong national defense at home, not military adventurism, in our foreign relations.

Unfortunately, the Republican party is already chafing at the bit for the next foreign war, this time with Iran, and the Democratic party, which was so outspoken against unjust war and the handing out of unconstitutional war powers have fallen eerily silent since their own boy has taken office. Suddenly expansion of executive powers at the expense of our rights in the name of fighting terrorism isn’t such a big deal, apparently. Finally though, others are stepping up to the plate, heralding Ron Paul’s message and are getting some media attention. However, they remain a minority in the media’s spotlight and a rarity among our politicians.

While politicians in Washington may already be beating the drums of war, however, I stand with Ron Paul in defense of Catholic Just War Doctrine. Only then can we hope for any semblance of peace, prosperity and liberty – for ourselves and for all of those abroad who are affected by our decisions.

American Politicians’ Love Affair with Israel

Jon Stewart: allowable opinions on Israel in American politics range from “I unequivocally support Israel and might bomb Iran” to “I unequivocally support Israel and will definitely bomb Iran!”
Meanwhile, members of the Israeli leadership offer harsh criticism for Netanyahu and his aggressive foreign policy. They must be pro-mullah anti-semites . . . or at least that’s what the logic of U.S. politics would dictate. Additionally, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan said that an Israeli strike on Iran would lead to devastating consequences for Israel.

In response to all this Mark Shea points out the obvious:

Meanwhile, an opposition leader in Iran notes that Iranians, who are remarkably like human beings, have this bizarre tendency to solidify behind their leaders when foreigners start dropping bombs on them and that, because of this inexplicable patriotism and love of their homeland, an attack on Iran would be a “gift from God for the mullahs“. Me: I’d like to see the mullahs gone and their opposition, which seems to want out of the Bronze Age, take their place. Indeed, I even remember that, crazy as it sounds, something similar happened in our country after 9/11 with people like Rosie O’Donnell thanking God that George Bush and not Al Gore was president and getting in line to support their leadership in the face of huge violence done to their country.

Yup, Iranians are *gasp* human beings and, as such, fear the same things we fear, want the same things we want and generally behave much like we do. Out of the 73 million human beings living in Iran, turns out many of them want to be a part of the modern world and peacefully associate with other countries – yes, even America. Sure, their leadership is corrupt and responsible for human rights violations and political demagoguery but lets not shoot ourselves in the foot by herding the Iranian people to the wholehearted support of their tyrannical leaders, begging Ayatollah to defend them from the American military juggernaut. Short of Iran attacking us, we must restrain ourselves from using any kind of military intervention – either on our own initiative or in support of an Israeli strike. The answer is not sanctions, either, as this too breeds resentment among the common Iranian against the United States and leads private industries in Iran to fail, allowing the government to step in, take over, and further extend their power over the Iranian people. Instead, we must engage in free trade and cultural exchange to win over the populace and initiate genuine diplomacy.

Essentially, it comes down to upholding Just War Doctrine and treating people like people. Then maybe we’ll get somewhere. I’m not saying it’ll be easy but it sure beats Israel and Iran bombing each other to oblivion.

Preemptive War Still Contradicts Just War Doctrine

Mark Shea over at the National Catholic Register addresses the erroneous mental gymnastics Catholics in favor of preemptive war must pull to rationalize militarist politics:

The point is this: just war doctrine has been formulated by the Church, not to give us a trigger mechanism so that we can roll up our sleeves and commence slaughter with a song in our hearts, but in order to make it as hard as possible to go to war—because war kills innocent people.  The point of just war doctrine, in other words, is to set up a series of roadblocks to slow down and restrain the human appetite for mayhem, vengeance, murder and destruction which sinfully yearns for an excuse to be unleashed.  Just war doctrine is formulated in such a way that you have to fulfill all the requirements of just war teaching, not just one or two, in order to fight a just war.  The first requirement is that all just war must be an act of defense against an actual aggressor, not a preventative act of aggression against somebody you fear might be an aggressor one of these days.  Similarly, one of the criteria which must be fulfilled is that war must be a last, not a first, resort.  Therefore, pre-emptive war is necessarily unjust war—because war is not something you “get” to do.  War is something you tragically are forced to do as a last resort: like amputating your own leg.  Pre-emptive war, being neither a response to an actual act of aggression nor a last resort is, itself, an act of aggression.  It should be as morally desirable to Catholics as the thought of amputating one’s own healthy leg because you fear that in five years you might step on a nail and get gangrene.  Not too eager to do that?  Neither should any Catholic be eager to cut corners on just war doctrine—because war mean innocents will die, women will be made widows and children will be made orphans. That is why Joaquin Navarro-Valls, speaking on behalf of Pope John Paul II, said, “He who decides that all pacific means provided by the international law are exhausted, assumes a grave responsibility in front of God, in front of his own conscience and in front of history!”

In short, the argument that the silence of the Catechism on pre-emptive war is an argument in *favor* of it is like the argument that the silence of the Catechism on the subject of ritual cannibalism means that cooking and eating human beings in religious ceremonies is not “always wrong”.

Yes.  It is.  And so is pre-emptive war.  That’s why it’s not in the Catechism.

Its actually pretty simple. Church doctrine isn’t about mere rules and regulations, it is a way of life and, when an individual stops asking, “how can I act in such a way as to always respect human life and dignity?” and instead approaches church teaching with the mindset of, “okay, how close can I toe the line and still get away without sinning?” Then you’ve already abandoned the spirit of the law. We don’t “get” to go to war. We are forced to engage in war only when it is necessary for our own defense, all other options have been exhausted and and we can do so without causing disproportionate or indiscriminate destruction. Going to war because our enemies might have WMDs is a violation of just war doctrine; going to war to “bring them democracy” is a violation of just war doctrine; going to war because a country we’re on bad terms with could be developing a nuclear weapon is a violation of just war doctrine. Period. End of story.

Iran Won’t Attack Says US Intelligence

Turns out that, according to US military intelligence, Iran will not attack us first. If there is to be an Iran-US war then our own intelligence believes that it will be us who initiates it – and with politicians like Gingrich and Santorum vowing to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program via any option necessary such a preemptive war on the part of the US does not seem unlikely.

However, conservative Catholics must accept that if our best intelligence views the likelihood of Iranian aggression as unlikely then we have no grounds upon which to justify any military action whatsoever as defensive without the threat of attack and therefore cannot abide by just war doctrine and attack Iran at the same time.

On the other hand, preemptive strikes against Iran will surely result in a war with foreseeably terrible consequences such as the closing of the Strait of Hormuz,  missile strikes against US targets and our allies, possible terrorist mobilization, even nuclear launches if Iran were to have that technology. Not to mention that both China and Russia have pledged their support for Iran.

Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization states “What we are witnessing here is a build-up towards a military confrontation. These sanctions constitute the staging of a military agenda. In turn, we have massive deployment of US military hardware, troops going to Israel to be stationed in Israel, more troops go to Kuwait, [American] naval forces are entering the Persian Gulf.” Michel Chossudovsky continues, “This war has already started. There are drone attacks, there are special [American] forces inside Iran and there is financial warfare. The WWIII scenario is unthinkable. This war would extend from the Mediterranean to the Chinese border. It could possibly include Russia and China. We could find ourselves at a very critical crossroads.”

3 1/2 Time-Outs Tuesday (Vol. 2)

Hosted by LarryD of AOA

Just like Conversion Diary's 7 Quick Takes, except it's half as long and twice as good.


Apparently, there was some sort of big game on the television the other night. All I knew about it was that it was a football game and there was some team called the Nationalists playing. My first clue that maybe I was missing something came when I arrived home at about 6:15PM and twenty people crammed into my tiny living room . . . for a soccer game? Come on, now, this is America! Nobody cares about soccer.  That’s when I realized it was the other football. Next, I got my first glimpse at the teams: the New England Giants versus the New York Nationalist Loyalists. As is customary in sports I was then obliged to pick a side and cheer for them, in the hopes that by shouting at a TV in my home that no one outside the confines of the apartment would be able to hear I might affect the play of a game several hundred miles away. I arbitrarily chose the Giants over the Nationalists Loyalists Patriots. My team won. Yeah, New England!


I started my nurse preceptorship yesterday. It went well – I mean, other than the fact that I was 30 minutes late on the first day because I drove to the wrong hospital. However, thanks to my charming good looks and mollifying nature I avoided any smiting wrath from my superiors. Who says actions have consequences? Essentially, once I finish my preceptorship I’m done. Then I’ll be a real boy, I mean nurse!


Now, for something that is actually politics-related (as that is the focus of this blog, after all): the War on Terror continues to defend American Freedom and Democracy from evil terrorists American drone strikes indiscriminately kill civilians in the name of national defense.

3 1/2 

As you may have noticed I recently learned HTML code for crossing things out. its fun! Also, visit Acts of the Apostasy, host of 3 1/2 Time-Outs Tuesday. Until next week . . . time-in.

More Fruits of America’s Unjust Wars

We entered a war in Iraq declared unjust by two popes. So, should it comes as any surprise that after a decade of nation-building that Iraq is quite possibly worse off than before? Iraq’s Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, warned that US nation-building and the Iraq war will lead to “dividing Iraq and to rivers of blood.” We continue to meddle in Iraq even after full troop withdrawal in violation of Iraqi sovereignty and to their outrage. However, none of that matters because the Iraq war was about national security and not some limp-handed humanitarian mission. This was about destroying the terrorists who hate us because of our freedom and Christian values. Oh wait, we totally screwed over Iraq’s Christians in the name of defending Christian values. They’re Iraqis though so they must hate us; only American Christians are truly true Christians with, you know, actual rights and whatnot.

This is just a cross-section of that unjust war looks like. As Catholics we must not waver from just war doctrine again. America’s politicians are under heavy pressure from AIPAC to fight their enemies in Iran for them in what would be yet another unjust war. Lets not be duped again.