Senate Resolution May Lead to War with Iran

Only one senator voted against the resolution: Rand Paul.

Here is what he had to say on the resolution that passed 90-1:


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.”

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.