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Suggested Reading

West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran Andrew Bacevich has written The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War. While reading the first chapters of the book I had the suspicion, for some reason, that Bacevich is Catholic, and then he makes it explicit in footnote 84 to Chapter 5 . . . I love footnotes.

Spoils of War: The Human Cost of America’s Arms Trade, John Tirman, 1997.  When this guy explains helicopters, he goes back to da Vinci. When he talks about Kurds, he goes back to the second century B.C.  Eventually he writes about U.S.-made helicopters being used to kill civilians. Along the way he mentions the materials research and other aeronautic engineering necessary to keep the helicopters flying.

"Fight Less, Win More" – by Marine captain Nathaniel Frick, veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/09/AR2007080900667.html

UD Peace Tradition: www.udpeacetradition.org  People who do more than just put up web sites.

The Photo:

The photograph on this site is a public domain shot of Mariner 5.  According to a NASA web site, "The spacecraft passed 4,000 km from Venus on October 19, 1967. The spacecraft instruments measured both interplanetary and Venusian magnetic fields, charged particles, and plasmas, as well as the radio refractivity and UV emissions of the Venusian atmosphere. The mission was termed a success."  How cool is that?  Wikipedia adds that Mariner 5 is now defunct in an orbit around the sun.

Unlike the AV-8B Harrier aircraft, Mariner 5 could not be outfitted with AGM-65 Maverick Air to Ground Missiles, AMRAAM Air to Air Missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder Air to Air Missiles, 2 x 30mm Cannons, or bombs (including 1000lb, 540lb and LGB).  (These details on the Harrier are from www.navysite.de, an unofficial Navy information site.) 

Researchers at UDRI could concentrate on probes like Mariner 5 instead of warplanes like the AV-8B Harrier.


Note 1:

The Pope did not speak of whether or not the Gulf War could be considered just; Portier explains:

"John Paul II was resolute in his refusal to be drawn into the widespread discussion of the just cause and conduct of what he referred to as the "so-called 'Gulf War."' Amid debate about whether the U.N. resort to arms in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait met the conditions for a just war, the pope, a near-solitary voice on the international scene, focused instead on the futility of such calculations in the face of modern weapons and the human suffering they cause." (Communio 23)

Note 1a:

Regarding the U.S. war in Afghanistan which began in October 2001, the Vatican did not condemn this action as being unjust.  The reaction of the Vatican at the time was subject to varying interpretations, however, as explained by John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter:

"John Paul led off with what seemed a ringing anti-war plea. 'We must not let what has happened lead to a deepening of divisions,' he said at the end of a Mass in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, Sept. 23 (2001).

"Though he celebrated the Mass in Russian, the pope added these last-minute remarks in English. . . . News agencies reported that the pope was implicitly criticizing the idea of military strikes in response to the terrorist attacks.

"The next day, on Sept. 24, papal spokesperson Joaquín Navarro-Valls gave an exclusive interview to Reuters that quickly changed that impression. . . . Navarro-Valls, choosing his words with care, said the Vatican 'would understand' if Bush were to use force to protect the United States from terrorist threats. . . .

"Navarro-Valls did not, strictly speaking, repeal anything the pope had said. John Paul himself took a strong line against 'hatred, fanaticism and terrorism' in a Sept. 24 address, rejecting attempts to make God 'the hostage of human ambitions.'  Still, the impression of a change in emphasis, a kind of correction of the pope's message, was hard to avoid. . . .

"On Sept. 25, as John Paul arrived in Yerevan, Armenia, reverberations from the apparent discrepancies between the messages from the pope and Navarro-Valls were still being felt."  ("Mixed messages on force abound during papal trip," National Catholic Reporter, 10/5/01))


Note 2:

For a lengthy discussion of the usage of "prevention" and "preemption," see "Is Preemption Necessary?" by Francois Heisbourg, The Washington Quarterly, Spring 2003, Vol. 26, No. 2, p. 75:



Note 3:

Regarding the possibility of change being effected without warfare:

"The key international developments of Pope John Paul's pontificate came with the collapse of Communism in eastern Europe. . . . the Pope proclaimed his belief that non-violence led to the fall of Communist governments in eastern Europe.  'It seemed,' he wrote in [Centesimus Annus], 'that the European order resulting from the Second World War and sanctioned by the Yalta agreement could only be overturned by another war.'  He continued, 'Instead, it has been overcome by the nonviolent commitment of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of bearing witness to the truth.'  ("Peacemaking and the Use of Force: Behind the Pope's Stringent Just-War Teaching," Drew Christiansen, S.J., America, May 15, 1999.)


More on Just War Doctrine/Theory


(This site will attempt to use the term "doctrine" when referring to Catholic just war beliefs, and "theory" when referring to just war thinking in the broader Judeo-Christian world.)


There are challenges to just war theory.  Drew Christiansen, S.J.,  former director of the United States Catholic Conference Office of International Justice and Peace, mentioned one in a 1999 article (”Peacemaking and the Use of Force: Behind the Pope’s Stringent Just-War Teaching.”  America, May 15, 1999.)  In order to be just, a war must have a probability of success; however, in humanitarian interventions for example, it may be difficult to define “success.” 



Paul J. Griffiths, Schmitt Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago, mentioned another challenge to just war doctrine in “Just War: An Exchange,” First Things 122 (April 2002), pages 31-36:  The lack of information available to us as we consider the justifications of a given war.  According to the catechism, again, “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”  All citizens in our democracy theoretically share this responsibility for the common good, since we elect those who make the decisions to go to war.  Griffiths writes that information coming from the U.S. government, the U.S. media, and foreign governments and media is often suspect.  We have “no good reason to think that we have access to the evidence and argument we would need if we were to judge the burden of proof to be met,” Griffiths writes. 

(An obvious example of suspect information is the presentation by Secretary of State Colin Powell before the United Nations in February 2003, when he declared that the regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.  Another example of the U.S. government and U.S. media failing to provide accurate information concerns the fact that U.S. soldiers fought and died in the civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s, something that was not admitted until 1996.  Journalist Robert Parry pointed this out after a ceremony  at Arlington National Cemetery on May 5, 1996:  "A small memorial stone was unveiled to honor 21 American soldiers who died in secret combat against leftist guerrillas in El Salvador. . . . the war in El Salvador was waged with hardly anyone in Congress or the national news media catching on to the U.S. combat role. Indeed, throughout the 1980s, the White House and Pentagon routinely denied that U.S. soldiers were in combat in El Salvador . . . " (“Lost History,” The Consortium, Vol. 1, No. 13 - Wash., D.C.; May 27, 1996))

George Weigel, a prominent Catholic writer, in his response to Griffiths as part of this exchange, says: “I rather doubt that the American Catholic laity are as bewitched by alleged governmental mendacity and media jingoism (itself a counterintuitive notion) as Prof. Griffiths suggests. . . . (T)he practical result of Prof. Griffiths’ demand for a kind of radical epistemic clarity before reasonable ad bellum judgments are made seems obvious and inevitable: a retreat into a Catholic bunker.” (from “Just War: An Exchange.”)

(It is the opinion of UDRI Tomorrow that a simple desire for facts—such as whether or not U.S. soldiers are involved in a war, or whether or not an address by the Secretary of State before the United Nations is accurate—is not a disabling “demand for a kind of radical epistemic clarity.”)