Just War, Iraq and the Church

February 16, 2003

Although action by the international community against Iraq can be justified by its failure to adhere to UN resolutions since 1991 (when not a termination of war but only a cease-fire was arranged, contingent on Iraq's disarmament), the main argument today centers on the legitimacy of pre-emptive action.  During the Cold War, protection against first strike was always a difficult issue, but the reality involved was that Soviet subs off the East Coast could hit Washington DC with nuclear missiles in 6 minutes.  Now, the warning time is down to zero -- a single individual carrying a small package can attack an entire city with anthrax.  If he gets to the target, his success is assured, especially if he is suicidal.  Borders are too porous to prevent all intruders from entry.  The threat from such people is always imminent.

Political leaders anywhere on the globe now have access to WMD capable of delivery anywhere.  There is therefore no alternative but to monitor globally the activities of all political groups (whether heads of state or others), determine which are terrorists, and where they are known to have WMD, to disarm them.

Hussein is no doubt a terrorist -- having gassed and murdered hundreds of thousands in Iraq, and invaded Kuwait, and harbored and facilitated Al Queda and many other terrorist groups operating in the Middle East and globally.  At the least, concerning the United States, Hussein has given aid and comfort to perpetrators of 911.

These assessments form the basis for deciding whether just war criteria have been met for going to war.  In this respect, many people in many countries share a reluctance about war with Iraq.  Nevertheless, many of the same people after sober reflection come to the conclusions above, and consequently decide that the United States and its very numerous "coalition of the willing" have a just cause, just intention, and probability of success for pre-emptive action to disarm the Hussein regime.  Balanced assessment leads also to the conclusion that the good to be gained by action outweighs the bad, and that the proposed action is proportional to the threat. 

For Christians and people of other faiths who agree with using just war criteria for decisions about war, the way is still open to pray daily for peaceful alternatives to this war.  One alternative is abdication by Hussein and his cabal, followed by UN-supervised disarmament.  Those with this position are not represented by those vocal church leaders who claim that all church denominations fail to find just cause for pre-emptive action in this case. 

Dr. John C. Munday
1204 Murray Drive
Chesapeake, VA 23322