Republican presidential nominee John McCain has called the Iraq war "necessary and just."- Let's examine the just war theory to see if McCain's statement is valid.
First formulated by St. Augustine some 1600 years ago, the just war theory specifies very strict principles that determine when Christians can engage in warfare. Here are four basic principles of the just war theory and how I see them applied to the war on Iraq:
Principle #1. A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force is justified.
The Iraq war was not waged as a last resort. It was waged as a first choice. There were many non-violent options that were never used before war was launched. We know that senior people in the Bush administration had already drawn up plans to invade Iraq before 9/11 ever happened.
Principle #2. A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered.
What wrong did we suffer? Iraq was not involved in 9/11. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction threatening us. The Bush administration did not respond to a wrong. It created a wrong.
Principle # 3. The violence used in the just war must be proportional to the injury suffered.
The only injury suffered by America in relation to Iraq was the potential injury to the profits of our big oil companies. Iraq oil production under Saddam Hussein was threatening the ability of our big oil companies to keep oil prices high. There is no such thing as a just war waged for the profits of the few.
Principle #4. The weapons used in the just war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants.
Estimates indicate over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have already been killed in this extended U.S. military occupation of Iraq, many of them women and children. Under the conditions of guerilla warfare, our soldiers cannot distinguish between combatants and non-combatants and innocent Iraqis are paying the price with their lives.
Clearly, the Iraq war fails the test of being a just war. The leaders of our major Christian denominations agree. Pope John Paul II stated before the Iraq war began that this war would be a defeat for humanity which could not be morally or legally justified. In the weeks and months before the U.S. attacked Iraq, not only the Pope, but also one Cardinal and Archbishop after another spoke out against such a "preemptive"- strike. They declared that the just war theology could not justify such a war.
Back in 2002, President George Bush's own United Methodist Church launched a scathing attack on his preparations for war against Iraq, saying that they are "without any justification according to the teachings of Christ."- In July, 2004, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church/USA issued a paper that condemned the U.S. policy of pre-emptive military action against nations perceived as threats to the United States as ethically indefensible and contrary to the just war theory that has been the basis of Christian theology on warfare. Clearly, John McCain unjustly calls the Iraq war just.