November 11, 2002
Dear Concerned Citizen,

Veterans, more than anyone else, understand the need for vigilance. It is an undeniable truth that when a brutal dictator possesses chemical and biological weapons, and is in pursuit of nuclear weapons, he poses a global threat to peace and security.

But would President Bush's war against Iraq qualify as a just war? The question is not frivolous. During America's Afghanistan campaign to oust the Taliban, Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld met with theologians to ensure that U.S. actions were in conformity with "just war" principles.

The "just war" doctrine is a Western idea-actually, an idea that Western civilization got from Christianity. "Just war" theory does not condemn all war, in the way that pacifism does, but it does place strict moral limits on the reasons that justify going to war, and on how the war is conducted.

First, the war must be undertaken as a last resort, when other alternatives have been exhausted. To his credit, President Bush has not rushed into war. He has worked with the United Nations and the international community to find a diplomatic solution. The U.N. resolution gives Saddam Hussein a chance to voluntarily relinquish his weapons of mass destruction, and avert war. Only if Hussein refuses will the United States and its allies resort to military force.

Second, under "just war" theory it is forbidden to target civilians. This does not mean that civilians are not killed in just wars. But they should not be killed deliberately. What this means is that nations should take all reasonable measures to minimize civilian casualties. Only soldiers and military facilities should be targeted. The United States was scrupulous in following this rule in the Afghanistan war, as in the Gulf War of a decade ago. There is no reason to believe that Iraq will be any different.

Third, America's actions in a "just war" must be proportionate to the danger that is being averted, and have a reasonable probability of success. As in edict about targeting civilians, these criteria are more applicable to the conduct or war than to the question of whether the initiation of war is justified.

Once again, the United States is likely to use whatever force is necessary to get rid of Saddam Hussein, but it is not going to seek to use disproportionate or excessive force against the Iraqi people. There is no question, for instance, of America using nuclear weapons. Moreover, America is unlikely to initiate war without a high degree of certainly that it will result in Hussein's ouster. Although there is no guarantee of what will follow, Hussein's is almost certain to be replaced with one that is less repressive and more humane.

The most difficult criteria for America to satisfy is the final one which says that a just war has to be defensive. Traditionally, this means that a nation must be first attacked. This criterion would seem to forbid preventive or pre-emptive action against Iraq.

But in the new atmosphere post 9-11, and in a world where evil regimes seek weapons of mass destruction, it is not always possible to wait until after an attack in order to respond. The vaporization of Tel Aviv or Chicago is not a price that can or should be paid. In other words, a nation may under extreme circumstances be justified in using force to prevent a global catastrophe. If Hitler could have been stopped before 1939, would that not have been a just action? So, too, a war to remove Saddam Hussein from power would satisfy the requirements of a "just war."

'Tis the business of little
minds to shrink; but he whose
heart is firm, and whose
conscience approves his
conduct, will pursue his
principles unto death.'
Thomas Paine

'When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen; and we shall most sincerely rejoice with you in the happy hour when the establishment of American Liberty, upon the most firm and solid foundations shall enable us to return to our Private Stations in the bosom of a free, peacefully and happy Country.'
George Washington

American intellectuals respond to European objections to the war on terrorism.
  60 American scholars make their moral case for the war on terrorism in an open letter dated August 8th, 2002. The letter rebuts several assertions made by intellectuals from other countries and poses serious questions in response.

I highly recommend you read the entire article at:

'Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and Heaven and Earth will aide the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important decision. On which rest the happiness and liberty of millions of yet unborn. Act worthy of yourself.'
Dr. Joseph Warren, 1775

A Variety of Perspectives
A World of Justice and Peace would be Different
German response to: What We're Fighting For: A letter from America
May 2, 2002
What We're Fighting For: A Letter from America
Sixty American scholars make the moral case for the war on terrorism
February 12, 2002
Just War: An Exchange
First Things: April 2002
A debate between Paul J. Griffiths and George Weigel
Bully Culprit
Can a pre-emptive strike against the tyrant of Baghdad be justified?
Christianity Today editorial: 9/30/02
Coming terms with war
Christians appropriately support 'Just War'
Diane Knippers
The Case Against the Iraq War
A speech by Matthew Rothschild, Editor of the Progressive magazine
August 28, 2002
about tothesource
We live complex lives. We strive to sort out priorities that sometimes conflict or seem incompatible. A moral framework is needed to help us understand the reality around us. Our Judeo-Christian heritage provides a framework to help us comprehend the choices we make and the conflicts that arise over them. It is not only the main source of our spiritual values, but also many of the secular values we depend on.

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  Dinesh D'Souza Bio
Dinesh D'Souza, the Rishwain Research Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, served as senior domestic policy analyst in the White House in 1987-1988. He is the best-selling author of Illiberal Education, The End of Racism, Ronald Reagan, The Virtue of Prosperity, and What's So Great About America. He is the tothesource designated expert on current American culture.
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