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August 31, 2005


Dan Trabue

You may think (correctly) that #3 precludes pre-emptive strikes, that #6 is bloody stupid and #7 not practical in the modern world and therefore, JWT is not to be followed.

But I, the Pope, the Catholic Church (as well as many Protestants), The Peace Churches, Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Jesus all disagree.

You may find parts of these Seven Criteria for Just War disagreeable and scary to try to put into practices. But that is the way of Good (or Godly, if you're so inclined) Living, isn't it?

And, as I've said before, while I as a pacifist don't fully embrace them, they should be at least a minimal starting point for those interested in justice and living aright.

Thanks for summing JWT up for all to view. I think they're important discussion fodder and ought to be discussed more often.

People are often familiar with the term and, if they aren't pacifists, will often assume, "Yeah, that's what I believe." But it has been my experience that people rarely know what the components of JWT are.


I didn't mean to imply that JWT is totally useless or should not be followed. In fact, I thought I was pretty clear that I believe that the United States has generally adhered to its principals and should continue to do so to the largest extent commensurate with protecting our national security.

My point is that certain tenents of JWT are impractical and (for point 6) stupid.

I'm sure that many people would agree with JWT... right up to the point that they find their country at war. Then, the gloves come off. I don't view it as hypocrisy so much as having to suddently confront hard reality.

Prior to World War II, there was a US naval officer, Adm. Thomas Hart, who was one of our delegates at the various disarmament conferences held during the interwar period. One of Hart's deeply-held beliefs was that unrestricted submarine warfare was little more than legalized piracy and that it should be illegal for any nation to wage it.

On December 8, 1941, Adm. Hart was the commander of the US Asiatic Fleet based in Manila. One of the first orders he issued to his command was to commence unrestricted submarine warfare against Japanese shipping.

You mention Albert Einstein's belief in JWT. Would that be the same Albert Einstein who urged President Roosevelt to build the A-bomb?

From a religious standpoint, many churches allow their members to participate in war despite Christ's teachings to the contrary. The root justification is the belief that while war is a sin, it CAN be justly waged as a remedy for greater sin. Further, we are told as Christians to submit to the commands of earthly government, and therefore Christians ordered to serve as soldiers are required to do so.

Dan Trabue

"Would that be the same Albert Einstein who urged President Roosevelt to build the A-bomb?"

Yes, same guy, who then regretted it when he'd seen what we'd done ("Woe is me" -AE upon hearing about Hiroshima) and spent a good bit of the rest of his life working for nuclear disarmament and peacemaking. THAT Einstein.

It's interesting to me that many of the same conservative churchfolk who accuse "sinners" of making rules that fit their needs instead of following God's rules, are the same ones that support warmaking - even the targeting of civilians (as in Hiroshima) when it seems too scary to follow Jesus' words.

Peace, brother.

"Mere lip services for peace are easy, but without effect. What we need is active participation in a fight against war and everything leading to war."

"Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."

-Albert Einstein, smart dude



But where does it leave the argument? You have a smart guy who hates war and thinks it's murder. As I've already demonstrated, two other smart guys (St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas) think that war can be justified. Edward Teller, 'father' of the US H-bomb and 'smart dude' was a tireless advocate for strong defense policies.

You have religious arguments against war. I have religious arguments for it.

Central question: when diplomacy and other peaceful efforts fail to stop aggression, what do you, the pope, and Albert Einstein propose?

Incidentally, those of us 'conservative churchfolk' who think that war is sometimes (regrettably) necessary also become very irate with pacifist types who are 'holier than thou' in their self-righteous adherence to pacifism when what they're really doing is letting others do the dirty work.

Dan Trabue

But I'm asking them NOT to do it in my name.

For "our" part, we pacifist types are really tired of politicians waging war in their self-righteous and hypocritical ways and thereby making the world LESS safe for us.

Which is why I try to engage in conversations with folk like you. If not to get you to agree with me, to at least try to get you to understand where we're coming from.

What we propose is a wide manner of approaches, diplomacy and peacemaking activities and, when they fail, try more.

I apologize for coming across as self-righteous, but keep in mind that that is how more conservative types come across all the time, when they think they're right and the other is wrong. Stinks being on the wrong side of the sin-accusation, don't it?


Yes, it certainly does.

"But I'm asking them NOT to do it in my name."

What does this mean? When the Congress declares war or the president sends troops to some far away land, are they supposed to take a detailed survey?

"I ask that the Congress declare that a state of war exists between the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Sqweem and the United States of America... except for the 2,345,129 people who don't want this done in their name; please see attached list. Oh, what the heck; we'll also throw in the 188,210 who didn't express an opinion."

You want to try exhaustive diplomacy and other methods, and when they fail, keep on trying. A few observations:

1. This has been tried, most notoriously at Munich and most recently with Iran. Results:

Munich - France and Britain sold a few million Czechs into Nazi bondage, paving the way for the most costly war in human history.

Iran - While 'negotiating' with the Euros, the Iranians were completing their uranium enrichment facility and stockpiling raw materials. They now laugh at the Euros for being such schmucks. In a few years, Iran will probably have a Bomb. This may well lead to nuclear war between Iran and Israel, and Iran may be foolish enough to give a nuke to a terrorist group for use against the United States.

Are there times when negotiations work? Sure. For example, I wouldn't espouse invading Canada if we had some sort of fishing rights dispute with them, or invading Mexico over the illegal immigrant problem. We negotiated with the Soviets to get their missiles out of Cuba, but I think it's clear that the only reason the negotiations worked is because both sides knew that the other could back up its demands with overwhelming force, making them reach a compromise.

You've been very clear that you don't support the war in Iraq. Question:

Given Saddam's history of violating UN resolutions, Western intelligence's belief that he was continuing to develop WMD, kicking out the weapons inspectors, firing on US / UK patrol planes, invading Kuwait, using WMD on his own people and on Iran, AND providing financial support and safe harbor for terrorists, what should have been done?

Dan Trabue

We shouldn't have propped him up in the first place. This is a HUGE point that the right often gloss over ("but assume Hitler's in power, what do we do then?"). We keep propping up questionable dictators, supplying them with money, weaponry, support, input and intelligence and then when they turn on us, "well it's time to go to war to kick some evil butt..."

But, OK, Saddam is in power. I've gone over what I think needs to be in place with you before, but briefly:
1. Join, support, strengthen the ICC
2. Strengthen and help remove corruption from the UN
3. When some nation breaks international law, begin negotiations to bring them in.
4. Apply economic pressure (to be borne by the despot, not the people) (This is huge - but must be done correctly. Stop buying Saddam's oil. Make sure proper food and medical needs are met but cut off all incoming moneys. Tricky to do. Probably should create a Cabinet of Peace to help coordinate and improve how these types of things are done.)
5. Apply pressure from their neighbors (without supplying them weapons of mass destruction - see point 1)
6. Allow the inspectors to do their job (they were in Iraq until WE told them to get out because WE were preparing to invade)(and Scott Ritter, a non-pacifist inspector who'd know, says they were working)
7. If the despot becomes violent towards his people, aid in evacuation efforts with neighboring countries.
8. If despot refuses to attend trial, convict in absentia.
9. Send in peacekeepers only as a last resort. These aren't soldiers bent on blowing up the country, these are policemen going in to arrest a criminal.

Is it a perfect solution? No. But neither is war. What this is is a Just and Moral Solution, or at least an attempt at one. War is a failure to reach a just or moral solution.


The right doesn't gloss over the (really luke-warm) support we gave Saddam in the '80s: we just don't obsess about how EVERYTHING is America's fault. You also don't see the right obsessing over the Crusades and how we've had it coming to us because (some of) our ancestors participated in the sack of Jerusalem. The left seems to really get off on doing this. Another example is the time I saw Michael Moore interviewed by Bill O'Reilly once, and Moore ranted about how we'd propped up Hitler. Being the brilliant lefty that he is, NATURALLY he would NEVER have made those decisions.

And that's really a good point: humans can't see the future, and often don't have a completely accurate picture of the present. To the extent that we 'supported' Saddam in the '80s, it was because he was preferable to Iran. We supported the Shah in the '60s and '70s because he was preferable to Soviet domination of the Persian Gulf. And so forth.

In retrospect, were these 'good' decisions? No. More than likely, the policy makers at the time recognized that they weren't good decisions. But they were the best of a lot of bad alternatives. You do the best you can with what you have.

Regarding your policy prescriptions, I cannot imagine a single instance in modern history when they would have worked. Had they been tried at various points, we'd all be eating sauerkraut or borscht... those of us who didn't die in a concentration camp or in the wastes of Siberia, that is. It's not a question that they aren't perfect solutions: it's that they aren't solutions at all.

Dan Trabue

Oh yeah? Says you!

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