We can’t afford to stand by silently

We can’t afford to stand by silently

Father James Schall meditates on the near-universal clerical opposition to the war. He notes that we are told in this instance that we must not act in Iraq because to do so would invite disaster including terrorist reprisals, upheaval in the Middle East, and an untold human cost.

(By the way, isn’t it interesting that we have not see in the news any massive street demonstrations in the Middle East against the war? The only large-scale protests have been in Western cities, as far as I can tell. Even in Baghdad today, where Saddam called for people to go into the streets to show support for him, only 5,000 people showed up.)

    Putting the best possible light on the clerical voices, we might say that they have been helpful in making sure that the actors in war and peace make every effort to know the situation, the law, the principles, and the proper means. On the other hand, there seems to be a strange lack of reality coming from a quarter that has often spent the past decades warning us to see the actual problems. In part, we have absolutized “war” to the extent that it has become an abstraction of evil instead of an element in the analysis of justice.

We have been told by several different high-ranking Vatican officials that any war in Iraq would be immoral and unjust. Cardinal Sodano has even suggested that war itself may be obsolete, as if the use of force against an implacable foe to defend the innocent is itself unjust.

    The “humanitarian” war advocates of recent years have often made every effort to suggest that it is our “obligation” to intervene in extreme cases, any place in the world. We have been blamed mostly for inaction. Now, these same voices demand inaction. Perhaps it is true, as Franklin Roosevelt said, that we all hate war. But the question remains: Is there something worse than war, something worse than not preventing what needs to be prevented? If it takes a war to prevent this something worse, and we do prevent it, it will always seem, to the anti-war faction, that no real problem existed, because they could not see the evidence for it.

I have to admit that I was one of the few conservative I know who was in favor of military action in Kosovo. I did disagree with the stratergy and tactics used by Clinton and by legitimization of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army, but I believed then as I do now that we could not stand by as a brutal regime targeted innocents for mass murder and genocide. We once said, as a society and civilization, “never again.” Yet here we are once again, hearing voices proclaim that we should stand by and allow tyrrany and evil to remain unmolested and unchallenged. I am glad that we have an American president who has rejected those arguments, who knows that if America is to retain any vestige of the virtues she once held so dear at her founding, she must not remain silent and unmoved when there is an evil that we may with some cost confront and destroy.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli