A learning experience

As time passes, facts seem to confirm that the so-called “pre-emptive” war in Iraq turned out not to have much to pre-empt.

Recent remarks by former top U.S. weapons inspector David Kay have dissipated any notion that Iraq posed a legitimate threat to America through a program to develop weapons of mass destruction. No chemical or biological weapon arsenals have been found. No conclusive evidence of advanced nuclear programs engineered to threaten our national security have been found either. In addition, in recent public comments, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed that no link has been found between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Those were the three main arguments used by the administration to rally the American public to war. None of the legs of that tripod stands today.

Though we may be tempted to put this embarrassing fact behind us, we should reflect on what has occurred and learn a lesson for the future.

The Church’s just-war theory clearly lays out the conditions that must be fulfilled for war to be considered morally justifiable. The idea of “pre-emption” never seemed to satisfy those conditions. The Holy Father’s prophetic views and the American bishops’ position against the war were dismissed by the administration and by many Catholics. Before the next situation arises, Catholics should take a hard look at their interpretation of just-war theory in light of the outcome of this first “pre-emptive war.”