Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sources and methods

I'm reviewing a few items for a larger post, which I probably won't be able to write until later in the weekend. This might end up as several posts.

Just War Theory

In the May/June 2005 issue of Foreign Policy, Boston College's Kenneth Himes wrote about Just War Theory as it applies to Iraq. His comments are even more important as Iraq cracks apart:
Now we must probe the jus post bellum: What obligations does the occupier have and when are they discharged?

St. Augustine, one of the founding figures of the just war tradition, helped us understand that peace is not simply the absence of conflict. This understanding suggests that America’s work is only half done—if that. The invasion has created a moral obligation for the victors to maintain a measure of social order, while reestablishing the government and institutions of the defeated nation. The moral imperative during the occupation is Iraqi well-being, not American interests.
Himes has more recently produced an article covering a moral/theological debate on the topic. The National Catholic Weekly (PDF) from October:
This is not simply a matter of semantics, for it signaled a concern voiced by an Irish theologian that the language of just war lends a moral legitimacy to violence that ought not be given easily. To her mind, talk of a “just war” draws attention to military solutions, when the church should be the community that promotes other possibilities. Participants suggested that just war theory makes war “thinkable” in an era when the devastation of war is particularly great. Certainly, the dramatic growth in the proportion of civilian to military casualties raises questions about modern warfare and the language of collateral damage or indirect killing of noncombatants.

An American moral theologian reminded listeners that combatants must not be overlooked. More than 18,000 members of the U.S. armed forces have been wounded in the war in Iraq. Many have suffered multiple wounds that would have killed them in previous wars, without today’s dramatic advances in battlefield medicine. Military casualties returning from Iraq frequently have lost more than one limb, and more than 1,700 have suffered brain injuries.
The week, America's Roman Catholic Bishops had this to say concerning Iraq, the Boston Globe:
BALTIMORE -- The nation's Catholic bishops, saying the United States needs to move past the "shrill and shallow debate" of last week's midterm Congressional elections, declared yesterday that the goal in Iraq should be justice and peace, rather than victory, and that the nation should withdraw its forces at the earliest opportunity, consistent with a responsible transition.
This blog has a reputation for playing on the realist side of the game. That is accurate. It is interesting that the moral course resembles, to a degree, the pragmatic efforts advocated by retired generals and other experts. The New York Times and the Washington Post have each published a story this week that addresses what further instability in Iraq could look like.

The Last Push Idea

Related to the above discussion...

Today, the Guardian broke a story that states that George W. Bush will send 20,000 more American troops into Iraq to try and secure Baghdad. Stars and Stripes reports in tomorrow's edition that as many as 2,200 Marines in the 15 MEU, presently aboard ship, will deploy into al Anbar. (Hat tip: Mike)

Senator Carl Levin has suggested that some American forces be removed from the country after four to six months, his remarks from yesterday's Senate hearings. General John Abizaid has voiced strong opposition to that idea, the Washington Post. Last month, Michael Gordon of the New York Times (my blog entry) wrote that there was a "this is it" mentality to efforts in Iraq. That lead me to believe that units scheduled to leave the country would remain. However, that did not occur. I still believe a substantial troop increase may be just a few months away. But, there are significant doubts as to if this will be sustainable beyond just a few months.


Blogger Publia said...

We will be looking here for the news updates!

3:50 AM  

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