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How Can Iraq be a Just War?

John’s original Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper column examined whether America’s attack and invasion of Iraq abides by historic Christian teachings of just war. The momentous post has been archived and is no longer available on their site, so below is the original article.


American Christians don't have the luxury of ignoring the question of whether America should have attacked Iraq.

The action that began last month will sow consequences for ourselves and our children. Human history and the Scriptures auger that violence will again beget violence. This compels us, for the sake of future generations of Americans, to confront the issue.

I am thankful for the theory of just war. It is a peculiarly Christian notion that aims to preserve the moral distinctives of Christianity even during and after war, as well as to restrain the state from establishing itself as an all-powerful god unto itself. Though the theory allows for war as a last resort in self-defense, it reflects the desire to avoid war as a fundamental idea in the Christian view of politics, as opposed to the romanticization of war in a pagan worldview that reflects a disregard for the sanctity of human life.

The failure of the U.S. government to abide by the consensus rules of just war in its dealings (and proposed dealings) with Iraq is as disturbing as its protestations to the contrary. Augustine, Aquinas and others posited that a just war must have a just cause. This one does not.