Friday, May 12, 2006

Less We Forget

Pope John Paul II calls War a Defeat for Humanity: Neoconsevative Iraq Just War Theories Rejected: "Americans were largely unaware of the depth and importance of the opposition of Church leaders to an attack on Iraq, since for the most part the mainstream media did not carry the stories. In the same way, many Americans were unaware that Pope John Paul II spoke against the first Gulf War 56 times. Media in the United States omitted this from the commentaries on the war. Many have also been unaware of the number of Iraqis killed in that war (not to mention the war which recently 'ended'). In February 2003 Business Week published an interview with Beth Osborne Daponte, a professional demographer who worked for the Census Bureau. The first Bush administration tried to fire her because her published estimates of the number of Iraqi deaths conflicted with what Dick Cheney was saying at the time. She was defended by social science professionals and was able to keep her job. Her estimates: 13,000 civilians were killed directly by American and allied forces, and about 70,000 civilians died subsequently from war-related damage to medical facilities and supplies, the electric power grid, and the water system.
In the past few years, Catholic neoconservatives have been attempting to develop a new philosophy of just war which would include preemptive strikes against other nations, what might be called a "preventive war." George Weigel has published major articles defending this position since 1995. First Things magazine published his articles and editorially agreed with this point of view. The present Bush administration has used these writings to defend the strike against Iraq. Shortly before the war began, through the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, President Bush sent Michael Novak to go to Rome to try to justify the war to the Pope and Vatican officials. Catholic News Service reported that the two-hour symposium was attended by some 150 invited guests, including lower-level Vatican officials, professors from church universities in Rome and diplomats accredited to the Vatican. Since with one voice Rome had already rejected the argument for a preventive war, Novak took the approach that a war on Iraq would not be a preventive war, but a continuation of a "just war," Iraqi War I, and actually a moral obligation. He argued that a was also a matter of self-defense, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, was an un-scrupulous character, and therefore it was only a matter of time before he took up with Al Qaida and gave them such weapons.

Novak did not succeed in convincing Church leaders-in fact, some commentators reflected that his efforts might have had the opposite effect. Novak's credibility in this argument was perhaps under-mined by his employment at the American Enterprise Institute, heavily funded by oil companies, some of whom began advertising in the Houston Chronicle for em-ployees to work in Iraq even before the war began. Administration officials denied for months that the goal of the war on Iraq was related to oil. On June 4, 2003, however, The Guardian reported the words of the U.S. deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz (one of the major architects of the war). Wolfowitz had earlier commented that the urgent reason given for the war, weapons of mass destruction, was only a "bureaucratic excuse" for war. Now, at an Asian security summit in Singapore he has declared openly that the real reason for the war was oil: "Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found, the deputy defense minister said: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."


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