Unjust war shows lack of morality

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 96.7 FM . The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

OPINION – The U.S. government has been steering a deliberate collision course with Iran for years. Judging by the latest news headlines, not only has that course remained fixed but also the command has been given to accelerate to ramming speed.

Our nation’s leaders stand poised to wage their second unjust war in a decade, and what that reveals about their moral character is disturbing. The degree to which we allow them to do this says much about our national character as well.

The concept of “just war” has been around for many centuries. It rests upon the premise that government is not allowed to operate under a different morality than its citizens.

Statesmen such as Cicero, Aquinas, and Augustine were among the foundational thinkers of Western Civilization who advocated the concept of just warfare.

A just war must meet several necessary criteria before force is brought to bear. Those criteria include:

-Last resort, meaning the exhaustion of all peaceable means of resolving a conflict before resorting to the use of military force.

-Just cause, based upon correcting an actual, grave and enduring public harm.

-Competent authority that makes the conflict part of the public policy of the nation rather than the whim of an executive leader.

-Probability of success, to ensure that lives won’t be needlessly sacrificed for questionable goals.

-Right intention, which ensures that an actual suffered wrong is being addressed, rather than simple material gain or maintaining economies.

-Proportionality, meaning that the use of force must be proportional to the harm it seeks to remove.

Economist Murray Rothbard offered this elegant summary: “A just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them.”

These rules once enjoyed near universal acceptance throughout the West. Today, our national leaders prefer to engage in aggressive warfare against recalcitrant nations that have never materially harmed the U.S. or lack the capability of doing so. Though phrases like “national security” or “American interests” are offered as justification, the desire to dominate and control others is the real dynamic.

In this light, the coming collision with Iran has less to do with national security and more to do with bending the Persians to our will.

The propaganda machine has been carefully conditioning the American public through not-so-subtle stories of Iranian nuclear ambitions, purported terror plots on American soil, and allegations of “wiping” a certain nuclear-armed U.S. Middle East ally “off the map.”

The problem is, these stark pronouncements are distortions, exaggerations or outright falsehoods. The free press in America, which used to act as a watchdog against government mischief, has assumed the role of a parrot by dutifully repeating government press releases.

Those who have looked beyond the news media, to study the Iranian issues, recognize that it doesn’t pose an imminent, unavoidable threat to the U.S. or to Israel. Yet our policy makers are doing all they can to convince the American public that military force is the only solution.

Many Americans can be counted on to reflexively wave flags and cheer as soon as the first bombs begin falling. These are they who have bought into the belief that America’s strength is found in her military might. Thankfully, not everyone has succumbed to this seductive siren song with its two-part harmony of fear and nationalism.

President John Quincy Adams, in 1821, warned of the moral dangers of engaging in aggression by seeking “monsters to destroy” when he said, “…the fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. … She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit … [America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty.”

By allowing our leaders to engage in unjust war, we lend approval to the idea that our government is not subject to the same laws of moral conduct that we are.

True national greatness depends upon our morality more so than our ability to project military force.

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Copyright 2012 St. George News. 






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1 Comment

  • Dennis Callahan February 8, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    You are very short sighted, Americas ally Israel has a mutual defense treaty with the United States. Do you feel that should not be honored?
    I have a son on an American ship in the gulf so I am not at ease with that.

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