Fred Clark has another great post over on Slacktivist (even if the title is a little bit on the nose). He questions, once again, the Bush administration’s so-called “just war” in Iraq and the potential for a just war against Iran. Bush and co. have consistently claimed that the US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq were and are just. The reasons that I’ve heard usually have something to do with Weapons of Mass Destruction (or WMD-related weaponish-type kinds of programs) or the tyranny and aggression of Sadam Hussein’s totalitarian regime. Fred rightly notes that even if Bush’s claims about WMDs or Hussein’s tyranny are accurate (and we know now that the former claims were certainly not accurate by any stretch of the imagination), these still do not qualify for the traditional definition of a “just war.”*
One of the real troubles in attempting to wage a just war is that you need to be able to determine the potential damage the aggressor may cause, the likelihood of being able to avert that potential damage, and the possibility a war might actually cause more suffering than it averts. When determining whether or not a war is just you need a very important faculty. You need wisdom.
One of the kids in my youth group back in Regina once asked me about the difference between wisdom and intelligence. I gave the fairly pat answer that wisdom is the ability to apply intelligence correctly. He didn’t buy it, and rightly so. A better understanding of wisdom is found in the biblical Proverbs. Wisdom in Proverbs is a moral faculty. It is the ability to make not only good decisions, but right decisions.
The unjust invasion of Iraq is not only an intellectual failure (though it is that), it is first and foremost a moral failure. It is unwise and therefore unjust. George Bush has always been something of an enigma to me. On television he sounds, to be frank, like a bumbling idiot. But I don’t believe that a truly stupid person could be a governor and then a president. I do, however, believe that a fool could do those things. What the war in Iraq, and current American foreign policy in general, demonstrates is not that Bush and Cheney and their advisers are stupid. It demonstrates that they are fools.
*I’m pretty sure that his Catholic definition for a just war is actually Thomas Aquinas’ definition, but I don’t have any of Thomas’ works close at hand so I can’t be positive.