Justification for a Just War

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi

While the mainstream news agencies are busy covering Black Friday nonsense, smaller news and blog sites have recently reported on comments made by Catholic Cardinal Gainfranco Ravasi, President of the Vatican Council for Culture.  In referring to the recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, he said, “I think of the ‘massacre of the innocents.’ Children are dying in Gaza, their mothers’ shouts is a perennial cry, a universal cry.”

In response to this comment, Israel National News stated, “The Catholic Church high official equated Israel’s operation in Gaza against terror groups with the New Testament story of Herod’s slaughter of Jewish babies in his effort to kill Jesus.”

Whether or not this quote was taken out of context and the Cardinal was merely lamenting the destruction of life is not known. However, it doesn’t even matter because his comments are in step with virtually every mainstream media outlet in this country that label Israel as the aggressor in the conflict.

To know the true reality of the situation is to see that calling Israel the aggressor in this conflict is a fallacy.  According to Catholic teaching, the killing of innocent life is unforgiveable. However, Catholic teaching also states that there are instances where waging war is a just and necessary option.

I want to make clear that I myself am not a war hawk. I am not cheering for Israel to invade and kill her enemies or put Israeli soldiers in harm’s way.  What I want to demonstrate is that according to the Cardinal’s own faith, Israel has a definitive right to defend herself against aggressive attacks.

The full explanation of Just War Theory can be found here.

St. Thomas Aquinas provided the basic tenants of a Just War based on three things:

1)      War must be waged by a lawful public authority in defense of the common good

2)      War must be waged for a good cause

3)      War must be waged with the right intention-not vengefully nor to inflict harm

There are also two methods of waging war: defensive and offensive. Defensive is defending against a direct attack. In this instance, no special moral justification is needed in taking up arms to defend one’s country.  Offensive war, on the other hand, has to be justified.  The conditions for this state of war are these:

1)      A just cause, to correct a wrong to a nation

2)      All other means of defending a nation’s rights have been ineffective

3)      There is a good possibility for success

4)      The good that will be achieved by waging war must outweigh harm caused

5)      War is the last resort

A war is not justified if it is waged in order to gain new territory, increase wealth, subjugate peoples, or expand spheres of influence.

A war is justified in response to an affront to the right of a nation to merely exist, or a threat to its self-preservation, property, or freedom in its own borders.

I’m not going to illustrate all the failed peace treaties between Israel and its neighbors throughout the decades, or the state of the daily, constant threat that we all know Israel lives under. Let’s just say this, Hamas is clearly an illegitimate aggressor that is constantly threatening and attacking a legitimate nation. This legitimate nation of Israel is exercising its right to existence and self-preservation.

The Cardinal would do well to examine Just War Theory as laid out by St. Thomas Aquinas and decide for himself whether it applies in this conflict.  I believe it does.


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Bombs, Blame, and Bad Guys

Banfield

Banfield

CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield said it herself with the first sentence out of her mouth to Ron Prosor, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations.  She asked Prosor about how he felt about Hamas missiles landing near Jerusalem for the first time since 1970. However, she failed to ask him how he felt about the sustained rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza by Hamas this year alone.  She also failed to ask him how he felt about the constant barrage of verbal threats by Israel’s longtime enemies that share her borders.

Aren’t these good and just reasons for Israel to defend herself against her enemies?  Would our own country not act in a similar fashion if we were constantly threatened and attacked by our neighbors?  Of course we would.

This opening statement was just the beginning of what I saw as fairly evident bias against Israel at CNN.

The transcript of the interview aired on CNN on November 16, 2012 concerning the recent hostilities in the Middle East can be found here.

From the start, Banfield criticizes the fact that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has conducted air strikes in Gaza, and that the aftermath of the strikes were causing “children bleeding” and “mothers that are dying”.  She then describes the IDF strikes as a “sledgehammer” approach to the “problem” Israel is having.  It seems she is suggesting the IDF military operation is causing too many civilian casualties.

This is the basic tenor of her interview.  She was aggressively degrading the just nature of Israel defending herself, while ignoring the aggressiveness of the Islamic extremism in the region as the cause of the region’s instability.

Again Banfield blames Israel when she says, “what we have been told is that the trigger for this ground assault and the breach of the Gaza border would be increased missile attacks”.  In other words, if Israel attacked Gaza, Hamas promised to attack more Israeli cities, which is what happened.  It’s kind of like a little kid that’s bullied at school every day. Banfield is saying that if the bullied kid defends himself, he will sustain more bullying because he has now angered the bully. This is reverse common sense.  Common sense tells us that when you defend yourself against an aggressor, this will stop the aggressor or at least deter the aggressiveness.

In another line of dialogue, Prosor attempt to be clear and make a point by saying, “It’s very simple. Missiles are falling…” He is defending his country’s stance that as long as missiles are falling on their cities, his country must defend its citizens. Prosor continues and makes a stark analogy to missiles falling on Manahattan, Paris, and London.  Wouldn’t the US defend itself from such an attack? Banfield confuses his point and suggests that if Manhattan, Paris, and London were occupied (purportedly such as Hamas believes Israel is their occupier) then they would want to fight against their occupiers.

Banfield concludes the interview with discussing the killing of Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari.  Banfield states, “we saw the targeted killing, the assassination of the military leader of Hamas earlier this week that has led to what we’re seeing now”.  Again, Banfield shows Israel as the bad guy, and continues to blame Israel for Hamas attacking Israeli cities.  In actuality, Israel is asserting its right to self defense, as the New York Times reported,

“Israel had already been facing growing tensions with its Arab neighbors. Israel has confronted lawlessness on its border with Sinai, including cross-border attacks. It recently fired twice into Syria, which is caught in a civil war, after munitions fell in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and it has absorbed more than 750 rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel this year. The rockets have hit homes, caused injuries and frightened the population. On Saturday, Gaza militants fired an antitank missile at an Israeli Army Jeep patrolling the Israel-Gaza border, injuring four soldiers.”

Banfield closes her interview with Prosor by sayng, “And I hope that both sides in this combat can reach some kind of resolution soon. And my best to, not only your side, but the Palestinians as well.”  Good luck to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization by the Israelis and by the United States State Department, who is bombing Israel as we speak?

Now tell me again who the bad guys are?


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Fanning the Flames of Racial Unrest?

Rivera

Rivera

I’m not a regular listener to Geraldo Rivera’s radio show. I’ve caught a couple of minutes of it here and there, and he seemed to be a reasonable, middle of the road personality. I know he had a television program years ago; and, if I remember correctly, he was involved in some violent foray on one of the shows in which he sustained a broken nose. Whatever his history is, I do know that he is a journalist and has been around for a considerable amount of time.

My attention was recently drawn to Mr. Rivera during a commercial in which he was promoting his radio program. In it, he stated that the re-election of President Obama shows that our country is divided along racial lines. At first, I was angry at the comment because, at the very least, it oversimplifies the reason for the outcome of our most recent presidential election. Then, being of mixed racial heritage myself, I wondered where I fell within his paradigm. I know I didn’t vote along racial lines. Does that make me an exception?

Right before the election, Rivera claimed on his website (Geraldo.com) that race would be the most “obvious determinant of the election” (posted October 26, 2012). Call me crazy, but I think at least some, dare I say most, of Americans give some thought to their vote before they make a decision. Suggesting otherwise is an insult to the intelligence of a nation. And I’m willing to bet that the majority of people voted for the guy that they thought would do the best job, despite his color or race. People have brains, and even use them occasionally.

Now, I am not one to state my opinions as facts. To disprove Rivera’s assertions, let’s look over some simple statistics. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 72% of the U.S. population identified their race as white, 13% identified their race as black, 5% identified themselves as Asian, .9% identified themselves as American Indian or Alaskan native, .2% identified themselves as Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 6% identified themselves as “some other” race, and 3% identified themselves as multi-racial. According to these numbers, if this country was divided along racial lines, President Obama should have never captured the White House at all.

In 2008, 43% of white voters voted for Barack Obama, which swept him into the White House. In 2012, Obama received 39% of the white vote, only down 4% from his first-term election. This was enough to give him an edge to victory in an extremely close contest. If America were truly RACIALLY divided, Governor Romney would have won in a landslide victory in 2012 by just over 70% of the popular vote, which would have beaten the combined percentage of every minority group if they, too, voted strictly along racial lines.

Basic statistics prove that people don’t let mere race swing their vote. Saying that it does is a disservice to the country. It is irresponsible and damaging to the psyche of a country. As far as I can see, the country is divided by political ideology NOT race.

Watching the President’s victory celebration on TV on November 6th, I observed something extraordinary. People of various races and colors were in the crowd, and they were all sharing a happy experience, waving American flags and cheering. That scene is indicative of the America of today, regardless of political preference. Let’s not get bogged with old ideas, such as race is the ultimate arbiter of all things. People are tired of it. Let’s not cheapen the political debate and fan the flames of racial resentment and unrest by making politics a battle between races instead of a battle of ideas.


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Why was Barack Obama re-elected?

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

Actually, the question shouldn’t be why was he re-elected, but why shouldn’t he have been re-elected.  And why shouldn’t he have?  The man is good looking, an amazing orator, charismatic, and has a pretty wife and beautiful children. He has a multi-racial background that a lot of us as Americans identify with.  Let’s face it, everything on the surface about the guy is appealing.  So why shouldn’t he have been re-elected?

I know what you’re thinking; it is what’s underneath all that façade that counts – his actions as president, his leftist ideology; not his mere words, no matter how beautiful they sound when they leave his mouth.  It’s not how inspiring his speeches are, save the content and undertone, but the implications of the words and what they bode for the American future.

You see, it’s all in the delivery. You have to be able to reach people. People react and think based on emotion, especially when it comes to politics.  It’s not about Wall Street, foreign affairs, national debt, healthcare, or the economy. It’s how your leader spins the issues, and how competent he is at it.  President Obama is very competent at making you believe he cares whether he does or not.  He’s a master at it; even when he’s off his game, as evidenced in the first presidential debate with Romney. He still came across with confidence and charisma.  People like that. They’re very comfortable with that. They like someone with confidence because it, in turn, gives them confidence.

Despite Obama’s troubles during his last four years as president, this was an uphill battle for Romney from the start.  I read many articles and blogs claiming a Romney victory weeks before November 6th.  I admit it; I wanted to believe it also.  But a small voice in the back of my mind kept reminding me that if it is as close as all the polls say, then why is it in Romney’s favor?  Romney was running against an incumbent. Statistics tell us that out of 29 bids for the re-election of an incumbent, 9 lost. 20 won re-election, including Obama.  On numbers alone, that gave Romney a 45% chance of winning.  The incumbent has the advantage by default.

Considering all that’s been said, conservatives should not be discouraged.  This race was extremely close and the country is essentially split down the middle. Romney was not just going up against an incumbent president, but an expert campaign and a machine that had been campaigning for election ’12 since election ’08.  Yet, Romney almost unseated a very popular man; not necessarily a popular president, but a popular man.  And that’s why Romney lost and Obama won.  Obama’s likeability put him over the edge.  It didn’t get him a landslide like in ’08, but it was just enough to hold on for another four years.

No side can claim a complete victory.  It just so happens that the other side had a slightly better day.

Romney gave it a great run.  I don’t think anybody could have done better.  When you’re running against an incumbent, it’s a close race, the incumbent is a popular figure, and the incumbent is charismatic and attractive, it’s a very difficult mountain to climb. It may even be impossible. My hat’s off to Governor Romney. He’s a good man, a proven leader, and he tried his best; even though we all know his best on November 6th wasn’t good enough.  Sometimes you can put all your heart, passion, and talent into something, and still lose or not accomplish what you set out to do.  The key is to not to give up.  Romney won’t give up.  I have a feeling we’ll see him again soon.

Maybe then, the American people will warm up to him a little more and give him the edge to victory.


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