Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Monday, May 07, 2007

Just War in Iraq

JCECIL5 recommended an editorial to his readers.

It seems the editors of Commonweal take exception to George Weigel's analysis of the war in Iraq. Their editorial calls for Weigel to concede the war was a mistake. Their argument, which is little more than a catalogue of military and political missteps, can be summed up in one statement, “we told you so.”

The editors invoke a statement by the USCCB to support their screed. They pay lip service to the Bishops’ plan for the future. But focus primarily on highlighting, yet again, the mistakes of the past.

The USCCB understands the U.S. has a moral obligation to set things right in Iraq. They have outlined a series of benchmarks for success in the region. But, while liberals in Washington see benchmarks as goals that must be achieved if troops are to remain overseas, the Bishops see them as goals to be reached before the U.S. can withdrawal.

The Bishop’s statement is nicely concluded:

Our nation is at a crossroads in Iraq. We must avoid two directions that distort reality and limit appropriate responses. We must resist a pessimism that might move our nation to abandon the moral responsibilities it accepted in using force and might tempt us to withdraw prematurely from Iraq without regard for moral and human consequences. We must reject an optimism that fails to acknowledge clearly past mistakes, failed intelligence, and inadequate planning related to Iraq, and minimizes the serious challenges and human costs that lie ahead.
George Weigel seems to agree in his latest article on the subject. Weigel admits a multitude of military and political mistakes were made in the war. In fact nearly half of his article is dedicated to analyzing them. His position can hardly be called overly optimistic. One of the biggest mistakes (aside from accepting faulty intelligence on WMD) was not sending enough troops to secure the peace from the outset.

Unlike his critics in progressive circles, Weigel is also not overly pessimistic. He articulates clearly that the U.S. has a moral obligation to make things right in Iraq and is hopeful that General Petraeus’ new strategy will do just that. There is no question in my mind that continued funding and more troops (as difficult as that is the hear) are needed to make that strategy work.

Weigel and the USCCB have certainly disagreed about the Iraq war in the past, but it seems they are in some agreement about a much more important question, “where do we go from here?” I applaud their consideration of that question with moral seriousness.

While Weigel and the Bishops are looking forward, it is shame the editors of Commonweal are stuck in the past.



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