InsideCatholic.com begins a four day, four part written debate on the question, “Does the War in Iraq Meet the Qualifications of a Just War?” Today Robert R. Reilly give the affirmative position and tomorrow Russell Shaw gives the negative position.
As my readers might know I am in know way certain that the Iraq war was justified under just war criteria. Though I am sympathetic to Reilly’s contention that it was a continuation of the first Gulf War due to repeated and constant violations of the treaty from the first war. It would seem to me that our reaction to the invasion of Kuwait to have easily be defendable under just war theory. I will be interested to see Russell Shaw column tomorrow since he is certainly a person whose opinion I respect. There are many people on both sides of this question that I do deeply respect.
I recently read Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action by the Pope’s biographer George Weigel which will go on sale on Dec 26 of this year. George Weigel is certainly in the camp of those who think the Iraq War is just, but this book is not about the defense of this. Just war theory is hardly brought up and the discussion on Iraq and is mainly focused on just how badly the administration messed up post-war planning, that is if they had any real planning to deal with the situation in the first place.
There is good reason that George Weigel throughout the book refers to the Pope’s Regensburg address that caused so much controversy, but for the wrong reasons. The Pope’s address is almost a blueprint for this book and Weigel’s contention that Jihadism is primarily caused by bad theology due to false idea that God is not even bound to reason. The Pope’s critique was also focused on the Western world where there has been a loss of faith in reason and the ability to know what is true resulting in a deep and blinding skepticism.
Reading this book really helped me to focus and think about the problems of global Jihadism and how best to respond to it. In the West the idea of Jihad terrorism is mainly seen as a problem due to root causes such as poverty and other environmental factors. It is easy to understand this worldview since it results from a worldview that already does not take theology seriously in the first place. They can’t see that other might take theology (no matter how badly distorted) seriously.
George Weigel lays out many factors in the Islamic culture that leads to Jihadism in the first part of the book called "Understanding the enemy." These factors are not going to be solved by reducing poverty in parts of the Middle East or by retreating back to our borders and having a foreign policy that just looks on at the rest of the world. I always found it rather silly to think that it was America helping out Muslims in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Somalia, etc as being a major rallying call against the United States. Israel is a bone of contention, but it is not just the U.S. that is supporting Israel. It is the view that Islam cannot fail and see history through this lens. The sections of Weigel’s book are divided as lessons and the title of one lesson is "Jihadists read history and politics through their prism of their distinctive theological convictions, not through the lens of western assumptions of the progressive dynamic of history." Islamists see the stagnation of their culture and look for who to blame for it. The number of patents coming from predominantly Islamic cultures is so small that it hardly registers compared to countries like the United States, and in Asia and Europe. Part of the Islamist’s critique of the Western world and its decadence is certainly true, but there response is even more evil than what they are suppose to be offended at. This produces the ironies such as the 9/11 hijackers visiting strip clubs before their attack on America for its decadence. Introspection just does not seem to be a part of much of the Islamic culture since it’s Golden Age and decision to shut down philosophers who were contradicting it.
The second main part of the book deals with "Rethinking Realism" and why this is so important to the war against Jihad. The problems we faced in Iraq after major combat was over shows just how bad the problem is when we don’t see the world as it is. In many ways this has always been a problem when we don’t seriously label things as to what they are. President Reagan was attacked in the media and around the world when he called the U.S.S.R an "Evil Empire." Here was an actual case of speaking "truth to power" and people didn’t like it because it identified a reality that just couldn’t be brushed under the rug. Again a Chapter title sums this up well "Genuine realism in foreign policy takes wickedness seriously, yet avoids premature closure in its thinking about possibilities of positive change in world politics."
The third and final sections entails "Deserving Victory" which addresses cultural self-confidence, the false idea of tolerance, changing our energy policy to help defund Jihadism, and that there is no escape from U.S. leadership. Whoever become our next president is going to have to deal with these problems, yet I don’t have much confidence that whoever it is much good will be done in these directions. A serious energy policy is quite unlikely in a partisan climate that has become so heated on this subject.
Weigel’s Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action is a serious overview of the problem of Jihadism and what can be done about it and I would seriously recommend it to anyone who wants to read on the topic.