Most folks have at least heard of Thomas Aquinas and his conditions for a “just war.” John Noonan took it one step further, and examined the case for a strike against Iran through the Aquinas filter.
When I link to something I’d like people to read all the way through, I’d usually stop writing at the end of the last sentence. But I’d like to take a moment to highlight a part of John’s post, which might seem tangential. Here it is:
There are of course offshoots of the JWT. Marxists only believe that war is just if it is means to progressive ends, pacifism is the antithesis of just war (i.e. war is never just), and Islamic fundamentalists use an almost bizzarro version of the just-war theory in their fatwas. In fact, Islamic jihad is by definition a complete perversion of the jus ad bellum, e.g. killing innocents is authorized, no legitimate authority is necessary, war is fought with little chance of success, war is not used as a last resort, and war is used to establish fundamentalist dictatorships instead of peace.
While that graf might indeed be a mere tangent to John’s point, it’s almost the entire point of this global war we’re in. (And I wish I’d written it.)
NOTE: John was writing about an air campaign to smash Iran’s nuclear program – and I think he’s made an irrefutable case. However, I’d argue that while airstrikes certainly fit the Just War conditions, that doesn’t make them the smart thing to do.
Given a choice between doing nothing, launching air attacks, or going all the way through to regime change…
…well, I think air attacks might be our worst option.
You can probably guess which I think is our best choice.