Since the first Gulf War, it has been popular among many Christian (especially but not exclusively Catholic) conservatives to justify American military interventions via just-war theory — which conveniently always seems to come down on the side of war. These arguments have often been strained, tendentious, partisan, and sometimes downright silly. It’s therefore good to see the philosopher Robert Koons very ably and concisely showing how just-war theory precludes not only attacking Iran but also aiding and abetting an attack by Israel — even assuming the worst about Iran’s intentions and capabilities, which is by no means an uncontested assumption.

Koons’s conclusion:

Just war theory, therefore, clearly directs us to reject the claim that the Iranian nuclear program provides either America or Israel with moral grounds for an attack at this time on Iran’s facilities or scientists, since such an attack would be undeclared and premature, since it would have insufficient probability of success, and since neither America nor Israel can claim comparative justice in respect of the possession of nuclear weapons. A war must be justified in terms of acts of aggression that Iran has already committed or is about to commit, not in terms of what it might do in the future.

Do read the piece. This is obviously not a conclusion that Koons comes to easily.

Bravo to Koons for writing this article. Bravo to The Public Discourse for running it. Perhaps this is the beginning of mainstream Christian conservative intellectuals backing away from their heretofore close identification with American militarism.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Koons’ piece is horribly argued, full of factual holes and arbitrarily asserts as moral that which is not proven or has no source (for example, asserting that homosexuality is sin can at least have the citation of the Bible. Asserting that war is immoral unless there is “comparative justice” is simply arbitrary). There were so, SO many holes in this piece. Upon request I’d be happy to eviscerate his piece.

  2. Why don’t you try engaging in civil argument instead? If the piece is so “full of holes,” you should be able to refute it without being so obnoxious.

  3. “Perhaps this is the beginning of mainstream Christian conservative intellectuals backing away from their heretofore close identification with American militarism.”

    Perhaps that’s a herd of unicorns on the horizon who will soon be scampering over the land, squirting lollipops out their butts . . .

  4. Beyond ideological reveries, does any dispassionate observer actually trust this government to have actually thought through the ramifications of provoking war with Iran?

    Are we still captured by our own sense of magnificence while our domestic economy festers?

    The Iran invasion was to be paid for by their oil reserves. Ho Ho ho. A fourth tour soldier in Afghanistan goes berserk after a diagnosis of head trauma.

    Politicians continue to exploit our military as though it consists of perishable goods.

  5. The biggest problem with this analysis is that it assumes we are presentaly at peace with Iran. That’s cute, but wrong.

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