Fr. James Schall on "When War Must Be The Answer"

It has been the fault of both pacifism and liberalism in the past that they have ignored the immense burden of inherited evil under which society and civilization labour and have planned an imaginary world for an impossible humanity. We must recognize that we are living in an imperfect world in which human and superhuman forces of evil are at work and so long as those forces affect the political behaviour of mankind there can be no hope of abiding peace.

Christopher Dawson, “The Catholic Attitude to War,” 1937
* * *

Last year George Weigel wrote a brief article on just war theory (“Force of law, law of force”, The Catholic Difference April 2003), in which he stated that:

The juxtaposition of “the force of law and the law of force,” a trope that got established in the Catholic conversation months before armed force was used to enforce disarmament in Iraq, will likely be a prominent feature of the post-war Catholic debate. . . .

The “force of law/law of force” juxtaposition neatly divides the world into two camps. Those who wish to settle conflicts through diplomacy, political compromise, and the mechanisms of international law live on one side of this Great Divide; those who believe in using armed force are on the other. Given that dichotomy, the moral choice seems clear: the first camp.

The problem, which involves both content and context, is that the world doesn’t work the way the trope suggests. . . . Is the relationship between international law and armed force a zero-sum game, such that every use of armed force necessarily entails a loss for the “force of law”?

Fr. James Schall revisits this topic in “When War Must Be The Answer” (Policy Review No. 128., December 2004), in which he delivers a broadside to “war is not the answer” protestors in a substantial reflection on the justifiable use of armed force, just war theory, and the war on terrorism.

My recommmendation would to be read Schall’s essay alongside just war scholar James Turner Johnson’ latest piece in First Things: “Just War: As It Was and Is” (No. 149, January 2005).

For the sake of a counter-argument, see this essay on just war theory by brother John Raymond of the The Community of The Monks of Adoration, recommended by Fr. Jim Tucker.

As an intellectual/academic exercise, compare Brother Raymond’s presentation of just war theory and his predisposition towards pacifism with the critiques of Father Schall and James Turner Johnson.

I was going to write an extended essay on this myself, but I find that between Schall and Johnson, there’s very little that I could contribute to the debate.*


* Besides, I had made the claim two posts earlier that “blogging may be light.” 😉

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