Breaking with a recent trend toward the Vatican disapproving of U.S. military actions in the world, Pope Francis says it’s OK to ‘stop’ aggressors in Iraq, while being a bit vague about how he believes they should be stopped:
“In these cases, where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor,” Francis said aboard the papal plane. “I underscore the verb ‘stop.’ I’m not saying ‘bomb’ or ‘make war,’ just ‘stop.’ And the means that can be used to stop them must be evaluated.”
When he says, “bomb,” however, he seems to be questioning the one means we’ve been using to stop ISIS.
And he also requires that actions to “stop” bad guys be multilateral, and particularly mentions the U.N.
The problem with that, from this Catholic layman’s point of view, is that sometimes — such as when you have thousands of men, women and children being starved out on a mountain — you can’t really afford to wait the three or four eons that it might take the U.N. to reach consensus. Sometimes Just War has to be waged in a hurry if it’s to achieve just aims.
But in any case, I’m glad to see a pope acknowledging that there is such a thing as Just War, even if he’s adding new prerequisites atop St. Augustine’s.
I appreciate that the pontiff wants there to be a high bar. Of course, it’s hard to find a higher one than one that will induce Barack “Red Line” Obama to take military action that doesn’t involve drones….