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Terrorism and Just War: A Woodstock RoundTable Discussion

August 21, 2006

just war 1Jesuit Father John Langan, left, Maryann Cusimano Love, and Franciscan Father Louis V. Iasiello participate in a round-table discussion on terrorism and just-war issues on Aug. 21, 2006 at Woodstock
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

On August 21, 2006, Woodstock fellow Tom Reese, S.J. hosted a roundtable discussion on terrorism and just war, convened by Jerry Filteau of Catholic News Service. Panelists were Father John Langan, SJ, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Professor of Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University and Woodstock board member ; Maryann Cusimano Love, associate professor of politics at The Catholic University of America; and Father Louis V. Iasiello, OFM, president of Washington Theological Union and recently retired chief of Navy chaplains.

Below is the complete transcript of the discussion, followed by the Catholic News Service reports of the event.


Transcript of the Discussion

This transcript is posted with permission from Catholic News Service. Words in parentheses are inserted by the reporter for clarification or, in a very few cases, a substitution by the reporter for a word or phrase he could not decipher from the recording.

Q. The war on terrorism: Is it a war or more a police action? To the extent that it might be considered a war, how does just war (thinking) apply?

rt justwar 1Maryann Cusimano Love, a professor of politics at The Catholic University of America and an expert on terrorism and ethics in international relations
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Maryann Cusimano Love: Most of what’s effective against terrorism is not in the basket of war, though war is a very politically effective title to use to mobilize resources and political parties. The military is not in favor of using the term “war,” and they’ve been unsuccessful in fighting to have it rebranded, renamed “actions against violent extremism.” And that is more realistic if you look at what’s happening. If you look at some of the big successes in the “war on terrorism” by the British government in forestalling the July 21st bombings last summer and in forestalling this last series of attacks, it was primarily intelligence, law enforcement, etc. Military presence in that was very limited to nonexistent. So I think war is a misnomer, but it’s very politically expedient -- and so much political branding has been invested in it, it’s hard to get away from the “war” title now.

But of course there is an element of it that’s war. What we’re doing in Iraq, whether or not it helps terrorism, is a war, as well as Afghanistan is certainly a part of trying to combat terrorism, and that is certainly war. So I’m not saying war is never a correct title, but it’s not the most effective means of combating terrorism itself.

Father John Langan: It’s a metaphor. And usually there’s something that grounds a metaphor that makes it thoughtful, attractive. Part of it, as Maryann was saying, is the political use to which this can be put. But it’s also an international phenomenon, it involves struggle across the boundaries of nation-states, which commonly has been referred to as war. And it’s also intended to justify a mobilization of society. Now the mobilization turns out to be very incomplete and not really captured by the way people think about wars normally. So it’s a very, very imperfect analytic instrument.

Father Louis V. Iasiello: In the military we don’t like to use the word “war” (for the struggle with terrorists). We talked, even in the ’80s and ’90s, about “low-intensity conflict.” We always tried to phrase it in a different way because to us “war” is just too encompassing a dynamic. And there’s so much involved with politics, with economics, with cultural and religious factors and so on, that the term “war” seems to lose a lot of what could be discussed in other venues.

Q: Nevertheless, in Afghanistan and Iraq you have troops on the ground engaged in combat. In war with terrorists or guerillas or insurgents who come out from hiding in civil society, are there different rules of engagement? What kind of tactics are better suited for this, and do different moral issues come into play, for example, proportionality, in how such a war is waged justly?

rt justwar 2Jesuit Father John Langan, a professor of Catholic social thought at Georgetown University who has written and lectured extensively on just war (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Langan: Well, a lot of these situations, I think, involve the combatants on the other side putting themselves in a context where they’re intermingled with civilians and they’re not readily distinguishable from civilians. And that means that civilian lives are very much at risk in this situation and the principle of noncombatant immunity needs to be reinforced. At the same time, the putting of civilian lives at risk is something that’s really done by the guerrillas or insurgents, for which they bear considerable moral responsibility. However, in practice it’s the only way that they have of fighting a war. You know, no one’s going to rival the United States, or even probably a lesser Western power, in terms of sheer firepower. But this is not something that is going to be settled by firepower.

The other very important point, I think, is that you have to persuade the civilian population that it is not worthwhile to support an insurgency -- you have to dry up the support. And that’s very difficult, and it requires persuasion: Simply bringing in more firepower and more force doesn’t solve that either. And it’ll sound paradoxical, but one of the things that one has to resist is the over-militarization of this kind of warfare. It is very intertwined with the political perceptions and choices of the people.

Iasiello: I think John hit it on the head. And with insurgency force is never enough, and sometimes it’s counterproductive. When you deal with insurgency you need to deal with the root causes. Even Gen. (James) Jones this weekend in one of his interviews, the supreme Allied commander over NATO, said “You have to win the hearts and minds of the people.” That’s the key to what success is in fighting an insurgency, to convince the people that you’re on their side and that you’re with them in their struggles -- and then to look at the root cause of insurgency: What’s leading people to pick up arms and to put their lives on the line, what are the reasons for it? Which goes back to Pope Paul VI’s observation that peace is more than just the absence of war.

Cusimano Love: I think these themes were picked up by the 9-11 commission report, and in memos by Secretary (of Defense Donald H.) Rumsfeld, that these are the most effective tools. And it’s interesting, I think what John said is very true, that this type of asymmetrical, low-intensity combat is the only means available, the stronger the U.S. military becomes. And that’s very counterintuitive, that the stronger the U.S. and other militaries are, the less likely those tools will be to be effective in the type of combat they’ll face. And it’s not just al-Qaida or insurgents in Iraq. I mean this is the foreign policy of Russia and China right now, that should they ever find themselves on the wrong side of deteriorating relations with the United States, they would choose asymmetrical forms of combat and look at critical infrastructures as targets rather than traditional state-to-state combat.

It’s really a return to history. States are the newcomer in international relations, and state-to-state combat, sovereign-to-sovereign combat, is a relatively new phenomenon. So we find ourselves, I think, very well-positioned, as a Catholic Church with our Christian and ethical traditions about the use of war, to meet this because these are the questions Augustine and Aquinas faced. You know, how to deal with these types of actors who are not necessarily representative of right authority and public authority.

Langan: It’s worth remembering that they wrote and outlined the basic (just war) positions and theory well before the emergence of the modern state system.

Cusimano Love: I think, as John said, it only makes the importance of noncombatant immunity more important rather than less in fighting these conflicts. It seems unfair, because the other side is not in any way trying to protect noncombatant immunity. But that only puts the impetus even greater on our response, because they are trying to provoke us into an overreaction, a military overreaction that’s politically useful to the other side.

Iasiello: And that’s a question that’s key to the minds of most military personnel, especially the officers: How do you fight an enemy that either ignores or exploits the rules of war for tactical, operational or strategic gain. When I was asked twice last year to go and to lecture at the war colleges, I made the mistake of saying, “What would you like me to talk on?” And they came back and said, “We’d like you to talk about what do you do with an enemy that ignores the rules of war. What should our response be?” So it’s a key question for our military personnel, and it’s a question they have a right to ask. They’re the ones who have their lives on the line, and they’re trying to uphold this great tradition as American warriors, which is an ethical tradition, in the face of this new threat -- this asymmetrical threat that they’re trying to come to grips with and understand in their own lives. It’s a tough question.

Q: And what is your answer? Do we go to the same level they go to?

rt justwar 3Franciscan Father Louis V. Iasiello, the new president of Washington Theological Union and a rear admiral who recently retired as chief of Navy chaplains
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Iasiello: Well, the answer may be found not in asking “What should I do?” but “Who am I?” For in asking the question “Who am I?” we come to the realization that we have a great responsibility as people in uniform to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before us. And if we’re here to represent the constitutional values that we’re willing to fight and die for, then we’d better be ready to put those same principles on the line in the field of battle. So I said if you ask yourself “Who are you?” you’ll come to the realization of what you should do.

Cusimano Love: If it is primarily a battle for hearts and minds, we can’t use tactics that disengage those hearts and minds. If our primary beef against terrorists is that they are taking noncombatant lives, we can’t use tactics that are insensitive to noncombatant lives. It’s unfortunate, in a sense, that it puts us into the position of having to be on the higher moral ground. But that higher moral ground is the space that’s the best tactical, political, as well as ethical space to be on. And what often appears to be the easy argument, that we need to respond in kind, is not good politics, is not good morality -- it doesn’t work.

Langan: Every civilian corpse is really a gift to the enemy, turning families and villages against the American presence.

Cusimano Love: Look at the Israeli experience with Hezbollah in Lebanon, look at the British experience with the IRA -- their (Jan. 30, 1972) Bloody Sunday “created” the IRA. So those types of overreaction can be incredibly self-defeating.

Q: Can you comment on military incursions into sovereign states, such as the use of missiles to destroy a pharmaceutical factory that was believed to be producing material for chemical weapons in Khartoum (Sudan) in 1998, or the missile attack in Pakistan about six months ago that killed several al-Qaida leaders, as part of the war against terrorists?

rt justwar 5Franciscan Father Louis V. Iasiello, president of Washington Theological Union and a rear admiral who recently retired as chief of Navy chaplains, with Maryann Cusimano Love, left
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cusimano Love: What’s different about modern terrorists is that they are not geographically based. It’s easier to fight the old-style terrorists -- the Basques, the IRA, who were fighting over a piece of land. This group is not fighting over a piece of land, and they’re fighting across geographical borders, which makes it really difficult, because we’ve got one tool in the toolbox that’s very well suited for fighting over land and we’ve got an enemy that doesn’t play that way. In some ways it fits the old-style war concept, because al-Qaida declared war against the United States in 1996 and in fact was engaged in military actions against the United States since the first 1993 bombings of the World Trade Center. So you can see these as actions in that long-standing war and as just a kind of traditional trade-off action of how much civilian casualties there will be and does that affect the importance of the strategic military target. So in some ways it’s the old calculus. But it’s not (the same thing ) because it’s spread out all over the world. So that presents the importance of multilateral engagement with allies, the importance of intelligence and the importance of all those other tools which are not war, so that when you occasionally do have to use the mechanism of war -- to disband the Afghan (terrorist training) camps, for example -- you have the best information possible to know whether that will actually be an effective strike.

Iasiello: I think one of the most important texts ever written on insurgency and battling insurgency and winning the hearts and minds of people was called the “Small Wars Manual,” put out by the Marine Corps (in 1940) (reflecting) their experiences of many minor scuffles when they were once called the “State Department police,” when you look at some of the incursions into Central and South America and so on. The Marines’ wisdom of their collective experiences in dealing with insurgencies is found in the “Small Wars Manual” and it’s unfortunate that it’s one of the most ignored texts around.

Q: Father Langan, earlier you said an increased force level is not the answer, yet one of the criticisms of the U.S. is that after the invasion of Iraq they did not have enough troops there to prevent the insurgency. Can you comment?

Langan: Well, I think you’re talking about the period of the beginning of the occupation of Iraq, when the question is, how large should the U.S. force have been? And the answer in general terms has to be, large enough to establish some control of the country and to set up an adequate, stable security regime. It was not large enough to do that. Nobody at that stage would have thought it was appropriate to apply maximum force. We didn’t want to be shooting at anybody other than a few diehard adherents to Saddam Hussein who wouldn’t surrender. So even there, even if you had a large body of troops, you would want them to use force in a very restrained manner. Some of this is just the ambiguity in the word “force,” which just gets used all over the lot.

Cusimano Love: I think also that it certainly wasn’t the only error in the beginning of the occupation. I think it was multiplied by several other preventable mistakes, such as the deactivation process, basically shutting down the existing security structures there, throwing out low-level Baathist Party members (along) with war criminals, and doing other things that really emasculated Iraqi society’s ability to respond themselves, not engaging with civil society. I mean there’s a whole host of very predicted and avoidable policy mistakes that went along with that.

Langan: We undertook to transform a society that we didn’t understand very well. And this would be something like going back to performing surgery before the days of x-rays -- I want to just cut it up and see what’s inside there. And nobody today would regard that as acceptable. If you go back to the period before the invasion, people were drawing on arguments from analogies with Germany and Japan in 1945, which were very shaky parallels, and the way that events developed proved that they were. What was common ground was that they weren’t based on a lot of study of Iraqi society and how it might develop.

Iasiello: Let me say that some of our military thinkers were in line with what Father Langan was just saying, that they had more of an appreciation for the complexity of the issue in a post-bellum scenario, and I think that’s one of the most important lessons learned. I think one of our responsibilities whenever we use force is to try to learn the reasons why we had to resort to force, but then to learn what was done right and what was done wrong. And I think one of the things that we will need to look at in the future is why was there such a lack of emphasis on the post-bellum phase of this particular war. That’ll be an important lesson learned for all of us.

Q: Afghanistan is far less discussed (than Iraq). Is that because we more or less got it right there? What is your moral assessment of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan?

Cusimano Love: I think Father Iasiello’s point about needing to pay more attention to postwar scenarios and “ius post bellum” (fulfilling postwar obligations) applies exactly to Afghanistan because Afghanistan is falling apart. We’re seeing increased violence this summer, the worst since the initial war. So we haven’t gotten it right there. And the only thing that keeps that out of the headlines is greater casualties elsewhere.

Langan: I would think you could make a very serious argument that we should have invested much more heavily in Afghanistan and not touched Iraq at all. In my own reading and thinking, the war on Iraq was simply not an integral part of any war on terrorism. It was another project that this administration was anxious to carry out, but the lack of a clear connection between al-Qaida and the 9-11 events and Saddam Hussein’s regime is now common ground for everybody. This was a lunge in another direction.

But again, if one looks at the history of Afghanistan, Afghanistan has resisted foreign takeover. The British tried it in the 19th century. The Russians tried it, within the memory of living men and women, and got very bloody in the process, and we were instrumental in supporting that (resistance to Russia). And we should have known that simply capturing Kabul and establishing a government doesn’t mean the game is won.

Q: Does Afghanistan really qualify as a nation in the modern sense, or has it always really been tribal governments?

Cusimano Love: Really the problem with sovereignty is that it’s a catch-all term that is being used around the world in many areas where it doesn’t exist. So by some estimates you have a third of the people in the world now living in failed or failing states. And that just means that the category we have from Westphalia (the 1648 treaty establishing the principles of the sovereign nation-state and political self-determination) doesn’t fit what actually exists. Whether you look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, there are lots of areas of the world that are not well-governed, there’s geographic space that doesn’t fit with the governing capacity of the leadership. And that’s the condition of most of the world today, so I don’t think Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other places are exceptions to that. They’re in a long line.

Langan: Some might add South Bronx to that. (laughter)

Cusimano Love: Fair enough, or Washington, D.C., if our murder rate continues. (more laughter)

Iasiello: Now you’re hitting home. You’ve gotta be careful about that.

But you know, even politically speaking, we talked earlier about winning the hearts and minds. Giving someone a constitution, giving someone a political structure, if they have not bought it as their own, if they are not convinced in the bottom of their hearts that not only is this best for my country, but more importantly for my tribe or for my family or for myself, then it’s (not right) for them. And whether we’ve won the battle for hearts and minds in places we’ve been is yet to be seen. It’s going to be probably decades before we know for sure if it’s taken root or not.

Q: Father Langan, any comment on that?

Langan: We seem to be on the same page.

Q. In the 1990s there was an evolution in just-war theory where people started talking humanitarian intervention -- military intervention for humanitarian purposes, to save people from genocide -- and that was kind of a new category of “ius ad bellum” (just grounds for going to war). What about the pre-emptive or preventative invasion of Iraq? We all know the U.S. bishops and many other religious leaders warned war was not yet a last resort and they wanted more United Nations consensus before anything happened. Would each of you give me a quick thumbnail comment, was Iraq right or wrong?

Langan: You’ve put a whole menu of questions there.

Q. Well, the bottom line, had we reached a point of last resort, was there sufficient cause?

Langan: There was not a just cause. There was not a matter of defending ourselves or our allies against attack. This is where 2003 is significantly different from (the Gulf War of) 1990-91, when Saddam had invaded Kuwait, really attempted to eliminate a sovereign state. In the earlier case we were quite justified, but not in 2003. There was no imminent threat of serious harm that would justify a pre-emptive attack. Preventive war is simply unacceptable and would lead to the multiplication of wars whenever relations become sharply negative between states. One thing that’s very clear both in regard to pre-emption and prevention is that you have to have excellent intelligence, carefully used. We didn’t come close. So that whole side of it was radically inadequate.

The bottom line is that a lot of people in our government and other governments sincerely believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. What was much harder to establish was whether he ever would have been able to use them, because as soon as he used them he would have been toast. There’s no doubt that the response would have been massive and overwhelming. But we did not want to be deterred by what we thought were his capabilities.

But the fact is, the belief that he had weapons of mass destruction was a false belief, and the evidence that showed that it was a false belief was disregarded and the serious analytic arguments on the other side were not seriously looked at.

So this, I think, was an unjustified war.

Cusimano Love: I would agree, but I think I would take that a step further. When the general arguments are made in favor of preventive war because of weapons of mass destruction it’s based on the same intelligence that John has just outlined. And they make a number of really gross miscalculations behind the argument. The argument is that in order to prevent certain states or terrorist groups from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, the most effective means to prevent that is war, the only means to prevent that is war, that we don’t have time to try to use other means first, that other means are ineffective. So it makes a whole host of assumptions that are simply factually incorrect, besides being quite morally problematic as well. Preventive war doesn’t work, besides being quite morally problematic, and again what often appears to be an easy answer is not necessarily the best one.

Iasiello: You posed the question in talking about the concept of last resort, and (Rutgers University religion professor) James Turner Johnson and other theorists have a real difficulty with that, as placing too much emphasis on that sometimes. But I do believe that terrorism really does present challenges for theorists of just war, and I truly see the genius in what (moral theorist Father J.) Bryan Hehir said in the early ’90s when he said we need to move from a presumption against the use of force to a presumption for justice. Now that of course opens up doors that we probably don’t want to go through at this point, including the possibility of pre-emption in certain situations. I too feel that there are certain, there are some real difficulties with the concept of pre-emption, and I get very nervous when people throw that term around.

But I feel that terrorism has really presented just-war theorists with a new world where everything needs to be on the table, where everything needs to be discussed. And I think in doing that, instead of coming with some preconceived notions from the nation-state era or from the nuclear-age era, where we just dismissed just-war theory as an impossibility in an age of weapons of mass destruction, I think we really need to throw everything on the table and look at what the future holds for us for just-war theory. I think it’s going to be very uncomfortable for theorists for the next few years.

Q: Could you expand on that, where the nuances are, where it’s evolving?

Iasiello: Well, I think just terrorism itself. We call it “the struggle against global extremism” in the military. As Dr. Cusimano Love said, we don’t like to use the term “war.” But struggle, conflict -- in an era where politics, religion and so many other things are highlighted so much in what we do, in our relationships -- for us poses some interesting dilemmas in just-war theory that, I think, for the first time we’re really looking square in the eye. And we probably don’t have all the answers here today to some of your questions because of the fact that we’re still in an exploratory stage in a lot of areas. I could be reading too much into it. That’s what I read as an amateur looking into the theory part of just war.

Langan: I think in what we’re talking about, struggling against terrorism, the assumption should be that a successful response or attack is something in which we strike a terrorist cell, a small group, roll them up as the British did, not that we attack another country. Now sometimes states will sponsor terrorism, but there are ways of bringing pressure to bear on these states. Usually the states that are doing this don’t want to become publicly identified in this way. They don’t want to take responsibility for what’s being done. So there are very real possibilities for influencing and dissuading and deterring states from supporting terrorism. We should be fairly hard-nosed about that.

But often there’s a very strong tendency to construct extreme-case scenarios -- some group of suicide bombers, for example, with a nuclear weapon. Well, that hasn’t happened so far. We can’t say it will never happen, but it’s not the standard pattern. And there are reasons why certain standard patterns exist. You can tell al-Qaida, for instance, has a strong attraction to elaborate, highly theatrical scenarios, which in this case (the British arrests) seems to have contributed to their unraveling, in that they wanted the spectacular effect of blowing up a large number of planes in a short period of time. We know that they can succeed in some of this, but as we can learn patterns, we can anticipate not terror in general but attacks by particular groups.

One of the really distressing tendencies to me is the inflation of issues: We’re not fighting al-Qaida, we’re fighting “evil.” Well nobody, no matter what his or her political orientation or party is going to eliminate evil from the world.

Cusimano Love: I think John points on a number of useful things to remember. One is that state sponsorship of terrorism is really the old way, the old game. That was during the Cold War -- you saw a lot of that in the ’50s and ’60s, and that’s not the state of the art today. I mean there still are -- with the case of Palestinian nationalists -- there still are state sponsors of terrorism, they are simply the way to outsource violence throughout the area as the way to earn your credentials as Arab nationalists. But most of what we are observing today is not state-sponsored terrorism but a decentralized network, and so it’s informative to remember what was our response to the 9-11 attack was to attack two states -- that’s the tool we have in the toolbox, it’s not necessarily well suited to the type of terror we’ve seen.

Going back to Father Iasiello’s point, though, I think one of the growing edges of just-war tradition -- as we meet these types of low-intensity conflicts and asymmetrical conflicts we expect to see throughout the future, I think a lot of just-war tradition is very well suited towards it because of the emphasis on just cause, on right authority and on the whole “ius ad bellum” criteria that are more important, not less, when we’re facing these types of adversaries, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t growing edges -- and I think the growing edges are:

  • Definitely the post-bellum.
  • Also there’s going to be a lot more discussion about combatant-noncombatant proportionality issues. And that continues to be an issue whether it’s the growth of technology in traditional warfare or whether it’s the type of combatants you’re facing in asymmetrical warfare. That continues to be operationally very difficult for the military forces to get that right.
  • But also I think right authority -- and I see this as being really more where the humanitarian intervention debate was -- the types of foes we’re facing are not public authorities and the types of coalitions we have to combat them are not necessarily states. So when you have intergovernmental organizations, whether it’s NATO, the U.N., etc., being authorized to use force, whether it’s humanitarian intervention or not, you’re talking about really going back to the roots of just-war tradition and looking, What does right authority mean? It doesn’t mean sovereign states, and that, I think, is where I would differ with the way you framed the question about in the ’90s we had this debate about humanitarian intervention, is this an extension of that? That was really a debate about what happens when a sovereign state is the predator and is doing the violence against the people. Then are you out of recourse because the authority charged with protecting those people is the one doing damage to them? And the answer was to reach back in the toolbox and say, look: Right authority didn’t mean sovereign states; there are other right authorities that may be out there, that might be available to protect people. And I think that still comes forward in the arguments about terrorism today because some of the most effective means of defending against terrorism are not going to be -- no one state can do this alone; you have to look at other legal entities, public entities that can try to combat terror.

Q: What specifically do you see as the role of the United Nations in the war on terrorism?

Cusimano Love: I think it can help codify international law, but they’re not an operational force.

Langan: They don’t have the nimbleness of response. That’s quite clear. The day-to-day coordination of activities has to be carried on by the more powerful states. One of the big questions is, as Maryann was saying, that this requires high levels of international cooperation -- and if, at crucial moments, the United States insists on a “My way or the highway” approach -- we’ll do it alone -- this really compromises the long-term objectives. And some leaders seem unable to recognize that we’re really going to pay a cost down the road in order to get this quick response. I think with skillful diplomacy -- which is something to be devoutly wished for -- we can normally get a high level of consensus in the United Nations on terrorism. Very few states have -- they may sympathy for the cause for which terrorists are acting, but they’re not going to stand up and support terrorism as such.

Q: In Afghanistan and Iraq the initial war, in some sense, has been won. What is what many people are talking about as the “ius post bellum” (victor’s or occupier’s obligations after the war)? What are the conditions for what the U.S. bishops called a “responsible transition” (from U.S. occupation to full self-rule) in Iraq and Afghanistan? What kind of things should the U.S. see in place and help put in place before withdrawing?

Langan: Well, with regard to Iraq you have what I would call “bellum post bellum” (a postwar war). Think of Iraq as evolving through really three wars: the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein in 2003, and that was won quickly and decisively and he was captured and that was effectively the end of that; then you have the occupation, which was very badly handled and which generated an insurgency which is still going on in some respects; but the insurgency has been replaced by a new dynamic of the war between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites, with the Kurds pursuing their own track in relative security and calm.

So the movement toward a peace, the outlines of which I thought of as consisting in conducting an election and the establishment of an Iraqi government, has been overtaken by these second and third wars. And whether we can ever win a counter-insurgency war in Iraq is very questionable. And whether we should attempt to settle the issue between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites is also very questionable.

Now on the other hand is the Pottery Barn (You break it, you’ve bought it) principle. Granted that Iraqi sovereignty as previously understood has collapsed, this does not mean that the United States becomes sovereign over Iraq in perpetuity. We would need, I think, to work toward some kind of peace conference, where the major players are brought to agree, and the major players will almost certainly include some folks that we do not care for -- particularly the Iranians and their supporters, clients -- but we would try to make a peace that really is more of a coalition for continuing war, and so of course it doesn’t bring peace.

Cusimano Love: I think one of the chief components of responsible transition has to be what is better for Iraqis, not necessarily what is better for the U.S. or the U.S. political debate. And that’s been, it’s a difficult question: Is Iraq better off or worse off with the U.S. presence? Are we making it worse by being there, being in charge of it, and being affiliated with the government, which delegimitizes them? Or is it worth it because there’s not a functioning structure that can take on the security functions? If you ask Iraqis, as the Pew opinion polls have and the University of Maryland has, they will say they oppose the U.S. occupation, they are against insurgent attacks against Iraqi force authorities but not against occupying forces, but they don’t want us to go right away. Only 30 percent said we should leave immediately, 30 percent said they can’t conceive of it within the next two years, and the final one third said only when the security situation allows. And the Iraqi president says for the U.S. to leave now would be chaos and would be civil war. So we have a responsibility to work with the Iraqis and help them out with what they think is best. And we also have to meet the conventional responsibilities of an occupying force: We can’t just pull out, however that might be politically expedient. There are moral, legal as well as political responsibilities.

Q: Father Iasiello, can you comment on what sort of structures we need to see in place before pulling out?

Iasiello: I think the primary responsibility of someone who goes in and wages war is to provide stability and security for the people in the post-bellum period. That’s a given. It’s in international law. It’s recognized by the nation-states of the world as the responsibility of such an action. So, stability, security, and then to attain some sort of a level of quality of life that affords people hope for the future. And I think that one of the things that people need to do is to keep going back and saying, have we attained what we set out to do? This is what I think it means when we talk about creating a just and lasting peace. Have we afforded the people more security, stability in their lives, infrastructures which can guarantee them those quality-of-life issues that are important to all of us? And if the answer is no, then we have to say to ourselves, maybe we’re doing this wrong. Maybe there’s another way of doing this we haven’t thought of, formulated; maybe there’s an outside force that can help us to formulate a better answer to this question. So those are the types of questions that we should always be asking in this sort of post-bellum scenario.

Cusimano Love: I think it’s a mistake, though, to use Iraq as a poster child for all (discussion of post-bellum responsibilities).

Iasiello: Oh, yeah.

Langan: Absolutely.

Cusimano Love: It’s the worst-case scenario. It shouldn’t drive the engine. It is obviously an immediate and threatening case, but it’s not a generalizable case.

Q: Could you generalize, then? After World War II we instituted the Marshall Plan. We helped Japan and Western Europe rebuild. We helped allies and turned former enemies into allies. Do you see that as a kind of model, or would you put up another model?

Cusimano Love: Peace-building is a growth industry right now. The United Nations recognizes that they are better at stopping wars than they are at building a sustainable peace. The World Bank recognizes this, you know, the conflict trap: There are a small number of states that keep falling back into conflict, and you see perennial conflict in places. The problem is not getting a signature on paper, the problem is how do you get a just and lasting peace, and that’s obviously the case for safety in Afghanistan and Iraq. So we have the U.S. State Department, and the Department of Defense also, forming units on stabilization in conflict and post-conflict reconstruction. And I think the question that you’re asking there is what’s the emphasis on security and stability institutions and what’s the emphasis on the rest of the institutions. The World Bank is obviously emphasizing the economic institutions, how to break the conflict trap in order to have sustainable development, how to devise conflict sensitive development plans. The Departments of State and Defense are very concerned with stabilization, with creating some semblance of law and order sufficient to pull US forces out. Missing from these approaches to jus post bellum and peacebuilding are concepts of just peace.

None of those really look like justice. And I think that’s where the church has a real role to play. We’re involved in these conflict areas around the world. We can bring in concepts of justice and ethical concepts that maybe are being given short shrift by these other well-meaning institutions that are maybe looking at only one aspect of the “ius post bellum.” Obviously, you get what you pay for, and what are we paying for now, politically and internationally? We finance a tool of war, we don’t a tool of the peace, so even in a post-conflict reconstruction, we’re making sure that the security institutions are in place -- which is incredibly important but it’s not the only game. And sometimes in many developing countries, investments into the military and security institutions are at the expense of civilian institutions. So we need to be better at building civil society and at building these other tools and investing in other tools so we don’t always come to the question of use of force because we simply have nothing else in the toolbox to use.

Langan: I’m a little worried, when you talk about post-World War IIasiello: The Marshall Plan wasn’t 1945, it was a couple of years later in response to a rather chaotic situation developing in Eastern Europe and the fears that the spread of communism would enter into Western Europe. So, I’m not a historian, but the Marshall Plan, it seems to me, was a response to a post-bellum situation which was unexpected. So to look upon what happened after World War II as a model for war-termination vision, I think, would be a mistake.

Cusimano Love: It was reactive rather than proactive.

Langan: Right. It was very much reactive, and especially when you mention Marshall Plan. It was a reactive policy -- it was a wonderful policy, it worked -- but it was a reactive policy to an unexpected set of consequences that were not envisioned at the time of the Yalta Conference and other war-termination conferences that they had. I think the difference between the post-’45 period and now is of great and fundamental importance. Western Europe was very afraid, they watched what was happening in Eastern Europe and they were willing to collaborate with each other and they were willing to use resources we provided.

The dynamic in the Middle East is, I think, significantly different. For a lot of these groups, their fears are really connected with us and with the cultural world that we represent. And they are in many cases desperately anxious to try to create an alternative reality of their own. Now we fear about the extremists much the way many of us felt about communists, and the pattern is of deep hostility and suspicion. So we, I think, suffer from a kind of schizophrenic attitude toward the Middle East. We see it as both a land needing democratization -- as the line went, the Middle East should be more like the Middle West -- and at the same time as the source of things that are tremendously hostile and destructive. The people don’t speak languages that we’re familiar with, they use an extravagant style of political rhetoric which expresses a lot of their own hostility and frustration. Again, to go back to a medical analogy, we’re doing surgery on a patient who has not signed a consent form, and without anesthesia. This is a messy business.

Cusimano Love: I think I would agree with what was said about the post-World War II analogy not playing out. Germany and Japan were functioning states with law and order before the war, so the process of restoration was a lot easier, in political units that made sense, than in much of the world conflict areas today, where sovereignty is more theory than practice and we have failing states that are much more difficult to deal with.

Q: You said the Marshall Plan was reactive. But isn’t that also the case in Iraq today, that any plan will have to be reactive?

Iasiello: Post-bellum’s a tricky business. War termination is a tricky business. There are no constants -- I shouldn’t say “no,” there are few constants you can rely on in a post-bellum phase, and therefore it’s going to be tenuous at least as you enter into these things. There’s no calculus for what to expect or how to handle it. You have some idea -- certainly people like Gen. (Anthony C.) Zinni years ago at CentCom (U.S. Central Command) thought about war termination in his war plans, and I’m sure Gen. (Tommy) Franks (Gen. Zinni’s successor at CentCom) did, and I’m sure that (current CentCom commander) Gen. (John P.) Abizaid is still struggling today with that same vision. But the point is that the variables change so often in a post-bellum scenario that it’s a very difficult business to be in. Therefore, we should think twice before we get into those types of situations.

Q: I’m interested in some of the long-term responsibilities. What about the restoration of infrastructure, the degradation of the environment that has occurred, such as the use of large numbers of depleted-uranium warheads in the first Gulf War that has apparently led to dramatic increases in birth defects and stillbirths? What kind of responsibilities do we have for the environment, rebuilding infrastructures such as bridges and power plants?

Cusimano Love: I think we have a responsibility to do so, but we can’t do it in this kind of environment, because the war is still going on.

Q: I’m talking long-range, assuming this is an issue we’re going to be facing years from now.

Cusimano Love: The prospects of conflict are also long-range. The budget that’s been allocated (for reconstruction) doesn’t meet the needs because of the inflation that security (needs) caused. So the idea that with $18 billion we can reconstruct infrastructure in Iraq hasn’t gone one-third of the way that we thought it would. And that money ends in 2006. There’s not a lot of political will to extend that money, and there’s a lot of evidence that that money was not enough to begin with. So you’re talking about a long-range investment that our political system doesn’t seem to be willing to make right now, and that’s another difference between the Marshall Plan and now. I think the responsibility is there, but whether there’s the political ability to meet that responsibility --

Iasiello: And nature is a part of that infrastructure that’s critical to a nation. You know, I wrote an article on post-bellum and I put responsibility for ecological damage and so on, and today’s battleground is tomorrow’s playground. I got criticized, sort of tongue-in-cheek: You only put that in because you’re a Franciscan and you want to keep your union card. (laughter) I said to my cynical brothers: No, we’re human, and I did that to keep my human card, that mother earth is important to all of us. It’s especially important to soldiers and sailors and Marines and those who are there. And I know that for me, one of the bright spots in this whole thing is the quality of the individual that I see on the field of battle there, and people who take their responsibilities very, very seriously, to try to insure that proportionality is met by not destroying things that can be used in the rebuilding of a society, or to make friends once the shooting stops. I see our people as not only very much aware of that, but very conscious of their responsibilities in those ethical areas. To me that was very uplifting as a visiting chaplain, to go and visit people who had that sensitivity even in the field of battle.

Langan: Maryann was making a point that I would want to second: You can lay down various moral obligations about what we should contribute to the future of Iraq, but if this is not politically sustainable. And you can say, well that’s another indictment of the people of the United States, but I’m not sure I would want to leave it there, because there has to be a fit between, in effect, the political culture of the society and the policies that are put before it. And frankly, the American people were not given a realistic and honest and accurate account of what we were up to, and as a result there is not much patience or much trust that can be drawn on. If you’re going to talk about dealing with a long-term strategy, you really have to find a way to go back to something like bipartisanship in foreign policy -- and a bipartisanship that’s based on shared objectives, not on fear of being pilloried at the next election, for which I think the rather feeble bipartisanship of the last couple of years has been a driving factor.

Cusimano Love: And interestingly, over the last few decades it’s been the military pushing to make sure in things like this -- the (Gen. Colin) Powell doctrine, the (Defense Secretary Caspar) Weinberger doctrine, etc. -- that we have full civilian, congressional, public opinion behind it and full information before the war because the cost of the war may overrun actual estimates. There’s so much wisdom in that approach, and that’s not the approach we had here. We didn’t have full information of what the costs of this invasion and occupation would be, and therefore there wasn’t the wellspring of civil and public support that you can then draw on afterwards. And that’s again a contrast with World War II.

Father Tom Reese: Is this the first war a nation has waged during which it had a tax cut?

Langan: This is an old concern. (laughter)

Reese: I mean I’ve never heard of a nation going to war and cutting taxes at the same time.

Cusimano Love: Well, certainly not the effective wars. But I’d be hard-pressed to answer that because it depends on how you define a war, and if you have over 300 U.S. military interventions, you know there’s a lot of tax cuts there, too. But in terms of major military operations, certainly not.

Langan: You could argue that the fact that there’s no tax increase shows that it’s not a major operation. And if you press the (Defense Secretary Donald H.) Rumsfeld design, kind of in-and-out, easy in, easy out, this was not intended to be a major operation.

Iasiello: There’s another lesson learned in this that I think is very important, and that’s the fact that if you go back to the Weinberger and Powell doctrines, they warned us against long-term engagements, that the American people’s support begins to wane after a while, and I think there’s some real wisdom in the Weinberger-Powell doctrines, interestingly, one by a former secretary of defense, the other by a former military man, that long-term engagements are really something that we as Americans have difficulty with. It’s something we seem to have lost sight of.

Q: Something we really haven’t touched on yet: What is the role of religions, of religious leaders, interreligious relations in trying to confront terrorism and improve relations among those of different religions who are not terrorists?

Langan: Well, I think that there’s one clearly recognized role that the Protestant and Catholic churches would have in the church community, and that would be to teach the intrinsic wrongness of terrorism and the immorality of using terrorist techniques and tactics. And that then often leads to another step, which is to demand that Muslim leadership do the same thing, and in fact that would in the long run be a very desirable conclusion for the Muslim community to reach. But the way it’s worked in practice, it’s become a kind of prior stipulation, and I think in that case is unwise, because in effect it asks the Muslims to begin their religious contribution to things by a kind of internal break within the Muslim community, saying the first thing we want you to do is to bring this highly critical message to your co-religionists, to get them to shape up, whereas I think we need to go back to, as Father Iasiello was saying, get back to the common human and to say all of our peoples have been perpetrators and victims of injustice in different times and different ways. And we need to agree on certain ground rules for how we go forward -- among which the rejection of terrorism has to be very important. But it’s a difference of style. We want to get a way of showing forth and modeling forms of collaboration, respect, a clear priority for peace, that will speak to people in ways that the kind of technicalities introduced by lawyers and diplomats doesn’t ordinarily speak to people, and will show confidence in a multicultural, multi-civilizational world of people. You know, the problems are hard enough without our trying to kill each other. And I think that’s where religion will make its long-range contribution to working this out.

Cusimano Love: I think we’re schizophrenic in our approach to religion and politics. Throughout the Cold War and obviously for centuries before that, the argument was, religion and morality have no role in international politics. It’s truly power politics; religion is window-dressing people put on for purely political, power-politics motives. And then post-9-11 you have this reawakening and concern over religion and all these conflicts are caused by religion and in all international conflicts you have the conflict of civilizations with religion being one of the chief bad guys holding the bag. And I think the truth is obviously in the middle there. Religion is an important motivator. It is an important mobilizer of symbols, of language, of values, in ways that secular institutions find difficult to do. And that can be used for good or for evil.

And you know, politics in the Middle East: Is the Israeli-Palestinian war a religious war? Well, that’s one dimension, but it’s also a war over land and water, you know. So those things coexist, and understanding that those things co-exist helps you to look at the different layers and also helps you understand what religious leaders can and can’t do. Religious leaders can’t necessarily solve all of the political problems that these groups face, but they certainly can take responsibility for and realize the impact that their words, messages, symbols can have to add fuel to the fire or not. I think within all major religious traditions there are wonderful symbols, values, language, texts that can be used to pull society back from the brink, that counsel gospels of life and peace, that can be incredible tools mobilized for peace.

The difficulty is how to mobilize those within the religious tradition and then how to mobilize them across religious traditions. With Islam it’s difficult because there’s not a hierarchical or centralized authority structure, so who speaks for Islam? So you do have many within Islam who say jihad is not acceptable except in self-defense, in ways that sound very much like just-war categories, and then you have others in al-Qaida saying Jews and Crusaders are complicit with the apostate states and civilian targets are fair game. It’s more difficult to do religious dialogue with Islamic states simply because it’s a decentralized structure. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible and that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of material that we can use if we take responsibility for what our own faith asks. And I think it’s important to remember, what are the most populous Muslim states today? They’re India and Indonesia. There’s a lot of very destructive characterizations going on on the political stage about what is the relationship between religion and politics and faith that’s not factually correct.

Iasiello: I agree totally. When you focus too closely on religion as a cause (of conflict) rather than seeing it as a powerful critical dimension of statecraft, you end up losing focus.

Q: You say a powerful dimension of statecraft: What role can religion have in moving governments or being a force for reconciliation or conflict resolution?

Iasiello: Well, I hate to get too theological, but ...

Q: Oh, go ahead. (laughter)

Iasiello: I mean we’re in the business of building the kingdom of God. You know, that’s what it’s all about. And that translates very easily into political categories and into not only political motivation but structures. That can assist in that process. I think we can’t be ashamed to allow the theological discussion to help frame what we do as political scientists or even as military theorists. I think it’s an important dynamic that we can’t ignore.

Q: Tom, you’ve been listening to this for an hour now, any questions?

Reese: The one area I’d be curious to hear you talk about: You’ve talked mostly about the military, but there’s another big agency, the CIA, and what’s its role in actions against terrorism? Obviously there’s its role in intelligence gathering, but then there’s the covert operations, like assassination and kidnapping and dirty tricks. Could you talk about the morality, the rules for covert operations?

Langan: Well, one way of approaching this is to say just-war theory is intended to restrict the use of force -- that’s its major objective -- while acknowledging the necessity for the use of force. You might try to work out a kind of parallel way of thinking about the activities of the CIA, which in many cases involve crossing moral as well as political boundaries, and say that sometimes deception and small-scale use of force may be necessary to prevent much greater harm. But you need to go through a kind of just-war pattern of reflection and justification and criticism because the world is indeed complicated, there are big areas of uncertainty and I don’t see us getting away from the need for intelligence agencies.

But I’m not comfortable simply writing a blank check and saying, Do whatever you think is necessary and don’t tell us about it. I think in the long run that’s irresponsible and not workable in our kind of culture because eventually most of the dirty tricks will come out in our kind of culture with the media and the moral pressures that people around here work under. Excessive reliance on covert operations is a temptation for a lot of political leaders. And covert operations can have a long-term cost. Iran is example No. 1 in this regard. Americans think that (Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed) Mossadegh was driven out of office 50 years ago and that’s a long time ago -- everybody should forget about that. The Iranians haven’t forgotten about it. The lines from that, to the (1979) seizure of the (U.S.) embassy and the accusation that the embassy was a nest of spies to where we are now is, given the time frame of Iranian civilization, just a snap of the finger. A lot of those considerations are still with us. The idea that we and the British had a costless victory there is, I think, a mistake. It may be that the policymakers at that time could not have solved the problem better.

So I guess what I’d say is “yes, but” -- yes, there will be need for intelligence activities, but subjected to moral scrutiny and limitation.

Cusimano Love: And I think the temptation is just like the temptation to use force. There’s a school of thought that’s over-optimistic about what you can accomplish by any of these tools. Yes, it’s a tool in the toolbox, but you have to be very, very realistic about what it can do, in what circumstances, what it can’t do, and what the full costs are over the spectrum, not merely the short-term costs. And that’s a harder accounting to do. It’s a harder accounting within the agency because it wants to be “can-do,” and when the president wants to know what you can do, you want to be optimistic and give him an idea. But it’s also harder to do outside of those agencies as well -- you’d like there to be a magic wand, you really would, but that’s simply not the case.

Iasiello: I think we always have to ask ourselves the question of what motivates the day-to-day decision-making of politics or government. And the answer has to be, if you’re honest about it, self-interest. That has got to be a primary force in decision-making -- and if that’s the case, if that’s a given, then no matter how noble the cause, we need to be honest enough to scrutinize through that moral lens the decisions we make, whether it be the use of lethal force or the activities of our intelligence community. Then the question is, what is the political apparatus that ensures that we do that? But that’s another question.

Q. I’d like each of you to make some final comment. Something we should have addressed that we left out?

Cusimano Love: One thing we didn’t talk about is the relationship of Homeland Security. It’s part of the total aspect of policy in combating terrorism. We’ve been focusing on the away games, on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at the expense of the home game, which is less sexy but actually has more pay-offs in the day-to-day (lives) of the people. Investments in critical infrastructure protection work whether or not you have a group taken out, whether or not a terrorist explodes a dirty bomb in a New York subway. If you increase subway security, you increase that against thieves, you increase that against drug trafficking. If you invest in our public health infrastructure, that investment pays dividends to people every day against the next flu outbreak, whether or not it’s avian flu, whether or not it’s biological warfare. So that type of layered security is doable, it works against terrorism, it pays dividends to people every day. And I think it is more in line with the ethics of risk.

What unfortunately happens when you focus on the away game in fighting the war on terror -- one, it doesn’t work, but two, it’s outsourcing casualties. We’re saying lives in Afghanistan and Iraq are less important than protecting U.S. lives. That can be part of the calculus if we’re not careful. And also that protecting the lives of the military can be more important than protecting the lives of civilians -- both foreign civilians and civilians at home. We don’t have adequate protection for our first responders yet. They still cannot talk to one another five years after 9-11. Those types of investments, I think, are in line with our values and they work. But they are more politically difficult to get because of the way our system is structured. I think looking at this not as just a political football to be played in an election season -- have we done enough to protect the homeland, who’s responsible, pointing fingers --but looking at it through the moral lens of the ethics of risk, are we doing most to protect the most vulnerable, those least able to protect themselves, and not shifting the risk from the military to civilians, whether at home or abroad.

Iasiello: It never pays to settle for simple answers to complex questions because the cost is just too much.

Q: Are we winning the war on terror? Yes, no, maybe?

Langan: (To Cusimano Love) You probably know more about the empirical side.

Cusimano Love: The empirical side, yes, we’ve shut down al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan. Yes, we’ve rolled up some of the leadership of al-Qaida. Yes, we’ve marginalized (Osama) bin Laden so that he’s not an operational leader; he’s more symbolic and able to mobilize people around values into the cause. So there certainly have been some victories. And certainly we’ve seen greater cooperation from the Pakistanis, greater multilateral cooperation and movement towards creation of the Department of Homeland Security, although it’s still deeply problematic how effective they are, and movement toward filling some of the gaps between CIA, FBI, and different law enforcement and intelligence operations. So there is some progress to report. On the other hand, the demolition of those camps in Afghanistan just released the training to the Internet. So all of those training manuals and videos and recruitment are now being done on the Internet, which makes it easily and cheaply available to all, whereas before there was a physical cost getting to remote camps in Afghanistan to do the training. So there have been unintended consequences to our successes. They’ve decentralized the network, so al-Qaida is still very much with us -- it’s just harder to combat because it’s more decentralized. It’s a franchise operation: Anyone with a beef can raise a flag and call themselves al-Qaida, and it’s a franchise operation without even McDonald’s quality control over who can own the franchise and operate the franchise. And certainly the war in Iraq has done much to mobilize recruitment for al-Qaida. There was not an al-Qaida problem in Iraq prior to the war and there is one now. And don’t take my word for it, that was the CIA’s own testimony to Congress.

So I would say it’s a very mixed bag, where we’ve seen successes, where we see effective law enforcement, intelligence and multilateral cooperation, as in the July 21st attacks that were prevented last year in London and the attacks (on trans-Atlantic flights) that were just prevented. And where we see the debit side of the equation is where we see more unilateral action, more over-reliance on the military tool and more neglect of the more everyday tools that need to be done at home.

Langan: One caution I would put at the end is that I don’t expect terrorism just to continue forward. I mean, these things have a certain rhythm to them. And terrorism, while it’s spectacular and threatening, doesn’t have within itself a principle of genuine growth. It’s a symptom, rather than -- I mean communism at least represented an alternative position for society, it appealed to certain genuine idealistic elements in human beings. Islamic terrorism does appeal, does have a certain religious appeal to them, but it’s parasitic, I think, on one of the great religions of the world. I expect that its own internal tensions and contradictions will in the long run disable it. The countervision proposed by bin Laden and people like that is fantastic and utopian, to be kind about it -- it’s also terrifying. You’ve got realizing this archaic form of society in the 21st century with all it means in terms of the subordination of women, the restriction of the exchange of peoples and ideas and so on. This in the long run is no more than a very small minority fantasy.

But it is very troubling, because it grows from genuine grievances and problems, some of which are internal to the Islamic world, some of which involve their relationships with us. And this requires the patience to go through serious political transformation. For us this will involve confronting our own dependence on oil that’s a cheap, highly mobile form of energy. And we can’t simply write off the Islamic world, we can’t solve these problems for it. It will have to go through a profound cultural transformation, but it’s not for us to dictate the terms of that.

Iasiello: I think we’ve proved that we’re very good at winning battles. We’re not quite as good at challenging ideas that we don’t agree with. And we need to realize that any formulation of counterterrorism has to include dialogue as well as force. And I don’t think that’s been driven home to us in the last couple of years, that dialogue has to be a critical component of our struggle against global extremism. If not, we’re still in 2000.

Q: I thank you all so much for taking the time to do this.


Catholic News Service Clips

Most of war on terror is not war, experts say in round-table talks

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- "It's a metaphor," said Jesuit Father John Langan, a professor of Catholic social thought at Georgetown University, when asked if the war on terrorism is really a war.

"Most of what's effective against terrorism is not in the basket of war, though war is a very politically effective title to use to mobilize resources and political parties," said Maryann Cusimano Love, a professor of politics at The Catholic University of America.

"In the military we don't like to use the word 'war'" for the struggle against terrorism and terrorists, said Franciscan Father Louis V. Iasiello, president of Washington Theological Union and a 25-year Navy chaplain who recently retired as chief of Navy chaplains. "We talked, even in the '80s and '90s, about 'low-intensity conflict.' We always tried to phrase it in a different way because to us 'war' is just too encompassing a dynamic."

At the request of Catholic News Service the two priests and Cusimano Love, all specialists in just-war issues, came together Aug. 21 at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center in Washington to engage in a round-table discussion about the war on terror, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and just-war thinking since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon five years ago.

Cusimano Love said the military's efforts to get the war on terrorism renamed to something like "actions against violent extremism" are an attempt to present a more realistic picture of what it is all about.

"If you look at some of the big successes in the 'war on terrorism' by the British government in forestalling the July 21 bombings last summer and in forestalling this last series of attacks (the plot to blow up at least 10 trans-Atlantic flights from London), it was primarily intelligence, law enforcement," she said.

"Military presence in that was very limited to nonexistent," she continued. "So I think war is a misnomer."

"But of course there is an element of it that's war. What we're doing in Iraq, whether or not it helps terrorism, is a war, as well as Afghanistan is certainly a part of trying to combat terrorism, and that is certainly war. So I'm not saying war is never a correct title, but it's not the most effective means of combating terrorism itself."

Father Langan said that part of the value of the "war on terrorism" metaphor is "the political use to which this can be put. ... It's also intended to justify a mobilization of society."

"I think in what we're talking about, struggling against terrorism, the assumption should be that a successful response or attack is something in which we strike a terrorist cell, a small group, roll them up as the British did, not that we attack another country," he said. "Now sometimes states will sponsor terrorism, but there are ways of bringing pressure to bear on these states. ... There are very real possibilities for influencing and dissuading and deterring states from supporting terrorism" short of going to war.

Cusimano Love said homeland security is a major part of the work to fight terrorism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan distract from that effort.

"We've been focusing on the away games ... at the expense of the home game, which is less sexy but actually has more payoffs in the day-to-day (lives) of the people," she said. "Investments in infrastructure protection work whether or not you have a group taken out, whether or not a terrorist explodes a dirty bomb in a New York subway. If you increase subway security, you increase that against thieves ... against drug trafficking. If you invest in our public health infrastructure, that investment pays dividends ... whether or not it's avian flu, whether or not it's biological warfare."

"What unfortunately happens when you focus on the away game in fighting the war on terror -- one, it doesn't work, but two, it's outsourcing casualties," she said. "We're saying lives in Afghanistan and Iraq are less important than protecting U.S. lives."

Father Iasiello said the struggle with terrorism also has to include dealing with the ideas behind terrorism. "Counterterrorism has to include dialogue as well as force. And I don't think that's been driven home to us in the last couple of years, that dialogue has to be a critical component of our struggle against global extremism," he said. "If not, we're still in 2000."

END

Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Religion called a powerful force for peace

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- While many view religion as "one of the chief bad guys" behind current conflicts, religions can be "incredible tools" for peace, said Maryann Cusimano Love, a professor of politics at The Catholic University of America.

"Religion is an important motivator," she said. "It is an important vocalizer of symbols, of language, of values, in ways that secular institutions find difficult to do. And that can be used for good or evil."

Cusimano Love was one of three panelists in a round-table discussion convened by Catholic News Service Aug. 21 to look at terrorism and war and peace issues five years after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Also on the panel were Jesuit Father John Langan, a professor of Catholic social thought at Georgetown University, and Franciscan Father Louis V. Iasiello, president of Washington Theological Union, who recently retired as chief of Navy chaplains.

"There's one clearly recognized role (in the struggle against terrorism) that the Protestant and Catholic churches would have in the church community," Father Langan said. "And that would be to teach the intrinsic wrongness of terrorism and the immorality of using terrorist techniques and tactics."

He said it is then tempting to demand that Muslim leaders do the same.

"In fact that would in the long run be a very desirable conclusion for the Muslim community to reach," he said. "But in practice, it's become a kind of prior stipulation, and I think in that case unwise, because in effect it asks the Muslims to begin their contribution to things by a kind of internal break within the Muslim community, saying the first thing we want you to do is bring this highly critical message to your co-religionists, to get them to shape up."

He said there is a need to get back to what we have in common as humans "and to say all of our peoples have been perpetrators and victims of injustice in different times and different ways. And we need to agree on certain ground rules for how we go forward -- among which the rejection of terrorism has to be very important."

That approach comes at the issue in a different style, he said. "We want to get a way of showing forth and modeling forms of collaboration, respect, a clear priority for peace, that will speak to people in ways that the kind of technicalities introduced by lawyers and diplomats doesn't ordinarily speak to people. ... That's where religion will make its long-range contribution to working this out."

Father Iasiello called religion "a powerful critical dimension of statecraft."

"I mean we're in the business of building the kingdom of God," he explained. "You know, that's what it's all about. And that translates very easily into political categories and into not only political motivation but structures."

Theological discussion should "help frame what we do as political scientists or even as military theorists," he added. "I think it's an important dynamic that we can't ignore."

"We're schizophrenic in our approach to religion and politics," Cusimano Love said.

During the Cold War and long before that, international politics was regarded purely as power politics, with any reference to religion or morality viewed as simply "window dressing," she said. "And then post-9/11 you have this reawakening and concern over religion, and all these conflicts are caused by religion."

Calling the Israeli-Palestinian war a religious war addresses "one dimension" of it, she said. "But it's also a war over land and water, you know. So those things coexist, and understanding those things coexist helps you to look at the different layers and also helps you to understand what religious leaders can and can't do."

"Religious leaders can't necessarily solve all the political problems that these groups face, but they certainly can take responsibility for and realize the impact that their words, messages, symbols have to add fuel to the fire or not," she said.

"I think within all major religious traditions there are wonderful symbols, values, language and texts that can be used to pull society back from the brink, that counsel gospels of life and peace, that can be incredible tools mobilized for peace," she said.

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Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Terrorism poses just-war challenges, panelists say at round table

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The struggle against global terrorism is stirring new discussions about the just-war tradition and its application in the post-Sept. 11 world, said three experts convened by Catholic News Service in August for a round-table discussion of just war and the events of the past five years.

While none indicated moral problems with military actions to destroy al-Qaida terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, serious questions were raised about whether the invasion of Iraq was justified.

The round-table participants, who met at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington, were Maryann Cusimano Love, a professor of politics at The Catholic University of America in Washington and an expert on terrorism and ethics in international relations; Jesuit Father John Langan, professor of Catholic social thought at Georgetown and a specialist in the just-war tradition; and Franciscan Father Louis V. Iasiello, new president of Washington Theological Union and a rear admiral who recently retired as chief of Navy chaplains after more than 20 years in the chaplain corps.

The just-war tradition has two traditional legs -- when is it right to go to war ("ius ad bellum") and right conduct in war ("ius in bello"). There has been growing discussion recently of a third element, postwar responsibilities of the victor ("ius post bellum").

Before the United States and its coalition partners invaded Iraq, some ethicists and policy analysts defended it as a justified form of pre-emptive or preventive war in response to the threat of terrorism and the possible use of weapons of mass destruction. The panelists either rejected that approach outright or expressed strong reservations about it.

Father Langan bluntly called Iraq "an unjustified war."

"There was not a just cause," he said. "There was not a matter of defending ourselves or our allies against attack. This is where 2003 is significantly different from (the Gulf War of) 1990-91, when Saddam (Hussein) had invaded Kuwait, really attempted to eliminate a sovereign state. In the earlier case we were quite justified, but not in 2003. There was no imminent threat of serious harm that would justify a pre-emptive attack."

He said adding "preventive war" to the categories of justified warfare "is simply unacceptable and would lead to the multiplication of wars whenever relations become sharply negative between states. One thing that's very clear both in regard to pre-emption and prevention is that you have to have excellent intelligence, carefully used. We didn't come close. So that whole side of it was radically inadequate."

"The bottom line is that a lot of people in our government and other governments sincerely believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," Father Langan said. "What was much harder to establish was whether he ever would have been able to use them, because as soon as he used them he would have been toast. There's no doubt that the response would have been massive and overwhelming."

When no weapons of mass destruction were found, he said, it emerged that the government had not paid sufficient attention to evidence that contradicted the claims of such weapon stockpiles.

Cusimano Love said there are "a number of really gross miscalculations" behind the argument seeking to justify preventive war.

"The argument is that in order to prevent certain states or terrorist groups from acquiring weapons of mass destruction the most effective means to prevent that is war, the only means to prevent that is war, that we don't have time to try to use other means first, that other means are ineffective," she said. "So it makes a whole host of assumptions that are simply factually incorrect, besides being quite morally problematic as well. Preventive war doesn't work, besides being quite morally problematic."

Father Iasiello said some just-war theorists "have a real difficulty with" placing too strong an emphasis on war only as a last resort.

"But I do believe that terrorism really does present challenges for theorists of just war," he said, "and I truly see the genius in what (Father J.) Bryan Hehir said in the early '90s when he said we need to move from a presumption against the use of force to a presumption for justice."

"Now that of course opens up doors that we probably don't want to go through at this point, including the possibility of pre-emption in certain situations," he added. "I too feel that ... there are some real difficulties with the concept of pre-emption, and I get very nervous when people throw that term around."

Father Hehir, an international justice and peace specialist who played a significant role in the development of the U.S. bishops' 1983 pastoral letter on peace and nuclear deterrence, spoke about a shift to a presumption for justice as thinkers were debating the adaptation of just-war principles to cover international military intervention in sovereign states to halt ethnic cleansing or genocide.

But Cusimano Love said the effort to adapt just-war theory to accommodate preventive or pre-emptive war on grounds of a threat of weapons of mass destruction is not a development in just-war theory of the same type as the one addressing military intervention for humanitarian purposes.

"That was really a debate about what happens when a sovereign state is the predator and is doing the violence against the people," she said. "Then are you out of recourse because the authority charged with protecting those people is the one doing damage to them? And the answer was to reach back in the toolbox (of just-war tradition) and say, look, right authority didn't mean sovereign states (only); there are other right authorities that may be out there, that might be available to protect people."

She said in such situations intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations or NATO can be regarded as public authorities capable of authorizing the use of force.

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Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Rules of war still apply even if one side ignores them, panelists say

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Even if terrorists or insurgents attack civilians and ignore other moral rules of warfare, those who are fighting back must still follow those rules, said experts at a round-table discussion of just-war issues five years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The round table was convened by Catholic News Service Aug. 21 at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington. Panelists were just-war experts from The Catholic University of America and Georgetown University and a former chief of Navy chaplains who wrote his doctoral thesis on the requirements of moral conduct in waging war.

Franciscan Father Louis V. Iasiello, now president of Washington Theological Union, said that before his recent retirement as chief of Navy chaplains he was twice asked to lecture at the U.S. war colleges on how the military should "fight an enemy that either ignores or exploits the rules of war for tactical, operational or strategic gain."

"The answer," he said, "may be found not in asking 'What should I do?' but 'Who am I?' ... If we're here to represent the constitutional values that we're willing to fight and die for, then we'd better be ready to put those same principles on the line in the field of battle. So I said (in those lectures) if you ask yourself 'Who are you?' you'll come to the realization of what you should do."

Jesuit Father John Langan, a professor of Catholic social thought at Georgetown who has written and lectured extensively on just war, said that in the war in Iraq "a lot of these situations, I think, involve the combatants on the other side putting themselves in a context where they're intermingled with civilians and they're not readily distinguishable from civilians. And that means that civilian lives are very much at risk in this situation and the principle of noncombatant immunity needs to be reinforced."

"It only makes the importance of noncombatant immunity more important rather than less in fighting these conflicts," said Maryann Cusimano Love, a professor of politics at Catholic University who specializes in international relations and terrorism as well as just-war issues.

Father Iasiello said avoiding unnecessary damage to the environment is another requirement in warfare and one that is written into the U.S. Navy's rules of combat. "Today's battleground is tomorrow's playground," he said, and "nature is part of that infrastructure that's critical to a nation."

During his visits to Iraq as chief of Navy chaplains, he said, it was "very uplifting" to see that the U.S. troops there were taking "their responsibilities very, very seriously to try to ensure that proportionality is met by not destroying things that can be used in the rebuilding of a society, or to make friends once the shooting stops."

Father Langan said guerrillas or insurgents who intentionally put civilian lives at risk "bear considerable moral responsibility" for those actions, but that does not relieve the other side of responsibility to try to avoid civilian deaths.

"The other very important point, I think, is that you have to persuade the civilian population that it is not worthwhile to support an insurgency -- you have to dry up the support," he said. "That's very difficult, and it requires persuasion. ... One of the things that one has to resist is the overmilitarization of this kind of warfare. It is very intertwined with the political perceptions and choices of the people."

"You have to win the hearts and minds of the people," said Father Iasiello. "That's the key to what success is in fighting an insurgency, to convince the people that you're on their side and that you're with them in their struggles."

"If it is primarily a battle for hearts and minds; we can't use tactics that disengage those hearts and minds," said Cusimano Love. "If our primary beef against terrorists is that they are taking noncombatant lives, we can't use tactics that are insensitive to noncombatant lives.

"It's unfortunate, in a sense, that it puts us into the position of having to be on the higher moral ground," she said. "But that higher moral ground is the space that's tactical, political as well as ethical space to be on. And what often appears to be the easy argument, that we need to respond in kind, is not good politics, is not good morality -- it doesn't work."

"Every civilian corpse is really a gift to the enemy, turning families and villages against the American presence," Father Langan said.

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Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Just-war thinkers address postwar obligations at round table

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have sparked new discussion among just-war theorists about the postwar obligations of those who invade a country to topple a hostile or dangerous government.

Paralleling the traditional just-war categories of "ius ad bellum," or the moral conditions for going to war, and "ius in bello," or moral conduct in war, the theorists have labeled the question of postwar responsibilities "ius post bellum."

Those responsibilities are difficult and complex and should serve as a caution against warfare as a way to deal with dangerous states, said three Washington-area experts convened by Catholic News Service Aug. 21 to discuss just-war issues in the five years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Maryann Cusimano Love, a professor of politics at The Catholic University of America and an expert on terrorism and ethics in international relations, said that in light of the difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan the discussion of postwar responsibilities is clearly one of the "growing edges" in current developments in the just-war tradition.

Also on the panel were Jesuit Father John Langan, longtime professor of Catholic social thought at Georgetown University and a specialist in the just-war tradition, and Franciscan Father Louis V. Iasiello, president of Washington Theological Union who served as a U.S. Navy chaplain for more than 20 years before he recently retired, with the rank of rear admiral, as chief of Navy chaplains.

"Post-bellum's a tricky business," Father Iasiello said. "War termination is a tricky business. ... There are few constants you can rely on in a post-bellum phase. ... There's no calculus for what to expect or how to handle it."

Regarding Iraq he said, "I think one of the things that we will need to look at in the future is why was there such a lack of emphasis on the post-bellum phase of this particular war."

"Father Iasiello's point about needing to pay more attention to postwar scenarios and 'ius post bellum' applies exactly to Afghanistan (as well) because Afghanistan is falling apart," Cusimano Love said. "We're seeing increased violence this summer, the worst since the initial war. So we haven't gotten it right there."

"I would think you could make a very serious argument that we should have invested much more heavily in Afghanistan and not touched Iraq at all," Father Langan said. He said Afghanistan successfully resisted takeover attempts by the British in the 19th century and the Russians near the end of the 20th -- "and we should have known that simply capturing Kabul (Afghanistan's capital) and establishing a government doesn't mean the game is won."

After the defeat of Saddam Hussein's forces in Iraq, Cusimano Love said, there were several "preventable mistakes" that severely undercut the country's postwar security and safety needs and the prospects for reconstruction.

She said these included "the deactivation process, basically shutting down the existing security structures there, throwing out low-level Baathist Party members (along) with war criminals, and doing other things that really emasculated Iraqi society's ability to respond themselves -- not engaging with civil society."

"We undertook to transform a society that we didn't understand very well," Father Langan said. "This would be something like going back to performing surgery before the days of X-rays -- I want to just cut it up and see what's inside there. And nobody today would regard that as acceptable. ... We're doing surgery on a patient who has not signed a consent form, and without anesthesia. This is a messy business."

"The primary responsibility of someone who goes in and wages war is to provide stability and security for the post-bellum period," Father Iasiello said. "That's a given. It's in international law. ... So stability, security, and then to attain some sort of level of quality of life that affords people hope for the future. And I think that one of the things that people need to do is to keep going back and saying, have we attained what we set out to do? This is what I think it means when we talk about creating a just and lasting peace."

Cusimano Love said the ongoing conflicts in Iraq are a barrier to fulfilling U.S. postwar responsibilities there.

"The idea that with $18 billion we can reconstruct infrastructure in Iraq hasn't gone one-third of the way that we thought it would. And that money ends in 2006," she said. "There's not a lot of political will to extend that money."

"You can lay down a lot of moral obligations about what we should contribute to the future of Iraq," Father Langan said, but "there has to be a fit between, in effect, the political culture of the society and the policies that are put before it. And frankly, the American people were not given a realistic and honest and accurate account of what we were up to, and as a result there is not much patience or trust that can be drawn on."

To achieve and sustain a long-term U.S. strategy there, he said, there is need to return to "bipartisanship in foreign policy -- and a bipartisanship that's based on shared objectives, not on fear of being pilloried at the next election."

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Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops