While there are certain to be skirmishes yet, the war in Iraq has come to an end with a minimum of casualties. Some may argue that one is too many, while others point to how few casualties there were compared to the carnage of past conflicts. Many readers have wondered why The Interim has not addressed the war head-on.
We have addressed the issue two times. Once was in a review of Bill Bennett’s book Why We Fight, which was significant because Bennett has been a leading American social conservative and an outspoken advocate of the war on terrorism. The other occasion was an editorial in which we took the position that we must all pray for a just resolution. Frank Kennedy addressed the issue once as an aside, praising President George W. Bush and indicating his support for the administration’s policy of regime change in Iraq.
The response to The Interim’s coverage – or non-coverage – has been critical. Many readers understandably oppose the war on pro-life grounds, lamenting the deaths of innocent civilians. Indeed, our editorial board was divided on the issue, as are our columnists and contributors.
Some readers who called, wrote or e-mailed said that there is no such thing as a just war and that pro-life Christians must oppose President Bush. The sincerely and strongly held views on the war led some readers to question Bush’s pro-life convictions.
Most Christian traditions accept the validity of a just war theory, and Christian philosophers from Augustine to Aquinas to John Calvin have grappled with the legitimate use of lethal force. The proper question is about when war is justified, not is war justified. The editorial board of The Interim discussed this issue and could not come to a conclusion. If there were space in the already-crowded pages of this paper, we would have ran pro and con columns on the war.
The fact is that serious and faithful Christians have come down on both sides – CHP leader Ron Gray, First Things editor Fr. Richard John Neuhaus and Dr. Richard D. Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, have backed the president’s position, while many religious leaders, including Pope John Paul II, have opposed the war. It is our sincere hope that we are able to continue to work together against abortion and euthanasia, despite our differences of opinion on the war in Iraq.
The complaint that The Interim is too supportive of President Bush does not recognize a simple fact: our support of his pro-life actions – appointing pro-life judges, extending health benefits to the unborn child, arguing against state euthanasia laws, defunding international agencies that promote abortion, etc. – is not a blanket endorsement of his presidency. But when it comes to protecting the innocent unborn child and the vulnerable sick, disabled and elderly, he is certainly preferable to his predecessor, the man he beat in 2000 or any of the candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination for 2004. Is he perfect? No, he’s human. But considering the alternatives, he’s pretty darned good. We can debate whether his carrying out a war on terrorism is consistent with his pro-life views; indeed, we encourage letters to the editor on this very issue. But there is no questioning that this president has done more for unborn children than any president since at least Ronald Reagan.