Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Dynamic vs. Static

I know it seems like I am the token anti-war apologist in St. Blog's. (Apologies to McGuinness, but I like the term for shorthand.) I post on the possibilities for war for two reasons: (1) because I'm trying to work out my own thoughts on the subject, and (2) I'm trying to raise questions that I fear many aren't considering when they reach their own conclusions about whether war with Iraq is justified.

It shouldn't need repeating, but I think there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the issue. Personally, for me the concerns raised in the "Nuclear Question" post below weigh too heavily on my mind to put me on the pro-war side of the fence right now. No one has shown me an alternative restraint on war once we reduce the "certain" portion of "grave, lasting and certain" down so it can be met with a mere hypothetical threat. And no one has taken me up on my first post by trying to address the other planks of just war doctrine to reduce my uneasiness.

At the end of the day, I don't expect pro-war folks to agree with me. But I would like to see them make their case more persuasively. So I throw out another consideration that I fear is being overlooked: just war analysis is dynamic not static. I've gotten the sense from some that once they concluded that war would be justified they have shut out the possibility -- particularly in evaluating the likelihood of success and proportionality planks -- that new circumstances might develop that make war unjust. Consider, for example, these recent reports that Iran has moved troops into Iraq and that the war might be fought without a Northern front if Turkey sticks to its guns and the U.S. doesn't seek a second U.N. resolution (or offer the aid package Turkey wants). Without Turkey in an alliance, you can expect the Kurds to push for an independent state for the Northern territories, something bound to spur protests and tension from Turkey and Iran. My point isn't to suggest that any of these facts are the smoking gun that kills the pro-war position. But it is worth noting that just war analysis cannot be a one-time calculus. Stories like these should go to our re-evaluation of whether success and proportionality don't argue against war.

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