Thursday, December 11, 2014

I am against torture. And drone strikes. And abortion, too.

I keep seeing various conservative Catholics out there who are defending torture who are insisting that the release of the information about the CIA’s torture practices is just political, that those of us who insist that torture is intrinsically evil didn’t care about Obama’s drone strikes, and that we’re probably not all that pro-life, either.

I invite anybody who thinks I’m not pro-life to do a blog search under the word “abortion.”  Your results list will be huge, so I’ll be patient.

Now, as to drone strikes: I’ve objected to those, too:


and here

and here, for example.

Let me just reiterate: I think that most, if not all, drone strikes fail to abide to the principles of Just War theory, in particular the ideas of proportionate means and no disproportionate civilian casualties.  While it might be possible to support a limited use of drones on the battlefield against legitimate military targets, I’m not convinced that in the real world a moral use for these machines of death is possible.

In truth, many of the means of modern warfare are problematic for the serious Catholic.  This may be why, in part, several of the most recent popes have spoken out so strongly against so many wars.  When the evils left in the wake of a modern war are graver than the injustices the war sought to correct in the first place, it behooves all of us to consider carefully not only whether a particular war is just, but whether it is justly conducted and justly resolved as well--and if there is no confidence that it may be justly conducted or justly and equitably resolved, there are grave questions about whether the war itself is just in total.

Having said that, the thing that concerns me more here is the knee-jerk partisanship (of which I was at one time as guilty as anybody) which seeks to defend, excuse, or rationalize torture because Our Guys did it, while condemning drone warfare because Their Evil Guy is responsible. The danger here is that if one of Our Guys is the next president and makes use of both torture and drone strikes in the prosecution of wars that do not meet the Just War criteria some may find themselves arguing in favor of drone strike, too--so long as Our Guy is the one ordering them.

That this is wrong, and dangerously so from a moral perspective, ought to be clear.  The morality of actions like torture and indiscriminate civilian casualties does not depend on whether there is an “R” or a “D” after the name of the president.  Catholics should know better than this, and we should hold “Our Guys” even more accountable when they commit, support, or justify acts that are, in clear Catholic teaching, intrinsically evil.

Abortion, after all, is just as evil when Republicans support it.  It shouldn’t strain the intellect of Catholic thinkers too much to realize that the same thing is true of torture and drone strikes, too.


John InEastTX said...

Well spoken, Erin...

Elizabeth said...

Very sad to see the partisans coming out defending torture by saying it isn't. Waterboarding was very much considered torture when the Japanese applied to American troops in WW2.

The partisan divide has too many people entrenched in tribal Fox-)holes so that they can't even think clearly. It isn't just RCCs, believe me. Right-wing evangelicals thought GW Bush all but walked on water, so anything he did was clearly blessed by The Big Guy upstairs.

In addition to apologies for every time we have done this in the past, I suggest we all take a pass on any more sentences that start with "Liberals always" or "Conservatives always" etc. Meeting people where they live, in all their fullness and struggle, is harder than putting them in categories, but is necessary for any kind of civilized life together.