Bush's war, women priests, saints

DEMOCRACY & FREEDOM

Arguing against President George W. Bush, Commonweal’s editors (“Stop It,” March 28) claim wars should not be waged to spread democracy and freedom, but “should be a last resort, undertaken only to protect the innocent, and to reestablish the conditions for peace.” Yet for the past fifty years, Catholic social teaching has taught, as Pope Paul VI said in his 1969 World Day of Peace Message, “where human rights are not respected, defended, and promoted, where violence or fraud is done to man’s inalienable freedoms, where his personality is ignored or degraded, where discrimination, slavery, or intolerance prevail, there true peace cannot be.”

This is not to say that a war to spread democracy and freedom is justified, only that the editors’ dichotomy between democracy and freedom and the conditions for peace is too simplistic.

Whether or not the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were just, the United States has taken on the responsibility of promoting democracy and freedom, which are keys to lasting peace, in that region. Helping the nascent governments of those countries defend themselves against groups like Al Qaeda, the Iranian-backed Shiite militias, and the Taliban is part of that responsibility.

MATTHEW A. SHADLE...

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