The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the "just war" doctrine.
The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.
Cathechism of the Catholic Church, 2309
It has, of course, become de rigeuer to say that the War in Iraq is now illegitimate because 1800 servicemen have given "their last full measure" while there were no weapons of mass destruction. I supported the war at the beginning because I thought it to have met the criteria of a "just war," with only one of about a dozen reasons having to do with WMDs. TM Lutas, in his own re-examination, has captured nearly all of in his list of ten reasons why we should have gone to Iraq.
All things considered, knowing then what we know now, would I support the Iraq invasion? Yeah, I think I would.
Holy Fool has more.