- The Washington Times - Monday, December 31, 2001

Zeroing in on the concept of a just war

The concept of "just war" is complex even more so when combined with our war on terrorism. Therefore, it is good that we have experts comment on the challenges associated with waging a just war against such an elusive target. In Paul Clark's informative letter, he makes clear it is immoral to kill combatants and noncombatants indiscriminately ("Is the war on terrorism 'just'?" Dec. 29). He also points out correctly that it is not enough simply to say the United States does not target noncombatants when our history apparently demonstrates otherwise. However, what is missing in his letter is any discussion regarding "proportionality" and "double effect," both of which are essential elements when noncombatants may be threatened.
When one is selecting a target, military gain is weighed in proportion to estimated collateral damage. This is done to avoid excessive harm to the innocent. If collateral damage is excessive, the target is not hit. Conversely, if the military gain is sufficient, a certain level of collateral damage is acceptable. In no case are noncombatants the sole aim of an attack. Nonetheless, it is unreasonable to expect no collateral damage in a war.
As noted by Michael Walzer in his definitive work "Just and Unjust Wars," the concept of double effect attempts to balance the prohibition against attacking noncombatants with legitimate military action. When pinned down and taking sniper fire from an enemy village, U.S. forces return fire and endanger noncombatants. The enemy sniper is the target, but noncombatants are at risk (double effect). Double effect takes into account proportional military gain, the aim and object of the attack, and expected collateral damage.
Finally, there is no question that the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan is not indiscriminate. The U.S. bombing in Afghanistan is measured, aimed and conducted in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict. As far as collateral damage in Afghanistan is concerned, one wonders just how much of that damage is the result of hundreds of missiles and thousands of rounds of explosive ammunition having been fired into the sky at U.S. aircraft. You see, virtually none of those weapons hit U.S. aircraft; they all fell on the Afghan people.

LT. COL. KENT D. JOHNSON
U.S. Air Force (retired)
Stafford, Va.

Kent D. Johnson is a former fighter pilot and air-campaign planner.

'Swamp' not fully drained until Pakistan gives up terrorism

John Walker the American Taliban admitted that he was part of a group of Pakistanis fighting in Indian Kashmir. It is well known that terrorism in India is predominantly caused by foreign terrorists. These foreign jihadis are handled, trained and funded by Pakistani intelligence. There is nothing Kashmiri about these foreigners.
These terrorists, reared by Pakistan, are interchangeable with those who killed Americans. They have the same vision and goal.
Overthrowing the Taliban is a good start, but the "swamp" will not be drained until Pakistan gives up terrorism. Any accommodation of Pakistan, and the jihadis will eventually find their way to America again.

MOHANA KHER
Bloomington, Ill.

Abstinence is not absent from church teaching

In a Dec. 29 letter to the editor, Frances Kissling lays the spread of HIV/AIDS at the feet of Catholic bishops ("Catholic bishops share responsibility for spread of HIV/AIDS"). I would guess that as the president of Catholics for a Free Choice, she may be a Catholic, but perhaps she was absent from religion class a few times. The Catholic Church preaches abstinence from sexual union before marriage (which is necessarily between a man and a woman). Following this teaching and remaining faithful to one's partner (another church teaching) is the best way of remaining free of HIV/AIDS.
As far as condoms go, U.S. government research released last summer shows they are not completely effective and do not stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. One of the key reasons is that the AIDS virus is 50 times smaller than the smallest pore in a latex condom. Promoting the use of a condom as a way of containing the spread of these diseases is nothing short of encouraging suicide. The "desperate circumstances" that "ordinary people" find themselves in are the consequence of listening to misguided and uninformed promoters of sexual "freedom and choice" such as Ms. Kissling, not the teachings of the Catholic Church.

JAMES WEINGART
Arlington

A liberal wouldn't lead like Mr. Bush

Chris Matthews takes a sideways swipe at President Bush in his Dec. 28 Commentary column, "Differences in the newest model," under the guise of comparing Mr. Bush to his father. After cooing about Mr. Bush's people skills and intimating that his popularity can be credited to a nice personality, Mr. Matthews dismisses the president by saying. "If you were to select a commander in chief out of the New York phone book or out of any other directory in this country, for that matter he or she would be doing exactly what George W. is doing."
This is nonsense. Picture Bill Clinton or Al Gore in the White House right now. Liberal media types are fairly gagging as they are forced to admit that the American people thoroughly trust Mr. Bush. They just can't figure it out. Is it his personality? Is it because he is an out-of-towner? Is it because he can relate to the people? Is it because the circumstances make the president?
It is because Mr. Bush is an intelligent and intuitively American president. He relates to the people because he feels the same way about America that the rest of us do. He is a gifted decision maker and, like President Reagan, has surrounded himself with capable and experienced people. He has the refreshing trait of being focused and thoroughly confident in his ability to lead. Mr. Bush makes me feel secure about my country and its future because he is. He has made a point of being very visible during this crisis, and he constantly assures us that he is determined to defeat the enemy and build a safer America.
In other words, Mr. Bush, as providence would have it, was born for this hour and has the requisite skills and character to see us through it.

ELIZABETH SMITH
Great Falls

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