Thursday, October 03, 2002

In regards to Mark Shea's question at HMS, if that really is all the bishops are arguing about, then they are way outside their competency. Just war theory holds only that "sovereign authority" is needed. Unless they are going to start claiming ("Gore won!") that the US government is not a legitimate authority for just war purposes--a patently unsustainable argument--then they have no basis for saying anything further.

In fact, now that I think a moment, it is much harder to sustain a case for a "just war" based on the United Nations *at all* because the UN has no sovereign authority over anything. Nada. Zip. The UN properties around the world are afforded the treatment given to national diplomatic missions, but that's it. The UN is an assembly of sovereign authorities, but is not itself sovereign in any useful sense of the term. Going back to my IR classes and trying to remember the definition of a state: it possesses no territory; it has no internationally recognized boundaries; it has no citizens; it has no means of establishing or enforcing laws; and it has no government.

Even if one wanted to argue that its members have yielded some sovereign powers to it (which is not in fact true; because the general assembly has no legislative authority, and the security council can only resolve; No authority independent of its constituent states exists to enforce security council resolutions) the fact remains that it is up to individual sovereigns to accede to or resist the demands of the UN, and enforcement ability is an essential criteria for establishing sovereignty.

So, all those who want to base the "justness" of the coming war on the UN, sorry, but the UN by itself would in fact make this an ipso fact unjust war.

(That doesn't make it *imprudent* to involve the UN. But it does make it unnecessary.)


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