Just War or Just Another War?

Jus in Iraq

Political experts are certain that war with Iraq is on the horizon, though there is some disagreement about how distant that horizon might be.  The way the Bush administration and media pundits invoke the words “justice” and “just war” without actually calling attention to the historical criteria for a just war has been disconcerting.  The apparent strategy is to saturate the airwaves with these and related phrases, to apply them loosely, and to trade on their different historical loadings, in order to justify present actions even when those historical meanings do not apply.  

A large part of this misappropriation is connected with a phenomenon I would call the occult transference of virtue, an ideological false-consciousness by which the administration (secure in its righteousness) believes that its moral virtue is preternaturally transferable to all of its endeavors, no matter how bellicose.  This magical transference of virtue finds its complement in the desperate need of many Americans after September 11 to personify their enemy.  Osama bin Laden has been elusive.  We need something accessible, concrete, and personal upon which to focus our resolve and to vent our indignation and righteousness, especially when both are so easily dissipated by a covert war conducted against a rhizomic terrorist network.  Not psychologically prepared to fight a just war against postmodern...

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