Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of the U.S. Archdiocese for the 322 Military Services said, publicly, on Sept.30, 2002 that, the Bush administration must "make the bridge, to show a real connection between the events of 9/11 and the need for the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein," if it seeks to justify military action against Iraq, as "a continuation of the war on the terrorism of 9/11."

As discussions of war with Iraq continue to surface in headlines and political councils, it is of weighty importance to ask under what circumstances such a "pre-emptive war" is morally justifiable. If such hostilities are considered to be a continuation of the war on the terrorism of 9/11, then the challenge for our good president and his advisers is to make the bridge, to show a real connection between the events of 9/11 and the need for the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein.
Most of the world joins us in desiring the capture and prosecution of Osama bin Laden and his cohorts. Similarly, few question Saddam Hussein's arrogance in defying 16 UN resolutions and his potential for destructive terrorism on a mass scale.
These factors notwithstanding, friendly and not-so-friendly nations who have backed us the last dozen years in our military interventions in Kuwait, Bosnia and Kosovo and Afghanistan are now in disagreement with our plans for military intervention in Iraq at this time. Indeed, there seem to have been similar divisions among our military and civilian leadership as well as our citizenry in general.
Our conference of bishops has suggested to President Bush that in terms of the traditional just-war theory the case for an attack against Iraq is far from established. The Holy See has also expressed strong reservations.
If the link between Osama bin Laden and Iraq is not made, and the use of armed force is to be justified on grounds other than a continuation of the war on terrorism, then some practical questions must be asked in the light of Catholic just-war theory:

- Does Iraq's present stance cause such a significant and proximate danger to the United States that a unilateral attack against Hussein is a justifiable action of self-defense?

- Has every other possible means been taken on our part to eliminate that danger?
- What will be the estimated cost of our military action in terms of lives and money and political stability in the Middle East?

- Given (a) an American military already so heavily committed, and (b) the potential for other additional conflicts in the Pacific, the Balkans and the rest of the Middle East, is our military in adequate readiness?

- What will be our terms of exiting from Iraq and can we be assured that the outcome of our intervention will offer significant improvement over the present admittedly tyrannical rule being suffered by the vast majority of innocent Iraqis?

I have profound respect for President Bush, his integrity and his experienced advisers. However, Americans, our allies and the world community expect more if military action must ultimately be taken as a last resort. The very least that our government must bring about before committing our armed forces to further armed intervention in Iraq is:
- A consensus by the world community similar to the consensus realized the last dozen years in our other military initiatives that armed intervention is the only way to remove an inescapable and serious threat; or

- Convincing evidence offered by the United States of a serious and imminent hostile threat by Iraq, along with a clear demonstration of the need for independent military action.

In either case, we all pray that military action on our part will not be necessary. And we pray that our leaders will find a way, working with other governments, to eliminate peaceably the potential danger that is unquestionably posed by the Iraq regime".
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