|Maryann Cusimano Love, associate professor of politics and an expert on non-state terrorism, recently was quoted by Catholic News Service in the following story, which has been reprinted in several other publications.|
From: Catholic News Service Date: Aug. 29, 2006 Author: Jerry FilteauWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Even if terrorists or insurgents attack civilians and ignore other moral rules of warfare, those who are fighting back must still follow those rules, said experts at a round-table discussion of just-war issues five years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The round table was convened by Catholic News Service Aug. 21 at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington. Panelists were just-war experts from The Catholic University of America and Georgetown University and a former chief of Navy chaplains who wrote his doctoral thesis on the requirements of moral conduct in waging war.
Franciscan Father Louis V. Iasiello, now president of Washington Theological Union, said that before his recent retirement as chief of Navy chaplains he was twice asked to lecture at the U.S. war colleges on how the military should "fight an enemy that either ignores or exploits the rules of war for tactical, operational or strategic gain."
"The answer," he said, "may be found not in asking 'What should I do?' but 'Who am I?' ... If we're here to represent the constitutional values that we're willing to fight and die for, then we'd better be ready to put those same principles on the line in the field of battle. So I said (in those lectures) if you ask yourself 'Who are you?' you'll come to the realization of what you should do."
Jesuit Father John Langan, a professor of Catholic social thought at Georgetown who has written and lectured extensively on just war, said that in the war in Iraq "a lot of these situations, I think, involve the combatants on the other side putting themselves in a context where they're intermingled with civilians and they're not readily distinguishable from civilians. And that means that civilian lives are very much at risk in this situation and the principle of noncombatant immunity needs to be reinforced."
"It only makes the importance of noncombatant immunity more important rather than less in fighting these conflicts," said Maryann Cusimano Love, a professor of politics at Catholic University who specializes in international relations and terrorism as well as just-war issues.
Father Iasiello said avoiding unnecessary damage to the environment is another requirement in warfare and one that is written into the U.S. Navy's rules of combat. "Today's battleground is tomorrow's playground," he said, and "nature is part of that infrastructure that's critical to a nation."
During his visits to Iraq as chief of Navy chaplains, he said, it was "very uplifting" to see that the U.S. troops there were taking "their responsibilities very, very seriously to try to ensure that proportionality is met by not destroying things that can be used in the rebuilding of a society, or to make friends once the shooting stops."
Father Langan said guerrillas or insurgents who intentionally put civilian lives at risk "bear considerable moral responsibility" for those actions, but that does not relieve the other side of responsibility to try to avoid civilian deaths.
"The other very important point, I think, is that you have to persuade the civilian population that it is not worthwhile to support an insurgency -- you have to dry up the support," he said. "That's very difficult, and it requires persuasion. ... One of the things that one has to resist is the overmilitarization of this kind of warfare. It is very intertwined with the political perceptions and choices of the people."
"You have to win the hearts and minds of the people," said Father Iasiello. "That's the key to what success is in fighting an insurgency, to convince the people that you're on their side and that you're with them in their struggles."
"If it is primarily a battle for hearts and minds; we can't use tactics that disengage those hearts and minds," said Cusimano Love. "If our primary beef against terrorists is that they are taking noncombatant lives, we can't use tactics that are insensitive to noncombatant lives.
"It's unfortunate, in a sense, that it puts us into the position of having to be on the higher moral ground," she said. "But that higher moral ground is the space that's tactical, political as well as ethical space to be on. And what often appears to be the easy argument, that we need to respond in kind, is not good politics, is not good morality -- it doesn't work."
"Every civilian corpse is really a gift to the enemy, turning families and villages against the American presence," Father Langan said.