7 January 2020

The Magisterium of the popes from Benedict XV to S John Paul II.

I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically agree when American friends explain to me that Trump is less toxic than Obama because he does not share Obama's strange passion for terminating unborn black babies. But there are, sadly, similarities between the two presidencies.

One of these is that each of the two presidents is happy about ordering the assassinations of Foreign Nuisances. Another similarity is their willingness to have these extra-judicial killings done outside the countries concerned and outside America. Thus, Obama sanctioned Bin Laden's killing in Pakistan; Trump has just had the killing of an Iranian done in Iraq. In any normal system of international relationships, such actions would be universally regarded as the grossest conceivable infringement of national sovereignty, and tantamount to a formal declaration of war. Yet, when Iraq protests, he threatens them with economic sanctions!

According to the unChristian, disgusting, and totally deplorable rules of Tit For Tat, the Iranians are of course now fully entitled to kill a senior American general.

I hope that, instead of doing this in some third country, such as my own, they will at least confine their blood-letting to the soil of America itself. After all, we already have to cope with some branch of the Russky government service dropping highly dangerous poisons around our Sceptred Isle. We can do without being promoted into a killing-field for an Iranian-American spat. I make this point because Trump has threatened to rachet up his response 52-fold if Iran lays a finger on anything or anybody American ... but I haven't heard that his threats extend also to Iranian attacks on America's 'allies', which we were once considered to be. If I were Johnson, I would haul all British service personel back home immediately. Trump's 'foreign policy' IMHO is not worth one single British life ... or limb.

And there is the fact that Trump did not even condescend to inform his so-called allies before taking this action. Despite us having, I believe, a couple of thousand troops in the Middle East, thinly spread and hence extremely vulnerable. I suppose we should have taken more careful note of his handing-over his 'allied' Kurds to the untender mercies of Erdogan. Trump is a man for whom "America First" means stabbing anybody else he pleases in the back without more than a moment's thought or a day's warning. American 'guarantees' are now worth ... what?

I thought that one of the most important parts of the Magisterium of S John Paul II was his ethical teaching about the evil of "Cycles, spirals, of Violence" (titfortattery). I vaguely recall that some 'conservative' ['neo-con'?] writer called something like Weigel in an otherwise hagiographical biography expressed doubts about this element in the teaching of the Wojtila pontificate. It seems to me that it is an element which has gained increased force in the passing years, not least because of the willingness of North American regimes (often disgracefully followed by cretinously supine British administrations) to pump up the Cycle of Violence.

I had rather thought that Trump came to power laudably determined to roll back this inherited policy of murderous retaliatory adventurism. At last, I thought, an American president who has heard the prophetic messages of the popes since Benedict XV, especially that of Pope S John Paul II.

I am sorry ... genuinely saddened ... that he has changed his mind. And I am sorry that he has sabotaged the European efforts to persuade Iran not to develop nuclear weapons. In view of the substantial Israeli holding of nuclear warheads and missiles, one can hardly realistically expect other powers in that area to show restraint unless they are given convincing and attractive grounds for doing so.

Would it be cynical to suggest that, in an election year, Trump feels he needs to be sure of the pro-Israeli vote?


Dan Hayes said...

Even more than ensuring the pro-Israeli vote is Trump's program of eliminating any nation standing in the way of Greater Israel!

Dad29 said...

Ummmnnhhhh......You've leapt off the bridge prior to having looked carefully.....

Trump has been directly and indirectly asking Iran to come 'to the table' for a few years and they've chosen to ignore him. He sees no good reason to 'make nicey-nice' to the murdering mullahs (do you?) so long as they continue their rather bad habits. So finally, he delivered a much more acute warning--which you will note was VERY limited (only 6 dead) in scope. He had two objectives: get the attention of these madmen, and bollix up their planning for future murders and terror.

The terrorist chose to attack US soil (embassy) and added one more US citizen to his killed-list. His choice was bad, as we say here in the Colonies, just as was George III's choice to attempt to swipe our guns.

Also please recall that Your Majesty's Government (Australian sector) was actively involved in plots to take down the President both before AND after his election. We do find it very interesting that both your MI5 + MI6 heads suddenly resigned after BoJo's election--and that today, BoJo's government issued a statement of support for Trump's action. It goes without saying that The President might carry a spot of resentment about that, eh wot?

The best advice on how to look at Trump's moves: wait two full days before issuing judgment. If you still prefer the Muzzie Mullah's position, feel free to say so. Don't ask the USA to free you from Shari'a in 10 years, either.


J Ahmad said...

It is quite strange and reckless. Trump has risked war, his allies, and his presidency for no clear reason apart from getting rid of a "bad guy." Trump's base was strongly anti-war and opposed to the hawkish Neo-conservative establishment of George Bush, Donald Rumsfield, John Bolton etc. I would have figured that Trump had already earned his pro-Israeli bona fides by changing the location of the US embassy and withdrawing funding from Palestinian organizations.

But now he risks appearing far too subservient to Neo-con and Saudi and Israeli interests. Starting another war would confirm this, and, unless he's planning on picking up the support of hawkish Democrats and Neo-cons, he's actually hurt his election chances. It looks like he's abandoned his base for the Washington elites, unless this is Trump's weird way of jump-starting negotiations with Iran.

Anyway, barring a miraculous diplomatic coup on Trump's part, impending war could make things easier for the Democrats. If they can squarely back a populist peace candidate—like Tulsi Gabbard or a younger Bernie Sanders—they'd garner disgruntled Trumpists and win. Since the last election, however, the Democrats have increasingly become the party of liberal bourgeois 'woke-ism.'So it'll probably be Trump and Bloomberg...

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Mr Dad

This side of the water, we write 'Bollocks' not 'bollix'.

It interests me that you have apparently read practically nothing of what I wrote.

Arthur Gallagher said...

Donald Trump's presidency is an answer to prayer, and all this anti-Trumpism is fascinating to watch.

The United States has never recognized the Islamic Republic of Iran, and no American President could sit back and watch them gearing up to seize yet another American Embassy. Just as the left wing of the Democratic Party yearns to relive the halcyon days of Watergate, so too, the Iranians long for the glory days of the Hostage Crisis. Allowing an attack on the U.S. Embassy to go unpunished would be too dangerous. Clearly, the recent attack was just the opening act of a new hostage crisis- or an attempt in that direction.

MEwbank said...

What is equally astonishing to this repugnant and foolish act on the part of Trump, no doubt encouraged by the fundamentalist evangelicals who are blind supporters of Zionism in his cabinet, is that he has so blatantly gambled on playing into the pro-Israel strategy of seeking to divide the Mohammedan world, so that it might be better conquered and controlled by secularist-globalist interests... but the outcome is very likely going to be the opposite.

Dad29 said...

OK, then, let's get a little deeper.

"Assassination" is the word used by Iran to refer to the shoot. To most of us, he was an enemy combatant and got what they often get. Location is irrelevant, as was the location of Rommel when he was disposed of. Curiously, no Algerians have complained.

"...allies which we were once considered to be...." See my first response.

As to 'please do not litter our country with dead Americans', that's up to the terrorist MuzzieMullahs, no?

(It is irony to hear someone from Churchill's Total War Country to fuss over shooting enemies, by the way, especially since there were only about 5-6 deaths--compared to the 500-600 US citizens the Poet Construction Worker killed.)

From your commentary, I take it you know with Absolutely Biblical Certainty that Trump did NOT inform British commanders of the upcoming event. Do you, really??

I do not think that JPII retracted the moral liceity of "self-defense."

As to the election? Don't make me laugh. First off, there will be no opposition worth the name. Corbyn would be just as successful as any of the flying monkeys the Democrats will nominate. Secondly, barring an act of God, Trump is likely to annihilate the opponent AND bring back his Party's majorities in the Senate and the House.

By all means, retract all your troops!! Here's my thought on that, as earlier expressed: Don't ask the USA to free you from Shari'a in 10 years, either.

Finally: if you believe that Iran had scrupulously adhered to the nuke-pact, I have a fine old bridge available for you to purchase. Used to be in London, as I understand it from the very formal and clearly legitimate title papers.


Aqua said...

Do you honestly think the Iranians will be “persuaded” to stop nuclear development; destroy their centrifuges? By the “Europeans”? I don’t.

Nations like this are compelled, not persuaded. They have an apocalyptic vision that had no room for America or Europeans. And they are unafraid of half measures.

They understand pain and risk. I do not believe such people understand persuasion, logic, reason, “nudging”.

Hitler did not seem like such a bad guy at the beginning as he took his initial steps into Sudetenland. And violence against him at first seemed inappropriate to most. Many even saw his logic. It takes wisdom to see where one threat is mortal, while another is minor; one nation (regime) pure evil, another is not.. Iran is evil and mortal. They lack only the means, not the will. President Trump loves America, Americans and he is correct to respond with force that Iran’s evil despots understand.

Dale Crakes said...

I sadly suggest Fr that you refrain from political polemics, particularly about the US. You know peace in the parish.

Badcatholic said...

Your article makes me glad you are a Preist (and a most admirable one) and not in charge of foreign policy. I think you mistakenly assign neo-con attributes to Trump that do not exist. I certainly abhor the foreign policy of the neo-cons.

Banshee said...

If a senior American general is driving around in a war zone, he is as fair a target as the lowliest grunt. Likewise, "assassination" is not something that can happen to a terrorist in a war zone; and Solumeini was a terrorist commander, acknowledged as such by his men.

Now, if your general is driving around in a neutral country, such as Switzerland, and somebody drops a bomb or a bullet in him, that is assassination.

Re: not telling allies... Well, traditionally that is a sign that X thinks Y has somebody who is talking to the enemy. And there is a lot of information going to baddies, unfortunately.

But certainly one might mention that traditionally, the UK does all kinds of things without telling the US bupkis. So does France. So does Israel. Heck, half of NATO has no problem going unilateral, whenever they feel like it. So I fail to see how this situation is different.

Banshee said...

Oh, and I never connected bollix with bollocks before. I mean, they don't really sound the same, and my general impression was that it was German or something. But Etymonline agrees with you!

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Mr 29

You do us far too much honour. We did not kill poor Marshal Rommel.

In the early stages of Waterloo, a British sniper had Buonaparte (usurper; mass-murderer) in his sights. Wellington ordered him not to shoot. Viva Wellington.

Had W said Yes, we would have had a whole load more of pro-Buonapartist mythology about even-more-perfidious-Albion.

And mythology can kill.

Are many of your fellow-countrymen as weak on history as you are?

Victor said...

@Fr Hunwicke: that part about Rommel struck me as weird as well. We Germans have a lot to thank the Americans for; but killing Rommel - that one we did all by ourselves (not that it is something one should be thankful for...)

Dad29 said...

As to "history", we have Albion to thank for this mess....

Western firms had for decades controlled the region’s oil wealth, whether Arabian-American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia, or the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Iran. When the U.S. firm in Saudi Arabia bowed to pressure in late 1950 and agreed to share oil revenues evenly with Riyadh, the British concession in Iran came under intense pressure to follow suit. But London adamantly refused.

So in early 1951, amid great popular acclaim, Mossadegh nationalized Iran’s oil industry. A fuming United Kingdom began conspiring with U.S. intelligence services to overthrow Mossadegh and restore the monarchy under the shah. (Though some in the U.S. State Department, the newly released cables show, blamed British intransigence for the tensions and sought to work with Mossadegh.)

The coup attempt began on August 15 but was swiftly thwarted. Mossadegh made dozens of arrests. Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, a top conspirator, went into hiding, and the shah fled the country.

The CIA, believing the coup to have failed, called it off.

“Operation has been tried and failed and we should not participate in any operation against Mossadegh which could be traced back to US,” CIA headquarters wrote to its station chief in Iran in a newly declassified cable sent on Aug. 18, 1953. “Operations against Mossadegh should be discontinued.”

That is the cable which Kermit Roosevelt, top CIA officer in Iran, purportedly and famously ignored, according to Malcolm Byrne, who directs the U.S.-Iran Relations Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

You may apologize at your leisure, Father.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"in the way of Greater Israel!"

You mean - Biblically rather than Trumpically - Greater Palestine?

I mean, the Numbers 34 frontiers were for all Israelites, not just the one rejecting Christ but accepting Mishna ... and Palestinians are Israelites (with some admixture of Edom, Moab, Ammon, since both these and Palestine were Christians in Constantine's day).

As I mentioned on this post:
Creation vs. Evolution : Changing the Text, NIV?

Douay Rheims obviously, unlike NIV, has "from the east".

Scribe said...

Dear Father,

I'd much rather you gave us a critique of Wilson's edition of the Missal of Jumieges or some such delighful topic than all this political stuff. It'll be forgotten in a few weeks'time. I much prefer your overwhelming (nay, terrifying) edudition on matters ecclesastical, particularly your explanation of the Ordinariate and its acompanying Anglican Patrimony. Please, Father!

Unknown said...

Iran didn't kill any Americans last night in their barrage of missiles. They could have. They're scared.
And as for you smug Brits, I'm one, enough of the anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.
Time to grow up, Fr.

Fr. Frank said...

This side of the water 'bollix' is perfectly acceptable.


armyarty said...

A lot of inaccurate predictions were made by the anti-Trump crowd, and a lot of rash judgments. Retractions, anyone?

Badcatholic said...

May farm boy Father came to your island in 1943, invaded Normandy, and fought to the Elbe River to save your Country’s @&$@. I suppose there would have been a problem if he assassinated Hitler.

Peirce said...

You heard it here first! All these worldly-wise Americans would be calmly accepting if the Iranians snipe down American generals in Iraq. Because that is fair, legal, and totally moral!

PM said...

I thought in first sight of the title that this post might be about another curious tendency across the Atlantic, namely the tendency to conscript not just the papal magisterium but Our Lord himself as dim, tepid forerunners of the all-holy all-wise social, economic and political philosophy of Ayn Rand.

That, I suspect, would be another discussion.

PM said...

Never mind, I assume, that the increase in Iranian political and strategic influence in the Middle East in the last fifteen years is a direct consequence of George W Bush's strategic blunder on the second Iraq war - a blunder with which the oleaginous Blair foolishly went along.

Raghn Crow said...

Dale Crakes has it correct, but if I may say so, this once: the deceased, Suleimani, was personally responsible for the deaths of a little over 600 Americans, and that via terrorism, and the injury of more, and of many Coalition personnel, and Iraqis. In doing so, please note he acted thus as a terrorist, which is specifically defined as someone (like the Anarchists of old) who kills indiscriminately to further some real or imagined end.

And there's rumor that even his masters in Tehran were afraid of him, and may have helped in placing him in the way of retribution. He had a private army, in effect, and decades built-up connections with the most vile, murderous crew on Earth. As such, he was not the kind of "soldier" who rides about the battlefield, as Wellington did, or Napoleon (upon occasion, Nappy placed himself in the line of fire).

Raghn Crow

Sprouting Thomas said...

It isn't right to make use of the privilege of princes - using lethal force against people who are not in the very act of attacking you - without also observing the responsibility of princes to follow due process in peace and in war. The assassination was clearly unlawful by any standard recognized in the West from Roman times through the scholastics up until the present day.

If the Iranian was being treated as an individual terrorist, then the proper criminal procedures should have been followed. He needed to face fair trial for counts of murder, terrorism, fomentation of violence etc., and to be brought to that trial by law-enforcement, the same as any other murderer. The US authorities, I imagine, don't pre-emptively assassinate mass-murderers who happen live in Florida rather than Tehran. If other countries refuse to cooperate in his arrest, well, then, you're out of luck until you actually catch him in the act. Or else you need to ramp up the pressure on those countries either to act themselves or to give you licence to act - though in the end you may still be out of luck. That can happen, in life.

If he was being treated as an enemy combatant then, um, the flag and uniform to which he owed allegiance actually needed to be designated an enemy in open war. Otherwise it's just Pearl Harbour in a more intimate setting. Obviously he cannot be an "enemy combatant" while the US remains at peace with Iran.

It wasn't a nice position for the US to be in, and the loss of life on their side at the hands of terror has been appalling. But if there are moral laws which no individual can break, no matter what the pressure, then there are such for states, too. Even the pagans used to conduct war with honour; how much more the age of Christendom! Duke Godfrey and Louis IX would have had rather stronger words for our "ally" than our present European leaders.

armyarty said...

Sprouting Thomas, you are being tiresome. The late general was not a lawful combatant, he was a terrorist, and was president in Iraq to further his terroristic activities. So, basically, he was an outlaw, and could be killed on sight.