Stephen Decatur raised his glass as a toast in 1816 and said: Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be right; but our country, right or wrong.
Later Carl Schurz, the first German-born leader of either party, amended it in an address to the U. S. Senate, saying, Our country right or wrong. When right to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.
I agree with Schurzand like a popular priest orator of a few days ago, I believe a role for Catholics is to follow the dictates of God before those of popular Americanism. In the case of abortion, for instance, there is no doubt in my mind that the Supreme Court made a woeful mistake on January 22, 1973 when it announced Roe v. Wade. From that time on, I have been a strong dissenter to that policy.
On the issue of Iraq, however, I dont accept what comes across in some philosophical treatisesthat the doctrine of preemptive war is wrong. Not always. If you look at it closely, almost all wars engaged in by the United States were preemptive
starting with the Revolution at Lexington and Concord with the shot heard `round the world. Certainly the War of 1812 was initiated by us to further solidify our liberty and to react against the impressments of U. S. seamen. The Mexican War was directly initiated by usno doubt about it. Then Congressman Lincoln believed the war was immoral. Should we return California and Texas to Mexico as a result? I think not.
The Civil War or the War Between the States? It is an even go as to whether it was launched by the north as preemptive or the south as preemptive. The Spanish-American war definitely was preemptive on our part and unjustified. World War I was a great disaster in which we had no business participating. Our entry was preemptive; no doubt about it. The American people did not want to be involved in World War II. Roosevelt maneuvered so as to cause us to enter the warthus it was preemptive on our part. Had we stayed out, however, probably the West would have been destroyed by the battle between two giant tyrannies: Nazism and Communism. Whichever won would have been stronger than heretofore and probably the future of the West would have been destroyed. Ergo I come to the terrible conclusion that (a) we entered the war preemptively and in doing so, Roosevelt committed a grievous sin but (b) probably in the long run it was fortuitous that we entered it.
This is hideously ambiguous but probably the right answer.
As far as Iraq is concerned, I think the preemptive nature of it is very important because as Bernard Lewis has said: it is the first time that the forces of terrorism have been rocked back on their heels
with the result that thus farand it may end tomorrowwe have not been attacked again on our soil.
Therefore I believe that the time will come
and I will live to see it
when George W. Bush will be regarded as one of the greatest presidents by the very nature of his being unwilling to bend to popular winds. I am more sure of that than I have been of many things in my long life.