Monday, March 10, 2003

On to Jimmy Carter. While Prager addressed every argument in Carter's article, Prager's criticism seemed to refer mostly to the following passages:

As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards. This is an almost universal conviction of religious leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology.

The unanimous vote of approval in the Security Council to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction can still be honored, but our announced goals are now to achieve regime change and to establish a Pax Americana in the region, perhaps occupying the ethnically divided country for as long as a decade. For these objectives, we do not have international authority. Other members of the Security Council have so far resisted the enormous economic and political influence that is being exerted from Washington, and we are faced with the possibility of either a failure to get the necessary votes or else a veto from Russia, France and China.

Prager was very much upset that Carter seemed to claim his religious values are part of reasons for opposing a war against Iraq. Prager argued that there is no religion that decides the morality of a war based on the number of countries that support its prosecution. I think the broader point is also true: Moral principle (regardless whether its source is considered religious or not) is not decided by a popularity contest.
The idea that moral principles come from the majority seems to have ultimately come from Immanuel Kant (who made collective subjectivism a substitute for objectivity), via a long series of intermediate philosophers. More on that some other time.

Frankly, I don't want to spend too much time on Carter, the worst President in U.S. history, as Prager has accurately characterized him.

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