Just war doctrine
The Just War Doctrine, according to the "Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraphs 2302-2317, authoritatively teaches what constitutes the just defense of a nation against an aggressor. Called the Just War Doctrine, it was first enunciated by St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD). Over the centuries it was taught by Doctors of the Church, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, and formally embraced by the Magisterium, which has also adapted it to the situation of modern warfare." 
Principles of a Just War
- A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.
- A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority. Even just causes cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society deem legitimate.
- A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause (although the justice of the cause is not sufficient--see point #4). Further, a just war can only be fought with "right" intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury.
- A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success. Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable.
- The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought.
- The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered. States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered.
- The weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians. The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.
Source: Vincent Ferraro Resources, Mount Holyoke College International Relations Program. 
War against Iraq
Christians are by no means united on the subject of war against Iraq. Some reject war--any war--out of hand, preferring a pacifist position as the one that best represents the spirit of the Scriptures. Others admit that war is sometimes a sad necessity and that only war can prevent an even greater threat.
A number of religious leaders including Richard Land, Bill Bright, Chuck Colson, D. James Kennedy, and Carl Herbster wrote a letter to President Bush arguing that a war against Iraq could be justified. They believe that such a war meets the tradition of "just war" theory:
- Just cause. Saddam Hussein is a threat to freedom and has attacked his neighbors and his own people.
- Just intent. The United States has no interest in occupation, exploitation, or the destruction of the state of Iraq.
- Last resort. Hussein has defied UN resolutions for years.
- Legitimate authority. Resolutions from the UN as well as the U.S. Congress strengthen the authority of this action.
- Limited and achievable goals. The goal of war is to dismantle weapons of mass destruction.
- Limited casualties. Unlike Hussein, we do not intend to target civilians.
- Proportionality. The human cost of war is less than the human cost of not going to war.
Source: From Summary: Current Thoughts and Press Online, "The Christian and just war" by Ted Kyle. Pulpit Helps, Dec 2002 (Vol 27, No 12). Pages 3+. 
Most of these premises have already been challenged. Some examples are:
- During the Iranian hostage crisis in the late 1970's, the U.S. supplied arms to Iraq to attack Iran. (Attacking Neighbors)
- Pre-Invasion meetings by administration to enter Iraq: Greg Palast, Armed Madhouse, Dutton, 2006 (U.S. Interests)
- No weapons of mass destruction were found. (WMD's)
- Casualties and occupation questions 5 years later (Human Cost)
Catholic Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II condemned the war in Iraq.
- Marl/Louise Zwick, "Pope John Paul II Calls War A Defeat For Humanity: Neoconservative Iraq Just war Theories Rejected", Houston Catholic Worker, July-August, 2003,http://www.cjd.org/paper/jp2war.html
- Michael griffin, New Pope Benedict XVI A Strong Critic of War", Houston Catholic Worker, Special Edition, 2005, http://www.cjd.org/paper/benedict.html
- Daniel McCarthy, "Bush Vs. Benedict: Catholic Conservatives grapple with their church's Just war tradition," The American Conservative, 29 August, 2005, http://www.amconmag.com/2005/2005_08_29/article.html
Books on a "Just War"
- Joseph L. Allen, "War: A Primer for Christians," Dallas, TX: The Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility and Southern Methodist University, 2001.
- Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop, "130 Questions Children Ask About War and Terrorism," Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishing, 2002.
- John D. Roth, "Choosing Against War: A Christian View: A Love Stronger Than Our Fears," Intercourse, PA: Good Books, 2002.
- Katrina Vanden Heuvel (ed.), "A Just Response: The Nation on Terrorism, Democracy, and September 11, 2001," New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002.
- Lawrnece F. Kaplan and William Kristol, "The War Over Iraq: Saddam's Tyranny and America's Mission," San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2003.
- William J. Bennett, "Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism," Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2002.
- Jean Bethke Elshtain, "Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World," New York: Basic Books, 2003.
- Michael Walzer, "Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations" (3rd. Ed.), New York: Basic Books, 1977.
Related SourceWatch Resources
- Colin B. Donovan, STL, "Just War" in the Catechism, ewtn.com.
- Catholic Answers: "Just War Doctrine".
- "Just War Theory," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- catholicjustwar.org website.
Blogspots & Forums
- FAQ: "Just War & the teaching of the Catholic Church," Extreme Catholic. Includes links to articles & commentary.
- "Just War," Nel Mezzo, November 23, 2004.
- ddlewis86, "Just War Theory," Bible Forums, December 16, 2004.
- "War," Blogimus Maximus, January 17, 2005.
Articles & Commentary
- Fulton J. Sheen, "Conditions of a Just War," catholicmil.org, 1994.
- Lewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., "Catholics, Iraq, and Just War," lewrockwell.com, July 18, 2000.
- Jacki Lyden, Interview with Rev. J. Bryan Hehir: "A Just War? Asking the Age-Old Question about the Pursuit of Terrorism," NPR, January 25, 2002. Rev. Hehir is "a leading Catholic theologian, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Charities USA, and former Harvard Divinity School executive committee chairman."
- Susan B. Thistlewait, "President Bush's war against Iraq is not a 'just war'," United Church News, November 2002: "In February 1991, then-President Bush took great pains to argue to the American public that his proposed Gulf War conformed to the historic principles of Just War theory. The current President Bush has not made an appeal to Just War theory to support his proposed war in Iraq. He cannot. Pre-emptive strikes violate Just War theory. We are being asked to support America embarking on a war that contradicts the religious and military thinking on the justified use of force that has been dominant for centuries."
- Joe Feurherd, "Opinions clash on just war," National Catholic Reporter, February 7, 2003.
- Michael Novak, "Asymmetrical Warfare & Just War. A moral obligation," National Review Online, February 10, 2003.
- Richard Owen, "Pope takes issue with America's 'just war'," Times Online (UK), February 10, 2003.
- Michael Novak, "War to Topple Saddam Is a Moral Obligation," The Times (London), February 12, 2003.