This has always been one of the more ambiguous areas of Roman Catholic Just War doctrine that began with the magisterial writings of St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. Basically it refers to war being the product of constitutional or legitimate authority processes. Yes in recent years it was altered to allow non-governmental liberation struggles against the forces of repression. Just War doctrine today allows presumably war to be waged against “legitimate” authority that is deemed “illegitimate.”
The Bush administration war in Iraq by any measure violated this component of Just War Doctrine. [I don’t believe in just war but am merely applying this concept to the Iraq quagmire.]
1) The Bush administration neither sought nor was granted a Declaration of War as required in the slave constitution as ratified by the requisite number of states in 1788. Article 1, Section 8 states only Congress can “declare war.” Those who desire a literalist, strict construction of the Constitution are nowhere to be seen when this vital passage is ignored.
2) Cowardly Democrats who vote for “authorisation to use force” are simply giving a president a permission slip to commit mass murder. A Declaration of War is a proclamation that war exists. I do not accept the equivalence of authorisation with the Constitutional requirements to have a formal declaration of war. This development was due to the Cold War, which like all war, takes a toll on the freedoms and constitutional mandates of our nation. The Imperial presidency has vitiated the document; yet it bemoans its alleged undermining by liberal justices as it appoints right-wing bigots, enemies of democracy and puritanical hypocrites to the Supreme Court.
3) Unless the United Nations, through its Security Council, signs off on war, I think a nation that goes to war in the absence of such approval is a terrorist state acting in an immoral manner. It violates Just War doctrine. I recognise the argumentation that nations may go to war to avert national destruction, to ward off an invasion, to respond to a clear and unmistakable imminent attack. Yet the Iraq war could not even remotely satisfy those criteria and was waged against the wishes of the U.N. and in the explicit absence of an enabling Security Council resolution.
I do not believe the Just War doctrine’s requirement of “legitimate authority” was satisfied either according to internal constitutional processes or external international obligations to conduct oneself according to the wishes of the international community.
Mr Bush and the Democratic party leadership are in my estimation war criminals and should be denounced for violating the laws of war.