To the Editor:

Paul and Wang articulate a common Christian view of war in their column (“U.S. must pursue justice in tune with Christ,” 10/11). Theirs, however, is not the only perspective. Indeed, in his Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas Aquinas disputes the notion that war is inherently evil, unlawful, and sinful and lists three requirements for a “just war:” the authority of a legitimate sovereign, a just cause (“those who are attacked should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault”), and a rightful intention (“the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil”).

Furthermore, one scholar has interpreted Aquinas’s just war as an act of profound charity, rooted in love of neighbor and of God; a refusal to act when the circumstances warrant it constitutes a “failure” to express that love.

In the past, when this country encountered these uncompromising foes, such as the Nazis, we did not seek a peaceful co-existence (which would have meant the survival of an oppressive, racist regime). Rather, we acted and sought to defeat and destroy Nazism and the perpetrators of totalitarianism and genocide, relegating them to “history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.”

A similar call to duty echoes now in our own time. Our leader is legitimate; our cause is just; our intentions are rightful. Our war on terrorism is a just one, and as a Christian, I unwaveringly support it. How can one who loves his neighbor do any less?

David M. Reisch ’03

October 11, 2001