NCR has pooled some interesting commentary and reaction from a variety of Catholic ethicists, who look at how the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani does or does not fit in with the theory of “just war.”

Some snips: 

The use of drones to kill terrorists would seem on the surface to limit the use of force, making it more “surgical” perhaps. However, it too has raised a number of questions that just war ethicists have been attempting to address ever since this technology became used more during President Barack Obama’s administration.

With the most recent targeted drone killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of the concerns I have is related to what Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, called the “technocratic paradigm.” That is, technology can incline us to take shortcuts, to prefer an easy fix, and to bypass other dimensions for finding solutions to problems, such as actual contact and communication with other persons.

In other words, and to return to one of the criteria of just war theory, was the turning to a drone strike really a last resort? Was there no time to attempt other avenues for dealing with the alleged threat? And going back to the criterion of just cause, was Soleimani really posing a clear and present danger? — Tobias Winright, associate professor of theological ethics and health care ethics, St. Louis University


Every pope since Vatican II has condemned war as contradicting the Gospel, causing violence to spiral ahead. Yet they have never condemned self-defense or defense of the innocent. This paradox sets the stage for our response to the present Iran-U.S. situation.

Killing Soleimani could be justified in just war terms because he was an ongoing perpetrator of attacks on U.S. and allied forces, and used terrorist tactics that did not spare civilians. Yet this analysis is hardly problem-free.

There is no firm evidence that Soleimani posed an imminent threat. Just war criteria of proportionality and reasonable hope of success were not clearly satisfied, given the further dangerous destabilization of relations with both Iran and Iraq, and the prospect of military escalation. — Lisa Sowle Cahill, J. Donald Monan Professor of Theology, Boston College


The use of force against Iran is only justifiable if it is tied to a realistic and serious effort to bring a just peace to a region that U.S. actions, such as withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement and especially the Iraq invasion, have done so much to destabilize. Rather than a muscular unilateralism, what is needed is restraint, dialogue and a commitment to use U.S. power and influence to promote cooperative security in the region.— Gerard Powers Director of Catholic peacebuilding studies, Kroc Institute, Keough School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame

There’s much more. Read it all.