The Catholic Case for Biden, Part III: Only Torture the Innocent
Part three of a six-part series
We know these are painful subjects. The last things most of us want to think about these days are probably “Joe Biden” and “the U.S. Catholic bishops.” Each is riddled with scandal. Each has disappeared from sight, citing COVID as the pretext. Biden “called a lid” on his campaign through Thursday. Our bishops called a lid on the sacraments back in March. But the votes of Catholics are still important in major swing states. And it’s crucial that members of our nation’s largest church cast their vote as sovereign citizens in line with real Christian principles.
So we have chosen to work our way doggedly through the principles of Catholic social teaching on major issues in this campaign. We’re using as foils, more than guides, the impenetrable document the U.S. Catholic bishops created (apparently) to puzzle American voters — and the handy-dandy “Catholic Voters Guide” crafted by third-tier academics, put up on the Web, and made to look official. It was also heavily skewed to favor Biden. So we’re responding to it, point by point, in this series.
Pretexts for Voting for More Gummint Cheese
Not that this little document is important in itself. People looking for excuses to support the pro-abortion Democrats will find them somewhere or other. But it is indeed important to call out falsehoods, and defend the real value of the Christian tradition of thinking about political issues in light of human dignity, of man created by God and redeemed by Jesus. We must call both parties to form their policies in light of this vision, the vision that inspired America’s founding in the first place.
Here in Part Three, we look at the issues Catholic Voters Guide raised next. We’ll go through them one by one.
Avoid War and Promote Peace
Now on one level it’s just silly to treat this as a black and white moral issue. No major candidate in U.S. history has campaigned as “pro-war” in principle, or as an absolute pacifist. The question is which candidates’ policies and track record have proven most prudent at avoiding or ending needless wars. That is, those which either best meet Christian Just War principles. Joe Biden has quite the record on this issue.
As Michael Brendan Dougherty explained in National Review, Biden has shown a kind of negative infallibility on foreign policy, managing to be wrong on the facts and wildly imprudent again and again. He opposed the first, limited, internationally-supported Gulf War based on Iraq’s real invasion of Kuwait. Then he backed the second, almost unilateral, unlimited American invasion of Iraq based on imaginary WMDs. He opposed the “surge” that restored order in the country, and favored our reckless pullout that enabled ISIS. But at least his brother James Biden’s company got a $1.5 billion contract for Iraq’s reconstruction.
Trump, by contrast, has shown sane restraint about U.S. military adventures. He resisted calls for the use of force against North Korea, and entered talks with that country. His administration led the efforts that gave us historic peace deals between Arab states and Israel.
Trump scoffed at demands by GOP establishment neoconservatives to send U.S. planes to shoot down Russian ones over Syria — to help the “moderate rebels” endorsed by Sen. John McCain. Who turned out to be al Qaeda jihadists. Trump instead gave technical, air, and Special Forces support to Christian and Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria. They conquered ISIS and liberated their homeland, in what might be the most just war in modern history.
We do criticize President Trump, however, for not defending our allies’ interests against the predations of Turkey, which has used those al Qaeda Islamists to persecute local Christians.
Reject the Use of Torture
We’re reluctant to take this one seriously for multiple reasons. First of all, from a Catholic perspective, the Church has been on both sides of this issue over the centuries. When it felt threatened by heretics, popes endorsed the use of torture against them, within narrow limits. Now that the U.S. is threatened by terrorism, and the Vatican is blasé about doctrine, the Church has discovered new qualms about the practice.
Secondly, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris opposed the Pain Capable Abortion Act, which was meant to spare innocent babies from the gruesome pain of abortion. But let’s say you wish to claim that sparing terrorist detainees physical coercion aimed at gaining life-saving information is now a timeless Catholic principle. Yes, Biden comes out ahead of Donald Trump here. He only favors the useless torture of pre-born children.
Against the Preventative Use of Military Force
For some reason, Catholic Voters Guide scores Biden as according with Church teaching here, and Trump as out of tune with it. But it was Joe Biden who backed the disastrous Iraq War, which Trump opposed. Biden was in office and on board with the catastrophic intervention in Libya. This NATO-led war left that country in chaos, ISIS in control of much of it, and black slave markets once again operating in Libya.
Unfortunately, as a private citizen, Trump also fell for the propaganda demanding the removal of Gaddafi from power. In office, however, he has been far more restrained in his use of military force than any president in decades. His drone attack on Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani was surgical, didn’t harm innocent civilians, and did not bring on national chaos in that country.
Work to Reverse the Spread of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons
Catholic Voter Guide claims that Biden aligns with the Catholic bishops here, but the evidence it offers is scanty and inconclusive. It admits that Trump’s position is “inconclusive.” But it cites as negative evidence Trump’s refusal to … launch a useless, counterproductive war on Syria after its regime allegedly used chemical weapons. Such a war would have left al Qaeda jihadists in control of a country with a million Christians, and millions of other non-Sunni believers, who would have faced persecution.
Against the Direct and Intentional Targeting of Noncombatants in War or Terrorist Attacks
On this issue, Catholic Voter Guide gets things right. Both candidates have supported drone strikes against terrorists that often resulted in collateral damage killing civilians. However, it’s worth weighing the actual effects of both men’s efforts in office. The Obama/Biden strategy in tortured Syria was to trivialize the ISIS threat. They relied on appeasing Iran in the hopes of that country counterbalancing ISIS. Trump tore up the appeasing Iran deal and found decent partners in the region (the Kurdish/Syriac Christian alliance) which quickly crushed that terrorist statelet. Hundreds of thousands of civilians found peace and freedom as a result.
Promotes the Reallocation of Resources from Armed Conflict to the Urgent Needs of the Poor
Just the wording of this screams “agitprop!” Both Biden and Trump favor large military budgets. Both want the economy to meet “the urgent needs of the poor.” They differ, as do their parties, about how to accomplish the latter. Biden seems to favor increasing and expanding the dependence of the poor on government handouts. Indeed, his support of a reckless, open-ended COVID lockdown has helped put millions of Americans out of work and on the dole. Trump’s successful economic policies, before the Wuhan Flu lockdowns outlawed commerce in many states, had brought about record-low unemployment figures in traditionally poor and non-white communities.
Sorry, There’s More to Come
Together, Jones and Zmirak wrote The Race to Save Our Century.