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Just War?

In a recent speech before religious broadcasters, Attorney General John Ashcroft made an extraordinary appeal. He called on three of the world's religions — Christians, Jews and Muslims — to join forces in the war on terrorism. There are some who interpreted his words as a call for a new crusade.

Recently, NOW invited several noted theologians and scholars of religion and society to discuss their thoughts on the role of religion in society, in war, and in politics. Read their comments and share your thoughts by joining the online discussion.

See Also: Rev. J. Bryan Hehir on Just War
Azizah al-Hibri on "An Eye for an Eye"

James Carroll
James Carroll


"There's no doubt in my mind one of the most important and unknown stories in America today is the argument that goes on inside the Pentagon. I'll give you one example. In the '50s into the early '60s one of the great debates was whether preventative war was a strategy America should undertake. There were people in the Pentagon who argued the morality of and the political necessity of preventative war, that is to say, we should attack the Soviet Union now before they have the capacity to launch a retaliatory strike that would undo as a nation, and it was a serious debate. One of the great political and moral victories of that era, I would say, is when the American government decided — I think on moral grounds — preventative war is unacceptable. The United States of America does not do that. The reason I point to that is because the same debate now is going on in the Pentagon."

Talk back now on the Message Boards.
Transcript Read the complete James Carroll interview

James Carroll is a former Catholic priest. His father, an Air Force General, was founding director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and during the Vietnam War picked the target for American bombers. Since leaving the priesthood, he's published 11 books. He won the National Book Award for his memoir called AN AMERICAN REQUIEM: GOD, MY FATHER, AND THE WAR THAT CAME BETWEEN US. Most recently he published CONSTANTINE'S SWORD: THE CHURCH AND THE JEWS. He's working right now on a history of the Pentagon. He's also a columnist for the BOSTON GLOBE.

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