This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Competent authority

Finally, we must ask who makes the final decision to go to war? Which is to ask who is responsible for producing a judgment based on these criteria:

“The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”[1]

The public authority, then, because it is responsible for the national defense is also responsible for judging when and how to employ military force for the sake of that defense. Such a condition is difficult to accept under the aegis of democracy because the citizens have come to see themselves as the actual governors, rather than the electors of their governors which then govern on the basis of information and perspective that the electors cannot have. This confusion results in a mentality through which the average voter believes he has, or should have, the proper information before him necessary to pronounce on every question of military intervention, and in addition should have his pronouncements put into effect. Unfortunately, the attempt to base military action on public opinion in this way results almost each and every time in a total disregard for each condition of just war. That is not to say that governments are more likely to take just war into account, but it is possible for them to do so should they set themselves to the task; it is not possible for the uninformed citizen to do so, whether he wants to or not.

[1] CCC, 2309.

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