From editor in chief Drew Christiansen, S.J., writing for the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog:
If, as common sense tells us, we should learn from our mistakes, Americans have many lessons to draw from our nine-year military engagement in Iraq. Here are three.
Beware politicians employing intelligence to persuade. A long-time, senior CIA official once told me that he never knew an administration to use intelligence to illuminate public discussion of an issue, but only to bend audiences to policies they had already decided on other grounds. The intelligence used to promote the invasion of Iraq, above all Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the UN, was fundamentally flawed.
Even those who have no formal acquaintance with the Just War tradition understand the legitimacy of a conflict depends on having a just cause. In the case of Iraq, serious consideration of the justice of the cause was impaired by erroneous intelligence and tactics of deception.
In the future, the public needs to be far more skeptical of official justifications for going to war.
Furthermore, after Judith Miller’s erroneous reporting in the New York Times, Americans must also be skeptical of major media outlets when armed conflict is in prospect They should test alleged evidence against alternative news sites and foreign sources. As the prospect of conflict grows, the mainstream media ought also to be more attentive to alternative sources, and experts outside government ought to work much harder to get a hearing with major outlets.
Read Fr. Drew's other two lessons here.