Obama and the Just War Doctrine

George WeigelWhen President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last October, many conservatives feared that the Nobel Committee had set a trap for the young President.  At the time, Obama was debating whether to increase troop levels in Afghanistan.  The thinking was that no leader could accept an award on the basis of bringing peace to the world, and then escalate an ongoing war.

However, to the surprise of many, President Obama not only increased troops in Afghanistan by 30,000, but he then made the case for the Afghan war directly to the Nobel Committee.  Indeed, the President made clear that some wars are not only unavoidable, but just.  “We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes.  There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”

With this theme in mind, the Federalist Society and St. Thomas More Society are proud to bring Catholic theologian George Weigel to Marquette University Law School next week.  Mr. Weigel will deliver the 2010 St. Thomas More Lecture in Catholic Legal Thought, entitled “President Obama’s Nobel Speech: Death or Resurrection of the Just War Doctrine?”  The event will be held on Tuesday, January 26th at noon in Eisenberg Hall.  I hope you can attend what promises to be a thoughtful lecture on the salient and timeless controversy over the notion of just wars.

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Contract Rights Under Assault

Barack_Obama_pledges_help_for_small_businesses_3-16-09In 1789, as the inchoate American government was climbing out of the mountainous debt left over from the Revolutionary War, a thorny political problem emerged.  While most of the chattering class was consumed with the debate over whether the states’ war debt should be federalized, another far more visceral controversy arose.  Because the Continental Congress lacked funds during the war, the Revolution was funded partly by wealthy private citizens who invested in bonds.  As a result of the lack of governmental money, many American soldiers were given worthless IOUs at the end of the war, as states scampered for a way to give the patriots their back pay.  Many of these soldiers panicked, and sold their IOUs to speculators for as little as fifteen cents on the dollar.  The problem was, once the federal government began repaying the debt, the value of the bonds soared.  So who should get the money: the patriots who fought bravely for their country and only sold the IOUs because of fear they would get nothing from their government, or the speculators?

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The EPA Power Grab

epa_logoMy thanks to Prof. Slavin for inviting me to serve as student blogger of the month.  I shall do my level best to maintain the high standards set by the MULS Faculty Blog.

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a finding that greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, constitute a threat to human health and welfare as defined under the Clean Air Act (CAA).  This is significant because the CAA allows the EPA to regulate any pollutant that the EPA finds a danger to human health and welfare.  As EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stated, “[i]f we don’t act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the planet we will leave to the future will be very different that then one we know today.”  If the EPA does decide to act, the same statement will apply to the U.S. economy.

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