Larison joins the debate. A tart point:

I think that the purpose of the standards set forth in just war theory is to make it as difficult as possible to meet them, because war, while sometimes necessary, is a great evil. It should not be easy to go to war even in self-defense, much less should it be easy to escalate or start wars. For the loophole crowd, the reason for invoking just war theory seems to be mainly to gain the political benefits of being able to claim to being on the right side, and preferably without having to meet most of the obligations that just war theory requires (or to lower the standards for meeting those obligations such that virtually every operation will meet them no matter what happens).

There is something striking about how rigorously theocons apply Vatican teaching to questions of private individuals' sexual and emotional relationships and how loosely they apply it when it comes to tempering right-wing governments from embracing torture, economic inequality, the death penalty and pre-emptive war.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.