Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Military Pacifist

A career military man writes about peace in a post well worth read. Check the comments as well. While I don't necessarily share in the author's disillusion with the purposes of the Iraq War, I think he strikes the perfect Christian balance on understanding war and peace, and the place of the individual Christian with respect to them.


Teófilo de Jesús said...

Thank you for the mention and the crosslink!


Anonymous said...

It was a thoughtful piece. War is always a dirty business and never to be entered into lightly.

"In retrospect, the War in Iraq is such a one, for its original justifications were all proven wrong."

I would differ with the author on the above. Here is a link to the Joint Resolution on the Use of Force passed by Congress in October of 2002.

I think the reasons enumerated for the use of force hold up quite well. The world is a better place without Saddam and his thug regime in it, and the Joint Resolution ably sets forth some of the reasons why this is the case.

Darwin said...


Yeah, that's where I have to part company with those who see the war as having turned out to be a mistake. Clearly, it would have been far better if we'd simply finished what we stated in 1991, but since we didn't, I can't see how getting rid of Hussein was overall a bad thing for the world.

However, I thought that Theo's larger point was much more important than any differences, in that I think he outlined the attitude that Christian's should take towards war, while understanding the extent to which the world's sheep will always need sheepdogs. That's what seems to me so lacking in what so many pacifists have to say.

CMinor said...

Glad you pointed out the comments. His responses to the troll were exemplary.

Kyle Cupp said...

Good link, Darwin.

While I acknowledge the possibility of just wars, I think they are impossible to justify in today’s world. For one thing, the interconnectedness of the world, market and otherwise, makes calculating the consequence of a war impossible. A war against Iraq (or elsewhere) doesn’t just affect people in Iraq; it has consequences, (many of them unintended) outside Iraq and even the Middle East. This state of affairs renders it impossible to ensure that the evils caused by a war are not graver than the evil to be eliminated, one of the four conditions of a just war. There’s no way to know or even estimate with accuracy what the effects (good and bad) of a war will be or even have been. I don’t think it’s possible to know whether or not the world is better off with the US invasion of Iraq. Too many variables. Too many unknowns. I guess this makes me a practical, though not theoretical, pacifist.

Teófilo de Jesús said...

Thank you all for your feedback and Kyle, I liked what you have to say.

I think your argument, though, cuts both ways. Some would say that today, for all practical purposes, most wars are unjust wars and as such, lacking moral standing, they should be stopped or somehow banned by international law.

From the opposite side, some will say that the "just war theory" is a theory that has outlived its usefulness. Having been formulated in times where armies lined up in the field to kill each other, they theory hasn't kept pace with developments in battlefield technologies, or even with a definition of "battlespace."

Would a "cyberwar" that kills no one directly but, say, turns off the lights in the West Coast be "just" if engaged for "just objectives" and "proportional means?" Would a retaliatory attack in kind be considered a "proportional means"? What is the proper way to respond to a terrorist attack in a proportional manner?

There's no easy solution but there must be change. The underlying principle of "justice" in Just War Theory must remain unchanged but somewhere, somehow, someone should come up with a new formulation.


Kyle Cupp said...

"There's no easy solution but there must be change. The underlying principle of "justice" in Just War Theory must remain unchanged but somewhere, somehow, someone should come up with a new formulation."

Agreed. And soon, for there are monsters in our midst. Wars as fought today may not be justifiable, but that doesn't mean there are not real, grave threats to life and limb. Our age needs an Augustine or Aquinas.

Darwin said...

I'd thought perhaps this post had fallen bellow everyone's interest, but since it's coming back to life:

Wars as fought today may not be justifiable

I'm always highly suspicious of lines of argument which rely on the modern situation having completely changed from that in the past. I don't deny that modern technology has given us means of destruction nearly unimaginable before, but I think insisting that that totally changes the equation makes too light of the tragedies that war caused hundreds or thousands of years ago. To name two things that spring obviously to mind: Any unforeseen regional instability caused the US war in Iraq will probably be as nothing compared to the long forgotten conflicts which drove the Turks out of the steppes of Asia and into the history of Asia Minor and the world. And while modern weapons bring much greater of "collateral damage" to civilians, modern supply chains much reduce the famine that used to accompany nearly every war. Few armies even attempted a complete supply chain until 200 years ago -- instead they took whatever food they needed from the civilians they passed through, often leaving starvation in their wake.


I think you bring up some interesting points about what constitutes conflict and a battleground.

It seems to me that there must be _some_ sort of just way to defend yourself against any attack, though I don't necessary claim to know what it is in every imaginable situation. Though I could certainly imagine that there are certain forms of conflict it is never just to be the one to start.

Kyle Cupp said...

I wouldn't say that there has been a total change in the equation, nor would I wish to make light of the horrors of pre-modern wars. My point is that war and the world today are such as to make calculating the consequences of a war impossible.

I do think just war thinking should be rethought, particularly in light of "Pacem in Terris" and "Gaudium et Spes", among other works, and also the existence of powerful non-nation aggressors.