September 20, 2006

War, What Is It Good For?

Given the current state of tension between the Catholic Church and Islam this seemed like an interesting question. Is war, or the threat of war, ever ethically and morally justified? James W. Schall in Policy Review, No. 128 argues that there are times when war must be the answer because without the ability to bring the force or arms to bear those who seek to do us harm remain unchecked and free to do as they will. Schall says:

“A calm and reasonable case can and should be made for the possession and effective use of force in today’s world. It is irresponsible not to plan for the necessity of force in the face of real turmoils and enemies actually present in the world. No talk of peace, justice, truth, or virtue is complete without a clear understanding that certain individuals, movements, and nations must be met with measured force, however much we might prefer to deal with them peacefully or pleasantly. Without force, many will not talk seriously at all, and some not even then. Human, moral, and economic problems are greater today for the lack of adequate military force or, more often, for the failure to use it when necessary.
This view goes against a certain rhetorical grain, but it is a fact that needs attention and comprehension. We are not in some new world-historic age in which we can bypass these “outmoded” instruments of power, however rhetorically fine it may be to talk that way. Human nature has not changed, neither for better nor for worse. Human institutions, whether national or international, have not so improved that they themselves cannot be threats to the human good. Who watches the watchdogs remains a fundamental, if not the fundamental, question of the human condition. It is an issue with philosophical, theological, and political dimensions.
This is a counter-cultural position. It goes against much articulate liberal and religious sentiment. Yet I consider these often ungrounded sentiments about abolishing war to be themselves part of the problem of war’s dangers… We need not collapse before tyranny or terrorism or those who sponsor either, but we must effectively do something about them. “Peace and dialogue” do not work in the absence of a force component. The more the reality of measured force is present, the more dialogue and peaceful means — including religious means — are present. In practice, this “doing” peace must include adequate and intelligent force. The intense concern that weapons of mass destruction not fall into the hands of Muslim or other leaders is not fanciful. Every holiday since 9/11, some email comes, warning of the possible use of “dirty bombs” in some American or world city. That they have not been used, I suspect, is more because those who would use them have actually been prevented by force. Units that would blow up major installations, if they could, do exist. All they lack are delivery capabilities.”

I’m not so sure he’s correct. It’s one thing to say that war, or at least the threat of war can be rationalized as an effective even necessary deterrent, in essence a weapon of peace. It’s something else to actively call for war.

Some in the big dysfunctional Christian family go way too far. Texas televangelist, John Hagee, one of the more prominent evangelical Christian Zionists, is a case in point. I used to admire Hagee, not for his message, but for his rhetorical acumen.
No more. Any man who calls, almost hopes, for nuclear war believing it will bring about the end of days has gone too far.

Hagee’s reasoning stands on a false foundation. First, he is absolutely certain that his version of Christ’s return is absolutely correct. There have been a number of so-called prophets throughout the Christian era who thought the same thing only to be proven irrefutably wrong by the merciless march of time. Second, there are many things I doubt, but I believe with all my being that the gospel is a message of love. Hagee, and a great many other misguided souls, actually believe that the sooner the final war between Russia and Israel starts the better.

To fan the conflagration is foolhardy. We must unite in our prayer for peace. God's will will be done.

1 comment:

Mary Sophia said...

Our father whom art in the heavens, Lord have mercy on us