Sunday, February 13, 2005

Some Disjointed Thoughts on War

I've been thinking a lot about war the past few weeks.

I've been thinking about my time at Eden and how the general air was against going into Iraq.

I've been thinking about various views on the internet that give reasons why the U.S. needed to go to Iraq.

I've been asking myself if Jesus really was a pacifist.

I've been thinking about all the people in the world who want to kill Americans, who want to kill Christians, who want to kill. And I've been thinking about people in the world who want to kill Iraqis, Arabs, or Muslims. And of course we can add blacks, Jews, homosexuals, and virtually any and every group on the planet to the list, depending on who you talk to. And I've been thinking about how people who want to kill them don't stop until they are imprisoned or worse. But of course their ideas live on.

I attended a talk on war this past Tuesday given by an orthodox rabbi. He gave some of the usual rhetoric some may recognize as 'just war' reasoning, even providing a one-line litmus test for whether one is a pacifist or not: 'If someone were to break into your home, would you use violence to stop them from harming your family?' At certain points he dangerously approached the line of moral relativism, but I don't think it's necessary to expound on that here. But he said some things that I needed to think about. That pacifist test got me.

Jim Wallis, along with a group of religious leaders, in the case of Iraq, sought
a third alternative to 'just war' and pacifism. He speaks of an international police force and international court to try Saddam Hussein. He speaks of forcing him out of power with means other than war, although I cannot help but think that violence would have been used in this third option. How else to remove Saddam and the Baaths from power? How else to take him to the proposed tribunal? Might it be less violent? Could an insurgency have been avoided if this plan were followed?

So I've been thinking about war, and will continue to think about war. I will think about how sometimes perhaps violence is necessary, but in many other cases how war is used for selfish political ambition. I will continue to think about how war has stopped further violence and has encouraged further violence. I will continue to think about how war, no matter who thinks of themselves as the 'good guys' (and nobody thinks of themselves as the 'bad guys'), people die. People die. And it's never just the combatants. And I'll keep thinking about the lack of outrage, humility, and restraint that is sometimes shown by the 'good guys' when that happens. I'll also think about the outrage I feel when I hear about another beheading.

And I'll also keep thinking about how platitudes like 'War is Hell' don't help.

As a 'necessary evil,' as it is often called, is it truly always necessary? And is it ever not evil?

If we are all God's children, what does God think when the 'bad guy' dies, no matter how corrupt or despicable their actions?

Maybe a more appropriate Lenten study this time around should be Bonhoeffer's decision to join the assassination attempt on Hitler, a book on 'just war,' further study on 'third alternatives,' or something else.

'Violence is not the answer.' To which question?

I hate this. I'm gonna go buy groceries.