On the Question of the


On the Question of the Justness of this War--I respond to a Commenter

In the comment box to a different post a commenter, for whom I have developed a great deal of respect, posts a very strongly worded declaration that the present war is unjust. Part of this conclusion is derived from the suspicion of economic motives, part from other, logical reasons. My response is below:

You aptly express some of my very strong reservations and suspicions. However, I sometimes wonder if we (the United States) don't need an extra jolt, be it economic or otherwise to do what needs done in the first place. For example, it took as an unconscionably long time to enter WWII, and if ever there were a just war, it seems to me that WWII would probably be a type case.

The question of the justness of this particular war seems to be closed--it has happened, it has been permitted within the scope of God's will. Thus, while it may not be just, it has been permitted for whatever reason. We must repent of the sin (if it is a sin) and pray for the victims. My intuition is that this could have been resolved by other means, but for whatever reason, God has permitted it to come to this. If I am to believe in the efficacy of prayer, and I do not consider petitionary prayer as a "majority rules" impulse, I must believe that God has permitted this when the power of prayer could have diverted it. That does not make it just, but it does give one pause to contemplate the mystery of God's will.

I do have another question about it. I wonder whether part of the object lesson of this is not the opposite of what you suggest. Perhaps we are called to assure that petty dictators do not make the lives of a significant portion of Earth's population unlivable. Perhaps this is the hard lesson that we need to improve our ability to resolve conflicts and to unseat those who would control and destroy lives by peaceful means. We have not yet the skill set to do this. But I wonder whether we oughtn't to carefully examine and research the rise of any new government before we endorse it however obliquely. Perhaps our economic interest should not be the first consideration in our diplomatic consideration. For example, why is China on the "Most Favored Nation" trading list. I don't understand this except that it is economically worthwhile. So we say, on the one hand--oh, you bad, bad, violators of human rights, and on the other, come let us trade together--thus we are complicit, as a country in the oppression of billions of Chinese.

Can we have a just peace so long as the world is overrun with people who are willing to kill their own and anyone else? Can we work toward this peace so long as our primary consideration in any engagement is economic? Should we not stand firmly on our principles when it comes to questions of this sort? Should we not REALLY support freedom and liberty? What, for example, are we doing about the nation of Zimbabwe? Not a heckuva a lot that I can see.

I do understand and sympathize with your point--my own is something like, shouldn't we be sharpening up our own diplomatic set of tools so that we don't support regimes like Hussein's (which we haven't done overtly in recent years, but had done before). Should we embrace every dictator who rises to power? Or should we use every tool in the book to unseat him before the base is so well established that one is left with this as the only action that many can see as viable.

Part of our biblical mission, it seems to me, is "to proclaim liberty to the captives." Now the course of that proclamation is almost never easy but need it be always is such violent terms? I think not. But perhaps it takes a lesson of this sort to bring it home. My impulse would be to use this war as a lever and encourage the government to learn from this so that it is never again necessary. The loss of life on both sides, and the loss of innocent life, is a crushing sorrow. There can be no "humanitarian" wars, no matter how hard we try. Should we not draw the line here and say--enough! Learn from this. Yes, national security is a primary interest, but surely there are more expedient ways to work toward it.

The danger becomes, when one is the only superpower, that one can become the schoolyard bully rather than the knight in shining Armor.

God has allowed this war for a reason. I accept His will, while wondering what I am to derive from it. I cannot believe that this is His perfect will. I cannot believe that God ever wills war and destruction. But I must believe, if I am to believe in the omniscience and omnipotence of God, that at times He permits it. And that permission must be more than to give vent to mere fallen nature. Perhaps those who question it, need to help others who are convinced of its justness to work toward an understanding of how, ideally, we should be relating to one another. Once we have fashioned at least a model, perhaps we can more and more closely lead our leaders to approximate it.

That is what the Vatican and John Paul II are trying to do, I believe; however, I also believe that the groundwork for it has not properly been laid. We are still hormone-addled adolescents in some ways, working our way toward a rational approximation of the truth.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 5, 2003 7:22 AM.

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