To see all the qoutes on my list goto the post titled Qoutable Qoutes.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Just War?? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Once I was a soldier. Once I believed if the reason is just and it is done properly it can be right to go to war. What about today?

First let me get my motivations out in the open. I have been considering re-enlisting in the U.S. Army. Truth be told I love the Army. I enjoy firing big guns, staying out in the middle of nowhere with a few hundred(or thousand) friends, and I really like the less than five minute commute when you live on post. Beyond these reasons I've never had friends so close as those I made in the Army. When I left to go into the Army at the age of 23 I kept NO friends from before the Army outside of family. Today I have been out for almost four years and still keep in touch with Army friends. Some have stopped by on the way to a new duty assignment, I sent my wife to go visit another while they were in Germany, and some just call from time to time. The real reason I want to go back is that I love the "Army life" which includes everything I mentioned and more. When I was in the Army before I believed war was a sometimes necessary evil. I believed as Aristotle,
"We make war that we may live in peace."
Now, I find myself grappling with the issue.


One of many problems I now have is that the early church was completely pacifist. One can see why when considering the words of Jesus.
You know that you have been taught, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."39 But I tell you not to try to get even with a person who has done something to you. When someone slaps your right cheek, turn and let that person slap your other cheek.40 If someone sues you for your shirt, give up your coat as well.41 If a soldier forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles.42 When people ask you for something, give it to them. When they want to borrow money, lend it to them.43 You have heard people say, "Love your neighbors and hate your enemies."44 But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you.45 Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong.46 If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends.47 If you greet only your friends, what's so great about that? Don't even unbelievers do that?48 But you must always act like your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:38-48 CEV

This of course is spoken toward personal actions and not the actions of nations, so it doesn't offer a definitive answer either. The early church fathers had the luxury of not needing to answer these questions for several reasons. First, they had no influence on the national decision makers of their day. In short they didn't vote so they didn't have to worry about who they would vote for. Second, the nations the early church fathers were living in probably never went to war for reasons that could be remotely considered "just."

1. If we take the previously mentioned scripture to mean that there is no such thing as a just war then we must come to grips with believing that we should stand by and let a dictator like Hitler kill millions.

2. If we allow for just war we must have some idea of what criteria we will use to decide what reason are just reasons for going to war.

3. If we allow for just war are soldiers responsible for the bad decisions of their leaders? For example if you join the military of a good nation and during your service the nation's leaders decide to go to war, but the soldier believes the war to be unjust what are the moral responsibilities of that soldier? This is easy to answer when the injustices of the nation are extreme, but what if they aren't?

Many of these issues may relate to current events, but it is not my intention to deal with these events specifically. Any thoughts anyone?


Blogger Flip said...

Great post - #2 - If we allow for just war we must have some idea of what criteria we will use to decide what reason are just reasons for going to war -

I agree with this statement but also see how easy it would be to argue what criteria should be applied for a "just war". I'm not sure if any nation is capable of coming up with the perfect criteria NOR could they be perfect at following it.

As for soldiers and whether or not they should blindly follow orders - if they feel a war is unjust - that's hard. My gut feeling is that soldiers should not throw their personal beliefs and morals out the window. If they are truly convicted and feel a war is unjust and therefore cannot comply with orders - then they should not follow orders. Since they DID joing the military - they will have to face the consequences of not following orders. Does this make sense? Or did I just ramble? I could never join the military because of that very reason (following or not following orders).

7:21 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Thanks Flip

I agree that a soldier shouldn't just drop personal moral beliefs to follow orders. I also see how it would be impossible to effectively operate any military if the soldiers simply decided not to participate any time a military action didn't seemed justified to them. I guess the line is hard to draw, and in the end can only be drawn by the individual soldier. That line is probably crossed when the soldier becomes morally incensed to the point that the repercussions for disobedience are preferable to continuing in the immoral act.

3:17 AM  

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