Re: Theological reflection on Just War

Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 12:55:42 EDT

  • Next message: Vandergraaf, Chuck: "RE: Theological reflection on Just War"

    Jonathan Clarke wrote:

    Action against terrorists and terrorists organisations
    is certainly just. Whether bombing third countries who
    harbour or even give official shelter and support to such
    terrorism falls under the cloak of waging war justly is
    another matter. Groups that many would consider terrorist
    have sheltered and found support in the US, sometimes with
    official sanction. Does this give the countries who have
    suffered from the depredations of these organisations (Britain,
    Cuba, Nicaragua, Russia, Cambodia, to name some) the right
    to take military action against the US?

    I'm not sure which "terrorists" you are referring to particularly
    in the case of Britain and Russia. Perhaps what you actually
    mean is that the US supported various puppet dictators who
    bilked their countries of what few resources they had, and
    then fled to the US after the countries were routed by the
    opposition. The US then protected many of them.

    At least at the surface, advisors (both military
    and political) in the US often seem virtually ignorant the
    underlying history of countries they do business with.
    Unfortunately, a dark reality is that many countries have
    problems which only they themselves are able to solve.
    Outside interference only tends to exacerbate the long
    road to recovery.

    Whereas I have little doubt that the US has harbored
    people that some countries might consider mere
    "troublemakers" and "thieves", I think you need
    to provide some specific examples to make a real case.

    The present US
    military based approach against terrorism seems very similar
    to that taken by Israel against the terrorism it has suffered
    in the last 20 years. It has seen the once famous Israeli
    military machine humiliated and tainted by atrocities and not
    solved the problem. Israel is a more dangerous place to live
    than it was 20 years ago.

    What is a reasonable thing for the Israelis to do here?
    The history of the middle east is very complicated and
    I do not say that Israel is without fault. However,
    if they did nothing, would they be better off now? Would
    Israel be any less dangerous? If you really want to make
    issue of it, you need to provide a case study of a particular
    incident, analyze the various perspectives (both Israeli and
    Arab), and point out where each could have avoided escalating
    the situation. I suspect that any complete analysis will
    leave you with varying shades of gray rather than the black
    and white picture you have just portrayed.

    If there is any lesson that can be drawn from t
    he past 50 years of terrorism and guerilla warfare
    is that containing with terrorism is a matter for
    police and intelligence forces, backed up by judicious
    use of the military, when required.

    I am a bit concerned about the rate at which the
    US has jumped into this matter; however, it's clear
    that some information is missing. Only history can
    answer now.

    I would argue here that surely it would be better for
    the Islamic folk themselves to lay down the law on
    these reprobates and rabble rousers. If they (the
    Islamic folk) are doing a responsible job of policing
    such antisocial and seditious behavior, the UN wouldn't
    have to play world policeman.

    The Aum Shinrikyou leaders (who sponsored the subway
    gas attack in Tokyo) were arrested by the police and
    prosecuted within the judicial in Japan. (I don't know
    how "shinnrikyou" is expressed in English speaking
    countries but the meaning is essentially "church of
    supreme truth" --- already a good indication of the
    actual "truth" content.) However,
    I think that situation is quite different here. Most of
    the Aum believers were in their early 20s. Many were
    well educated. They suffered mostly from social problems:
    loneliness and a dislike for the conformity of corporate
    life in Japan. Their decision to follow that Shokou Asahara
    charlatan was tragic, but they were basically law abiding
    people to start with. Some remain as fugitives, but I
    would expect that they genuinely regret what they did.

    I wonder how you propose to bring about justice in the
    current situation? Is the US supposed to do nothing
    and wait for the Afghanistan government to prosecute
    Ben Laden? What do you propose instead and what examples
    do you have of reasonable ways that it can be implemented?

    Dealing with terrorism requires dealing with the
    underlying causes for it. The US should ask itself
    why is it hated to such an extent that people are
    prepared to sacrifice themselves to kill thousands
    of its citizens.

    No argument per se. Dealing with causes is far more
    effective than dealing with the consequences.
    Nevertheless, once again I think you
    will find that the matter is varying shades of
    gray. As George Murphy pointed out, they see
    freedom of thought as a threat to their narrow views.
    They are free to hold such views and keep the West
    out if they like, and Afghanistan and the Talbians
    were essentially left alone for the last 5 or so years.
    If they don't want to associate with the rest of the
    world, fine. The Amish in the US (Pennsylvania) live
    that way. However, the Amish do not build bombs to
    harass the people outside their community or fly
    airplanes into buildings to make issue of their
    views. They should expect rapid police action against
    them: especially if they harbor such people as "guests".
    Likewise, the Bin Laden (and Talbians for that matter)
    cannot expect to be left alone if they engage the rest
    of the world in this way.

    The reasons have nothing to do
    with Brush's delusional nonsense about the US being
    hated for its freedoms, wealth and power. There
    are other free, wealthy, and powerful countries out
    there who do not suffer terrorist outrages to anything
    like the same degree. They have to do with a
    hypocritical and self-serving foreign policy
    and bully-boy military actions.

    I doubt that the rest of the world is free from
    such harassment. The US was the grand prize
    winner of the lottery this time but it would be
    all that much easier to commit such mischief
    elsewhere in the world any time with possibly
    greater casualties. What price are you ready to
    pay for such madness?

    As to "self-serving" and "hypocritical", name a
    nation that is not replete with self-serving
    and hypocritical policies. At some point, there
    is no free lunch, and business cannot prosper
    in a give-away-only fashion. The hope is that
    some of the benefit is passed on.

    The US could do better --- a lot better,
    but at least the US is to some extent under
    world scrutiny, which does (at least currently)
    seem to temper some of the more atrocious
    behaviors that have commonly occurred in the
    brief history of western civilization expansion.
    It is certainly a lot better than a mere century
    ago when Great Britain was able to sail its
    ships up the Yangtze River to support the opium

    Hopefully, this was a constructive response.
    By Grace alone we proceed,

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