Re: Theological reflection on Just War

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 17:45:20 EDT

  • Next message: Jonathan Clarke: "Re: Theological reflection on Just War"

    Hi Wayne wrote:

    > 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.

    The US has for decades allowed the IRA and its splinter groups shelter
    and to raise funds in the US. This was not an official policy but a
    blind eye was turned to it, presumably because of the strength of the
    Irish lobby. This "see no evil" approach by successive US governments
    is culpable given the thousands murdered by the IRA in friendly
    countries. The irony is that IRA must be the only terrorist group that
    has received, at various times, money from Colombian drug lords, Libya,
    and the USSR as well as the US.

    The groups that the CIA supported in Afghanistan against the Soviet
    intervention (which had at least as much justification as the US
    intervention in Vietnam) were brutal terrorists by any objective
    definition. I suggest you read the memoirs of those who saw them in
    action if you dispute this. I have, and I must say I wished I hadn't.
    The Taliban and Bin Laden were among these groups. These groups have
    subsequently taken their fight into Russia promoting terrorism and civil
    war, and the US must carry some responsibility.

    > 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.

    I agree.

    > 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.

    I hope I have done so, at least to the degree that, while not agreeing
    with he, you can see I am some grounds for my belief. I am about to go
    off-line for two weeks, so you can have the last word.

    > <<
    > 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
    > trade.
    > Hopefully, this was a constructive response.
    > By Grace alone we proceed,
    > Wayne

    Jon (trying to proceed by grace)

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