Re: Theological reflection on Just War

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 17:52:52 EDT

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    Hi Joel

    I certainly stirred up a hornet's nest, one that has perhaps distracted us (as
    Howard reminded us) from more important issues. Perhaps it would have been
    more judicious to "They have to do with WHAT IS PERCEIVED BY MANY TO BE a
    hypocritical and self-serving foreign policy and bellboy military actions."

    However I had just seen a sizable fraction of my country's armed forces
    committed to military action of unknown nature, of unknown duration, and for
    unknown goals, in defence of a powerful foreign power against one of the
    world's poorest countries whose official connection with September 11 is not
    publicly known, without any public debate of any substance by a caretaker
    government during an election campaign. Some sense of humour failure is
    perhaps excusable.

    I hope that in subsequent posts I have provided some justification for my
    criticisms. I am going off-line, so you can have the last word, if you wish!


    Joel Z Bandstra wrote:

    > Jon,
    > It seems to me that you did not exercise quite enough trepidation in
    > writing your recent post (copied below), or perhaps your purported sense of
    > such was at a peculiarly low level by the time you typed your last
    > sentence: This "blame the evil empire"
    > attitude is not something that springs to my mind naturally and beyond
    > that, such statements seem inappropriate to me. I am, of course, not
    > implying that U.S. foreign policy is without error but I submit that you
    > ought to, at the very least, provide some supporting evidence or clue as to
    > what you mean by "bully-boy military actions" and such.
    > Joel
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: Jonathan Clarke []
    > Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2001 2:49 PM
    > To:
    > Cc:
    > Subject: Re: Theological reflection on Just War
    > Thanks for this most interesting piece which eloquently defends just war
    > against
    > terrorism. I certainly agree that war can be waged justly, with the Gulf
    > and
    > Falklands wars as two relatively recent examples. Given current events, I
    > feel
    > that some discussion is necessary, although I do so with some trepidation,
    > given
    > the depth of feeling in the US towards the outrages of September 11 and the
    > current anthrax insanity.
    > 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? 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.
    > If there is any lesson that can be drawn from the 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.
    > 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. 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.
    > Thoughtfully
    > Jon
    > wrote:
    > > Besides the ranting of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, I've seen very
    > little
    > > in the way of theological comments on the events following Sept. 11.
    > > However, Lutheran theologian David Yeago has a nice thoughtful article in
    > Pro
    > > Ecclesia, the journal of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Thology
    > > (CCET). It's entitled "Just War: Reflections from the Lutheran Tradition
    > in
    > > a Time of Crisis:, 2001, v.10, no. 4, and is currently online at
    > >
    > > Although written from a Lutheran perspective, it should be of interest to
    > a
    > > broader theological audience as well.
    > >
    > > And while you're visiting the CCET website, take note of the upcoming
    > > conference. A while ago on this list (last summer?), there was
    > discussion
    > > regarding Mary. CCET is sponsoring a theological conference "Mary,
    > Mother of
    > > God -- On the unique relationship of Mary to Christ and the Church and
    > her
    > > place in the tradition of Christian worship, music, and the arts", to be
    > held
    > > June 9-11, 2002, at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Previous
    > > conferences by CCET have resulted in multi-authored books published by
    > > Eerdmans, so I presume this one will also.
    > >
    > > Karl
    > > *******************************
    > > Karl V. Evans
    > >

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