Biblical Theory of Just War Pt. 5


Previous sessions  available at church website:  http://www.faithtacoma.org/series/bibthryjstwar.aspx

New procedure worked better last time:  pause discussion until end of class time

Email questions and comments, or request notes from previous weeks: faithandphilosophy@hotmail.com

prologue:  Feynman  
Spectrum:

                                   <——dovish                                       hawkish —–>

                                                                                                          ———-Holy War/Crusade   
            <—–Pacifists  ————————Just War Theorists——–                                  
                                                                                                          ———Realist

PART I :  Reinhold Niebuhr

“Why the Christian Church is not Pacifist”  some excerpts
All forms of religious faith are principles of interpretation which we use to organize our experience.  Some religions may be adequate principles of interpretation at certain levels of experience, but they break down at deeper levels.  No religious faith can maintain itself in defiance of the experience which it supposedly interprets.  A religious faith which substitutes faith in man for faith in God cannot finally validate itself in experience.  If we believe that the only reason men do not love each other perfectly is because the law of love has not been preached persuasively enough, we believe something to which experience does not conform.

We have, in other words, reinterpreted the Christian gospel in terms of the Renaissance faith in man. . . . The New Testament does not, in other words, envisage a simple triumph of good over evil in history.  It sees human history involved in the contradictions of sin to the end.

The contradiction between the law of love and the sinfulness of man raises not only the ultimate religious problem how men are to have peace if they do not overcome the contradiction, and how history will culminate if the contradiction remains on every level of historic achievement; it also raises the immediate problem how men are to achieve a tolerable harmony of life with life, if human pride and selfishness prevent the realization of the law of love.
In its profoundest insights the Christian faith sees the whole of human history as involved in guilt, and finds no release from guilt except in the grace of God.  The Christian is freed by that grace to act in history; to give his devotion to the highest values he knows; to defend those citadels of civilization of which necessity and historic destiny have made him the defender; and he is persuaded by that grace to remember the ambiguity of even his best actions.
           
Critique:

  • Are there seeds of antinomianism in his conception of ‘contradiction’ and grace? 
  • Would this ethic have the effect of tempering either side in any war of history?
  • In the “already/not-now” tension of the kingdom, is there any element of “already” in Niebuhr’s ethics?
  • Does ‘faith in man’ re-enter through the back door of ‘experience’ and ‘reality’?

PART II :  Holy War and Realism

Distinguish:  Holy War v. Realist (for my purposes)

For our purposes, Holy War/Crusade position is characterized by (and may use the rhetoric of)  dualistic worldview of “us” vs. “them”; good versus evil.  The ultimate appeal is to God, or some idea such as liberty, democracy, revolution, nationalism, stability or peace.  (“I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace. We want there to be peace.”  or “the role of the military is to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place.”)

“You’re either with us or against us; you’re either evil or you’re good”
see Allman  pp 123-124

Some features of  Holy War/Crusade (with some quotes)
The rhetoric of the Holy War has some appeal but is inimical to Just War thinking.  Though some of the language of JWT may be invoked, when the war is a battle of good vs. evil then several things tend to happen to compromise some of the criteria of JWT:

  • just intent tends to fade out of the picture and vengeance often enters  (“Our nation is somewhat sad, but we’re angry. There’s a certain level of blood lust, but we won’t let it drive our reaction. We’re steady, clear-eyed and patient, but pretty soon we’ll have to start displaying scalps”)
  • limited means no longer make sense because the cause is ultimate

I want you to understand that we are at war and we will stay at war until this is done. Nothing else matters. Everything is available for the pursuit of this war. Any barriers in your way, they’re gone. Any money you need, you have it. This is our only agenda… ”  Bush as quoted by Clarke in Against All Enemies, Free Press, 2004

  • the immunity of non-combatants is increasingly lost if total war is adopted, and total war makes more sense in a Holy War
  • there can be a short cut to war, or even pre-emptive war, instead of the last resort because the enemy is evil and/or irrational, so what is there to negotiate about?  (“Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously–and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.”)  (“What an immense mass of evil must result…from allowing men to assume the right of anticipating what may happen.”  ~Leo Tolstoy)
  • limited objectives make less sense and unconditional surrender or regime change become the goals

Varieties of Realists:

The brazen realist
“Of course we should go to war for oil,” Coulter told an audience of gray-suited national security analysts, speaking in a room decorated with portraits in gilded frames. “It’s like saying, you’re going to war just for oxygen, just for food. We need oil. That’s a good reason to go to war.” – Ann Coulter, speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault.  ~Ralph Peters, a retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel and author.
The more subtle/hidden realist (maybe employing JWT language and/or Holy War rhetoric)
hard to know who all might fit in this category because they might not admit it directly  —neo-conservatives?  Obama?  Bush?
Some would cite here the “Downing Street Memo”:  from Wikipedia:
The memo recorded the head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) as expressing the view following his recent visit to Washington that “Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” It also quoted Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as saying that it was clear that Bush had “made up his mind” to take military action but that “the case was thin”.

PART III :  Who are We?  (as a nation?   As a church?)  advocates of Holy War or Realism?

In a conversation about the role of oil in our foreign policy and war-making, a well-educated Christian
friend who currently serves in the military, was not concerned about the apparent policies by the US government assures the flow of oil through military action in and around oil-rich countries.  He seemed comfortable with this characterization of current policy and opined, “If we don’t do it, China will.”
Christopher Hitchens
“[Christianity] tells me to love my enemies. And I don’t do that and I don’t want you doing it for me either. Go love your own enemies. Don’t be loving mine.  I’ll get on with the business of destroying, isolating, and combating the enemies of civilization.”
Kinser (Overthrow:  America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, pg 321)
The fundamental reason why countries invade other countries, or seek forcibly to depose their governments, has not changed over the course of history.  It is the same reason children fight in schoolyards.  The stronger one wants what the weaker one has.  Most “regime change” operations fit within the larger category of resource wars.  When the United States intervenes abroad to gain strategic advantage, depose governments it considers oppressive, or spread its political and religious system, it is also acting in its commercial self-interest.  The search for markets, and for access to natural resources, is as central to American history as it has been to the history of every great power in every age.

What is American Exceptionalism and is it a just framework for our role?  A realist framework?

What are neocons?   For a start, see Wikipedia.  For a critique, see Neo-conned!  By Wanniski et al.

What is the great game?  According to Wikipedia:
In the 1990s, the use of the expression “The New Great Game” in reference to classical “Great Game” appeared; to describe the competition between various Western powers, Russia, and China for political influence and access to raw materials in Central Eurasia—”influence, power, hegemony and profits in Central Asia and the Trans-Caucasus“.
Many authors and analysts viewed this new “game” as centering around regional petroleum politics in Central Asian republics. Noopolitik plays a more central role than ever in the balance of power of the New Great Game;[31] and instead of competing for actual control over a geographic area – “pipelines, tanker routes, petroleum consortiums, and contracts” – are the prizes of the new Great Game.[3][29][32]

Preventive War vs. Pre-emptive War?  Does it (they) fit into Just War or Realist conceptions?
From Wikipedia’s entry on Neo-conservatism

The Bush Doctrine of preemptive war was stated explicitly in the National Security Council text “National Security Strategy of the United States,” published September 20, 2002. “We must deter and defend against the threat before it is unleashed . . . even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack… The United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.”[57]
The choice not to use the word ‘preventive’ in the 2002 National Security Strategy, and instead use the word ‘preemptive’ was largely in anticipation of the widely perceived illegality of preventive attacks in international law, via both Charter Law and Customary Law.[58]
Policy analysts noted that the Bush Doctrine as stated in the 2002 NSC document had a strong resemblance to recommendations presented originally in a controversial Defense Planning Guidance draft written during 1992 by Paul Wolfowitz, during the first Bush administration.[59]
The Bush Doctrine was greeted with accolades by many neoconservatives.
Intervention:  Do interventions by US into other countries best fit into Just War or Realist conceptions?

all unattributed quotes above are GW Bush
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Next Week:  Just War and Its Challenges

Homework:

Allman, Who Would Jesus Kill? chapter 4

Holmes “The Just War”
found in War: Four Christian Views, ed Clouse, pg 117

Cavanaugh essay, to find it google this:  “pdf: terrorist enemies and just war”
YouTube:  The Panama Deception
YouTube:  CrossTalk: Exceptional America?
YouTube:  Myth of Religious Violence William T. Cavanaugh 30 July 2012
“The War You Don’t See”  http://vimeo.com/67739294
YouTube:  “War Made Easy”
Websites

www.justwartheory.com  ed. Mark Rigstad, professor of philosophy at Oakland University.  The          site includes a wide range of resources from all perspectives

News:  www.theamericanconservative.com/  conservatives here frequently disagree with respect                       to war

www.antiwar.com  an exceptionally-wide ranging site of news including international reporting from NYT, Haaretz, RT, Guardian, Speigel, and much more; and opinion on war, including opinions by former defense workers, veterans, conservatives, liberals, and more