There are no orcs in a real war.
Humans fight and die in a war, not faceless Star Wars clones or robots…at least not yet. For this reason war is a fearful thing not to be fought lightly. Centuries of Christian teaching have labored to make war rarer, if it cannot disappear altogether, Christians have constrained it.
Romans fought for the joy of it, but at their worst a Christian power must dissemble to itself to fight. We are a religion that calls all men brothers part of an international church.
When we fail it is horrid.
World War I was the worst of all wars. A rapidly secularized intellectual class sent Christian peasants and laborers to trenches and death with sanguine talk of social Darwinism. The unfit would die…and the unfit turned out to include the better part of several Oxbridge classes.
The waning Christian establishment was moribund and went through the motions. It was capable of reactionary subservience only, riddled with unbelief and corruption. The Church blindly blessed the destruction of European peace and European order it had labored centuries to create.
The intellectual and moral decay the church bemoaned was only hastened in the moral loosening that comes with any long war.
Led by one of our worst presidents, the arch racist and utopian Woodrow Wilson, the United States entered the war late and helped create a festering peace. A war that produced communist and fascist states where better rule had been was no success. Wilson helped make the world safe for genocide.
To the Last Salute: Memories of an Austrian U-Boat Commander tells the story of the other side through the experiences of George Von Trapp …immortalized in The Sound of Music. The Captain of that movie was a highly successful u-boat commander in reality and it was unrestricted u-boat attacks that more than anything else brought the United States into the first world war,
Here the Captain tells his war story and he strikes the reader as more a Christian gentleman than the Princeton don who ran the United States. He mourns the loss of the multicultural Austro-Hungarian monarchy. It requires little imagination to agree or to contemplate a triple monarchy if there had been no war.
Just as a constitutional monarchy under Tsar Michael would have bee preferable to Lenin, so a devolution of the old Austrian Empire into a commonwealth of nations ruled by Emperor Karl would not have left a festering sore in the Balkans. Both Russia and Austria endured years of horrid war and sacrifice, showing their systems still had much in reserve, but not enough for endless modern war.
Captain Von Trapp’s book reminds Christian reader how vile it is when nations go to war, but also that virtue and heroism can exist on both sides. All love relationships have some good and the bonds between men at war can produce great deeds. Von Trapp’s war at the personal scale was nine parts noble sacrifice, duty, honor, and patriotism with one part killing.
This no more makes war desirable than the sacrifices of an adulterer justify cheating. War can be glorious at the moment, but destructive as a whole. Christians should remember this when judging any large social change. The devil is often only periodically in the details hiding like a u-boat in an otherwise beautiful sea.
Von Trapp also shows the impossibility of each officer or citizens judging the actions of his state. We will have to trust our leaders, daring disobedience only in the most extreme situations. When social chaos seized the Empires things got worse not better,
If our President takes us to war with Iran, I will support him unless it is self-evident the war is unjust. Our social contract relies on trust of leaders and obedience to them. If every man does what is right in his own eyes, the result is the hideous chaos we saw descend on Russia in her civil war.
It is another indictment of the leadership of that era that they, for the most part, did not deserve that trust. They took it and frittered it away. Leaders can make mistakes, but like Reagan in rapidly withdrawing from Lebanon when causalities outweighed any benefits, can also cut our losses.
The Austrian government decided war was good and then became enmeshed in German militarism from the north. It blew up the powder keg of Europe and left an opening for an evil and twisted Austrian corporal to seize power.
The start came when the effete leaders made a mockery of the values of decent men like Von Trapp in their private behavior. They wanted Christian values in their subjects while living like devils or dissipates in their private lives.
Too often the best values of the ancient Christian monarchies fell to rich industrialists who worshipped only affluence while only the archaic features were allowed to remain. Justice was delayed too long and the natural progression of Christian social evolution aborted.
Read Captain Von Trapp’s book and remember him the next time you read of a drone strike. It might have been necessary and the target may have needed to face the sword, but if it was not just then God save our leaders and our Republic.
We would be building up a mighty bill that will be paid.