Kamikaze update

You know that recent post about Heather Penney, the female pilot who was ordered to take down Flight 93 on 9/11 by ramming into it in a suicide attack?  Well, it gets even worse.   As far as she knew, her FATHER, a United pilot working out of the east coast, might have been flying that plane!

See  F-16 pilot was ready to down plane her father piloted on 9/11 – The Washington Post.

I asked what was disturbing about all of this, but some of you couldn’t seem to tell what I might be referring to, in some cases going so far as to laud her heroic willingness to sacrifice her life. Here are some things that bother me:

(1)  Our military was going to take down an airliner, killing all of these innocent Americans, which was what the terrorists were planning to do.  If the purpose was to defend the White House or the Capitol building, evacuate those structures.  But the military is supposed to defend their countrymen, not kill them.

(2)  Ordering a suicide attack is monstrous in itself.

(3)  If we have jet fighters ready to defend us, why were they unarmed?  What good are military aircraft without weapons?  Were we really so unprepared, not only to obtain intelligence of a terrorist attack, but also to counter a military attack against our country?

(4)  Yes, I’m bothered by women in combat.  That they are in airplanes, far above the fray, dropping bombs and shooting missiles, is supposed to make a difference?  Women have the power to bring new life into the world.  They shouldn’t be put in the position of ending people’s lives.

(5)  This woman would have not only killed strangers, but her own father?

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Item #1 – you take out the plane and the plane passengers and two pilots die. Don’t take out the plane and the plane passengers plus an unknown number of people at the Capitol or White House die.
    Item #2 – indeed.
    Item #3 – yikes!
    Item #4 – men shouldn’t be in the position of ending people’s lives, either.
    Item #5 – old soldiers have told us war is hell and they probably know whereof they speak.

  • Pete

    Item #1 – you take out the plane and the plane passengers and two pilots die. Don’t take out the plane and the plane passengers plus an unknown number of people at the Capitol or White House die.
    Item #2 – indeed.
    Item #3 – yikes!
    Item #4 – men shouldn’t be in the position of ending people’s lives, either.
    Item #5 – old soldiers have told us war is hell and they probably know whereof they speak.

  • Dan Kempin

    1-I disagree with your analysis. The pilots were already dead, and we pretty much knew so at the time, and so protecting or saving the passengers is something we were pretty much helpless to do. They were essentially strapped to a bomb, and the orders were to stop the bomb and prevent further loss of life.

    2-I haven’t read the account more than once, and that quickly, but I seem to recall that this mission was voluntary. That’s why people are seeing this in the “no greater love” light rather than ordered suicide.

    3-I thought that was explained.

    4-Agreed. Definitely agreed.

    5-Not to be indelicate, but if her father was the pilot of that plane, then he was already dead.

  • Dan Kempin

    1-I disagree with your analysis. The pilots were already dead, and we pretty much knew so at the time, and so protecting or saving the passengers is something we were pretty much helpless to do. They were essentially strapped to a bomb, and the orders were to stop the bomb and prevent further loss of life.

    2-I haven’t read the account more than once, and that quickly, but I seem to recall that this mission was voluntary. That’s why people are seeing this in the “no greater love” light rather than ordered suicide.

    3-I thought that was explained.

    4-Agreed. Definitely agreed.

    5-Not to be indelicate, but if her father was the pilot of that plane, then he was already dead.

  • Dan Kempin

    Re: #2,

    (Not that I wish to tick off the points as though it is a flippant discussion. I’m just responding with some specificity as to why I was not troubled about the points you raise.)

  • Dan Kempin

    Re: #2,

    (Not that I wish to tick off the points as though it is a flippant discussion. I’m just responding with some specificity as to why I was not troubled about the points you raise.)

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    1-I don’t like that situation any more than you do, Dr. Veith, and in one sense it really is a Kobyashi Maru (no-win-scenario).

    2-Suicide attack is monstrous as well.

    3-This is indeed an odd point. To have an unarmed jet is a strange thing, unless the jet was being used for training maneuvers or was in the middle of being sent from one place to another for something routine like repairs. I’d have to ask a military person about that one.

    4-Agree: women should not be in combat. A buddy of mine (I should get him in touch with you guys!) wrote a paper in college for one of his classes on this very subject, and explained his reasons quite well without allowing the argument to denigrate into a battle of the sexes. His professor-a woman, I believe-had to end up agreeing with him.

    5-As I said with regard to the first point, this really is a no-win-scenario. Either way, bystanders die. I guess in one sense it’s akin to Luther and the peasants; no matter what decision you make, something bad will happen.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    1-I don’t like that situation any more than you do, Dr. Veith, and in one sense it really is a Kobyashi Maru (no-win-scenario).

    2-Suicide attack is monstrous as well.

    3-This is indeed an odd point. To have an unarmed jet is a strange thing, unless the jet was being used for training maneuvers or was in the middle of being sent from one place to another for something routine like repairs. I’d have to ask a military person about that one.

    4-Agree: women should not be in combat. A buddy of mine (I should get him in touch with you guys!) wrote a paper in college for one of his classes on this very subject, and explained his reasons quite well without allowing the argument to denigrate into a battle of the sexes. His professor-a woman, I believe-had to end up agreeing with him.

    5-As I said with regard to the first point, this really is a no-win-scenario. Either way, bystanders die. I guess in one sense it’s akin to Luther and the peasants; no matter what decision you make, something bad will happen.

  • Matthew

    One thought on #2. What of Samson’s death? Wasn’t that, in a sense, a suicide attack? Yet Scripture seems to speak approvingly of it.

    A second question. Granted your points in #3 and #4; nevertheless, this woman was in the position. Suppose she had been ordered to follow through on her kamikaze attack. Would this have been sinning against her vocation, or fulfilling it?

  • Matthew

    One thought on #2. What of Samson’s death? Wasn’t that, in a sense, a suicide attack? Yet Scripture seems to speak approvingly of it.

    A second question. Granted your points in #3 and #4; nevertheless, this woman was in the position. Suppose she had been ordered to follow through on her kamikaze attack. Would this have been sinning against her vocation, or fulfilling it?

  • Tom Hering

    A van driven by terrorists is being pursued by police through a densely populated area of a major American city. The terrorists pull into an elementary school, and threaten to shoot the children on the playground if the police don’t back off. This gives the terrorists time to gather their hostages inside the school building, and to assemble the parts of a nuclear device they were transporting in their van.

    Time is short, and thousands of lives are at stake. There is some question whether the terrorists actually have a nuclear device, and if they do, whether or not it will work. Do we sacrifice the school children to stop the terrorists?

  • Tom Hering

    A van driven by terrorists is being pursued by police through a densely populated area of a major American city. The terrorists pull into an elementary school, and threaten to shoot the children on the playground if the police don’t back off. This gives the terrorists time to gather their hostages inside the school building, and to assemble the parts of a nuclear device they were transporting in their van.

    Time is short, and thousands of lives are at stake. There is some question whether the terrorists actually have a nuclear device, and if they do, whether or not it will work. Do we sacrifice the school children to stop the terrorists?

  • MichaelZ

    @Tom #6
    Is that the latest plot line from 24? Sure sounds like it. In which case no, we should just send in Jack Bauer.

    Ask a hypothetical question get a hypothetical answer.

  • MichaelZ

    @Tom #6
    Is that the latest plot line from 24? Sure sounds like it. In which case no, we should just send in Jack Bauer.

    Ask a hypothetical question get a hypothetical answer.

  • Tom Hering

    I wasn’t really fishing for an answer, Michael @ 7. Just trying to say there are situations that are morally repulsive in every way, and are not going to turn out well no matter what you choose to do. The world is deeply fallen.

  • Tom Hering

    I wasn’t really fishing for an answer, Michael @ 7. Just trying to say there are situations that are morally repulsive in every way, and are not going to turn out well no matter what you choose to do. The world is deeply fallen.

  • Corey

    * Disclosure: I have not read the article in question. * I do not know whether the pilot in question, or her superiors, claim to be Christian or not. Consequently, I will refrain from expecting them to make decisions that are in line with what Christians should or should not do.

    That being said, I am making the assumption that most of the people who comment on this blog claim the name of Christ, and a couple of these specific posts appear in their appeal to Scripture and church personalities to be from people in that majority.

    Accordingly, I must admit that I am appalled by the fact that most of these posts have accepted arguments from efficacy and utilitarianism as trumping the ethics and moral guidance demanded of and provided to us by Christ and His life in the Church. “Lesser of two evils,” “Fewer dead is better than more dead regardless of the means used,” “Patriotism and position trump the requirements of the Kingdom,” etc. (and those are my paraphrasings of the above and from thoughts expressed elsewhere, not quotations), are not thoughts in line with Christian ethics. They are expressions of thought stemming from the assumption that we are required to control outcomes rather than to live rightly and leave the outcomes in the hands of God, even if it is really hard and painful to do so.

    Text is cold, so I will state that I mean no attack, but I am trying to challenge a trend that I have seen as pervasive in the Church these days–this is just one expression of it.

  • Corey

    * Disclosure: I have not read the article in question. * I do not know whether the pilot in question, or her superiors, claim to be Christian or not. Consequently, I will refrain from expecting them to make decisions that are in line with what Christians should or should not do.

    That being said, I am making the assumption that most of the people who comment on this blog claim the name of Christ, and a couple of these specific posts appear in their appeal to Scripture and church personalities to be from people in that majority.

    Accordingly, I must admit that I am appalled by the fact that most of these posts have accepted arguments from efficacy and utilitarianism as trumping the ethics and moral guidance demanded of and provided to us by Christ and His life in the Church. “Lesser of two evils,” “Fewer dead is better than more dead regardless of the means used,” “Patriotism and position trump the requirements of the Kingdom,” etc. (and those are my paraphrasings of the above and from thoughts expressed elsewhere, not quotations), are not thoughts in line with Christian ethics. They are expressions of thought stemming from the assumption that we are required to control outcomes rather than to live rightly and leave the outcomes in the hands of God, even if it is really hard and painful to do so.

    Text is cold, so I will state that I mean no attack, but I am trying to challenge a trend that I have seen as pervasive in the Church these days–this is just one expression of it.

  • Tom Hering

    Am American fighting man or woman takes the following oath upon enlistment:

    I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

    Which action fulfills his or her duty, promise, vocation? Allowing a hijacked airliner full of passengers to crash into the White House or Capitol? Or stopping that airliner? Which action is in line with Christian ethics, given the soldier’s oath and vocation?

  • Tom Hering

    Am American fighting man or woman takes the following oath upon enlistment:

    I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

    Which action fulfills his or her duty, promise, vocation? Allowing a hijacked airliner full of passengers to crash into the White House or Capitol? Or stopping that airliner? Which action is in line with Christian ethics, given the soldier’s oath and vocation?

  • Erma Wolf

    This is why I reject Just War Theory. The state wields the sword, having been given that authority from God, and one of the things it is charged with is defending its citizens, even at times from its own citizens. But in taking up the sword, it and we claim that we can control both its use and the outcome of using it. That is deception. We cannot control evil, even (especially?) in a good cause; evil will always seek to control us, as even the wars we have fought in the most just of causes continue to haunt those who fought and survived them with the nightmares of what they had to do. In our human pride we think we can know good from evil, while the reality is that we are blinded by sin and “the good that we would we do not, while the evil that we would not, that we do.” So the result is that a woman becomes a fighter pilot flying a plane that is not armed and so must be used as a battering ram in a battle that will inevitably kill innocent noncombatants (no “if” only “how many?”) along with concievably her own father who at best is being forced to turn his plane into a terrorist’s weapon of mass destruction in an undeclared act of war.

    As Paul wrote in Romans, “Who will save us from this body of death?”

  • Erma Wolf

    This is why I reject Just War Theory. The state wields the sword, having been given that authority from God, and one of the things it is charged with is defending its citizens, even at times from its own citizens. But in taking up the sword, it and we claim that we can control both its use and the outcome of using it. That is deception. We cannot control evil, even (especially?) in a good cause; evil will always seek to control us, as even the wars we have fought in the most just of causes continue to haunt those who fought and survived them with the nightmares of what they had to do. In our human pride we think we can know good from evil, while the reality is that we are blinded by sin and “the good that we would we do not, while the evil that we would not, that we do.” So the result is that a woman becomes a fighter pilot flying a plane that is not armed and so must be used as a battering ram in a battle that will inevitably kill innocent noncombatants (no “if” only “how many?”) along with concievably her own father who at best is being forced to turn his plane into a terrorist’s weapon of mass destruction in an undeclared act of war.

    As Paul wrote in Romans, “Who will save us from this body of death?”

  • Corey

    Taking it to the general rather than the specific (again, I don’t know if the fighter pilot claims Christ or not), I suppose that depends. The first little aside I will mention is that it has been long upheld that a soldier may refuse an order as immoral and not be seen as violating their oath, duty, promise, vocation, or anything else. They are soldiers, humans, not robots who respond to programming–much to every government is history’s chagrin, ours not excepted.

    As for the Christian’s ethic, I would say that allegiance to Christ and His Kingdom trumps any other duty, obligation, or oath made in this world. This is born out quite well in Christ’s saying that if we are not willing to hate (in comparison to our love for Him) father, mother, brother and sister (the most integral and importan parts of the lives of those Jesus was speaking to in time and place), we are not able to follow Him. He also, as a Jew, we under the authority of the religious leaders and–as a member of an occupied people–under the authority of the Romans. But His example says that we must do what is in the Father’s will and is obedience to Him regardless of what the governing authorities say.

    For a Christian, there is also a problem with taking oaths in general–Jesus said we are not to swear by anything but are rather supposed to live in such a way that we can be expected to do that which is right to be done (paraphrase, but not inaccurate to His intention so far as I understand).

    So far as I understand, the Christian soldier is a Christian first. In the early church, while not commanded to leave the army, Roman soldiers who converted to Christ were commanded to remain and obey that which did not cause them to act contrary to Christ, and to disobey–even to death–that which would.

    As for the soldier who is not a Christian, I do not expect them to have anything resembling the same allegiance and motivation in their lives. They have not accepted the Lordship of Christ, and are still bounden to their allegiances to the way things are done in the fallen world. Their bondage does not mitigate any wrongs they may do nor elevate any good–they have still not acceded to the Lordship of Christ, which is required for salvation. But it is precisely the freedom from that bondage that we have in Christ–through our volitional bondage to Him–which frees us to do that which may indeed be illegal or violate earthly allegiance while still honoring God and those we impact, whether directly or indirectly.

    To the specific of what a Christian soldier could do with the hijacker scenario: there is no easy or pleasant answer. I will speak for myself: if it were I who was in charge of the situation, I would say to evacuate all possible or known targets (which there was time to do, as I understand, and those buildings would indeed be assumed targets), and then–though it would break my heart–it might mean that the hijackers would indeed succeed in their goal of destroying buildings (eh, no big deal–not the first time the White House would have burned and it could be rebuilt) and killing the innocent passengers but hopefully few to no others. But at that point, the evil doer would be the only one to have done evil, and not anyone else. Will innocent suffer? Sure, but they would anyway. The question to be answered would be: did I do that which I could and still claim obedience to Christ (implying no taking of innocent life–and I would go so far as to say any life, but that is my conscience and not as easily generalizable as I might hope it could be :) )?

    On the question of self-sacrifice on the part of a Christian soldier: I do believe that is a possibility, but not if a direct result would be the killing of the innocent BY my action. If the innocent were killed after my sacrifice, that would again be the act of the evil doer and not my own. In the pilot’s case (if we assumed Christianity on her part) she would have been killing innocent and guilty–which would make her guilty. If she could fly between a rocket and the target with her plane, that I think would be acceptable sacrifice. But not her plane between the target and another plane loaded with innocent people. While more complex, it is possible that the unanimous decision of those on the plane to sacrifice themselves by crashing a plane that would crash anyway and simply doing it sooner–I think might be acceptable, but that would take another line of thought and reasoning that I unfortunately cannot engage right this moment. It involves the difference between suicide and sacrifice–and I do think there is one.

  • Corey

    Taking it to the general rather than the specific (again, I don’t know if the fighter pilot claims Christ or not), I suppose that depends. The first little aside I will mention is that it has been long upheld that a soldier may refuse an order as immoral and not be seen as violating their oath, duty, promise, vocation, or anything else. They are soldiers, humans, not robots who respond to programming–much to every government is history’s chagrin, ours not excepted.

    As for the Christian’s ethic, I would say that allegiance to Christ and His Kingdom trumps any other duty, obligation, or oath made in this world. This is born out quite well in Christ’s saying that if we are not willing to hate (in comparison to our love for Him) father, mother, brother and sister (the most integral and importan parts of the lives of those Jesus was speaking to in time and place), we are not able to follow Him. He also, as a Jew, we under the authority of the religious leaders and–as a member of an occupied people–under the authority of the Romans. But His example says that we must do what is in the Father’s will and is obedience to Him regardless of what the governing authorities say.

    For a Christian, there is also a problem with taking oaths in general–Jesus said we are not to swear by anything but are rather supposed to live in such a way that we can be expected to do that which is right to be done (paraphrase, but not inaccurate to His intention so far as I understand).

    So far as I understand, the Christian soldier is a Christian first. In the early church, while not commanded to leave the army, Roman soldiers who converted to Christ were commanded to remain and obey that which did not cause them to act contrary to Christ, and to disobey–even to death–that which would.

    As for the soldier who is not a Christian, I do not expect them to have anything resembling the same allegiance and motivation in their lives. They have not accepted the Lordship of Christ, and are still bounden to their allegiances to the way things are done in the fallen world. Their bondage does not mitigate any wrongs they may do nor elevate any good–they have still not acceded to the Lordship of Christ, which is required for salvation. But it is precisely the freedom from that bondage that we have in Christ–through our volitional bondage to Him–which frees us to do that which may indeed be illegal or violate earthly allegiance while still honoring God and those we impact, whether directly or indirectly.

    To the specific of what a Christian soldier could do with the hijacker scenario: there is no easy or pleasant answer. I will speak for myself: if it were I who was in charge of the situation, I would say to evacuate all possible or known targets (which there was time to do, as I understand, and those buildings would indeed be assumed targets), and then–though it would break my heart–it might mean that the hijackers would indeed succeed in their goal of destroying buildings (eh, no big deal–not the first time the White House would have burned and it could be rebuilt) and killing the innocent passengers but hopefully few to no others. But at that point, the evil doer would be the only one to have done evil, and not anyone else. Will innocent suffer? Sure, but they would anyway. The question to be answered would be: did I do that which I could and still claim obedience to Christ (implying no taking of innocent life–and I would go so far as to say any life, but that is my conscience and not as easily generalizable as I might hope it could be :) )?

    On the question of self-sacrifice on the part of a Christian soldier: I do believe that is a possibility, but not if a direct result would be the killing of the innocent BY my action. If the innocent were killed after my sacrifice, that would again be the act of the evil doer and not my own. In the pilot’s case (if we assumed Christianity on her part) she would have been killing innocent and guilty–which would make her guilty. If she could fly between a rocket and the target with her plane, that I think would be acceptable sacrifice. But not her plane between the target and another plane loaded with innocent people. While more complex, it is possible that the unanimous decision of those on the plane to sacrifice themselves by crashing a plane that would crash anyway and simply doing it sooner–I think might be acceptable, but that would take another line of thought and reasoning that I unfortunately cannot engage right this moment. It involves the difference between suicide and sacrifice–and I do think there is one.

  • BW

    Tom @ 10

    My question is this: Is an American pilot shooting down or ramming an airliner full of American citizens not sinning, if one has a vocation in the American military? How does one love and serve their neighbor if they must knock them out of the sky? Could one appeal, like Peter to Acts and say we must obey God rather than men? I don’t see how this is a proper act of an American soldier who is to protect Americans at home and abroad. I guess I’m playing devil’s advocate though, because I also see no way out of this situation. Do you not stop the airliner and allow it to potentially crash down in DC, maybe downtown with horrific effect, or do you shoot it down in a field and wonder what if it crashes into an evacuated and unoccupied Capitol building and you didn’t need to order a pilot to ram the airliner?

    I don’t know if there is a right answer to these questions, at least while we are in this fallen flesh? Like with your scenario posted about about a nuke assembled at a school? I agree with you, this world is deeply fallen.

  • BW

    Tom @ 10

    My question is this: Is an American pilot shooting down or ramming an airliner full of American citizens not sinning, if one has a vocation in the American military? How does one love and serve their neighbor if they must knock them out of the sky? Could one appeal, like Peter to Acts and say we must obey God rather than men? I don’t see how this is a proper act of an American soldier who is to protect Americans at home and abroad. I guess I’m playing devil’s advocate though, because I also see no way out of this situation. Do you not stop the airliner and allow it to potentially crash down in DC, maybe downtown with horrific effect, or do you shoot it down in a field and wonder what if it crashes into an evacuated and unoccupied Capitol building and you didn’t need to order a pilot to ram the airliner?

    I don’t know if there is a right answer to these questions, at least while we are in this fallen flesh? Like with your scenario posted about about a nuke assembled at a school? I agree with you, this world is deeply fallen.

  • BW

    Apologies, a line above should read …”what if it had crashed* into an unoccupied Capitol building?”

  • BW

    Apologies, a line above should read …”what if it had crashed* into an unoccupied Capitol building?”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom (@6), sorry, but your question reminded of this somewhat memorable scene from Speed, starring Keanu Reeves:

    Harry: Alright, pop quiz: The airport. Gunman with one hostage, he’s using her for cover, he’s almost to the plane. You’re a hundred feet away. (Long pause) Jack?
    Jack: Shoot the hostage.
    Harry: What?
    Jack: Take her out of the equation. Go for the good wound and he can’t get to the plane with her. Clear shot.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Tom (@6), sorry, but your question reminded of this somewhat memorable scene from Speed, starring Keanu Reeves:

    Harry: Alright, pop quiz: The airport. Gunman with one hostage, he’s using her for cover, he’s almost to the plane. You’re a hundred feet away. (Long pause) Jack?
    Jack: Shoot the hostage.
    Harry: What?
    Jack: Take her out of the equation. Go for the good wound and he can’t get to the plane with her. Clear shot.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    My reactions to Veith’s reactions will largely parallel Dan Kempin’s (@2), but I will endeavor to put my words in slightly different order:

    (1) Yeah, life — and death — is hard like that. Especially in the fog of war. But there is a great presumption on your part that (a) we knew the target and (b) that target could easily be evacuated, causing no loss of life. The second may be true, but I have seen no evidence for the first, making the second irrelevant. There was already pretty compelling evidence on that day that these airplanes-cum-missiles might result in the deaths of thousands of people, an order of magnitude more than the number on the plane.

    (2) Is it? Are you referring to our ordering a soldier to engage in an action that would almost certainly end his or her life? Because where does that metric stop? I’m pretty certain people storming the beaches of Normandy knew that a few people might die — certainly, the leaders who ordered it had calculated a few losses. Was it, therefore, monstrous? How about the proverbial throwing yourself on a grenade for your fellow soldiers (not so proverbial for some)? Is that monstrous? Or are you focusing on the “ordering” part? Is it “monstrous” to order something that is otherwise arguably good if undertaken voluntarily? Don’t people who enter the military — and, at least in this case, did so voluntarily — know that they might end up giving their lives? Isn’t that why we celebrate them?

    (3) Why were they unarmed? I’m no expert, but presumably because we thought any threats, at that time, would have advance warning via radar and other intelligence. And, presumably, the time it took back then to get a fighter armed and ready was less than the time it would take an enemy vehicle to travel into our airspace once spotted. Of course, this “missile” appeared on our radar once it was well on its way and in our airspace.

    (4) “Women have the power to bring new life into the world.” Hmm. Pretty sure they don’t have the power to do this by themselves, though. Pretty certain they need the cooperation of a man. Whom we have no problem sending into combat.

    (5) I think Dan already sufficiently addressed this.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    My reactions to Veith’s reactions will largely parallel Dan Kempin’s (@2), but I will endeavor to put my words in slightly different order:

    (1) Yeah, life — and death — is hard like that. Especially in the fog of war. But there is a great presumption on your part that (a) we knew the target and (b) that target could easily be evacuated, causing no loss of life. The second may be true, but I have seen no evidence for the first, making the second irrelevant. There was already pretty compelling evidence on that day that these airplanes-cum-missiles might result in the deaths of thousands of people, an order of magnitude more than the number on the plane.

    (2) Is it? Are you referring to our ordering a soldier to engage in an action that would almost certainly end his or her life? Because where does that metric stop? I’m pretty certain people storming the beaches of Normandy knew that a few people might die — certainly, the leaders who ordered it had calculated a few losses. Was it, therefore, monstrous? How about the proverbial throwing yourself on a grenade for your fellow soldiers (not so proverbial for some)? Is that monstrous? Or are you focusing on the “ordering” part? Is it “monstrous” to order something that is otherwise arguably good if undertaken voluntarily? Don’t people who enter the military — and, at least in this case, did so voluntarily — know that they might end up giving their lives? Isn’t that why we celebrate them?

    (3) Why were they unarmed? I’m no expert, but presumably because we thought any threats, at that time, would have advance warning via radar and other intelligence. And, presumably, the time it took back then to get a fighter armed and ready was less than the time it would take an enemy vehicle to travel into our airspace once spotted. Of course, this “missile” appeared on our radar once it was well on its way and in our airspace.

    (4) “Women have the power to bring new life into the world.” Hmm. Pretty sure they don’t have the power to do this by themselves, though. Pretty certain they need the cooperation of a man. Whom we have no problem sending into combat.

    (5) I think Dan already sufficiently addressed this.

  • Dust

    Regardless of attempts to justify and rationalize, these still remain disturbing things. Lots of things are “disturbing” but they get done, generally because someone thinks the alternative is even more disturbing.

    That is one of the “disturbing” truths about this world…..Lord have mercy!

  • Dust

    Regardless of attempts to justify and rationalize, these still remain disturbing things. Lots of things are “disturbing” but they get done, generally because someone thinks the alternative is even more disturbing.

    That is one of the “disturbing” truths about this world…..Lord have mercy!

  • Tom Hering

    Okay, one problem we seem to have is with the idea of American soldiers killing Americans. But our soldiers have killed our citizens more than once in the past. Riot duty and suppression of the labor movement come to mind. As does Kent State. And the American soldier’s oath (including that of a Guardsman) allows for this, when he swears to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. Now, the passengers of Flight 93 were by no means domestic enemies, but a broad precedent to kill them existed. Mere citizenship – very obviously – does not rule out being killed by our military.

  • Tom Hering

    Okay, one problem we seem to have is with the idea of American soldiers killing Americans. But our soldiers have killed our citizens more than once in the past. Riot duty and suppression of the labor movement come to mind. As does Kent State. And the American soldier’s oath (including that of a Guardsman) allows for this, when he swears to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. Now, the passengers of Flight 93 were by no means domestic enemies, but a broad precedent to kill them existed. Mere citizenship – very obviously – does not rule out being killed by our military.

  • –helen

    4-Agree: women should not be in combat.

    NPR reported this morning that the first woman Afghan pilot takes her 5 year old daughter into the cockpit with her, because there is no child care in the Afghan air force. (Next year she hopes to do it less often, because the daughter will be in school.)

    There are all sorts of ways to die: her sister, another pilot, died in childbirth.

  • –helen

    4-Agree: women should not be in combat.

    NPR reported this morning that the first woman Afghan pilot takes her 5 year old daughter into the cockpit with her, because there is no child care in the Afghan air force. (Next year she hopes to do it less often, because the daughter will be in school.)

    There are all sorts of ways to die: her sister, another pilot, died in childbirth.

  • BW

    Tom,

    I see what you’re saying @ 18 but isn’t an incident like Kent State considered a tragedy? Something that people don’t want to happen again?

  • BW

    Tom,

    I see what you’re saying @ 18 but isn’t an incident like Kent State considered a tragedy? Something that people don’t want to happen again?

  • Terry Harwell

    Unfortunately regarding Kent State we will never know the real truth about who fired first (which National Guard trooper). However rest assured that if a shot is fired by one armed individual, especially unprepared and ill schooled on how to handle this type situation, there will be more than a few shots fired before someone of reason, another name we will never know, can get things back under control. Reason tells me that there is blame enough to go around on both sides in the Kent State incident. The one threatening the troops and the trooper that panicked. Who sinned? Was it the panicked trooper or the higher up leader that allowed him placed in this situation without proper training?
    In a scenario where a plane has been taken over by terrorists, that plane is a missile bent on destruction and the lives of passengers and crew on the plane are, for all reasonable purposes, lost at that point. The only lives possible to save are the ones in whatever target the terrorist has picked. To shoot it down like any other missile is reasonable and prudent. Proper discussions were made. Implementation of orders could have been better. The sin lies with the terrorist. Our military acted as trained and with due diligence.
    My humble opinions- Terry

  • Terry Harwell

    Unfortunately regarding Kent State we will never know the real truth about who fired first (which National Guard trooper). However rest assured that if a shot is fired by one armed individual, especially unprepared and ill schooled on how to handle this type situation, there will be more than a few shots fired before someone of reason, another name we will never know, can get things back under control. Reason tells me that there is blame enough to go around on both sides in the Kent State incident. The one threatening the troops and the trooper that panicked. Who sinned? Was it the panicked trooper or the higher up leader that allowed him placed in this situation without proper training?
    In a scenario where a plane has been taken over by terrorists, that plane is a missile bent on destruction and the lives of passengers and crew on the plane are, for all reasonable purposes, lost at that point. The only lives possible to save are the ones in whatever target the terrorist has picked. To shoot it down like any other missile is reasonable and prudent. Proper discussions were made. Implementation of orders could have been better. The sin lies with the terrorist. Our military acted as trained and with due diligence.
    My humble opinions- Terry

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Read what Dust says @17. That’s my point. I find these things disturbing. To find a moralistic solution so as to think, “oh, everything is good after all,” as if there were no dilemmas, just an easy moral calculus that clears everything up, is also disturbing.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Read what Dust says @17. That’s my point. I find these things disturbing. To find a moralistic solution so as to think, “oh, everything is good after all,” as if there were no dilemmas, just an easy moral calculus that clears everything up, is also disturbing.

  • Tom Hering

    BW @ 20, no one wants to see Kent State repeated. All I’m saying is Guardsmen and the rest of our military can be given permission to kill their fellow Americans. Flight 93 was unique in that innocent Americans would have been killed, but not unique in that Americans would have been killed. The decision seems to be made according to a need to protect government, or the public order, from a violent threat. (Even a threat involving property rather than lives. Like a shoot-to-kill order against looters.) The common good becomes more important than the individual. (Please note I’m not defending the use of the American military against American citizens in any circumstance. Just saying it’s been allowed, and is allowed.)

  • Tom Hering

    BW @ 20, no one wants to see Kent State repeated. All I’m saying is Guardsmen and the rest of our military can be given permission to kill their fellow Americans. Flight 93 was unique in that innocent Americans would have been killed, but not unique in that Americans would have been killed. The decision seems to be made according to a need to protect government, or the public order, from a violent threat. (Even a threat involving property rather than lives. Like a shoot-to-kill order against looters.) The common good becomes more important than the individual. (Please note I’m not defending the use of the American military against American citizens in any circumstance. Just saying it’s been allowed, and is allowed.)

  • Joe

    This is all very interesting high level debate – but from the perspective of a soldier none of this would go into the calculation. Its pretty simple really, you took an oath to protect this country and death is always a possibility. But the real reason you would do it, is because someone is going to have to do it. That means that saying no is not an option. If you take a pass, that means someone else in your squad has to die. No soldier would be able to live with the fact that his individual decision killed one of his buddies.

  • Joe

    This is all very interesting high level debate – but from the perspective of a soldier none of this would go into the calculation. Its pretty simple really, you took an oath to protect this country and death is always a possibility. But the real reason you would do it, is because someone is going to have to do it. That means that saying no is not an option. If you take a pass, that means someone else in your squad has to die. No soldier would be able to live with the fact that his individual decision killed one of his buddies.

  • E-Raj

    Maybe I’m being naive, but it seems to be a mathematical decision more than anything else. You do whatever action is necessary to limit the number of deaths to the fewest possible. The people in the airplane were as good as dead. I know this sounds brazen, but it’s true. If saving the most lives was the desired goal, then downing the plane was the only option. If the pilots volunteered to do this, knowing they would have to end their own lives in the process, then we can only admire their willingness to do their duty under such duress and honor them for their selflessness.

  • E-Raj

    Maybe I’m being naive, but it seems to be a mathematical decision more than anything else. You do whatever action is necessary to limit the number of deaths to the fewest possible. The people in the airplane were as good as dead. I know this sounds brazen, but it’s true. If saving the most lives was the desired goal, then downing the plane was the only option. If the pilots volunteered to do this, knowing they would have to end their own lives in the process, then we can only admire their willingness to do their duty under such duress and honor them for their selflessness.

  • Grace

    I posted this on the other thread, it was meant to be here:

    I’m very disappointed that anyone is called to committ suicide just as the Japanese did, when they pulled their kamikaze attacks on our military ships, etc, WW2.

    Ramming a plane into another, kowingly killing those on board, thus your own death as well, is murdering others, and suicide for yourself - did Jesus preach that Gospel?

  • Grace

    I posted this on the other thread, it was meant to be here:

    I’m very disappointed that anyone is called to committ suicide just as the Japanese did, when they pulled their kamikaze attacks on our military ships, etc, WW2.

    Ramming a plane into another, kowingly killing those on board, thus your own death as well, is murdering others, and suicide for yourself - did Jesus preach that Gospel?

  • E-Raj

    Actually, Jesus did preach that Gospel:
    “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

    Murdering? Really? The pilots would not have been murdering anyone. Did they have malice in their hearts for the passengers? Would they have taken pleasure in killing them? What was their motive? What personal gain would they have achieved by this action? Using the word “murder” in this instance is just not accurate or productive. Once again, the people on that plane were already dead. There was no way they were going to make it out of that situation alive. The pilots would have been saving lives. Comparing the actions the pilots were contemplating to the Japanese Kamikazes is simply not an accurate comparison. Having to down Flight 93 would have been an unfortunate means to the larger end of saving the most lives possible. Thankfully, the passengers took matters into their own hands and saved the fighter pilots from having to go through with such a desperate act. On that note, did the passengers that attacked the terrorists on Flight 93 “murder” the rest of the passengers who may not have agreed to this action? Using the word “murder” in this case just isn’t correct.

  • E-Raj

    Actually, Jesus did preach that Gospel:
    “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

    Murdering? Really? The pilots would not have been murdering anyone. Did they have malice in their hearts for the passengers? Would they have taken pleasure in killing them? What was their motive? What personal gain would they have achieved by this action? Using the word “murder” in this instance is just not accurate or productive. Once again, the people on that plane were already dead. There was no way they were going to make it out of that situation alive. The pilots would have been saving lives. Comparing the actions the pilots were contemplating to the Japanese Kamikazes is simply not an accurate comparison. Having to down Flight 93 would have been an unfortunate means to the larger end of saving the most lives possible. Thankfully, the passengers took matters into their own hands and saved the fighter pilots from having to go through with such a desperate act. On that note, did the passengers that attacked the terrorists on Flight 93 “murder” the rest of the passengers who may not have agreed to this action? Using the word “murder” in this case just isn’t correct.

  • Grace

    E-Raj – @27

    You wrote: Actually, Jesus did preach that Gospel:
    “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
    John 15:13

    The pilot of the U.S. plane had no right to choose to lay down the lives of anyone, but their own – A friend doesn’t lay down the lives of their friends for others. If someone chooses to commit suicide, that’s THEIR CHOICE, when they decide to lay down other lives who have not chosen to die, it’s called something else.

    As a Christian Believer, I have no right to commit suicide. “Laying down” ones life doesn’t mean you commit suicide OR that you expect others to commend you to take the innocent lives of others on US air space, on purpose to protect anyone else This was a commercial flight in U.S. air space, .. everyone expects, who flies commercial, within the USA to be jammed by another plane to protect someone else, crash and burn.

    “Having to down Flight 93 would have been an unfortunate means to the larger end of saving the most lives possible. Thankfully, the passengers took matters into their own hands and saved the fighter pilots from having to go through with such a desperate act. On that note, did the passengers that attacked the terrorists on Flight 93 “murder” the rest of the passengers who may not have agreed to this action? Using the word “murder” in this case just isn’t correct.”

    So in your mind “the end justifies the means” – where have we heard that before?

    The men who commandeered the attack on pilots, passengers and planes were the terrorists, it was only right and honorable that some passengers tried to subvert the attack, that is not murder.

    Your assumption is nothing more than an attempt to make an excuse to purposefully divert the truth, to an excuse for a suicide mission, etc.

  • Grace

    E-Raj – @27

    You wrote: Actually, Jesus did preach that Gospel:
    “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
    John 15:13

    The pilot of the U.S. plane had no right to choose to lay down the lives of anyone, but their own – A friend doesn’t lay down the lives of their friends for others. If someone chooses to commit suicide, that’s THEIR CHOICE, when they decide to lay down other lives who have not chosen to die, it’s called something else.

    As a Christian Believer, I have no right to commit suicide. “Laying down” ones life doesn’t mean you commit suicide OR that you expect others to commend you to take the innocent lives of others on US air space, on purpose to protect anyone else This was a commercial flight in U.S. air space, .. everyone expects, who flies commercial, within the USA to be jammed by another plane to protect someone else, crash and burn.

    “Having to down Flight 93 would have been an unfortunate means to the larger end of saving the most lives possible. Thankfully, the passengers took matters into their own hands and saved the fighter pilots from having to go through with such a desperate act. On that note, did the passengers that attacked the terrorists on Flight 93 “murder” the rest of the passengers who may not have agreed to this action? Using the word “murder” in this case just isn’t correct.”

    So in your mind “the end justifies the means” – where have we heard that before?

    The men who commandeered the attack on pilots, passengers and planes were the terrorists, it was only right and honorable that some passengers tried to subvert the attack, that is not murder.

    Your assumption is nothing more than an attempt to make an excuse to purposefully divert the truth, to an excuse for a suicide mission, etc.

  • Grace

    # 28 should read:

    As a Christian Believer, I have no right to commit suicide. “Laying down” ones life doesn’t mean you commit suicide OR that you expect others to commend you to take the innocent lives of others on US air space, on purpose to protect anyone else This was a commercial flight in U.S. air space, .. “NO one” expects, who flies commercial, within the USA to be jammed by another plane to protect someone else, crash and burn.

  • Grace

    # 28 should read:

    As a Christian Believer, I have no right to commit suicide. “Laying down” ones life doesn’t mean you commit suicide OR that you expect others to commend you to take the innocent lives of others on US air space, on purpose to protect anyone else This was a commercial flight in U.S. air space, .. “NO one” expects, who flies commercial, within the USA to be jammed by another plane to protect someone else, crash and burn.

  • http://somewebsite.somedomain.com C-Christian Soldier

    #1 -# 16-close to what I would have stated-

    whatever happened to ‘Judge not- lest Ye be Judged!”
    We were Not in her ‘shoes’-

    and- it generally takes a male to impregnate a female-barring AI…
    C-CS

  • http://somewebsite.somedomain.com C-Christian Soldier

    #1 -# 16-close to what I would have stated-

    whatever happened to ‘Judge not- lest Ye be Judged!”
    We were Not in her ‘shoes’-

    and- it generally takes a male to impregnate a female-barring AI…
    C-CS

  • Pete

    E-Raj @25 says: “…it seems to be a mathematical decision more than anything else. You do whatever action is necessary to limit the number of deaths to the fewest possible.” And I think he’s correct, however, one of the biggest problems in situations like these is our inability to know how they’ll actually play out. To continue the “mathematical” analogy, there are “knowns” but there are a lot of important “unknowns”. For example, were the passengers in that plane really doomed? Suppose they were able to overpower and subdue the hijackers and there was an off-duty pilot on board who could then land the plane safely? In that circumstance – admittedly a long shot – the kamikaze strike would have been the wrong thing. Or suppose you ram the plane and instead of going down in a field it goes into downtown Pittsburgh? You might have unwittingly helped the hijackers wreak more havoc than they’d hoped. There have been criticisms on this thread of the pilot(s) carrying out a suicide mission. Rubbish! I’m sure that if there was a way for them to accomplish the goal of disabling that plane without killing themselves, they’d have used it. As was also pointed out above, like storming the Normandy beaches, in countering evil we sometimes have to risk our very lives and I for one am thankful that there are those willing to do it.

  • Pete

    E-Raj @25 says: “…it seems to be a mathematical decision more than anything else. You do whatever action is necessary to limit the number of deaths to the fewest possible.” And I think he’s correct, however, one of the biggest problems in situations like these is our inability to know how they’ll actually play out. To continue the “mathematical” analogy, there are “knowns” but there are a lot of important “unknowns”. For example, were the passengers in that plane really doomed? Suppose they were able to overpower and subdue the hijackers and there was an off-duty pilot on board who could then land the plane safely? In that circumstance – admittedly a long shot – the kamikaze strike would have been the wrong thing. Or suppose you ram the plane and instead of going down in a field it goes into downtown Pittsburgh? You might have unwittingly helped the hijackers wreak more havoc than they’d hoped. There have been criticisms on this thread of the pilot(s) carrying out a suicide mission. Rubbish! I’m sure that if there was a way for them to accomplish the goal of disabling that plane without killing themselves, they’d have used it. As was also pointed out above, like storming the Normandy beaches, in countering evil we sometimes have to risk our very lives and I for one am thankful that there are those willing to do it.

  • Dennis Peskey

    Dr. Veith has raised valid questions regarding the military’s attempt to halt the terrorist’s employment of hijacked United 93. I shall address these in the order given from a military’s understanding.
    1. Unknown nature of target – all that was known to the commander who authorized this mission was United 93 would be deployed as a flying bomb. I have grave reservations the terrorists filed a flight plan with the tower prior to departure; ergo, which building on the east coast would you order evacuated?
    2. Combat missions do not offer the courtesy of waiting until you are most prepared – you must use any and all means at your disposal to accomplish the mission. While bombs, rockets and bullets are preferred, lacking these you employ rocks, bayonets or bare hands. It is not suicide – it is raw combat and it ain’t pretty but those who defend our country know this situation may arise and they do rise to the challenge, whether on land, sea or air.
    3. During periods of “peacetime”, military weapons systems are not maintained in combat ready status, i.e. they are unarmed. This applies to combat Marines in base status, naval ships in port and planes in hangers. The arming of a weapons system is accomplished under strict orders and with a designated purpose. This is a security matter to prevent terrorists, domestic and foreign, from accessing the necessary ammunition to render a weapon functional. There is and has been aircraft maintained in combat ready status (i.e. fully armed) stationed at various bases both foreign and domestic; unfortunately, the area surrounding our Capital apparently was not considered a region in need of such preparedness.
    4. The deployment of women in combat has been the subject of intensive debate in our military over several decades. The arguments in favor feature equal opportunity and rights and highlight the success of nations such as Israel. The alternate discourse points to unit cohesiveness and stress conditions inherent in combat as well as our nation’s historical military structure. Choose your side – there’s plenty of ammo to continue this debate ad infinum – for me, I’d much rather go hand-to-hand against a five foot four female than a six foot four male – I like the former odds much better (I also want to survive for I never was suicidal which is why after three tours in the Marines I can post this now).
    5. I’m really surprised we’ve gone thirty posts without the Civil War issue being raised. Brother killed brother, father killed son, war is hell – get the point. Combat personnel are not given the luxury of choosing the target – their vocation is to follow proper orders and accomplish the assigned mission.

    As a final note, I would like to address the issue of “choice” related to suicide. I ask you return to Tom’s post #10; this oath I swore three times. I volunteered to support and defend our Constitution – the reality of combat dictates by any and all means at my disposal including hand-to-hand. I realize this is repulsive to some and the prime reason not every person can become a Marine.

    The oath continues “bear truth faith and allegiance” and this is most serious. You as a person check your individuality at the white line when you enlist – you’re not a civilian anymore but part of a unit and responsible to others who comprise your unit. You’re well trained and expected to preform duties according to your station; you’re personal opinion is inconsequential. If you’re unable to surrender your feelings (and/or your life) in support of your fellow Marines – stay away – we do not want nor need you. Go plant a tree.

    This brings me to the final part of the oath, “I will obey the orders…”. There is no qualification except that which is offered in the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). Whether I’m ordered to assault a fortified beachhead, storm a bunker complex or destroy an air assault with an unarmed plane by any means possible, the respond is “Aye, aye, Sir (or Ma’am)”. Let’s be clear, United 93 ceased to be a civilian means of transport when terrorists commandeered the aircraft; its flight plan had undergone dramatic revision and purpose. Given the known intent of the terrorists, I would have had no reservations authorizing the removal of this threat. Whether the military did anything or did nothing, people were definitely going to die. The military’s assessment of this situation was to limit the damage to the occupants of Flight 93.

    The response of the flight commander and the pilots is highly commendable and in keeping with the finest tradition of our military. Please join them in the concluding prayer of the oath, “So help me God.” You have the luxury of sleeping well tonight for many stand guard both within and without our nation’s borders protecting this country and constitution. War (or combat) may not be just nor even moral; it is raw, brutal and deadly. Primarily, it is, at times, necessary as a means of protect and survival. Ever since Adam and Eve’s alternative dietary plan was enacted, death became and continues as a reality for all of us. While man has searched for centuries to limit the death toll of war, christians should understand the finality of war ends only upon the second coming of our Lord. As we preached in the Corps, commend your spirit to the LORD ’cause your ass belongs to the Marines. Welcome to reality. They need your prayers as well.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Dr. Veith has raised valid questions regarding the military’s attempt to halt the terrorist’s employment of hijacked United 93. I shall address these in the order given from a military’s understanding.
    1. Unknown nature of target – all that was known to the commander who authorized this mission was United 93 would be deployed as a flying bomb. I have grave reservations the terrorists filed a flight plan with the tower prior to departure; ergo, which building on the east coast would you order evacuated?
    2. Combat missions do not offer the courtesy of waiting until you are most prepared – you must use any and all means at your disposal to accomplish the mission. While bombs, rockets and bullets are preferred, lacking these you employ rocks, bayonets or bare hands. It is not suicide – it is raw combat and it ain’t pretty but those who defend our country know this situation may arise and they do rise to the challenge, whether on land, sea or air.
    3. During periods of “peacetime”, military weapons systems are not maintained in combat ready status, i.e. they are unarmed. This applies to combat Marines in base status, naval ships in port and planes in hangers. The arming of a weapons system is accomplished under strict orders and with a designated purpose. This is a security matter to prevent terrorists, domestic and foreign, from accessing the necessary ammunition to render a weapon functional. There is and has been aircraft maintained in combat ready status (i.e. fully armed) stationed at various bases both foreign and domestic; unfortunately, the area surrounding our Capital apparently was not considered a region in need of such preparedness.
    4. The deployment of women in combat has been the subject of intensive debate in our military over several decades. The arguments in favor feature equal opportunity and rights and highlight the success of nations such as Israel. The alternate discourse points to unit cohesiveness and stress conditions inherent in combat as well as our nation’s historical military structure. Choose your side – there’s plenty of ammo to continue this debate ad infinum – for me, I’d much rather go hand-to-hand against a five foot four female than a six foot four male – I like the former odds much better (I also want to survive for I never was suicidal which is why after three tours in the Marines I can post this now).
    5. I’m really surprised we’ve gone thirty posts without the Civil War issue being raised. Brother killed brother, father killed son, war is hell – get the point. Combat personnel are not given the luxury of choosing the target – their vocation is to follow proper orders and accomplish the assigned mission.

    As a final note, I would like to address the issue of “choice” related to suicide. I ask you return to Tom’s post #10; this oath I swore three times. I volunteered to support and defend our Constitution – the reality of combat dictates by any and all means at my disposal including hand-to-hand. I realize this is repulsive to some and the prime reason not every person can become a Marine.

    The oath continues “bear truth faith and allegiance” and this is most serious. You as a person check your individuality at the white line when you enlist – you’re not a civilian anymore but part of a unit and responsible to others who comprise your unit. You’re well trained and expected to preform duties according to your station; you’re personal opinion is inconsequential. If you’re unable to surrender your feelings (and/or your life) in support of your fellow Marines – stay away – we do not want nor need you. Go plant a tree.

    This brings me to the final part of the oath, “I will obey the orders…”. There is no qualification except that which is offered in the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). Whether I’m ordered to assault a fortified beachhead, storm a bunker complex or destroy an air assault with an unarmed plane by any means possible, the respond is “Aye, aye, Sir (or Ma’am)”. Let’s be clear, United 93 ceased to be a civilian means of transport when terrorists commandeered the aircraft; its flight plan had undergone dramatic revision and purpose. Given the known intent of the terrorists, I would have had no reservations authorizing the removal of this threat. Whether the military did anything or did nothing, people were definitely going to die. The military’s assessment of this situation was to limit the damage to the occupants of Flight 93.

    The response of the flight commander and the pilots is highly commendable and in keeping with the finest tradition of our military. Please join them in the concluding prayer of the oath, “So help me God.” You have the luxury of sleeping well tonight for many stand guard both within and without our nation’s borders protecting this country and constitution. War (or combat) may not be just nor even moral; it is raw, brutal and deadly. Primarily, it is, at times, necessary as a means of protect and survival. Ever since Adam and Eve’s alternative dietary plan was enacted, death became and continues as a reality for all of us. While man has searched for centuries to limit the death toll of war, christians should understand the finality of war ends only upon the second coming of our Lord. As we preached in the Corps, commend your spirit to the LORD ’cause your ass belongs to the Marines. Welcome to reality. They need your prayers as well.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • E-Raj

    Calling what the military pilots were planning “suicide” is ridiculous. Sacrifice? Yes. Suicide? No. Neither of those pilots woke up and said, “I hate life. I’m going to end it all today…and I’m going to kill a bunch of airline passengers, too.” That would be murder and suicide. I shudder to think where our country would be without the selfless actions of our military personnel over the years. I guess I would understand Grace’s “ends justifies the means” quote if it had been applied to my statement correctly. There was no evil in the potential actions of those military pilots. They were attempting to save lives. Murder/Suicide? No way. It’s all about the intention behind the action.

    The passengers on the plane were as good as dead. I realize (as Pete aptly stated) that no one knew if the passengers could get control of the plane at the time. What we did know, though, was that three planes had already crashed into buildings, killing thousands, so it seemed reasonable to expect the fourth plane to do the same. There wasn’t time to debate the pros and cons. Lives on the ground hung in the balance.

    And on a side note, this “war on terrorism” (a term I hate) is such that we are all soldiers. They attacked all of us on 9/11, not just our military personnel. I would venture to say that most everyone that has stepped on a plane since that fateful day realizes they could be shot down by our own military if a similar situation ever happens again. I know I do.

  • E-Raj

    Calling what the military pilots were planning “suicide” is ridiculous. Sacrifice? Yes. Suicide? No. Neither of those pilots woke up and said, “I hate life. I’m going to end it all today…and I’m going to kill a bunch of airline passengers, too.” That would be murder and suicide. I shudder to think where our country would be without the selfless actions of our military personnel over the years. I guess I would understand Grace’s “ends justifies the means” quote if it had been applied to my statement correctly. There was no evil in the potential actions of those military pilots. They were attempting to save lives. Murder/Suicide? No way. It’s all about the intention behind the action.

    The passengers on the plane were as good as dead. I realize (as Pete aptly stated) that no one knew if the passengers could get control of the plane at the time. What we did know, though, was that three planes had already crashed into buildings, killing thousands, so it seemed reasonable to expect the fourth plane to do the same. There wasn’t time to debate the pros and cons. Lives on the ground hung in the balance.

    And on a side note, this “war on terrorism” (a term I hate) is such that we are all soldiers. They attacked all of us on 9/11, not just our military personnel. I would venture to say that most everyone that has stepped on a plane since that fateful day realizes they could be shot down by our own military if a similar situation ever happens again. I know I do.

  • Terry Harwell

    In short the military was not – is not and should not be portrayed as the bad guys in all this. They are to the core, true defenders of the constitution and the United States of America. Although our military muffs a few situations, it is as humane and moral as one could possibly expect. So travel by air has changed? OK I give you that one. But not because of what our military may or may not have done. The true cause of changes to air travel could start a whole new thread. Also we must also keep in mind that our military is answerable to a commander in chief and congressional oversight committee which are all politicians. Politics play more than a passive role in our military’s actions. If our politicians were actively seeking solutions to issues such as terrorism instead of re-election, a lot fewer service personnel would end up KIA (killed in Action). In large part our political conduct has allowed situations like 9-11 to come about. All in all we are blessed to have as stable a military as we do to pull us out of our political messes. God Bless All our Military. Past present and future ….Terry

  • Terry Harwell

    In short the military was not – is not and should not be portrayed as the bad guys in all this. They are to the core, true defenders of the constitution and the United States of America. Although our military muffs a few situations, it is as humane and moral as one could possibly expect. So travel by air has changed? OK I give you that one. But not because of what our military may or may not have done. The true cause of changes to air travel could start a whole new thread. Also we must also keep in mind that our military is answerable to a commander in chief and congressional oversight committee which are all politicians. Politics play more than a passive role in our military’s actions. If our politicians were actively seeking solutions to issues such as terrorism instead of re-election, a lot fewer service personnel would end up KIA (killed in Action). In large part our political conduct has allowed situations like 9-11 to come about. All in all we are blessed to have as stable a military as we do to pull us out of our political messes. God Bless All our Military. Past present and future ….Terry

  • Tom Hering

    “… the assumption that we are required to control outcomes rather than to live rightly and leave the outcomes in the hands of God, even if it is really hard and painful to do so.” – Corey @ 9.

    Corey, I’ve thought about your comment @ 9 several times since you made it. Two questions for you:

    1. Would you lie to save someone else’s life?

    2. Would you lie to save your own life?

    Both situations are concerned with outcome, and require you to do something Christians aren’t supposed to do. What would you do?

  • Tom Hering

    “… the assumption that we are required to control outcomes rather than to live rightly and leave the outcomes in the hands of God, even if it is really hard and painful to do so.” – Corey @ 9.

    Corey, I’ve thought about your comment @ 9 several times since you made it. Two questions for you:

    1. Would you lie to save someone else’s life?

    2. Would you lie to save your own life?

    Both situations are concerned with outcome, and require you to do something Christians aren’t supposed to do. What would you do?

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    This problem reminds me of the so-called Trolley Problem. (Look it up. It’s interesting.) This was formulated by Philippa Foot:

    “A trolley (i.e. in British English a train) is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?”

    Foot held to Virtue Ethics, which tends in different directions from both theories that stress moral rules and theories that stress consequences in making decisions. The Vocation questions seems to be in part a virtue question. What would a good mother do? A good soldier? A good daughter? Others ask about numbers, which comes from Pragmatism or Consequentialism. And others speak in terms of moral rules. These are all good ways to reason (though I would put consequences LOW on the list relative to the others). But we need to be aware that each way of approach, if put first, will lead to different decisions. Anyone who tries to speak of both rules AND consequences thinking the right answer is obvious has often missed how these generally (not always) lead in different directions..

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    This problem reminds me of the so-called Trolley Problem. (Look it up. It’s interesting.) This was formulated by Philippa Foot:

    “A trolley (i.e. in British English a train) is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?”

    Foot held to Virtue Ethics, which tends in different directions from both theories that stress moral rules and theories that stress consequences in making decisions. The Vocation questions seems to be in part a virtue question. What would a good mother do? A good soldier? A good daughter? Others ask about numbers, which comes from Pragmatism or Consequentialism. And others speak in terms of moral rules. These are all good ways to reason (though I would put consequences LOW on the list relative to the others). But we need to be aware that each way of approach, if put first, will lead to different decisions. Anyone who tries to speak of both rules AND consequences thinking the right answer is obvious has often missed how these generally (not always) lead in different directions..

  • Abby

    Thank you, Dennis @32.

  • Abby

    Thank you, Dennis @32.

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