The day before the president’s speech, I got email from some people asking me why I’m such an idiot, how I can reconcile Christianity with war, how I could reconcile the present engagement with the “Just War” musings of Aquinas, etc.
The day after the speech, I had a friend urge me to perform an exercise of “reassessment” regarding my views.
I found myself writing essentially the same response to several of those folk – the ones worth answering (here’s a hint, if you want me to respond to an email of yours, don’t call me names or wish my kids dead.)
The response is this: When did Jesus say there should be no war? Jesus recognised that some things simply were what they were. He was, in some ways, the ultimate pragmatist; “render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21) and “”A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.” (Matthew 10:24) Scripture says “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven/A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant./A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build.” (Eccl 3;1-3)
No sane person likes war. But war sometimes comes. And the “Just War” theology is very clear that war may be Just when it is waged to ultimately spare more lives than it takes, to stop an inexorable advancement of evil.
There is some indication, given the behavior of the Islamofascists since the 1970’s that their advancement is inexorable. And to my way of thinking, when that advancement is indiscriminate about who it kills or maims, when it oppresses women, hangs gays and talks about exterminating Jews – or any sort of genocide – well…I’ll call it evil and answer to God as to whether I got that call right.
Here’s the thing. Do you folks urging me to “reassess” things really think I haven’t thought about it and prayed hard about it and wondered if my thoughts and feelings (and for that matter, my stubborn loyalty to the vision I see within it) were not two parts knee-jerk reaction to the naysayers and one part la-laland? Good lord. Of course I’ve rethought my take on the war – many times. I can see where the damn mistakes have been made, particularly in the past year. I don’t think this president has been faultless – in some ways he’s been stunningly inept, and (as I’ve written somewhere on my blog) my feeling is that both Cheney and Rumsfeld should have asked to resign right after the ’04 elections. And I think the WH in general has been a communications nightmare.
I also think this is a WH under seige in an unprecedented way. Imagine a corporation or a network trying to improve or contain a situation while its members are leaking everything to the press, and then consider how much more difficult it would be for them to take constructive action in the face of that. I do think this WH has allowed itself to be distracted in its management of the war by a lot of pissant ankle biters who are not serious about anything at all beyond politicizing things and acquiring power.
Whenever I think about how I feel about the war and where it’s going – and remember, I have a kid who may be welcomed into these troop numbers before this is all over, so I have some skin in this game – I come down to the realization that this is not a war like any other because this is not an enemy like any other. This is an enemy that does not wear a uniform, it hides in the crowd, it fights with no code and concurs with no convention. It doesn’t mind hiding behind women and children or storing arms in churches. If this enemy takes a prisoner it slaughters him on camera, and with great glee.
Their battlefield is literally EVERYWHERE. What do they want? They don’t want land – even giving them Israel would not appease them, because all of this is not about Israel. This is an enemy that says, “you love Pepsi, we love death. And we are happy to die as long as we are killing you, too.” It is an unconventional enemy, and unconventional war, and we have absolutely nothing to offer within a diplomatic solution. This is an enemy that will take your diplomatic solution and use it against you, because it is not fighting out of loyalty to a king who may be appeased…they’re fighting and using terrorism as a means of movement, to advance an idea the bottom line of which is “Die. Or, you know, convert. But mostly die.”
Europe won’t fight this enemy – can’t fight it and doesn’t wish to. She is already defeated demographically and I remember the quote from the Dutch fellow who said, “I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.”
When Islamofascism rolls in to occupy Paris (it is very nearly there) it will not do so with tanks. It will do so with burquas for the women, swords for the gays and calls for prayer for everyone. What do you think France will do? What is it doing, already?
Who will fight, then? Just us…and the UK for a little while longer, and the Aussies. We have one last great hope to defeat this advancing ideology and that hope is to give the non-fascists a taste of liberty and democratic process, and an oppotunity to enter into the marketplace of goods and ideas. Yes, ugly materialism and ugly capitalism go bad eventually, but we can worry about that later. Right now…if we can whip a little industry onto folks who are not currently allowed to dream or design or discuss…maybe they will stop raising kids who feel like the only way they can be important and successful is by the measure of the mullah and the martyr.
What is the solution? If Bush fails in going “all in” and we pull out, okay…we’ve brought our sons and daughters home and basically rendered meaningless our 3000 honorable military deaths. Iraq will immediately fall and the 21century killing fields will commence.
And what, then, is the solution for dealing with worldwide terror? Until someone can tell me what is the workable alternative to war, can tell me how to keep our children from having to live in a world where free speech is lost to intimidation, cathedral crosses are replaced with minarets, women are stoned to death for the crime of being raped, gays are hung for being gay and jews are simply left for slaughter, I simply can’t find the answer.
So, there you go. I assess and reassess and in the end, I see an enemy that cannot be fought conventionally, and I see a vision that maybe is foolish, maybe is impossible. But maybe, just maybe, if it works, if Iraq – in the center of the Middle East – can sustain its incipient democracy and flourish…then the whole world changes, for the better. We have to dare to dream it. We have to dare to believe it.
Supporting the war is not about “giving Bush a win” and decrying it is not about “giving Bush a loss.” It’s about all of us.
With only two alternatives on the table — fight or flight — the debate really comes down to questions of context. One is geopolitical: Just how important is this war beyond Iraq? Another is political in the domestic sense: Is this just George W. Bush’s war, or is it a war in which the whole nation has a stake?
If we go down, we all go down together, the president will not “fail” in a vacuum.
We we have to figure out what happens if we surrender, and what happens if we win. Because all of this does not “go away” in two years when Bush leaves office. Islamofascist terrorism was already business-as-usual before Bush came into office. It will be there when he leaves, and for a very, very long time after, unless we hold fast now, and see this thing through.
Here I stand; I can do no other.
Meanwhile Siggy has a long, thoughtful look at what we’re really trying to do for Iraq, and for ourselves, at this point.
The President’s ‘team’ isn’t America or the Coalition forces. The team Mr Bush refers to are the Iraqis themselves. The last quarter of this last game being played will determine the outcome for the Iraqis- and not for the Americans or Coalition partners. Regardless of the outcome, America and her Coalition partners have given Iraq and the Arab world a once in a generation opportunity to rewrite their own destinies and the destinies of their children. The choices they make are their own.
We are giving the Iraqis a final chance to take control of their lives. If they choose to remain immobilized or only half committed, we can go home with a clear conscience. We offered them a Marshall Plan and long term commitment of partnership and opportunity. We offered them a future.
Meanwhile, Dr Sanity is angry as hell. And worth reading.
WELCOME: Michelle Malkin readers (and thanks for the link, Seedubya). While you’re here look around. Today we’ve also discussed those son-less presidents who had no worries about immediately family “paying a price,” ala Sen. Boxer to Sec’y Rice. We’ve wondered about how stability of family and community touches everything, and we’re very happy to hear that Sen. Johnson is improving and that Deborah Voigt and Bryn Terfel will be belting out Brünnhilde and Wotan! And here are 10 things to ponder for 2007.