IRAQ: A JUST WAR?
The following article is one that I published in September, 2002. Since that time, George W. Bush launched a war against Iraq (as I predicted that he would); 2,415 young American men and women and over 200 "coalition" forces have died in this war (at least, 17,800 American troops have been wounded, many severely); approximately 34,000 civilian Iraqi men, women, and children have also died (if we want to consider ourselves to be a moral nation, this number needs to matter to us also); the search for Osama bin Laden (who is a danger to us) was put on the back burner while we chased after Saddam Hussein (who was much less of a danger to us [if he was at all]); and we have spent over 278 billion dollars (that's right, 278 Billion) on the war and its aftermath.
What have we gained by this costly and continuing undertaking? No weapons of mass destruction (the excuse used for going to war) have been found; Al Qaeda (which was not a force in pre-war Iraq) is attempting to gain a foothold in Iraq similar to what it had in Afghanistan; and our relationship with the U.N. and many friendly nations (a real necessity in the battle against terrorism) has been badly damaged; and Iraq's three major divisions (Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds) are close to--if not already engaged in--civil war. It seems to me that now is a good time to re-ask the questions that I asked before the war, so here it is:
OUR "CHRISTIAN NATION" VS. IRAQ
There are a great number of people these days--many of whom occupy high government positions--who like to claim that the United States is a "Christian Nation," while at the same time pushing for (or at least not seriously searching for ways to avoid) war with Iraq: "There are no negotiations to be held with Iraq" George W. Bush. It would seem to me that a "Christian Nation" should be very interested in following the teaching's of Jesus and in listening to the advice of Early Church Fathers:
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
"But I tell you: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those cursing you, pray for those abusing you, so that you may become sons of your Father in heaven."
The Early Church Father, Tertullian asked:
"Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaimed that he who takes the sword shall also perish by the sword?"
and even condemned retaliatory violence:
"For what difference is there between provoker and provoked? The only difference is that the former was the first to do evil, but the latter did evil afterwards. Each one stands condemned in the eyes of the Lord for hurting a man. For God both prohibits and condemns every wickedness. In evil doing, there is no account taken of the order... The commandment is absolute: evil is not to be repaid with evil."
The Early Church Father, Origen said:
"For we no longer take up sword against nation nor do we learn war any more, having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader."
This attitude of strict non-violence held sway until Constantine (a bloody tyrant) twisted--and corrupted--Christianity into a tool of war for his own benefit. "IN HOC SIGNO VINCES" (IN THIS SIGN YOU WILL CONQUER).
We are asked to believe that Jesus--after 300 years of NOT miraculously appearing to his followers to tell them that it was OK to fight in the Colosseum to protect themselves and their families and friends--decided to appear to Constantine (a man who had his own wife and son murdered)--and tell him that not only was fighting a war to attain more power OK, but that Jesus would be on his side.
The new 'Constantianity' was a far cry from the original Christianity. Even after this major change, however, the church still gave lip service to the idea that war should be avoided if at all possible. They set up standards for what they called "Just Wars." One of the requirements that they listed for a "Just War" was:
"There can be no declaration of war until every means to prevent it has failed."
While there are a few Christian groups in the U.S. that live up to the original Christian concept of non-violence, the majority seem to subscribe to the post-Constantine idea of "Just Wars." My questions are these:
1. Does President Bush's "pre-emptive war" stance adhere to either the pre- or post-Constantine Christian position?
2. Should not all Christians be pushing for the exhaustion of all alternatives prior to advocating going to war?
3. What would Jesus do? >>>>_
That was then, this is now. This was a war that Bush started. We attacked and invaded a sovereign country without doing everything that we could to solve the problem short of war. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell did not satisfy this very basic requirement of a "Just War" prior to the invasion. Shame on them. If getting rid of Saddam because he is a bad man was the actual reason for going to war, then that is how it should have been presented to the American People and the rest of the World prior to the war. All comments and all efforts were directed against the alleged possession of WMDs and alleged ties to Al Qaeda (all of which turned out to be false). We are stuck with George W. Bush until 2008. However, we can--and must--do our best to show that he and those like him, who claim to be such strong Christians, are acting contrary to the teachings of Jesus and are not leading the country in a moral and ethical direction. We must also do our best to change the balance of power by countering the efforts of the Religious Right during the 2006 elections. We may be stuck with "W" until 2009, but we can at least provide some balance by taking back the House and Senate. I hope that you will consider joining with me in this important effort!