Saturday, March 19, 2011

Plowshares into Cruise Missiles: View from the Crickets

There are many legitimate views on Christianity and issues of wars and peace: pacificism, "just war" theory, humanitarian justifications. However, I've said for a long time that there is one such theory which, I believe, holds no such legitimacy:

A war is "just" if and only if the President launching it has a "D" after his name.

Now, with no Congressional debate or resolution, no hint that this bombing involves the self-defense of the U.S. or its citizens, America is firing cruise missiles onto territory controlled by the Qadaffi regime in Libya. I just spent several minutes on Google looking for things like "Presbyterians oppose bombing of Libya" or "Moderator comments on Libyan bombing." I more or less went through all of the usual suspects. The result so far: nada, zilch, goose-egg. The PCUSA Peacemaking Page is simply reprinting the US announcement of the UN resolution authorizing the attacks, with no editorial comment. It will be interesting to see what the next few days bring.

Full disclosure: I support the international coalition's actions, with reservations. That's not the point. I'm giving a President I didn't vote for the benefit of the doubt (I think he dithered for too long to get to where we are, but that's a different argument). My argument is that much of the "peace movement" in mainline protestant and even evangelical circles goes silent when a "D" is the one launching the bombs. This is not the first time this has happened: take some of the most strident religious critics of the Iraq war and google their statements about either 1 ) The Clinton administration's massive aerial bombing of Serbia or 2 ) The decision by President Obama to escalate the war in Afghanistan. Largely, I am willing to argue, things are so quiet you will just hear the sound of crickets chirping in your back yard. If you want to search the record for a principled counter-example, I offer you Joan Baez, who alienated herself from the antiwar establishment by opposing war and violence from whatever direction in the political spectrum. That and, of course, she has the voice of a song-bird. And, I did see a news report that famed economist Daniel Ellsberg marched in front of the White House today with about....100 people?

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