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September 10, 2013



You raise a question that has troubled me for a long time, and which I'm not a good enough historian to answer. Why was WWII "the good war", the war for which there can exist no reasoned moral opposition, and every war since has been questioned by so many people, scholars and others? Has war changed, or the reasons for them, our coverage of them, or our attitude toward it?

I was born right after WWII. I don't recall ever hearing a question about the justice of it, other than that a few folks, like Lindbergh, had questioned our participation until Pearl Harbor, or the Nazi sympathizers among the European elite (such as in *The Remains of the Day*). The revelation of atrocities against Jews near the end of the European phase stamped "paid" to it as a justified war.

Vietnam was "my" war, which was questioned before it started. And so has every war since. Since Vietnam, it is mostly those who start wars and serve in them who insist that every life lost is worth it. I'm not so sure anymore.



Glad to see your pen alive and I feel the pain of your deeply held position. I was somewhat surprised at the rebuke of congress whose has supported the president in a bi-partisian leadership and whose member are reflecting the wariness of the folks.

Reluctant executive leadership boxed us into limited no-win options. Suppose the president had deployed special forces to render the stockpile ineffective? The world would have rallied to the moral cause.

Further, this was is rooted into centuries old struggle - to receive the mantle of Mohamed . Best we can do is to contain the conflagaration through the limits of UN and plan for the humanitarian cost of war.

Let's not be forced to grade evil on a curve. The 100K lost from the war has equal weeping.

David Hamstra

When I think about this problem, I'm reminded that Jesus is the savior of the world, because clearly the USA cannot be. It's not our job to fix everything. We try to do good when and where possible in the spheres available to us.

Every war—yes, it's a war if we use our military to attack, regardless of the euphemisms deployed—every war requires moral justification. Even wars undertaken for the highest ideals are ultimately co-opted by self-interest and sullied by unsavory means. War is also the most unpredictable of human activities—the outcome almost never a forgone conclusion. The unintended consequences of war are often greater than the immediate conclusion.

The above being true, war of choice ought never be undertaken unless there is a clear threat, a clear desired outcome, and a clear path to that desired outcome. The proposed air campaign against Syria meets the first, falters on the second, and fails on the third.

If it were America's job to save the world, we should go in with a full scale land invasion. That would have the greatest chance of stopping the use of chemical weapons. But that would likely end up like the time we tried to save Iraq.

Thankfully, it is not our job to save the world. We need to think more about we can realistically do to improve the situation with the abundant but also limited tools God has given us and less about zapping bad guys.

Dean Read

I want to respond, but yes, it is difficult even for a Christian pacifist who's world view is that of the Biblical Great Controversy between Christ and Satan, thus also between good and evil. To consider if one should ever support military action is not an invalid question. However, what kind of support? I suggest that prayer for those involved, the military personal is never wrong. Leaving vengeance in God's hands is also never wrong. But to support a vote, if it were to happen, to bomb Syria, or any other rogue nation for violating articles of war is not the responsibility of Christian pacifists as I see it. It is the responsibility of the Nations (United Nations) to enforce their own International rules. Thus far, this has not been the case over the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Though it seems to be an after the fact thing with Russia now agreeing to potentially commandeer Syria’s chemical weapons with al-Asaad’s consent.

Yet, back to my original reason for attempting a response to your blog post Monte. I do not think it was a good idea, or even a right thing when the U.S. President acted alone and threatened al-Asaad with cruise missiles, if (and only if) he used chemical weapons. We have been told that now proof exists that chemical weapons were used in Syria. However, proof has not been demonstrated over which party (al-Assad or the Syrian rebels) used the weapons. And both sides in that civil war have clearly demonstrated they are bent on evil.

As evil as the use of chemical weapons was, was it any more evil than the so-called legal military use of conventional weapons that have reportedly been used to kill 100,000 people? Is one type of war somehow more moral or more ethical than another? The objective in war is to win, defeat your enemy and that by killing. This killing is what Christian pacifists usually refuse to do. However, many Christian pacifists have been drafted in the military and served in other capacities than killing. Yet, that still sends a message of some form of support, not necessarily for the reason for the war, but support to preserve life in the name of God, while also supporting your Nation.

When it comes to U.S. involvement in war, should Christian pacifists ever support that, and if so, when? WWII was mentioned by L. Seibold, as well as Vietnam as to what kind of wars the U.S. population generally supported or did not support. In WWII we were attacked. Our Nation’s leaders had the responsibility to respond. In Vietnam, we intervened, interjected ourselves in another Nation’s (South Vietnam) struggle against North Vietnam’s aggression. I personally do not think that was our responsibility as a Nation to intervene there.

Being a Christian pacifist doesn't mean that the Nation in which I live must also hold to pacifism. For the Apostle Paul reveals in Romans 13 that God has given responsibility to the governing authorities to bear the sword against those who do evil. That however, does not mean the United States is to be the world's sole policeman. For Biblical history reveals that many times those Nations to who God gave such responsibility, misused their sword. And the Prophet Daniel reveals how God handles nations that misuse their God given power: Daniel 2:21, "He removes kings and raises up kings." Yet, the context of Romans 13 is about how I as a Christian pacifist should conduct myself within my own nation.

The U.S. government is not necessarily filled with God-fearing politicians (an understatement I know). Whether they vote to bomb Syria or not (and I sincerely hope and pray they vote "not") I will still be grieved at the deaths from war and terror and any other means. I grieve over the destruction of human life that is happening in Syria; and also in many other places in the world. In spite of that, as a Christian I find my marching from Jesus: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's, “and do this while you “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” Therefore, I will try my best to make a difference and bring souls to Jesus Christ for salvation. That is my duty as a Christian. To save life, not to destroy! And that I will work to do whether my country is at peace or at war.

I believe God has a way to handle Syria’s problems. I don’t agree that the U.S. potential use of cruise missiles is that way.

Carrol Grady

Monte, thank you for articulating all the many questions I have struggled with. And have also not found answers for.

My idealistic position is that if we followed Jesus' teachings and truly "turned the other cheek," He would reward our faith. But of course, the government of a large nation like ours will probably never be that idealistic.

Someone above introduced a notion I hadn't thought of before - that of the war in heaven. With only a vague description, we can't really know what that war was like. Could righteousness prevail in our sinful world?

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