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A Neighborly Case for JUST-WAR

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My vocational career has run the gamut [1]. I have worked in Christian Ministry (former United Methodist Clergy from 1997 - 2002; working in both rural and inner city settings . . .). I have completed a minimal U.S. Army Officer Training (Chaplain's O.B.C.). Finally, I have studied Ethics for two master's degrees, three years of Ph.D. studies and I have taught courses ranging from philosophy to ethics to world religions since 2004.

Within each of these settings, although I abhor war, decry the horrors of war, and work diligently for peace, sadly, I have found (through close personal experience!) that when 'evil' is left unchecked, good-natured people will fall under its tyranny!

Whether it is the Nation of Israel continually harassed by Islamic extremists OR whether it is fellow U.S. citizens who harass their neighbors (either violently or through fear/intimidation . . .), sometimes a "JUST-WAR" perspective is NECESSARY!

Politically, this is why I go in a non-partisan direction!

On the 'Far Right' are those who seek war without it being "JUST . . ." The Cheney/Bush doctrine of "preventive FIRST-STRIKE" has NEVER been part of Western Just War thinking in its main tradition (although a few, very minor voices advocate its use). No, whether the figure is St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas or Martin Luther, the tenets of JUS AD BELLUM ("Justice in Going to War") have remained relatively stable and uniform! ONLY a competent body (i.e. a nation state, a royal power, etc.) can go to war. ONLY for self-defense (similar to Tae Kwon Do) should a war occur. ONLY when ALL other options, other than war, have been exhausted should a war be fought. War is hell . . .

Similarly, when a war for defense only is fought, there have been historic safeguards for ethical fighting. These canons of Just-War Thought are called JUS IN BELLO ("Justice in the actual waging of War"). No civilians should be targeted. Limited force should be used.

BUT, sadly, whereas on the Political Right war-mongers abound, on the Political Left an unhealthy idealism persists. "War" is not something arbitrary, but sadly, a part of life. As the Hebrew Scriptures remind us, it was through WAR that Israel seized hold of the Promised Land and drove out Canaanite idolaters (e.g. Joshua, son of Nun, fighting the battle of Jerico). Similarly, it was the Israelite Judge, Deborah, who, although a woman, nonetheless FIERCELY routed the enemies of GOD's CHOSEN PEOPLE (as illustrated in the Book of Judges).

So, WAR is a reality, and although NO WAR for its own sake should be fought (i.e. "war for oil . . ."), sadly, WAR is a fact of life.

If one's next-door neighbor physically threatens or intimidates you, then YES, a police car might be waiting for him or her!

If a neighboring country tries to intimidate you (either through terrorist acts, coercion, etc.), then sadly, in order to PROTECT THE INNOCENT, as the late Ethicist Paul Ramsey sternly argued, sometimes it is LOVE OF THE NEIGHBOR that causes a JUST-WAR! Love for the neighbor whose rights might be trampled if a WAR is not fought, and LOVE for the bellicose neighbor with whom you might be fighting! One seeks not to harm or destroy the bellicose neighbor, but ONLY to restrain and contain this neighbor's "fallen passions." If there is any doubt, then one must only look to World War II and see how once evil Germany was conquered, WEST GERMANY soon adapted to a more sane society. Similarly, the evil of Japanese imperialism soon gave way to HEALTHY economic relations with the U.S. We drive Hondas, Toyotas, etc. ALL because we as a nation state were able to RESTRAIN what was diabolical in the collective Japanese psyche! Rather than crashing airplanes into our aircraft carriers, now the Japanese are content with producing lower cost and higher quality photography equipment! ALL because of the 'neighbor love' in our hearts as Americans when we finally conquered the Japanese War machine on the field of battle . . .

So, as the Presidential Election draws near, let us look to the 'middle ground' that neither forsakes responsibility to protect U.S. citizens at home and abroad, NOR rushes headlong into the winds of war . . .

Blessings and LOVE in Jesus Christ, Rob J. King, Democrat and Christian JUST-WAR proponent--RobJKing 22:24, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

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