So war broke out. It took me an extra half-hour to get home on the bus today, thanks to the protesters in downtown Minneapolis. Hurrah to your anti-war efforts, you inconvenienced a few thousand poor schmucks. I hope that helps your cause. You could certainly use some help. Someone ought to explain to the poor fools in San Francisco that when you’re arguing for peace, violence is not a very persuasive tool.
Extreme nutcases aside, I’m having trouble understanding the anti-war movement. Now I’m not a pro-military guy. You’ve probably noticed the big feature on the book Iraq Under Siege on the ReALMagazine.com homepage. I wrote that. It’s a bit out of date now, but it’s still interesting. I read the book with some skepticism, but came out with a lot of questions about U.S. policy. Granted Saddam is not a great guy, but we’re no Ghandi.
I have my reservations with war. My selective service card is tucked away somewhere, and if that number was ever called up, I don’t know what I’d do. I would have trouble shooting at my fellow man. My grandpa fought at Iwo Jima, and I respect his sacrifice, but I still approach war with fear, hesitation, and questions, much to the irritation of my own dad.
But despite my aversion to war, I’m just as put off by the anti-war demonstrators. Their complete lack of logic, balance, and inability to present a decent argument are astounding. I can see a legitimate anti-war platform, but I’ve yet to see a protester argue that platform.
They spout off rhetoric about Bush trying to rule the world, trying to run a race war in the Middle East, trying to claim all the oil in Iraq. What a load of crap. The only argument there that has any validity is that the war has to do with oil. It’s fairly legit to think that oil is a motivation. But if Bush was really oil hungry, would he really be promising to use the oil for the Iraqis, to let them have what’s theirs. If it was really about oil, we’d be seizing the oil fields, selling the oil, and paying for our war. But that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening. If anything, oil is a way to pay for rebuilding the damage a war has caused and a way to get a liberated people back on their feet, a motivation that doesn’t exactly exist in a place like Sudan.
Many people are arguing that we shouldn’t be fighting this war because we don’t have international consensus. That’s a decent argument–though I don’t see any protesters chanting about that. The problem with international consensus is that it’s rare. This conflict has dragged on for a long time, and at some point you have to draw the line.
War is not a pretty thing, but it’s inevitable. That doesn’t mean we have to like it or even pursue it, but it does mean that it’s going to happen. We can do everything we can to avoid it, but it will happen. Especially if you value freedom, war is necessary. So many people find it ironic that war is what enables the protesters to protest war. Without the American Revolution, we wouldn’t have the first amendment that gives us the right to petition our government. Without World War II, we might be under Nazi rule. And I don’t think fascism looks too kindly on a ‘puke-in.’
There’s a lot of tough questions the anti-war movement needs to address, and I see very few addressing it. What about Hitler? They tried diplomacy with Hitler and he invaded Poland. What about the terrible things Saddam has done? Do we just ignore those? True, we ignore other terrible things around the world and we end up enforcing justice inconsistently. I agree. But is it better to stop the one massacre you can than to let it happen? True, we often make big mistakes, like selling someone like Saddam chemical weapons. I think we should fess up to them and try to make smarter decisions in the future. U.S foreign policy is fraught with some big blunders. I’m the first to point those out. They make me nervous. But sometimes those blunders were an attempt to keep something worse from happening. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Meddling in El Salvador didn’t come off too well. But taking out the Taliban in Afghanistan seems like a no-brainer.
Sometimes I just wish America would be the world’s police and do it right. Stop the bloodshed in Rwanda and Sudan. End the guerrilla fighting and drug wars in Columbia. But it’s not that simple. I wish it was.
True Christian pacifism is an interesting idea. Jesus talked about peace, and so some Christians think that’s the way to go. The Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr. approach that turns the other cheek. You love your enemies, and that doesn’t happen with smart bombs. It’s a great personal philosophy, but I get squeamish when you have to think about nations. I can decide to be non-violent, and take a punch in the gut when it happens. But when it comes to a nation, if you don’t defend yourself, innocent people die. If a nation turns the other cheek, trades flowers for bullets, eats pastries for peace, you have no more freedom. You become a country in occupation. Maybe that’s okay for some people. It works for Switzerland. But I have a feeling most of us freedom-loving Americans would be shot by the invading army pretty quickly. We’d want to speak out, to say what we want, do what we want, and they’d kill you. That’s what turning the other cheek gets you. Loving your enemies is not compatible with freedom. You have to fight for freedom in this world. We can have freedom in Christ, but it’s more of a personal commodity that bears fruit on the other side.
So I’m not liking the anti-war protesters. I sympathize with them, but I wish they’d make some decent arguments. I wish they’d address the real issues. This world is a complicated place, and it doesn’t work to just say can’t we all get along. Because some jerk comes along who doesn’t want to get along, and pretty soon people are dead. You can either stand up and make sure that innocent people don’t die, or you can hold up your hands and be willing to die along with them. On a personal level, one sounds a lot like Jesus. But nations are different, and I’ve never seen that kind of a Christian nation.
It would be interesting to see America the Christian nation, as in the country that makes every effort to be Christ-like, even in the way we wage war (can there be a Christian way to wage war?). But maybe that’s what we’re doing. A “smart bomb” that lands on target more often than a conventional bomb and hopefully destroys the military target more often that it destroys a civilian target seems like a humane advancement. Moving in with humanitarian supplies seems like a Christ-like move.
Maybe it would help if our government made better choices across the board. If we got tough with countries like China that don’t offer freedom of religion. If we stuck up for the fatherless, the widow, and the orphan all across the globe. The prophet cried out for justice to flow down like a mighty water, and maybe that can’t happen until God steps down onto this earth, but aren’t we called to bring justice now, in whatever way we can? We’re certainly not God’s henchmen, and we shouldn’t claim to be, but some things are pretty clear cut. Mowing down your own people is not justice, and that’s a worthy fight.
Oh, the rambling. Sometimes I find myself easily swayed by arguments. Last week I was angry when someone was so incredibly Republican that they refused to see the duplicity in American foreign policy. I don’t like war hawks. But this week I’m angry at the protesters who don’t see the necessity of war in a modern world. There’s a shaky middle ground somewhere, and that’s where I find myself. Raising a flag for peace is a lovely gesture, but it’s also an idealistic one.