Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Hawk and the Dove: Some Thoughts on Just War and Pacifism

1. It seems that in Just War Theory particulars are subsumed under some general rule. For Just War Theory, for a war to be just it must align to the general rule that usually consists of comparative justice (injustice suffered by one party must outweigh the injustice suffered by another), right intention (force can be used only for a just cause), legitimate authority (public authorities), probability of success (those waging a just war must have a high probability of "winning"), proportionality (the good must outweigh the destruction), and last resort (just war is only an option after other alternatives are exhausted). To subsume particular instances under this general rule is what Kant, in the Critique of Judgment, calls "Determinate Judgment". The criteria of the general rule of Just War seem neat and tidy until you try to apply them to particular instances. The general rule does not easily map onto particular instances.

2. Whose justice are we referring to when we say that something is just or not? Every war has been just, in the sense that everyone who has gone to war has in some way justified it, and has viewed it as just. Did Hitler see WWII as a just war? He was a legitimate authority. He thought that the good (German Lebensraum) would outweigh the bad (Holocaust). There was high probability of "success". He thought that he had the "right intention". He thought it was just. We do not.
Is the Iraq war "just"? For Bush, Iraqi freedom and democracy is a right intention. Bush thought there was a high probability of "winning". He thought the good (freedom and democracy) would outweigh the bad (Hussein's continual reign). Bush is a legitimate authority. Is the war just? Bush thinks so. I do not.
Particular instances are not so easily subsumed to general rules.

3. If war is an option, will all other options be tried first? It seems that if a nation goes to war, then it has not tried all other possible options. If war is a last resort, it seems that in the end we will become frustrated with other options and instead move right to this so-called "last resort" which isn't the failure of all other alternatives but is instead the failure of imagination. It seems to me that Just War theory is not so much concerned with justice, but is instead a theory of just war in the sense of only war.

4. Just War theory seems to employ the escape clause of "if nonviolence fails, try violence." If war is a last resort then one is "still enmeshed in the belief that violence saves" and still trusts domination and violence to bring justice and peace. You cannot fight fire with fire. You cannot fornicate for chastity. You cannot put an end to violence and domination by being violent and domineering. Peace and Justice have never been, nor will ever be, the result of war.

5. Pacifism seems to be a reflective judgment. A reflective judgment for Kant is a general rule that is derived from the particular. In pacifism, a general rule can be perceived in particular instances. We see examples in the particular instances of Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. Examples, for Kant, are particular instances that contain in themselves, or is supposed to contain, a concept or a general rule. These instances have exemplary validity. But still, you cannot take these examples that have become general rules and map them onto every particular instance. Ghandi as an example cannot be directly used as a way to inform our response to Hussein's murders in Dujail. This example requires further imagination. A general rule of nonviolence must be reworked when applied to particular instances.

6. Pacifism is not to be confused with passivity. Passivity is not the root word of pacifism. Pacifism is not passifism. Passivity is inactivity. Pacific (the root word of pacifism) is an activity, a making or preserving of peace. Pacifism is probably more active than war. Pacifism is about peaceableness and peaceableness is a way of life. Peace is not the result of war, but is instead the result of peaceableness.

7. Through the prism of war, peace is simply the time between wars. Through the prism of peace, peace is only possible if we live peaceably.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Romans 13, Black History Month, and Wine Before Breakfast

As I am finishing up my papers, I have lacked all motivation to write new posts. Actually that's not really true. I lack motivation to write my papers, so instead I post. But I post blogs that are not really blogs. They have been exercises that I have been tagged to do, so they don't really take too much time. I can't justify writing a new post while I should be writing my papers, but since I lack the motivation to write the papers, I post to waste time but they aren't really blogs so I can justify writing them. Does that make any sense? It does to me.

So onto the blog that is not a blog, a post with/out posting.

I recently recieved a new email from Stu, who periodically sends around emails to the ICS community to share what will be discussed at the upcoming "Wine Before Breakfast," a weekly Bible study that gathers on Tuesday mornings at 7:30 am in the Wycliffe Chapel under the superintendence of Brian Walsh. I have never been to "Wine Before Breakfast" as I am not a morning person (at least not a 7:30-in-the-morning person). However, the email that was sent around this week is an email from Brian Walsh who will be preaching this week on Romans 13 and Black History Month. I found the email to be very interesting, so I decided to include it here and see if it would warrant any responses.

So here's the question: how many folks out there think that we should bring back slavery? What? No hands at all? Ok, let's try another question: how many of you think that "every personshould be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authorityexcept from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted byGod."(Hmm sounds like St. Paul, so I should put up my hand, but there's something about that question following the first question that's got me worried ) Come on, come on who thinks that every person should be subject to thegoverning authorities because all such authority is instituted by God? Somehands up, some half up, some down, a lot of perplexed and worried looks out there. Alright, let's put it this way. Here at the beginning of Black History monthhow many of us would want to say that black slaves and their helpers alongthe underground railroad should have obeyed the authorities because theywere instituted by God and not opposed slavery? I mean really, is there anyamongst us who would dare suggest such a thing? I doubt it.So let's put it another way. If a duly appointed leader lies to the peopleand then sends thousands of his own citizens to fight a war on falsepretense and to kill and injure many thousands of people in another land,then do we really believe that such a leader acts on an authority institutedby God? Do we really believe that we should be subject to such a deceitfuland murderous leader? And if we don't think that such a leader should receive our loyalty, thenwhat do we do with Paul's injunctions about governmental authority in Romans13?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

i'm important and people like me

I have been tagged by Evan (again)! Here's what I'm suppose to do:
1) Grab the book closest to you.
2) Open to page 123; go down to the fourth sentence.
3) Post the text of the following three sentences.
4) Name the author and book title.
5) Tag three people to do the same.

"And then the interesting justification: 'For thus you would rob and steal your body from your master, which he has bought or otherwise acquired, after which it is not your property but his, like a beast or other goods in his possession.' Here, therefore, certain worldly property and power relationships are made the justification of a state of unfreedom in which even the total abandonment of the Christian to the unbeliever is of subordinate importance to the preservation of these property relationships.
"With the emergence of the independence of worldly authority, and its reifications, the breach of this authority, rebellion and disobedience, becomes a social sin pure and simple, a 'greater sin than murder, unchastity, theft, dishonesty and all that goes with them.'"

The text comes from Herbert Marcuse's "A Study on Authority: Luther, Calvin, Kant", in The Frankfurt School on Religion. The first quote within the text comes from Luther's On War Against the Turk. The second comes from Luther's Treatise on Good Works.

Now I tag 3 people to do the same:
I tag Sara, M&Y, and Jeff