I am currently reading Just War Against Terror by Jean Bethke Elshtain for my International Relations class. She is a professor at the University of Chicago, and this book is incredible.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been told that my opinion on the use of force is not “the Christian way of doing things.” I believe that sometimes force is necessary to create peace. I believe in the “Just War Theory.” And yet I am often told that “peace is the only way.”
Well, this author sees things the same way that I do, and the way that she describes these things is far better than I ever could.
“…Peace should not be universally lauded even
as war is universally condemned.
Each must be evaluated critically.
Many horrors and injustices can
traffic under the cover of “peace.”
Indeed, there are worse things than war.
The twentieth century showed us many of those worse things,
including gulags and genocides.
The world would have been much better off if the violence of
particular regimes had been confronted on the battlefield earlier;
fewer lives would have been lost over the long run…
Because the Church is to serve all, and
because Christians believe evil is real,
both justice and charity may compel us
to serve our neighbor and the common
good by using force to stop wrongdoing
and to punish wrongdoers.”
(p. 51-52, Just War Against Terror.)
She also states,
“Some versions of ‘peace’ violate norms
of justice and do so egregiously.
For the sake of keeping the peace,
statemen often acquiesce
in terrible injustices.
Peace is a good, and so is justice,
but neither is an absolute good.
Neither automatically trumps the other,
save for the pacifists who claim that
‘violence is never the solution,’
‘fighting never settled anything,’
and ‘violence only begets more violence.’
Does it? Not always, not necessarily.
One can point to one historical example after another of force
being deployed in the name of justice
and leading to not only a less violent
world but a more just one.” (p. 53-54)
As I have been reading first-hand accounts of life in Saudi Arabia, and most recently about Saddam’s regime, I am absolutely appalled that people still think that it was not worth it to go to war. I am currently reading a book about a woman who was imprisoned and tortured for absolutely no reason. In this book, she shares the stories of the women who were in her cell (about 20 others), who were also imprisoned and tortured, for no reason.
They tell of the horrible things that happened under Saddam, and it makes my heart break. But it also makes me SO thankful to live in a country that knows that sometimes diplomacy just won’t work–especially after it has been tried for 12+ years.
This was NOT the “wrong war”–not at all. Sometimes peace is impossible without force, and I wholeheartedly believe that it is the same in this case. The millions of lives that were saved from torture and tyranny are worth the effort and the cost.