Bush is right: Sell our coats, buy a sword
Don HinklePathway Editor
March 25, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – A resolution was brought before the Jefferson City Council March 17 condemning the United States by asserting that President Bush is violating a U.S. commitment to the United Nations by disarming the psychopathic Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
About 15 area residents joined former two-term councilman Tony Barnicle in presenting the resolution that was promptly shot down by a surprised, but wise city council.
Last time I checked the United Nations did not rule the United States of America, although there are those among us clamoring for Marxian utopia or a one world government.
We can apparently count among that minority the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which on Nov. 13, drafted a statement challenging the authority of the United States to wage war against Hussein.
"As the Holy See has indicated, if recourse to force were deemed necessary, this should take place within the framework of the United Nations after considering the consequences for Iraqi civilians, and regional and global stability."
Framework of the United Nations?
If that’s not enough to send shivers down your back, consider the March 15 statement issued by the Executive Committee of the Lutheran World Federation: "We affirm the role of the United Nations as the legitimate authority for adjudicating the resort to armed force in international relations."
When the U.N. Security Council failed to support the U.S. it basically decreed its irrelevance. The U.S. does not need U.N. permission to protect its citizens. Article One, Section Eight of the United States Constitution says that only Congress – not the United Nations — has the authority to declare war where the U.S. is concerned.
Barnicle’s bizarre resolution went on to claim that world religious leaders have placed moral doubts on the war and diplomatic efforts should continue in search of peace.
I suppose the world religious leaders to whom Barnicle referred were the Catholic bishops or perhaps Mainline Protestant clerics like Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, head of the Episcopal Church in America, who said that supporting the war would lead to our national spirit "being slowly poisoned." Griswold made his observation just before endorsing legal efforts that will expand homosexual rights in Texas.
Or maybe Barnicle was referring to Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, who recently said that the only people in the church supporting the war were "fundamentalists."
I agree with Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, who when told of Edgar’s remark, quipped, "Everyone is a fundamentalist compared to Bob Edgar."
As far as continuing diplomatic efforts are concerned, maybe Barnicle was referring to NBC News anchorman Brian Williams, who during a recent newscast proclaimed, "The United States has some diplomatic work to be done as a result of this war."
No Brian, France and Germany have some diplomatic work to be done as a result of this war.
So how should Southern Baptists view this conflict in Iraq?
Most Southern Baptists have historically embraced the just war theory. Often revised, it has been passed down through Christian tradition with both a classical and biblical basis.
Scholars say the just war theory dates back to the natural law teachings of Plato and Aristotle in 4 B.C., and was later refined by Cicero. It evolved through the centuries, gaining favor in the Roman Empire before being embraced by early Christian leaders like Ambrose and Augustine. It has been defended within the Christian tradition by an eclectic cavalcade including Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Aquinas, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Reinhold Niebuhr.
Its principles include: having just cause; being declared by a proper authority; possessing the right intention; having a reasonable chance of success; and the end being proportional to the means used.
President Bush has met all of these requirements.
- His cause is just because Iraq has failed to comply with the peace terms agreed upon following the Persian Gulf War in 1991. He has every right to enter Iraq and enforce those terms (Hussein’s disarmament of weapons of mass destruction).
- The war has been declared by a proper authority – the United States Congress voted by more than 3-1 giving Bush the authority to militarily disarm Hussein.
- Bush possesses the right intention: eliminate evil. Bush’s critics and the news media have focused on the "pre-emptive" nature of Bush’s action. (Of course they did not question the pre-emptive nature of Bill Clinton’s bombing of Kosovo which he undertook without congressional or U.N. approval.) Other critics have pointed out that regime change is not part of the just war theory. But the removal of evil is a legitimate reason to go to war under the just war argument and if regime change is a by-product, then so be it.
- U.S. forces have more than a reasonable chance to win. They are the best trained, best equipped fighting force the world has ever seen. Meanwhile, Hussein’s forces are but a remnant of what they once were after being demolished by coalition forces in 1991.
- Bush’s calculated plan of attack in which targets are carefully selected to minimize civilian casualties is in line with the just war theory. Much of the laser-guided weaponry of U.S. forces makes such tactics possible. Bush has made it clear that civilians are not targets, that the U.S. is not trying to conquer Iraq and that it will assist Iraqis in rebuilding their nation once Hussein is no longer a menace.
It is unfortunate that too many Mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders did not support the president’s decision to attack Hussein, instead calling for more diplomacy as a last resort. But a "last resort" argument leads to pacifism and while Christians are to desire and pray for peace, pacifism is unbiblical in the face of such abject evil, for it allows the wicked to manipulate the situation.
For more than two decades Saddam has brutalized his neighbors and his own citizens. His fatal gassing of more than 5,000 Kurds in 1988 and the illegal arrests and torture of thousands of Iraqis conjures barbaric images of Pol Pot, Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler.
Scripture teaches that war will come (Ecclesiastes 3:8). Throughout the Old Testament, there are examples of God using warfare to carry out His plans, to punish the wicked and preserve His people (Deut. 9:4-6, Jer. 5, Num. 33:55-56).
Some of the great heroes of the faith – Joshua, Samson and David – were all warriors (Heb. 11).
Jesus was not pacifist. He encountered Roman soldiers and never once told them they had to leave the army. Twice in the New Testament, he cleared the temple by force. Jesus even told his disciples to sell their coats and buy a sword (Luke 22:36).
I say it’s time we went shopping.