Here at The Daily Detour I want to try to be mindful of your busy life and thus, present short, thoughtful posts that facilitate easier consumption within your daily routine. But at times there comes an occasion that deserves greater elaboration. Today's post falls into that category, so I hope you'll take a few extra minutes to consider not only the arguments being put forth here, but most importantly, the implications of those ideas for our lives and our future.
Today's post is dedicated to all of our military men and women serving in so many thankless capacities and remote locations whose noble sacrifices make it possible for the rest of us to enjoy the liberty inherent to this Republic (including our freedom to blog).
With all the hubub over the recent anniversary of the initial invasion of Iraq I feel it necessary to finally weigh in on a topic that most people find somewhat controversial. Interestingly, with the fading presence of the Greatest Generation, combined with Vietnam veterans reaching senior citizen age, the frame of reference for armed conflict for those in my own generation is severely limited. Aside from the recents wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the only other war of significance in our lifetime was the Persian Gulf War, a 100 day "skirmish" that could hardly be counted as an actual war.
The spate of war protests (and the lesser-known counterprotests) over the last couple of weeks served as my tipping point to weigh in on this subject. There are a number of people who have more extensive coverage on this, including Michelle Malkin and the good folks over at Little Green Footballs. But I wanted to add my 2-cents to the cause if only to help provide the "other perspective" not covered by the MSM. (WARNING: Some of the content may be offensive to some of our readers, so please proceed with caution.)
So often when we consider violence and the reality of armed conflict from a Christian perspective, many people quickly turn to Jesus' comments in the Sermon on the Mount about turning the other cheek as evidence that Jesus didn't endorse violence and neither should we. Interestingly, such theological commentaries on the subject fail to account for corresponding, yet antithetical, biblical passages like Romans 13 which outline the parameters of a God-ordained authority wielding the sword of punishment on the wrongdoer. Likewise, the Jesus in John 2:15 who "made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area...[who] scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables," is hardly the pacifistic picture painted in our Sunday Schools. As Philip Yancey suggests about Jesus, "How would telling people to be nice to one another get a man crucified? What government would execute Mister Rogers or Captain Kangaroo?"
Everywhere, unthinking mobs of "independent thinkers" wield tired clichés like cudgels, pummeling those who dare question "enlightened" dogma. If "violence never solved anything," cops wouldn't have guns and slaves may never have been freed. If it's better that 10 guilty men go free to spare one innocent, why not free 100 or 1,000,000? Clichés begin arguments, they don't settle them.
Goldberg's comments, while focusing generally on the theme of tired clichés, more specifically highlight the compelling issue that we must not automatically dismiss the necessity of violence. (For more, see his full interview with the Starbucks folks.)
So, is there a necessary place for violence in this contemporary culture? Against the backdrop of our current war in Iraq, with nightly reports of the increasing death tally, it is easy for us to lose sight of the big picture. In an excerpted email recently sent to The Daily Detour, Capt. Peter G. Ross, USNR, provides a very interesting perspective on our modern notions of warfare:
Only psychopaths like war, but only the intellectually infantile could think war is never the answer to any problem. While we use measured force liberally in Iraq, our current involvement could hardly be described as "war." The comparatively lengthy duration of our Iraq adventure is a function of our sensitivity to collateral damage and our mission to support a young, indigenous government still wobbly on its feet. If it were truly war, we could have reduced Iraq to a pile of broken cinder blocks, decimated the civilian population, set up an occupation government and enforced martial law on the survivors in two months. Does anyone remember Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima? Our current form of "kinder, gentler war" reduces blood shed but stretches the time to resolution. To the point we removed the Ba'athist, Hussein government, our casualties were less than two hundred. The subsequent casualties are the price paid in American blood to avoid shedding every drop of Iraqi, Syrian and Iranian blood. We are in uncharted territory which, by definition, obviates perfect navigation. Our purpose, replacing a tyrannical government (that terrorized a civilian population, attacked neighbors with WMD, conducted racial genocide and filled mass graves with the bodies of children), with government by the people, is a noble one. We may not succeed, but no American should be ashamed of our attempt to do so.
As Capt. Ross points out, we must not let the ongoing struggle in Iraq blind us to its proper historical context.
Likewise, Samuel P. Huntington's seminal book, The Clash of Civilizations, draws attention to the emerging global conflict which ruptured our lives on September 11th. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are in the defining struggle of this century.
Anyone who has ever disciplined a child understands that human beings left unrestrained are more naturally bent toward their sinful nature. Restraining a bully in the sandbox is one thing; quelling the nuclear ambitions of a tyrannical head of state is quite another.
In a world gripped by unspeakable evils, the hollow exhortations of peace prove unrealistic. True and lasting peace comes at a very high price. Thus, the tragic necessity of violence. For as Edmund Burke reminds us, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
It is easy for those who have never set foot on the battlefield to sit and poach our leaders and soldiers from a distance for decisions made and actions taken. Within the safe confines of our free society, it is ironic that the war protesters fail to appreciate the luxury they enjoy of belittling the very sacrifices that allow them such freedom of expression.
While we might abhor the despicable actions of those who express their twisted views of "patriotism" by burning American soldiers in effigy and defecating on American flags, it is the mysterious beauty of our enduring Republic which affords even these anarchists that privilege. Therefore, we grit our teeth and clench our fists at such desecration, remembering the voiceless ghosts of Russia's gulag and Cambodia's killing fields which speak to the even greater travesties wrought by the alternatives to freedom.
Is violence necessary? Sadly, the evils of the world make it so at times.
And so, I thank the Lord Almighty for the substitutionary sacrifices of those of you who willingly stand in harm's way on our behalf (and to your families who bear that unseen burden). It is because of you that we enjoy the freedoms we have, even the freedom shared by that forgettable sub-set of our culture who protest your efforts to afford us those freedoms. And I echo the comments made by Jules Crittenden who wrote of those who serve, "John Eade and all others, living or dead, where do we get such men? Why do we deserve them?" Why indeed. To those of you who stand courageously against the forces of evil in our world, thank you. We are not worthy of you.