Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Bombs Over Baghdad!

I would love to claim that I am of one mind as far as the war goes. I’m not. I respect and admire the President. I support him in our war on terrorism. I support our troops and I feel personally privileged by the service of our fighting men and women. I fear for them and I pray for them. I thank God for them.

At the same time, I recognize that this war, if judged without consideration of the larger context, fails to meet the requirements of just war doctrine. I would have preferred another path. Now, however, it appears that the most direct path to peace lies through the minefield of this war. Being truly desirous of a godly peace, I accept that the circumstances framing the discussion have changed. We are a nation at war in a volatile world. To fail in this war would be to fail to attain a just or even a reasonable peace. It would be a victory for chaos. I reject the simplistic thinking of both jingoists and dys/utopians. I pray for peace and for victory against the agents of terror. I pray also that our president will be open to any unanticipated opportunities for a just peace that might arise.

War always and everywhere is a serious, dear and deadly business. Every indication is that the United States is conducting this war with the strictest adherence to just war criteria. If this level of military service persists, it is quite possible that this war will set a new ethical standard for warfare. If reports are accurate, the enemy is pursuing a very different tack. They are behaving as terrorists against their own citizenry.

Currently the war in Iraq is going well. It has been well planned and is being well executed. It is unlike our recent engagements. I doubt that this comes as a surprise to our military strategists. It is intentionally different. It is a war where we have put ourselves at risk to achieve a result that positively impacts the global community, the Iraqi people and the United States. I am confident that our President is well-intended. He is resolute in his duty to defend our nation and our national ideals. I have no doubt that he will stand by the commitment he made shortly after the Towers fell. He is in this for the long haul and he intends to win a new peace. Although I worry about the ‘political’ fallout, I am not impatient.

I must admit to being one of those people who wasn’t where I should have been when the Twin Towers were attacked. I was about a block away from the Towers rather than beneath them. I remember my first response in that surreal moment. Before any other emotion, I was outraged that finally our hand was being forced. I had become accustom to a presidency that held human life so cheaply that acts of war were used to distract our nation from sexual indiscretions. I felt momentary horror that our national response would be a lashing out of egocentric and disproportional violence.

Rushing up behind this horror was a sense of personal devastation. I suddenly realized that it was equally probable that we might do nothing at all. We might light candles and tell pretty lies and delude ourselves with the notion that a nation indifferent to its own survival was something other than a rotting corpse. I have never felt so lonely as I did in the light of that second possibility.

In the aftermath of that moment, the President presented us with a third option. He returned us to ourselves as a nation conceived and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. He reminded us that we are free men and strong. Since then, he has tried to steer a course that is as measured, as just and as generous as the spirit of America.

On September 11, global terrorists attacked America’s ‘domestic soil’. Subsequently, the president declared war on terrorists and on the states that sponsor them. It could be legitimately argued that we have been at war since that day. In this view, Iraq is merely one operation in a larger war. I believe that this is the president’s position. President Bush foresaw our current hesitation, and nevertheless pledged himself to this effort. He continues to fulfill that pledge.

I pray that Operation Iraqi Freedom is measured and swift. I pray that the ensuing peace will be just and lasting. Perhaps most of all, I pray for the defeat of all those agents of chaos who walk in the vanguard of tyranny, and for all of our soldiers who place themselves in harm's way in defense of the dignity of man.


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