Looking for a Good War:
David B. Hart reviews a new book on Just War, East and West
I do not much blame Webster and Cole for failing to bring their excellent historical and theoretical survey of just war thinking into credible contact with contemporary reality. It seems to me to be a difficulty that is inescapable whenever one attempts to use a moral grammar suited to an age of Christian princes and Christian cultures as a guide to our relations with the post-Christian political order. Webster is almost strident in his assertion that we can credit ourselves with virtuous warmaking in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and pray God he is right. But I cannot imagine anyone not disposed to approve of the invasion of Iraq (in particular) being convinced by any argument this book advances.
What exactly, he might ask, are we fighting for? Democracy? Freedom of religion? But these are not demonstrably biblical values. Did Iraq constitute a threat to us? Perhaps, but not a threat that can ever definitively be shown to have been more than suppositious. And even if this were not so, is this a war waged to defend the people of God? Is ours really a Christian culture—our culture of abortion, pornography, and polymorphous perversity—worthy of defending?
Polymorphous perversity? That’s a great line.
A Divided Nation?
I’ve heard an over abundance of talk regarding the “deeply divided” state of our nation. I have to say that I find the evidence unconvincing. Certainly there are firebrands on both far left and far right who are extremely atagonistic to one another and their rhetoric has flowed into common discourse, but I believe that most Americans are much closer on a majorityu of issues than any major outlet is indicating. One has to understand first of all, that the distinction in American politics between Republican and Democrat is far less than the distinction between liberal and conservative political parties in Europe. American politics is still framed primarily in the classical liberal framework whether its proponents are Republican or Democrat.
The massive divisions envisioned by pundits are in fact creations of the parties themselves; both parties have selected a set of issues which people feel passionately about–some pople place a higher priority on one set of issues rather than another–but that does not mean they don’t care about the others. Frankly the Democratic party is in a shambles; as one friend pointed out, the party’s final rejection of organized labor under Clinton effectively removed any counter weight to the radical social agenda proposed by fringe elements of the party. Its not that no “religious” people are or want to be or could be Democrats, rather, Democrats have not adequitly defined themselves on relevent cultural issues, and instead have allowed thier pep-rallies at NARAL pro-choice to speak for them where their Republican opponents have not. I don’t believe the Democrats have to incorporate a pro-life plank as the Republicans have in order to gain religious voters–they simply have to demonstrate a willingness to admit that Abortion is a horror to be eradicated at a societal level rather than a virtue to be celebrated. If Democrats want to get “values” voters, they need to demonstrate that this isn’t about being for abortion or against it–its about social responsibility and reform that would eradicate the need for abortion except in extreme cases as an emergency and unplanned procedure. This type of thought could easily be incorporated into a revised, revisioned and restated Democratic platform based around the ideals of community and responsibility–on abortion, on the environment, on the economy, healthcare and corporate responsibility. That’s a message with legs.
[Listening to: Daughter – Pearl Jam
– Vs. (03:54)]