IPFS Dave Gallagher

Necessary Evil

More About: WAR: About that War

Unjust Wars (and the people who wash their hands of them)

Attending the Phoenix Breakfast Club this morning I was treated to a talk by local radio host Charles Goyette. Charles, known as “America's most independent talk show host”, covered a lot of ground but one thing he mentioned really stayed with me. He described how he and his producer Ernest Hancock went to great lengths to get some pro-war Christian leaders to discuss, ex post facto, the justification for the Iraq invasion. As I listened, I thought back to some of the false information which has been put forth by pro-war Christian leaders since the run up to the Iraq war.

Before Karl Rove there was Charles Colson, the “evil genius” of the Nixon administration. Following Watergate and prior to entering prison, Mr. Colson became a Christian. In 1976 Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries which is today the largest Christian prison outreach organization. Mr Colson also writes a column for Christianity Today magazine.

In December of 2002, Colson wrote a column examining “Just War Doctrine” and it's application to the invasion of Iraq.

When the war began in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked a handful of religious leaders to brief him on just-war doctrine. Most of us gave high marks to the administration's efforts to meet just-war standards. I asked, however, the one discordant question: "How would the administration justify a preemptive strike on Iraq?" Without hesitation, Rumsfeld cited the precedent of Israel's attack on an Iraqi nuclear plant in 1981... This issue is of particular concern to Christians since we are the heirs of the just-war tradition formulated by Augustine 1,600 years ago. Historically, the doctrine's requirement of just cause has been defined as responding to an attack …One year later, the question is no longer hypothetical. As I write, U.S. forces are massing for war with Iraq. By the time you read this, troops may be in Baghdad. Of course, all of this presupposes solid intelligence and the goodwill of U.S. and Western leaders. I find it hard to believe that any President, aware of the awesome consequences of his decision and of the swiftness of second-guessing in a liberal democracy, would act recklessly ... Hence Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war … fail to show love towards their neighbor as well as towards God."

As the phase one Senate intelligence investigation determined:

“The bipartisan panel says most of what U-S spy agencies reported about pre-war Iraq was either "worthless or misleading." And it's suggesting dozens of steps designed to improve information-sharing and ensure dissenting views are heard.”

Translation – when administration intelligence bureaucrats with an agenda, twist information to support their war we should listen also to the real experts who are saying “wait, this might be a mistake”.

So now that it has been shown that the intelligence was anything but solid, has Christianity Today or Mr. Colson acknowledged their mistake? Do they care?

One statement in the above Colson piece is so absurd that it must be repeated.

"I find it hard to believe that any President, aware of the awesome consequences of his decision and of the swiftness of second-guessing in a liberal democracy, would act recklessly"

Let's get this straight. The former hatchet man and ex-con from the Nixon administration suggests that in his opinion, Christians should trust the President at his word because of the potential that in a democratic society the president might be second guessed?

Colson has steered clear of the Just War topic since that first piece. Last year however, in a classic misdirection he dropped in from the land of the absurd to weigh in with his thoughts on what motivates Islamic terrorists.

“Radical Islamists were surely watching in July when the Senate voted on procedural grounds to do away with the Federal Marriage Amendment. This is like handing moral weapons of mass destruction to those who use America's decadence to recruit more snipers and hijackers and suicide bombers.”

OK then ! “Moral WMD”... hmmm ... So it's not Chuck Colson's “Just War” in Iraq that has increased the motivation for terrorists but the lack of a Constitutional Amendment defining the word marriage.

Ironically in a religion founded upon one who questioned the leaders of his day and proclaimed “blessed be the peacemakers”. Many Christians do not question this insanity. As the nation turns increasingly against Bush's war however I am reminded of a fellow named Pilate who's story goes...

“So when he saw that he could gain nothing, but that on the contrary there was a riot threatening, he called for water and washed his hands in sight of them all, saying, "I am not responsible for this murder: you must answer for it."

Presently the warmongers and Christian soldiers seem to march on. In time the hand washing will take place as history is re-wrtten and the rationalizations and justifications disappear down the memory hole.

Perhaps Mr. Colson and some of the others could learn a thing or two from some other recent conversion experiences of those who have begun their repentance publicly. Most notably those of congressmen Jack Murtha and Walter Jones.