Archive for military
Is it okay to kill? I don’t mean a bug in your house, a snake in your garage, or a deer in the woods. Deer tastes good; you may not know if that snake in your garage is poisonous; and bugs are home invaders.
I mean is it okay to kill a man, a human being, a person? Again, I don’t mean someone trying to kill you, rob your business, rape your wife, harm your children, or break into your house. Killing someone might be perfectly justified in those circumstances if it involves defense against aggression.
Specifically, is it okay to kill someone who has not threatened or committed violence or aggression against you, your family, your friends, your neighborhood, anyone you know, or any American you don’t know? Read More→
Tags: aggression, ethics, freedom, militarism, military, self-defense, violence, war
Breitbart reports that the Pentagon recently released a statement that soldiers who share their faith (I presume Christian or otherwise):
This regulation would severely limit expressions of faith in the military, even on a one-to-one basis between close friends. It could also effectively abolish the position of chaplain in the military, as it would not allow chaplains (or any service members, for that matter), to say anything about their faith that others say led them to think they were being encouraged to make faith part of their life. It’s difficult to imagine how a member of the clergy could give spiritual counseling without saying anything that might be perceived in that fashion.
And thus it becomes ever more difficult – if it were ever even possible – to live out the commandments of and serve Christ while also in “service” of the State.
Tags: Christianity, government, militarism, military, The State
According to Star and Stripes, Kyle had been awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. He is officially credited with more than 150 kills during four tours in Iraq; he is unofficially credited with up to 255. Kyle won’t say just how many people he has killed.
“I don’t care about the medals,” Kyle told the Star-Telegram in a 2012 interview. “I didn’t do it for the money or the awards. I did it because I felt like it was something that needed to be done and it was honorable.” Read More→
Tags: Chris Kyle, ethics, militarism, military, snipers, war, war on terror
I have been called a lot of things since I began writing about ten years ago on the folly of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the evils of the U.S. military, and the belligerence of U.S. foreign policy.
Many of the things I have been called I can’t repeat because they are so vile and filthy. However, the negative e-mails have tapered off quite a bit over the years since these wars have turned out to be such debacles.
One charge that has been consistently leveled against me is that I am unpatriotic because I don’t "support the troops" as they invade and occupy other countries and mete out death and destruction to "insurgents" and "terrorists." But who is really being unpatriotic? I think it is long past time that we question the patriotism of those who do "support the troops" in their foreign wars, occupations, interventions, and escapades.
Let’s take the case of Syria.
For months now we have heard how the United States must "do something" and intervene in Syria to end the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad and stop the violence that has led to the deaths of 40,000 people since the outbreak of an anti-regime revolt last year. The familiar cry that dictator x might use chemical weapons on his own people is being resurrected to garner support for U.S. intervention.
The U.S. Senate, by a vote of 92-6, recently voted to "require a report on military activities to deny or significantly degrade the use of air power against civilian and opposition groups in Syria." This amendment (S.AMDT.3262) to the National Defense Authorization Act requires that
not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, submit to the congressional defense committees a report identifying the limited military activities that could deny or significantly degrade the ability of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and forces loyal to him, to use air power against civilians and opposition groups in Syria.
Its purpose is to "advance the goals of President Obama of stopping the killing of civilians in Syria and creating conditions for a transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system in Syria."
The U.S. military is sending Patriot air defense missiles and 400 U.S. troops to operate them at two batteries in "undisclosed locations" in Turkey as part of a NATO force meant to protect Turkish territory from potential Syrian missile attack.
The aircraft carrier the USS Eisenhower is reportedly off the coast of Syria along with the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group.
There are also reports that more than 3,000 U.S. military personnel have secretly returned to Iraq via Kuwait in response to the civil war in Syria that has spilled over into northern Iraq. The Pentagon is denying this report, which means it is probably true.
Never mind that the "evil dictatorship" of Assad was once supported by the United States.
Never mind that the CIA "renditioned" people to Syria to be tortured.
Never mind that the United States just concluded a disastrous war in Iraq and is still conducting another disastrous one in Afghanistan.
Never mind that some Syrian rebel groups have ties to al Qaeda.
Never mind that some Syrian rebels are foreign jihad mercenaries.
Never mind that some Syrian rebels have openly murdered Syrian Christians for not supporting the overthrow of the secular Syrian government.
Never mind that some Syrian rebels have committed acts of terrorism that have killed children.
Never mind that some Syrian rebel groups have tested their own chemical weapons.
Never mind that the United States and NATO developed their own chemical weapons years ago.
Never mind that George Washington – 230 years ago – warned against making "entangling alliances" such as NATO.
But even if all of these things are not true, even if President Assad is another Hitler, even if the rebels have the purest of motives, and even if the Assad regime is targeting civilians, executing POWs, raping women, killing children, torturing political opponents, using chemical weapons, instituting pogroms, engaged in ethnic cleansing, and committing genocide – the U. S. government has no authority whatsoever to intervene in any way. No U.S. soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, military advisor, CIA operative, contractor, or State Department employee has any business going anywhere near Syria. It is not the purpose of the U.S. government to be the policeman, security guard, mediator, or babysitter of the world.
What happens in Syria is the concern of Syrians and perhaps Syria’s immediate neighbors. Nothing that happens in Syria should be the concern of the United States.
Americans individually or collectively may despise the Assad regime, they may pray for the rebels, they may long for Assad’s overthrow, they may sell weapons to the rebels, they may donate money to the rebels, they may go help the rebels fight against the Syrian government, they may undertake humanitarian relief efforts, they may marry Syrian widows, they may adopt Syrian orphans, they may employ Syrian refuges – they may even take the side of Assad against the rebels. But the U.S. government should do absolutely nothing.
How patriotic am I? Nothing that happens in Syria is worth one drop of blood from one American soldier or one dollar from one American taxpayer. Nothing and not one. Not a paper cut. Not a scrape. And not one red cent. I am so patriotic that I don’t support U.S. troops getting within a thousand miles of Syria.
Since the U.S. military is nothing more than the personal attack force of the president, there is a chance that the president will order U.S. forces to intervene in Syria. If this happens, even most who oppose intervention will suddenly and vocally "support the troops" should Syria be their next military adventure.
But because the use of American troops should be limited to the defense of the United States, there should be no respect or support for any U. S. soldier who goes to fight in Syria. He didn’t have to join the president’s personal attack force. He can refuse to go and suffer the consequences or he can refuse to fight like soldiers did during the Christmas Truce of 1914.
To those Americans who think it will be "worth it" to "support the troops" as the United States expends blood and treasure in Syria: I question your patriotism.
Originally posted on LewRockwell.com on January 1, 2013.
Tags: foreign policy, militarism, military, Syria, war, war on terror
I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war. – Psalm 120:7
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.” – Luke 19:41-42
All men desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace. – Thomas a Kempis
I recently heard praise among churchgoers for the movie, “Act of Valor”, a movie about Navy SEAL’s funded in large part by the Navy itself. (And, judging by the previews, it’s basically a military recruitment film.) There is even a Bible study that coincides with the movie and is based on the SEAL code of honor. I was unexpectedly overcome with grief when a Christian excitedly described this to me at church.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the terrible contrast I had just experienced. The sermon that very morning was on this verse from the Beatitudes in the book of Matthew:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Blessed are the peacemakers. And yet here Christians had high praise for a code of conduct espoused by an outfit whose entire purpose is to kill ruthlessly and efficiently. And not merely to kill, but specifically to kill whoever they are commanded to kill by the political powers in the United States without question. The very first tenet in the SEAL code of conduct is “Loyalty to Country” which means, in practical terms, obeying the orders of your superiors who are supposed to represent “the country”, however ill-defined the term.
Not only does obedience to the first tenet render obedience to any of the rest impossible, it is unfathomable to me how a Christian could find this a suitable basis for a Bible study intended to make men into better Christians. The first tenet of this code means quite plainly to forsake your own conscience, do not question the morality of your orders, do not seek to understand why you are supposed to be at war with whomever you are told to be at war with, do not investigate whether or not your targets are a genuine threat or deserving of death, but simply pull the trigger.
The Evangelical Church in America today looks very little like a body of Christ followers and more like a body of state and military followers. American flags grace many a pulpit. Veterans Day celebrations are common. Prayers for the success of military ventures are not unheard of. Calls by politicians and pundits for the use of violence in almost any country for almost any reason will almost always gain the unwavering support of the entire Evangelical community. Anything – including torture, assassinations, and “collateral damage” – can be excused and even praised if it is done “for the country” and under the stars and stripes.
How did this happen? Can you imagine Jesus, or Peter or John with Kevlar vests and M-16’s kicking in doors, screaming ,“double-tapping” people in the head before yelling, “All clear!”’ and high-fiving each other? Can you imagine them dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima or Nagasaki? Can you imagine Jesus instructing his followers to study a code of conduct that begins first and foremost with, “Be loyal to the Roman government”?
Not only did Christ and the giants of the Christian faith refuse to aggress against others, no matter how sinful or evil, they even refused to use violence in self-defense and instead chose martyrdom. When Peter tried to defend Jesus with the sword by cutting off the ear of a soldier, Jesus rebuked him and healed the man’s ear.
Jesus did not instruct the disciples to go to the wilderness and train for a few months so they could plan a stealth nighttime assassination of the guards who crucified Him or any who opposed the Way. He told them to forgive. To Baptize. To turn the other cheek. To submit even to death for the sake of the gospel, rather than resort to violence. That is a radical message and they lived it.
And yet the Church finds herself cheering for the military and honoring them without questioning what they are doing, who they are killing, why they are doing it, or if it’s right. Worship of America and the myth of its righteousness have taken the place of any sense of individual moral responsibility on the part of soldiers or those who support them.
I left church with an immense weight on my soul. I wept. I wept because I knew exactly the sentiment expressed by most of the churchgoers that morning. I used to share it. I wept as I remembered my bloodlust after 9/11. I wanted the United States military to kill people. I wanted bombs to drop and guns to fire. I wanted somebody to get it, good and hard. I wanted death. I wanted war. I did not want peace. I felt no love, only hate.
This impulse is the most human of all impulses. It is also the very impulse Christ taught us to overcome and demonstrated how to do so by His own example. Even when others hate, love.
I wept as I saw in my minds eye the blood on the hands of nearly every Christian in this country. How many self-proclaimed followers of Christ have cheered on “the boys in uniform” during every conflict we’ve ever had, including wars of aggression, just because they’re “our countrymen” fighting for “our side”?
What are “the things that make for peace”? The belief that right and wrong trump nationality and patriotism. The belief that killing is only ever permissible as a last resort and in self-defense. An understanding that Congressional or Presidential approval of an action does not make it moral. That obeying orders is not a virtue unless the orders are virtuous, in which case they should be obeyed because they are right, not because they are orders. That voluntarily agreeing to kill whomever you are told to kill is not honorable. That love is better than vengeance.
Before you support any military action, conduct a brief mental experiment: imagine not the US Military, but you as an individual embarking on the mission in question. In the end it is only individuals who can act and bear moral responsibility for their actions. Imagine standing before God and saying, “I was only following orders”.
How many churches cheered for war against Iraq? Yet can you imagine a pastor standing before his church and saying, “For the next six months we are all going to train in explosives and guns, and we are taking a church trip to Iraq to kill bad people and make the world a safer place.” Who would support it? In moral terms, it is no different to support taking money from taxpayers to pay soldiers to do the same. In fact, the latter is in some ways more nefarious and less honest.
Most would argue that there is a difference between unjust violence and just violence – indeed there is. Some argue there is a difference between just war and unjust war – perhaps there is. But never in my years of observing church support for state military action have I witnessed a single discussion of whether the action was just or right. There have been a few discussions of whether it was “Constitutional”, but never whether it was moral. The morality of war is assumed by the mere fact that the war is waged by the United States Government.
Until the Church in America stops blindly supporting violence done in the name of patriotism, our hands are bloody and our witness is tainted. We say we are for peace, but we want war. We say we pray to the Prince of Peace, but we ask him to bless the violence committed by soldiers. We say “the law is written on our hearts” yet we ignore our hearts and only follow the laws of governments and call what they call right good, and what they call wrong bad.
In our ignorance, we support violence. We can cry out, “Father forgive us, for we know not what we do.” But after our eyes our opened and we begin to examine the morality of acts of violence, we will be held accountable for what we know. I pray we will be willing to oppose violence, even when doing so makes us “unpatriotic” or “un-American”; even when doing so may lead to our own persecution.
“He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God himself” — C. S. Lewis.
Tags: church, foreign policy, Jesus, military, pacifism, peace, prayer, war