Home  |   Jihad Watch  |   Horowitz  |   Archive  |   Columnists  |     DHFC  |  Store  |   Contact  |   Links  |   Search Saturday, May 26, 2018
FrontPageMag Article
Write Comment View Comments Printable Article Email Article
Turning on Obama and Afghanistan By: Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, February 05, 2009

It’s almost inevitable. Since the Vietnam War the Religious Left has viscerally opposed nearly all U.S. military actions, without becoming specifically pacifist. After all, the Religious Left supported Liberation Theology and Marxist insurrections during the 1970’s and 1980’s. But since the collapse of those revolutionary movements, the Religious Left has lacked motive to support war. 

Even many liberal theologians and prelates who claim they support traditional Christian just war teaching are really pseudo-pacifists, exceeding the traditional standards to erect insurmountable moral barriers to any military force. Religious Left officials have sometimes denounced the Iraq War as an ostensibly preemptive conflict of choice that violated Christian Just War standards. But those same officials were notably silent about Afghanistan after 9/11, not willing even then to admit that ousting the Taliban and its al-Qaeda protégés might qualify as a just war.  

The Religious Left rallied to candidate Obama as a progressive alternative to Republican war-makers who promised an exit from Iraq. But Obama’s commitment to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan was often conveniently overlooked. One prescient exception was Religious Left theologian and Sojourners columnist Valerie Elverton Dixon of JustPeaceTheory.com, who is bemoaning continued U.S. missile strikes against terror targets in Pakistan. “He said he would do it,” she recently complained about Obama. So, “we ought not to be shocked that these airstrikes continue.” She recalled distastefully that Obama had “outflanked” John McCain on his Right about Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama the politician is merely responding to the America’s natural bloodlust, Dixon asserted: “The country still wants retributive justice for the people who planned and executed the September 11, 2001 attacks.”

It’s a common theme for Religious Left pacifists. Advocates of military force are crassly motivated by revenge or hatred. But Christian Just War teachings emphasize that war is sometimes not just an allowable option but a commandment in the pursuit of justice. Traditional religious believers identify the occasional reasons for war in a transcendent moral architecture outside their own subjective passions. Such objective theorizing is foreign to most of the Religious Left, which denies transcendent moral truth, and makes demands based on subjective desires for temporal authority.      

“Americans want a president who does not hesitate to use U.S. military power,” Dixon noted with chagrin. “We ought to face the truth about our national character. We are a warrior people.” What is Dixon’s evidence for America’s passion for war? “Our national symbol is a bird of prey that also eats carrion. The American eagle, a symbol of freedom and power, holds in one talon an olive branch and 13 arrows in the other. This symbolizes the nation’s willingness to offer peace as well as war.”

In fact, every civil government theoretically grasps in its talons both olive branch and arrows. Christians have rooted this understanding in St. Paul’s insistence that government “wields the sword” against evil doers, as described in Romans 13. Virtually all cultures, guided presumably by natural law, have understood, however imperfectly, that rulers must sometimes resort to force to defend their people. But the utopian Religious Left refuses to accept that corrupt human nature requires the armed power of civil government.

Dixon pointed at innocent civilian deaths and suffering in Afghanistan and Pakistan as reasons enough for halting military operations. Obviously Christian Just War teachings urge avoiding civilian casualties whenever possible, while also recognizing that imperfect human endeavor will always entail error. The larger question is, will war or war avoidance result in more death and human suffering? Permitting remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, with their penchant for viciousness and terror, to survive unmolested in Afghanistan and Pakistan would be morally disastrous.  

Characteristically insisting that peace cannot be achieved through violence, Dixon asserted, as the Religious Left always does, that any U.S. military action will only fuel even greater hatred and distrust of America. The Religious Left sometimes projects its own America-despising psychosis on others in whose interests he claims to speak.  “Al-Qaeda and Taliban propaganda against the U.S. feeds the hatred and it grows stronger,” she warned. “We cannot overcome the evil of terrorism with the evil of our own violence.”

In contrast to Dixon’s claims, history indicates that some hateful ideologies centered on coercion, once they have initiated war and terror, cannot only be discredited and suppressed through force. Nazism and Japanese militarism, with much of communism, premised their glory on war and successful brutality. Their emotional appeal depended on success. The tragically smoldering cities of war-time Japan and Germany did not create greater hatred for America but rather ultimate resignation to their defeat and openness to ideological alternatives. Armed radical Islam, whether through the theocratic Taliban, or the terrorizing al-Qaeda, similarly advances or retreats based on its ability to intimidate and murder.    

“The killing ought to stop immediately,” Dixon concluded, speaking undoubtedly for most of the Religious Left. “If this means al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters also live, so be it. We will overcome their evil with our good.” The Christian Church, with which Dixon identifies, is indeed called to overcome its enemies peacefully through good works. But the civil state is divinely ordained, according to traditional Christian precepts, to kill, detain, or pacify those who would murder its citizens. The new American chief magistrate, like all rulers, knows this on some level. But the Religious Left does not and probably will only suffer for so long even a President Obama who acts in a responsible, and Christian, manner. 

Mark D. Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He is the author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church.

We have implemented a new commenting system. To use it you must login/register with disqus. Registering is simple and can be done while posting this comment itself. Please contact gzenone [at] horowitzfreedomcenter.org if you have any difficulties.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Home | Blog | Horowitz | Archives | Columnists | Search | Store | Links | CSPC | Contact | Advertise with Us | Privacy Policy

Copyright©2007 FrontPageMagazine.com