In light of the recent developments in Syria, the question arises among many as to the morality of war. The Obama Administration has successfully withdrawn troops from Iraq, a long costly engagement to the United States, in terms of lives and money.
Reportedly, the War in Iraq and the Afghanistan War cost the U.S. upward of 10 Billion Dollars per month and somewhere around 5,000 lives lost. The number of troops left with permanent injuries both physically and psychologically has created an influx of veterans to hospitals and clinics for costly long term treatments.
That is just scratching the surface when we begin to consider the effects that war has on the individual families affected. The suicide rate among veterans is at an unprecedented, unconscionable rate. Unemployment, domestic violence, PTSD, which affects 1 out 5 warriors, mental illness and other violent acts have been identified as a direct result of many veterans being unable to assimilate successfully into civilian life.
It is quite obvious that war is a business, Big Business. As with any large business enterprise, there is a system in place and a hierarchy. The executives who really “own” the war are in corporate suites or sitting in safe, comfortable positions, strategizing, doing “math”, studying balance sheets and forecasting.
Politicians, who talk about patriotism and often equate patriotism with the ability and willingness to wage war, have been found to be making enormous financial profits from engaging the country in war.
The longer the war, the more money they make. Young men and women are told that it’s patriotic to enlist and be willing to fight and even “die for your country.” We owe a great deal of gratitude to the many soldiers who have considered it their patriotic duty to “defend our country.”
The civilian casualties that occur in war zones are unfortunate, and from what I understand, from the standpoint of soldiers and military leaders, it is unintentional and unavoidable. It can be minimized, but civilian women, men and children often live close to military targets.
I am sure my comments seem to indicate that war is evil. It’s not that at all. The problem is that political gamesmanship, greed and power struggles have become such integral parts of the war decision, it is a difficult question as to what is a legitimate war and and one that is unnecessary, or as President Obama once termed it, “a dumb war.”
I suggest that from a moral and even Biblical standpoint, war, in itself is not evil. Whenever God was involved in man’s participation in war, it did have a good purpose and intent (pushing back against a clearly identifiable evil enemy, in order to protect God’s People from being destroyed). The concepts of “right and wrong” weren’t as blurred as they are today.
Psalmist David penned Psalm 144: 1 ‘Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. 2 He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer…Psalm 18 He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.’
These scriptures refer to “training” and in some translations, “teaching” war. Some would immediately start to parry and say, “Oh, this is symbolism.” Really? Look a little closer. There are a number of battles indicated in the Bible and they weren’t “symbolic,” although there were lessons to be learned.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 gives us a clue. ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens, A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.’
It is even less difficult to understand when it comes to individual “activity.” If someone attacks you or a loved one, you may choose to engage in a personal war. That is your right, morally and legally. Your purpose and intent was not set out to destroy or harm someone out of an evil motive. Your purpose would be to prevent the other party from destroying you or your concerns.
Notice I indicated “choice.” You may also choose to interpret Jesus saying in the Bible, “turn the other cheek” as a universal law governing all conduct relative to fighting, no matter what the situation or circumstances. That is also a choice. I have heard people bring up Jesus, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as examples of historical people that we respect who expoused non-violence as a way of life.
I highly respect them and any individuals who make a personal commitment to non-violence. I still see that as courageous and not cowardice. Dr. King said, responding to violence non violently has a way of touching the heart of the oppressor and the observers as well. It must be remembered they were using strategy, operating out of principals that were personal convictions, not a universal law.
Each of them lived in areas where there was armed “security” that would be willing to kill on their behalf. I never saw Dr. King rally to have police departments dismantled. Even Jesus instructed his disciples, “if any doesn’t have a sword, sell a coat and buy one” (Luke 22).
The bottom-line here, is to pray for those in authority (President, Congress and even business executives who are players in deciding whether or not our nation goes to war). The situation in Syria involving chemical warfare is a serious matter, not to be dismissed or taken lightly. Yes, there is a lot of propaganda that must be sorted through. The United States isn’t blameless in its engagements.
However, we are here in the U.S. now and none of us should sleep on the idea that some enemy that would decimate its own citizens would not also devise a plan to launch a chemical attack on the U.S. It may be speculation at this point, but I would rather error on the side of safety.
We have experienced horrific terrorist attacks on our soil already the worst of which were the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania skyjacking and ultimate plane crash.
We have domestic affairs to still contend with: racism, class warefare, unemployment, crime, corruption, etc. But if our country is not secured to the maximum, we will not be around to deal with the domestic matters.
War is not evil. A dumb war is evil.