You Don’t Have to Support the War to Support the Troops

No long diatribe this evening, just a simple quote that I stumbled upon that succinctly and eloquently expresses the difference between supporting the troops vs supporting the war.

“To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman.” — George Santayana, 20th century philosopher.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance


36 thoughts on “You Don’t Have to Support the War to Support the Troops

  1. I support the troops by calling into the Hannity show and putting a ribbon magnet on my car. If only libruls would make such an effort.

  2. “It is good that war is terrible, otherwise we would become over fond of it”

    – Robert E. Lee

    Of course you don’t have to support a war to support the troops, unless you think of troops as things to be used, rather than as people.

  3. Your blog is too new for me to see if you ‘support the troops’ or not. It’s pretty easy to support the team that is winning, or one that we don’t hear much about their losses.

    The test is do you support them when things are tough?

    So, did you support Lynndie England? How about the rest of the staff at Abu Ghrab?

    That koran flushing thing at Guantanamo, you knew that was BS from the beginning, right?

    Regarding the interrogations of saboteurs and spies, you knew waterboarding wasn’t torture because you looked up the legal definition of torture, didn’t you? I did.

    How about that New Republic Beauchamp hoax? Running over a dog with a tracked vehicle! What idiot would fall for that?

    OH! Here is a toughy. When a soldier’s entire living chain of command says he’s lying about his service record, who do you believe? How about when he won’t let anyone look at it?

    Our guys did a great job in Fallujah, eh?

    I bet you’ve kept track of the enemy casualties in Iraq. We’ve got figures since 01Jan2006. What would you say is the kill ratio now? You know, the number of their deaths versus ours? It’s not Vietnam’s 19 to 1, but it is certainly better than the Civil War when the federal troops were on the wrong end of the calculation.

    You’d keep track of our guy’s successes, if you supported them.

    You, of course, would agree that Sen. Murtha ought to apologise for his slanderous remarks.

    Wasn’t that ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner fantastic? Of course, the President flying that jet to the Aircraft Carrier was a pretty fantastic thing to do too. These are pretty much no-brainers, if you support the troops.

    So, do you support the troops, or do you just pay your taxes so they get their paychecks?

  4. Rutherford,

    A while back I wrote of the choice between fair and loyal.I wrote plainly that I am loyal first and fair second.

    In this, it is simple.

    As long as the game is on, I want our guys to win. I forgive all of our infractions, save the most heinous. A mass grave of 100 women and young children is heinous. We’ve done nothing that rises to that level.

    I do not care about how tough it is on our opponents or why they showed up for the fight. I read all 4 of the Geneva Convention Treaties, and our opposition doesn’t qualify. We owe our opponents nothing and ourselves anything and everything.

    Regarding the Iraqi ‘bystanders’, I don’t believe in innocent people any more than I do the Great Pumpkin. I am only sad when Iraqis who actively support our side get hurt.

    Remember ‘if they bring a knife, we bring a gun’? I happen to mean it. We fight, they die, have a nice day.

    THAT is supporting the troops.

  5. Ecclesiastes, it is actually a bit hard to separate the sarcasm from the sincerity in your penultimate comment. When I say “support the troops” I am basically saying I don’t blame them or disdain them for a war they shouldn’t be fighting. They are doing what soldiers do, following orders from their chain of command, at great risk to their own safety. For that, they deserve some respect. The respect decreases, from my perspective, the higher up the chain you go, ending of course in the Oval Office. What I love about the quote I posted is that it spells out the different perspectives that a soldier should have versus a statesman. I do not believe that Bush views war as a last resort. Hence, in the words of Santayana, he is a criminal.

    For the record, the little I know about Lynndie England tells me she lacks the courage to defy orders that result in perverted behavior towards prisoners. For an excellent and disturbing account of the use of sexual predation as torture, read Naomi Wolf’s article in the HuffPost.

    Finally, I don’t need the Geneva Convention to tell me what torture is. Simulated drowning is torture, plain and simple.

  6. Rutherford,

    Taking last first, Geneva Conventions don’t define torture in US law. This does:

    No. Simulated Drowning does not constitute torture in and of itself in US law. You’re arguing with a Stop sign, and you’re wrong, period.

    If you’d rather your definition of torture was the law, contact your congressional representatives.

    I have a bit of a problem with this issue as NEITHER conservatives nor liberals in any venue or on any forum that I have seen have taken the time to look at the definition.

    I’m much harder on my own people on this.

  7. Lynndie England is a US soldier. If she needed a court martial, that is somebody else’s call.

    You have judged her though, one of your own. You have not supported this troop, and in doing so you have shown your prejudice against all our troops.

    So, is this how you ‘support’ your people? Hm. It seems to me that recently you knew better than this. This is NOT how you have supported people that you consider yours.

    She was nothing more than a tool for you to express your opposition to US policy.

    No. You have not supported the troops.

    Rethink, Rutherford. You’ve been hanging out with a hateful crowd.

  8. Regarding my remark concerning paying one’s taxes, there is no sarcasm in it at all.

    Everybody supports the troops in some way. I don’t happen to consider paying taxes enough. They are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters. For those who are young, those troops are their parents, uncles, and aunts.

    We shall speak no ill of them without certain proof. Once proven, we shall condemn them once and not discuss it again.

    Regarding Ms. England, I find no fault in her or her actions at all. If she didn’t do the right thing, it wasn’t a particularly wrong one either.

  9. Ecclesiastes , when you talk about the troops, you say, “They are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters. For those who are young, those troops are their parents, uncles, and aunts.” Yet you defend the actions of Lynndie England. Were not the targets of her sexual humiliation someone’s son or brother or father or uncle? There’s loads of suffering to go around … such is the price of war. That is why the crucial question is what are we fighting for? I’d go out on a limb and say that not since WWII have we fought a noble war, and even then it was not until we were attacked, long after tons of Jews were savagely slaughtered.

    Please elaborate on how simulated drowning does not qualify under US Code Title 18 Part 1, Chapter 113C, section 2340 paragraph 2C: “the threat of imminent death”. If someone were pouring water over my head, interfering with my ability to breathe, I would be in fear for my life. That’s the threat of imminent death. Seems to me the “stop sign” is not nearly as cut and dried as you make it seem.

  10. Rutherford,

    “Were not the targets of her sexual humiliation someone’s son or brother or father or uncle?”

    You’re being fair, not loyal. There is a time to examine this and a way to examine this that does not betray Ms. England.

    You’re fairness is betrayal. You would never do this to one of your own, or shall we revisit racism again?

    Consider Ms. England black and the enemy the KKK caught in the act of a lynching, which actually isn’t far from reality. I forgive her for taunting them.

    You are withholding your commitment. You are dithering, which, in addition to Merriam-Webster’s nervousness, is also to make intermediate marks to simulate an edge while not actually doing so. That’s a computer graphics definition, but it expresses my meaning. Draw a line. Make a decision. Are you on our side of the line or not?

    Or don’t. We’ll drop the matter because you don’t know what side you’re on and I’d rather not discover that you’re on the enemy’s side. I’d rather be ignorant.

    Regarding war, In our judeo-christian tradition there is no such thing as a ‘noble’ war. Not even WWII rises to that standard. ‘All war is crime’ was a line from the TV show West Wing. I can go with that. I don’t believe in innocent people, and that includes me.

    To hope for a ‘noble’ war is childish, or evil. We are going to do a bad thing. Grow up and get over it.

    You want to know who is fighting a ‘noble’ war? Al Qaeda is fighting one, Allah said so. They get to bomb elementary schools, and strap those bombs to their own children to do it. Allah said so. They get to behead people whose only crime was to fix the electricity in Iraq. Allah said so. They can use poison gas in subways. Allah said so.

    Because their cause is a ‘noble’ one, there are NO LIMITS on the measures they may use. They are fighting a ‘noble’ war. How do you like the look of a ‘noble’ war?

    I hope to God that we never pretend that we are doing a ‘noble’ thing when fighting a war. I’m glad we know it’s bad and always is bad. It’s going to be a crime and I want it to be over as soon as possible.

    I shudder to think of what cliches are muddling your thoughts. You want a ‘noble’ war?

    Regarding torture, the method of waterboarding doesn’t threaten to drown. It is not simply pouring water over the subject’s head. In fact, doing what you suggest wouldn’t work.

    The specific method of waterboarding invokes an instinctive involuntary fear reaction, that choking or even drowning doesn’t. That’s the beauty of it. It gets the fear response without doing harm or threatening the subject’s life.That’s why we were using it.

    IF waterboarding permanently damaged the subject, even emotionally, THEN it is torture.

    Yeah, it’s close, but so is solitary confinement, which can also inflict permanent emotional harm.

  11. FTA – “According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in.”

    These people knew, for certain, that they weren’t in any danger, which belies the claim that the subject fears for his life. The technique works by invoking an involuntary response.

    Look on the bright side, at least now we can argue in specific instead of swinging at smoky feelings about what ought or ought not be considered torture.

    And look at all the other neat things we discover, like the definition *does* apply to interrogations at Guantanamo, which is a possession of the US, and *does* apply to the prisoners there whether they are covered by the Geneva Conventions or not.

    Neither can we use drugs, at all. That’s good to know, eh?

    Oh yeah, Rodney King was tortured, wasn’t he, because they kept kicking his tail after he was subdued?

  12. Anyway, even if a “threat of imminent death” plays a part, the subject would have to experience “prolonged mental harm”, or as I had paraphrased earlier permanent emotional harm.

    So waterboarding doesn’t rise to torture even then.

  13. Ecclesiastes, there is actually a long, time-honored tradition in Christianity known as the Just War Theory. You might not like it, because it places higher value on fairness than loyalty, but it exists. It distinguishes between war and crime.

    Most of us who still remember it are pretty solidly against waterboarding, which happens to include my retired Air Force lt. colonel father (B-52 pilot, 3 tours in Vietnam). If you’re going to accuse him of not supporting our troops because he thinks that the US is capable of doing wrong, then no reasonable person should be taking your position seriously.

    As for your defense of waterboarding …

    “The technique works by invoking an involuntary response.”

    Yet, people are so unwilling to be put through it again that the rational knowledge that their lives aren’t in danger doesn’t override the tortured feeling of the process.

    Maybe it consoles your conscience that there is a law written badly enough that waterboarding isn’t legally torture. For my own part, I’ll go with the “I know it when I see it” standard and condemn waterboarding. My sense of ethics isn’t defined by the US legal code, Geneva Convention, or anyone else’s ability to twist words.

  14. I’m reading up on the Just War Theory. As a Christian, I have a bias. I’ll let you know what I get from it.

    Regarding waterboarding and torture, knowing the legal definition is better than arguing in ignorance.

    I’m not ‘twisting’ words. You are getting objective information that can be independently confirmed. Of course, if you disagree with what the definition IS, we can debate what it SHOULD BE. That’s fine. It can be changed.

    In the meantime, let’s not have any more useless debates about the definition.

    That said, I made this point in the midst of a polemic on supporting the troops and in particular the interrogation of saboteurs and spies at Guantanamo.
    Our people have not broken the law, and that goes all the way up to the President.

    To accuse them of torture falsely demoralizes them without addressing your ethical issue. That’s not ‘supporting the troops’, that’s deliberately hurting them. If you want to support the troops fix the law and leave the troops out of the debate. They are following legal orders.

  15. Ecclesiastes, you have brought the argument full circle. “If you want to support the troops fix the law and leave the troops out of the debate. They are following legal orders.” This is entirely the point of the original post. Soldiers must follow orders (misgivings about Lynndie England aside). It falls upon the statesman to make the moral call on whether or not to wage war. Nine out of ten times, the statesman fails in this regard.

    Thanks to Wickle for citing a Christian code with which I am unfamiliar in defense of my point. There are folks smarter than I in certain areas who actually agree with me. 🙂

  16. OK, I read a little of the Just War Theory and one thing leaps out at me: soldiers are to follow the rules.

    The rules are what they are whether you agree or not, so your ‘know it when I see it” remark is categorically rejected under the Just War Theory. You are to get educated about what the rules are.

    Further, I don’t expect you to provide air support or legal defense when ‘supporting the troops’. I expect you to treat them the same as other people you ‘support’.

    You don’t do that. I’ve seen you support people and you don’t speak ill of them. You don’t assume the worst of them. You keep track of their successes and you wouldn’t deny them celebration of their victories.

    How about some of that for our guys?

    Speaking of our guys, in all due respect to your father, I did not and would never have accused him of murder or terrorism for what he did in his service. I’d be honored to shake his hand and thank him for every bit of ordinance he dropped, even the ones he screwed up, because I know he was trying to do he right thing.

    You can drop the other shoe yourself.

  17. The Just War Theory

    It’s a good thing, but the problem with it is that pacifists have been re-remembering what it is about and re-interpreting what it means.

    All 4 of the actual Geneva Conventions are built on it. There were to be rules or war,

    Some people were designated certain protections. Other people were NOT.

    Just like in any contest where participants have rules to abide by, if there are players who DON’T abide by the rules and those players are NOT penalized, the the whole structure of the ‘rules’ breaks down. Why should the rule-abiding participants offer to lose honorably?

    Al Qaeda doesn’t abide by the rules. They were specifically excluded from having the full protections that a combatant abiding by the rules would enjoy.

    That is why it is within both the letter and the spirit of the Geneva Conventions to take all the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo, line them up, and shoot them.

    We can’t torture them, but we CAN execute them.

    In fact, as the ‘The War Against Terrorism’ was proposed, this is precisely the right thing to do. We proposed to eradicate all international forces which employed methods that were rejected by the Geneva Conventions.

    So, if Al Qaeda and all the other Muslims were to recognize and abide by the Geneva Conventions, The War Against Terrorism would be effectively over!

    Unfortunately, Muhammed ( P B & J ) preceded the Just War Theory and they will not comply with the will of any infidel.

    We are all criminals under their law. Their combatants are all criminals under the rest of the civilized world’s law.

    Rutherford? Still think you’re actually being ‘fair’?

  18. I find your construct dangerous. We “fight fair” only with those who “fight fair”? We let our opponents define the standards of war? Are you basically saying that once war is declared, all bets are off, no option is off the table, and may the “best” man win? If that is the approach, why don’t we just cut to the chase and nuke our enemies off the face of the Earth? We have the power to do so.

    Ah but I forgot, nuking Iraq would kinda make getting at all that oil a bit difficult wouldn’t it?

  19. Rutherford,

    I don’t think you read all that I wrote.

    No, once the fight in engaged and one side complies with the treaties, the the other is obligated to as well.

    What was that ‘if they bring a knife’ comment, that I took issue with Obama about? You remember that one? I said he was foolish to say it because he had no concept of the consequences, didn’t I?

    I have to wonder how much of Al Qaeda’s brazen rejection of civilized warfare ( as much as can ever be had with the Just War Theory you cited ) is a result of being kind when we shouldn’t have.

    In any case, that isn’t MY construction. it’s the Geneva Conventions and that Just War Theory. One deals with savages as savages.

    You hadn’t inquired of my opinion regarding a retreat from Iraq. If we had cut and run two years ago and left those oil fields UN-nuked, I would have been helping you impeach Bush.

    It’s still not settled for me that any of that oil should see the market, ever, or at least in my lifetime.

    The conquest of Iraq was, for me, a matter of denying resources to the enemy.

  20. I was talking to my father the other day about the “Support the Troops” routine he’s putting on …

    The term “mindless sycophant” came up.

    My father’s point —
    What does it mean to offer support if you don’t distinguish between a valiant American soldier and an American war criminal? While Ecclesiastes and his ilk present this as some noble sense of loyalty, it means regarding all American troops the same as war criminals. It demeans those who are, in fact, noble.

    If you don’t demand punishment for those who do wrong (Abu Ghraib) and investigate allegations (Haditha), then you’re acting as if every act is the same, and therefore each one of our troops is as bad as the worst.

    That doesn’t defend Murtha’s accusations (which went beyond the known facts into judgments based on assumptions), but it does mean that we’re right to ask questions.

    As to the Just War Theory:
    “In any case, that isn’t MY construction. it’s the Geneva Conventions and that Just War Theory. One deals with savages as savages.”

    Actually, no. The JWT says nothing of the kind. The moral standards ALWAYS apply, no matter what the other side is doing. Our obligation is to do the right thing at all times.

  21. Wickle,

    The facts of war have momentarily escaped you.

    We are sending a man, war criminal or not, to go kill people and break things.

    Dresden was not a war ‘crime’.
    Germany’s missile attacks on London were not war ‘crimes’.
    Hiroshima was not a war ‘crime’.
    Nan King was a war ‘crime’.
    My Lai was a war ‘crime’.
    Fallujah was not a war ‘crime’.
    Neither German nor American summary and on the spot executions of civilian saboteurs were war ‘crimes’.

    When you can tell me why or why not for each of those then we’ll talk about war ‘crimes’.

    Let’s be horribly honest on this. In war, children playing in their own yards get killed, and it’s not a war ‘crime’. It never was and it still isn’t.

    Second, it is not our place to distinguish between soldier and war criminal for exactly the same reason that ‘trial by public opinion’ is wrong. We aren’t there. We have established a system to deal with war ‘crimes’ and we should let it do its job.

    I see where DNA evidence has completely cleared Jon Benet Ramsey’s parents. Mrs. Ramsey is dead now. Tell me how much your proposed wide public judgment is worth, judgment based on what appears in the press with the freedom to lie when it chooses?

    In these matters, we non-witnesses, we non-participants should be very very careful about shoving our noses in. I likened them to family. If my son robs a bank, I’m not going to get in the way of the trial. If your son was just in the bank when it got robbed, you’d be picketing to send your son to prison.

    As a matter of fact, what you propose DOES defend Murtha’s accusations and you just don’t have the courage or integrity to say so.

    Regarding the JWT, you seem to be one of those modern manglers of it, Aquinas was an adult. When you talk about it, you’re not.

  22. Ecclesiastes, since you ramble incoherently and re-interpret everyone else’s arguments, I hope you’ll forgive me if I simply dismiss you as not worth the time it takes to talk to you.

    In honest conversation (and your quoting Limbaugh suggests to me that you’re not used to hearing it), one deals with what people say, not what you think they should mean based on your opinion of their opinions.

    To anyone else who’s interested …

    The reasons why non-combatants have a role in looking at the moral situation are manyfold. Two of the key ones are:

    – War is not a sacred institution to be carried out and performed without oversight

    – In a democracy of any kind, we’re responsible for our nation’s actions, whether we’re directly involved or not

  23. OK Wickle, What did you say that I missed?

    I didn’t say war was to be conducted without oversight. I’m making note that you’re not on the oversight committee.

    This country happens to be a republic. It’s not a democracy. Yes, we are all responsible for our nation’s actions because it is executed by our elected representatives. Primarily, that means President Bush. We did elect him, you know.

    Perhaps it is that I use more than one sentence in a paragraph, and when you lose your way that you can only perceive me as ‘rambling’. Gosh. That would be sad.

    There is Congressional oversight, as well. I don’t suppose you happen to have noticed that they *approved* of waterboarding, eh? The Democrat members of that 2002 committee were Pelosi(CA), Harmon(CA), Graham(FL), and Rockefeller(WV). This would be Rockefeller’s second huge faux pas, as he also was the source for the meme linking Saddam to the 9/11 attack, not President Bush.
    [ ]

    Maybe I’m ignorant. Are you on a congressional oversight committee?

    Did I miss some nuance that explains how your proposition that everyone has a role in oversight would exclude Sen. Murtha?

    Please don’t run away. I really want to see you explain all this.

    You see, when *I* look into Just War Theory, one of the first things *I* see is

    “Nonetheless, it has been the concern of the majority of just war theorists that such asymmetrical morality should be denounced, and that the rules of war should apply to all equally; that is, just war theory should be universal.” –

    What is just is what is agreed. That is to say that neither side should be held to a higher standard than the other. If one participant uses terrorism, so may the other. That the US never stoops to that level is a matter of our concern for our own troops as anything.

    That was in the first paragraph of the introduction. Maybe you didn’t read that far.

    I encourage you to cite your own preferred reference that I may use it against you as well.

    Oh, please don’t just leave. I’d hate for you to prove to Rutherford, here, that your lack of courage on the one issue was just the tip of the iceberg.

  24. Rutherford,

    To clear up a couple of things from back on post #3:

    The current kill ratio is roughly 10 of them to one of ours.

    The Mission Accomplished banner referred specifically to that particular carrier group. They were patting themselves on the back. It’s a good thing they did, because I didn’t see any Democrats doing so.

    The soldier who didn’t release his service record was Sen. John F. Kerry. He only released it to 3 specific ‘journalists’, not the public. Images of the SF-180 forms he signed are here:

    The Beauchamp reference was kind of obscure. Should I look that up?

  25. The Beauchamp reference did go over my head but I’m sure it’s nothing that a little googling wouldn’t clear up.

    Are you saying that the Mission Accomplished banner was limited to one engagement and not to the war itself? So, that has been a grand delusion of the liberal media all this time?

    To address your quote about the JWT, “Nonetheless, it has been the concern of the majority of just war theorists that such asymmetrical morality should be denounced, and that the rules of war should apply to all equally; that is, just war theory should be universal.” Now I know nothing about the JWT, so I will leave the nitty gritties of that argument to you and Wickle, BUT in reference to your quote, it seems that you are saying that if in fact, the rules of war are not equally accepted by all, then anything goes.

    If the standard of our conduct is dictated by the lowest common denominator, then we have no standard at all. Situational morality is an oxymoron.

  26. Rutherford,

    “Just War” is an oxymoron! The Geneva Conventions are all oxymoronic! We’re talking about civilized ways to destroy nations, kill hundreds of thousands of men, and subjugating all the remaining population. It’s been a fool’s errand from the beginning. Is it really any wonder that none of our opponents, none, have ever conducted war against us according to those rules?

    This latest enemy flies airliners into office buildings, kidnaps civilians, and then tortures and beheads them.

    When examined in the cold light of reason and logic, ‘Just War’ and ‘War Crime’ are silly childish dreams.

    Nonetheless, they are WORTHY dreams. Their foundations are outside your understanding, and I’ll get back to that a little later.

    I suspect the usual liberal mental block is the problem. I have been successful at helping a liberal surmount it before.

    Let’s play a little 3 on 3 touch football. We’ll put a transmitter in the ball so when it crosses the goal line the touchdown is recorded.

    You receive, but as you head down the field all my guys pull out 28 oz framing hammers, cripple your guys, take the ball down the field and score! Hey, We’re winning!

    You get to receive again.

    Oh yeah, if you lose, I get your house and any cute daughters your guys have. Same goes if I lose, but right now, I’m ahead.

    Just how are you going to convince me to play by the usual touch football rules? Do you think holding yourself to a higher moral standard is going to play very well with your teammates daughters after I’ve had them for a couple of months? Somehow I don’t think they are going to appreciate the sacrifices you made, getting kneecapped in the game, are going to be much comfort to them.

    If I bring a knife, you bring a gun, and the whole ‘just war’ theory dies on the field. That’s the decent into barbarism.

    But let’s say that if I pull out a hammer, then you pull out one too. Even better, let’s say if I lay the hammer aside, you will lay yours aside. Lets say that if I agree to not ride y’all’s daughters hard and put them away wet, that you will vow to do the same.

    It is here, in this middle path, that both your team and mine can contend, win or lose, without the shame and slavery of the extremes.

    You said “it seems that you are saying that if in fact, the rules of war are not equally accepted by all, then anything goes.” Exactly so. It is WAR you know. Anything goes. If anybody says ‘shame on you’ they can be shot and dumped in a ditch.

    The principle that what is just will be what is agreed is the only hope of something less barbaric. The only way to achieve that is by matching, but not exceeding the methods of the enemy.

    Wickle would demand that I recognize another long list of Christian moral precepts about what should be ‘standard’ of civilized warfare, and I would be glad to do so, but only when the enemy was ready to agree. Wickle’s part of the theory ( your part of the theory? ) is actually counter productive until MY part has already succeeded.

  27. “Somehow I don’t think they are going to appreciate the sacrifices you made, getting kneecapped in the game, are going to be much comfort to them.”


    Somehow I don’t think they are going to appreciate the sacrifices you made, like getting kneecapped in the game. Those moral absolutes aren’t going to be much comfort to them.

  28. @Ecclesiastes:

    Sigh …

    What you call “lack of courage,” I call “choosing not to beat my head against a wall.”

    Still, I couldn’t let this bit of foolishness pass:
    “What is just is what is agreed. That is to say that neither side should be held to a higher standard than the other. If one participant uses terrorism, so may the other. That the US never stoops to that level is a matter of our concern for our own troops as anything.”

    No, justice is absolute. What you’re discussing is a materialistic kind of philosophy that denies eternal realities. The JWT is an application of spiritual reality. Since you’re naming yourself after a book of the Bible and claiming Baptist background, I’m going to assume that you have at least some familiarity with the idea of moral absolutes. That’s what Augustine was discussing. The rules that applied — whether the other side observed them or not. There are secular JWT adherents who might agree with something like your position. I don’t care to speak for them. As for being a majority of JWT adherents, I doubt it. The introduction of realpolitik to JWT is generally seen as a corruption of the principles.

    In truth, most often only one side of a war is just. If everyone lived by it, no one would engage aggressively in war. There would be no wars. It would be nearly impossible to imagine a situation in which both sides have lived by the Last Resort principle. Once Pearl Harbor was bombed, for example, the US had crossed the Last Resort point with Japan. However, Japan had not reached it with the US before bombing Pearl Harbor. It was an unjust act of war.

    If you’d like to educate yourself about the Just War Theory, then I could recommend any number of sources. I’ll cite just two for you. is a secularly-based, but good, place to start. Many links to many great articles.

    St. Augustine’s “Summa Theologicae,” although basically a Catholic text, is full of information. An exert is contained within the Word file here:


    However, I’m not walking away for lack of courage. I simply don’t enjoy talking to people who don’t know what they’re doing but assert expertise. Two weeks ago, you’d apparently never heard of the Just War Theory. Now you claim to know everything that there is to know, including fallacies and misapplications. I realize that Google can be great, but there is something to be said for having spent years on the subject.

    I have better things to do with my time than argue with a mega-dittohead who thinks he’s mastered everything. Declare victory over me if you like. For my own part, I simply think that my 11-year-old son has a better grasp on the idea of moral absolutes than you’re willing to entertain.

  29. Wickle,

    For you and I there are moral absolutes, and yes that is what Augustine was discussing.

    Our enemy has moral absolutes as well. The righteousness of slicing people from crotch to sternum who point out that Muhammed was a fraud is one of them. I’ve got Islamic references for that if you need them.

    Augustine argued, convincingly, that when one is in the service of their country’s army that the guilt for many of the sins one commits in that service falls upon the man giving the order. Further, when in an intermediate rank, that one giving orders should balance the objectives of the task assigned against those absolutes, that one will bear his own guilt for sins unnecessary to the task. The chain of command is the chain of guilt.

    I understand all that. I agree with all that. Those matters, however, are for the ONE.

    Christianity is personal. Nations don’t have souls. They don’t have morality. They only have interests. We are debating “Just War” at a level that Jesus said ‘to render unto Caesar’. At this level more corporeal precepts hold sway.

    President Bush is the executive of the US sovereignty right now. It is his job to do what is necessary to protect the US. We leave it to him to figure out what this is with congressional oversight. What sin he is guilty of, he will answer for … personally.

    To be repetitive, I believe you are making the same kind of mistake a liberal always does, attempting to imbue a collection of people with ‘morality’. Jesus rejected it. Machiavelli rejected it. Even Ayn Rand rejected it and it would be very difficult to find a more vocal and reasoned anti-Christian than she.

    The Collective does not exist. We are participants, and not parts. We are not both state and man.

    The only people that advance this idea are Marxists, in their varying shades. While they reject the supernatural, and God along with it, they conjure absolute morality on the foundation of the Collective, and have its guilts lay upon its participants.

    Let me bring this home to you, Wickle. Those secular moralists propose that the MORAL responsibility for late term abortions is ours because you and I are part of the Collective.

    Hell no.

    The site is one of theirs. You are following their rhetoric. This is what I meant when I said you were one of the ‘modern manglers’ of the theory. You do better referencing Augustine, and better yet the Book of James.

    I’ll read your Augustine reference. Thank you for the URL. I’ve already seen the site. In my last comment to Rutherford, they are the shmoos lining up for the second play without hammers.

    If you want Just War Theory to be anything more than a romantic way to commit suicide ( do you have cute daughters? ), you will have to swallow its pragmatic application.

    There is also the usual mistake that a Christian makes, to mistake himself for God. How we long for the ability to heal another’s body and mind and soul. How we aspire to be like the Saviour and bear the sins of others. Well, we can’t. We’re just people.

    And then there is this one:
    “In truth, most often only one side of a war is just.”

    That’s … stupid.

    I don’t know if you’ve got it in your head that we’re ‘just’ because we’ve got Jesus, the Prince of Peace, or if the enemy is ‘just’ because they are waging a Holy Struggle with the sanction of God. Either way, if you’ve still got that good guy/bad guy thing rattling around in your head in the midst of a war, you’re being juvenile.

  30. “Augustine argued, convincingly, that when one is in the service of their country’s army that the guilt for many of the sins one commits in that service falls upon the man giving the order.”

    Good heavens Ecclesiastes, you’ve brought us full circle again. Augustine says, if one buys your interpretation, exactly what the quote in my post says. The soldier is charged to energetically carry out orders, implicitly without regard to a moral code. The moral responsibility lies with the commander.

    At a certain level, Ecclesiastes, you have won the debate if your primary point is that war by definition is immoral, so therefore there are no just wars, no righteous warriors, and no “decent” rules of engagement. Any pretense to the contrary is just designed to make one violent bastard look somehow better than the other violent bastard.

  31. Rutherford,

    Augustine argued that one must be as Christian as possible. He was writing in the 5th century. The differences between his day’s armies of maneuver and absolute Monarchies and today’s equivalents are vast and stretch the limits of his reasoning, but that principle remains.

    I don’t remember arguing that point with you. I questioned whether or not you held to your own statements and asked what you had said or thought on matters prior to this blog.

    “Your blog is too new for me to see if you ’support the troops’ or not. It’s pretty easy to support the team that is winning, or one that we don’t hear much about their losses.

    The test is do you support them when things are tough?”
    – post #3

    We then addressed Lynndie England.

    I will not damn her. I refuse to use her acts for a political attack.

    Leaving aside the propriety her actions, dealt with by a court martial, just what WAS your reaction to the incessant news stories that she starred in?

    If you want to make an argument about the war in Iraq, I say you leave her out of it.

    To put a point on it, I’ll also quote #18.

    “I agree with the sentiments of the original post. I just don’t think you do.” – Ecclesiastes

  32. The objective of the Geneva Conventions is not “to make one violent bastard look somehow better than the other violent bastard.”

    It’s an idealist’s, or a child’s, dream but a worthy one, to make some otherwise tactically worthless acts, strategically valuable. I’m not against that at all. I’m all for the idea. It is the stated objective of the “Global War on Terrorism” to convince our enemies that it is not in their interest to ever use that tactic again.

    Wanna play a little football?

    Now go back and read #20 again.

    Our largest group of enemies have some real problems with being sexually taunted, being threatened by dogs, having even a drop of urine on them when they want to pray, eating ham, and having some odd book treated badly by non-muslims.

    It would do no physical harm whatsoever to their people whom we have captured to do those things to them.

    Tell me, if it would end the practice of suicide bombing, could you endorse doing those things? Could you have any pride in those acts, so that you would never feel shamed or guilty for them?

    We can give all the prisoners a puppy and a BLT, a little spritz of urine every time they put their foreheads on the floor in Mecca’s direction. How about all their korans slathered in lard? When they go on hunger strike now we force feed them. Let’s force feed them ham.

    If it would mean that the enemy would stop bombing buses and subways, could you put it on the nightly news and be proud of it? When they cried and whined, could you chuckle?

    All Lynndie England did was stack them up naked and laugh at them. For no more children dead at their hands, could you put her in charge?

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