War Crimes

It has been brought up lately, and I’ve been pondering it for quire a while. Here are some thoughts I have on the subject:

Back in ancient days, those who were defeated in war were at the mercy of the conqueror – it was felt that merely enslaving them was to cut them some slack. But putting an entire city to the sword down to the last man, woman and child was not uncommon. Over time, this was modified a bit as some great conquerors (most notably Alexander and Caesar) discovered that clemency was itself a mighty engine of war – letting the defeated off relatively easy tended to make conquests more lasting; and you could get more out of the defeated in continuing tribute than you could in a one-off sacking. But, still, for the longest time it was thought that an enemy who refused terms and was then defeated was without recourse to mercy.

Mostly through the agency of the Catholic Church as it rose to prominence, this idea of mercilessness to the conquered was modified. And the waging of war, itself, was held to require a strict set of rules. That these rules were often ignored is beside the point – there were rules and people would refer to them in judging the wartime actions of a nation. Time went on and war became to be seen as a thing between professional armies, alone, and the non-combatants were to be spared the ravages of war as far as possible. Napoleonic France diverged from this general trend (essentially, Napoleon looted Europe in order to fund his regime and his continuing wars) but the post-Napoleonic reaction was just that much more strong – until, by treaty, nations in the late 19th century started to codify the rules of war.

But it was still held that if one side violated the rules, the other side was justified in following suit. A good example of this was poison gas – banned by treaty prior to World War One, once the Germans started using it then all sides used it to the best of their ability. And then World War Two happened – a war was started by a nation with absolutely no justification and that nation then ran amok murdering and looting on a scale never seen before in war. After the war, trials were held and those judged most guilty of carrying out the crimes were hung or imprisoned for long terms. And it became rather set in stone: there were some things you just couldn’t do in war, ever.

But it still remains a fact that some people depart from the laws of war – most notably the terrorist. Remember, what was most terrible about the Nazi crimes was the way they brutalized people who couldn’t fight back…civilians and disarmed prisoners of war. We look far more in horror at the massacre of Babi Yar where more than 33,000 defenseless Jews were murdered than we do the bombing of Hamburg where more than 42,000 Germans died…this is because the Jews were completely harmless and completely helpless, while the Germans were at least working to support the German war machine and in the Luftwaffe and the Flak units, the Germans at least had a chance at self defense. We feel sadness when, say, an American or Israeli soldier is killed by an enemy but we know that soldiers voluntarily face such risks – and they have a chance to defend themselves. But when a bomb goes off in a shopping mall, it is defenseless, harmless people being murdered. The laws of war require that those shooting and being shot at be clearly identified as people who can do that – anyone who is not so identifiable must not be shot at and must not shoot. But the terrorist is violating both sides of that – they are not identifiable as shooters and they seek to kill people who are most definitely not in a position to shoot back.

What do we do about such a thing? That is the crucial thing we need to be clear in our minds about. The enemy diligently hides his identity. He desperately does not want to be known as a combatant before he starts shooting. He hides among his like, blending in to the best of his ability to confound those who would prevent him from attacking. He browbeats and threatens non-combatants into keeping silence, and supporting his efforts. He then steers clear of any place where he’s likely to be met with armed resistance, and then attacks. Is such a person, if captured, to then he held as if he were a regular soldier, honorably seeking to engage his like in battle? Or is he to be treated as a common criminal and be provided with a defense attorney? Or is he to be fought as he fights? Here is a clip from the movie Breaker Morant – it tells the story of three Australian officers being charged with murder for shooting out of hand what amounted to captured terrorists during the Boer War:

Most of the laws of war we use today were in effect at the time – but there is a difference: the defense the officers used was that they were obeying orders. Here’s the scene where the defense sums up:

And, of course, the standard was created in the post-WWII trials of the Nazis that obeying orders is no defense. Soldiers are to refuse to obey any order of a criminal nature – and, indeed, this has been written into American law and into the Uniform Code of Military Justice. But, still, what to do with an enemy who has departed entirely from the rules of war?

If a terrorist is planning on setting bombs in a series of shopping malls, what rule are we to use in stopping him from doing it? To be sure, if we can just arrest him and send him to jail, that is fine. But suppose we can’t? And even if we can arrest the particular terrorists planning the bomb-setting, what of their masters in a foreign land? And what of the government which allows them to operate in their territory? A further example – a terrorist group is using an active hospital as a base for their operations, what rule of war are we to use in getting after them? Kindly ask them to leave? Bomb the hospital? Suppose we decide in such cases that it is legitimate to bomb a hospital but we, being human, bomb the wrong hospital and kill hundreds of civilians – is that a war crime? Bring up the pilots on charges of murder?

We all know we must not become just like the enemy – but it seems to be that to become like the enemy would be to start hiding our military forces behind civilians and to eschew entirely attacking the enemy but, instead, go in search of family and friends and killing them out of hand. That would be acting like the enemy – but fighting the enemy without let or hindrance even though he is hiding behind civilians would not, in my view, be a crime…and if in the heat and pressure of battle where our troops are in a shooting gallery where who is the enemy and who the noncombatant is unclear, then it still would not be a crime if some of our troops did some things which in cool hindsight were wrong.

We are faced with a ruthless enemy and we have our choice – fight or quit. I don’t think that quitting is an actual option because they are determined to get after us regardless of what we do. But, still, if one wants to believe that if we stop, they’ll stop then that can be tried. On the other hand, however, if we decide to fight then while obeying all the rules of war, we still have to understand that an enemy departing from the rules will have to pay a high price for his actions…and those shielding the enemy while he violates the rules have to know that cooperating, even involuntarily, with the enemy is the worse option than resisting enemy pressure (in other words, the guy allowing his house to be used as a staging area for terrorists must become convinced that it is better to risk the wrath of the terrorists than to risk our wrath should we find out his house is a staging area).

War is a nasty, dirty business and no one comes out of it with completely clean hands. To take a human life is always a terrible thing and we should do our best to find ways to solve our problems without the spilling of blood. But the nature of humanity dictates that there will always come people who desire to obtain things by killing. It doesn’t really matter what particular thing it is they are trying for – the fact that they are willing to kill to get it is all that matters. And each enemy who arises has to be dealt with in the most efficient way possible. If someone wants to raise a conventional army to fight us and is willing to spare, as far as possible, all civilians then that, indeed, is how we should fight them…but if someone is taking to the hidden bomb in a school or the gunmen in an airport, then other means will be necessary to convince such an enemy that fighting is a losing proposition.

28 thoughts on “War Crimes

  1. Retired Spook March 31, 2016 / 11:27 pm

    I have this gut-wrenching feeling that warfare in the foreseeable future is going to be such that war crimes will become frequent and inevitable — on all sides. The barbarity that we see from ISIS will, IMO, eventually provoke a similar reaction from our side. Right now it’s still occurring largely in distant lands, and the really gruesome aspects of it are not shown on American television. When it hits closer to home Americans will be demanding that we cast political correctness aside and take the gloves off, and once we cross that line all bets are off.

    • M. Noonan March 31, 2016 / 11:38 pm

      I think you know and I know enough of military affairs – and history – to understand that in war one has to be quite ruthless in applying whatever force is necessary to secure victory. Holding back, gradual escalation, etc is just a fool’s errand. The tonnage of bombs dropped on Germany exceeded that dropped on the UK by several orders of magnitude – that is what you do when your enemy opens up a can of worms which should have remained shut. A decent and honorable people will never be the first to use extreme measures – but a decent and honorable people must be willing to repay with usury an enemy who does resort to extreme measures.

      • Retired Spook April 1, 2016 / 10:15 am

        but a decent and honorable people must be willing to repay with usury an enemy who does resort to extreme measures.

        I could not agree more.

  2. Bob Eisenhower April 1, 2016 / 2:33 pm

    The problem is that, due to technological advances, the definition of war has changed. There might never again be a traditional war of armies fighting armies.

    I have not studied the Vietnam War exhaustively but I have always been struck odd by the classic argument that comes up when asked, “Could we have won it?” The argument goes that Westmoreland had the Viet Cong on the run after Tet and said with 500,000 troops (I’m probably off for the number) the war could be won.

    While Westmoreland’s assessment may have been militarily true, we know historically the North would never quit, even after military defeat. The movement for independence had 40 years history behind it and would continue another 40 years. With 20-20 hindsight, I believe Vietnam could never have been won militarily because it was not a war, it was an insurgency.

    The US should never resort to our enemies’ barbarity. We – the World community – need to define and addendum to Rules or War, a Rule of Insurgency,

  3. Cluster April 1, 2016 / 2:51 pm

    Going to Bob’s point, reference of time and commitment is one reason why Islamic terrorism persists. America takes a fast food approach to war, whereas the Islamists see this conflict as a never ending, generational struggle. We want to get in, take care of business and the Islamists know it therefore we will never win this war until we tack a different course.

    I do disagree with Bob though on resorting to barbarity. From my experience the only way to defeat a bully is to out bully them, and my approach to their demise would more brutal than they could ever imagine. My approach would hopefully demonstrate to any jihadist wannabe that their demise would be assured, quick, and very unpleasant. They want to burn people in cages? Wait until they see what we have in store for them.

    Every now and then you read an article that says everything you wanted to, and for me, an excerpt from that article and the link to that article is below:

    President Obama has spent two terms publicly denying our country’s exceptionalism and demeaning its greatness. He has enriched venomous enemies while smugly ignoring, insulting and boorishly lecturing friends. The hallmark of his Presidency is one of trampling on individual rights, greater racial anger, a strange attachment and defense of Islam, denigrating Christianity and guiding the most anti-Israel Administration since its modern day founding. He successfully pursued the Alinsky dream of socializing and damaging America’s health care, increasing national debt to unstainable levels and obliterated the hopes and dreams of the middle class particularly the African American community. “Sequestration” targeting the military budget was created by Obama’s lack of leadership or disinterest in working with both sides of the Congressional aisle. This has led to a vast reduction in our military capabilities at a time the world’s diabolical regimes have increased theirs.


    • Bob Eisenhower April 1, 2016 / 3:28 pm


      The problem with punching back at this bully is that there is no one bully. It is like punching back at sand.

      I mean, haven’t we killed like 500 “Al Qaeda #2” or “ISIS #2” guys? No matter how many we kill, there are a thousand guys in line behind them. There is no bully to punch.

      I think the best argument FOR brutality is the story of how the Russian military dealt with the Chechen theater terrorists. While that is a uniquely satisfying example, Chechen terrorism persisted afterward.

      If there truly were a bully to punch, kill, waterboard, whatever, I’d get behind barbarity. But there is an infinitely long line of bullies out there.

      • Cluster April 1, 2016 / 5:39 pm

        I wonder how General George S. Patton would respond to this. I would sure like to know. All I can say is that I don’t care how many bullies are out there and if we are worried about that, we have already lost. Dennis Miller had a great line on this a while back when he said, “The moderate Muslim leaders had better start cleaning their house, otherwise we will do it, and it will get messy.”

      • Retired Spook April 1, 2016 / 7:05 pm

        I wonder how General George S. Patton would respond to this

        Something along the lines of this:

        “We’re not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we’re going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Hun cocksuckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it’s the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you’ll know what to do!” General George Patton

      • Amazona April 1, 2016 / 8:41 pm

        There are so many things we could do. The key is to make terrorism have too high a price, and killing Islamic radicals is not a deterrent.

        So how can you keep a martyr from going to wherever they keep the virgins? I have been told that certain things would block this ascent to Paradise, but we would never do any of them because they are, well, INSENSITIVE. They might show a lack of proper respect for Islam.

        My very Liberal brother thinks we should show the head of every killed jihadist mounted on a fence pole next to a hog pen, and show video of the body being thrown to the pigs. He’s already dead, we just make his body unclean. Ditto for using pig fat on bullets, etc.

        We never, EVER, have media discussions on the inherent cowardice and lack of manly qualities shown by having to have half a dozen or more thugs hold down one man, who is already tied up and has been starved and beaten, while his head is cut off. We never see open ridicule of the sissiness of people who have to hide behind masks, have bands of thugs to handle one or two people, or use the most cowardly of all weapons—bombs. I’d love to see a campaign of discussions tying these kinds of things to small penis size and inability to perform sexually, calling for over-compensation in the form of being bullies. Why don’t we run shows showing these allegedly manly men hiding behind terrified women and children, or in hospitals, and analyzing the psychological and psychosexual foundation for this kind of cowardice?

        Terrorism works because it terrorizes people. When people find acts of terrorism to be proof of lack of manliness, proof of cowardice, proof of weakness, we take away that ego boost of feeling like a tough guy.

        Young men risk death to become terrorists because this represents, to them, the ultimate in masculinity and strength. I’d love to see a discussion of why John Doe ran off to join ISIS—because he has Teeny Peeny Syndrome, and the only way he can pretend to manliness is to join others with the same problem.

        No, this kind of campaign would not stop terrorism. But for some who are drawn to it, it would make it less attractive. It’s a complicated problem, and we need to use absolutely everything at our disposal to deal with it.

        Regarding “torture”—back in WW II, or the Cold War, we already had drugs that would remove the ability to lie when questioned. Why don’t we ever hear of this anymore? Wouldn’t this be a solution to getting information from captured terrorists, without sparking the squealing about how mean we are by making them feel uncomfortable? I remember the outrage when it was learned that a female interrogator put red ink on a man being questioned and told him it was menstrual blood—you would have thought she hacked of his body parts one at a time! I say, go for it. Whatever works. Go all Abu Ghraib on them, or at least tell them you will. Stop short of actual physical torture, if you must, but don’t worry about their little snowflake feelings.

      • M. Noonan April 1, 2016 / 11:22 pm

        There are two things we’re not doing:

        1. Fighting the enemy tooth and nail.

        2. Going after the ultimate source of all this – Tehran plus various oil sheiks.

        Of course, Obama thinks he is going after the source – by giving endless concessions to Iran his apparent theory is that after a while they’ll buddy up to us and call off the terrorist dogs. He’s flat wrong about this – but it is an oddity that he’s the first President to actually address this core issue: Tehran’s sponsorship of terrorism. For all the words we’ve said and for all the sanctions we imposed, we never for a moment decided to make Iran’s government really pay for their dirty deeds…and neither do we go after the oil sheiks who seem to be buying off their rebels by funneling money to Islamist groups. Eventually, if we want this to stop, we’ll have to go after the ultimate source…get rid of those who sponsor the terrorists.

        And when we do that, we’ll have to fight them tooth and nail…and that means getting into some rather dirty bit of war making where we’re fighting almost exclusively among civilians being used as shields…and we’ll have to do it without worrying about how it will look to professional bed-wetters in the MSM.

      • Mark Moser April 2, 2016 / 10:42 am

        War is not won for by dying for your country, but by making the other son-of-bitch die for theirs. This would include their women and children, as they have targeted ours. Patton said something along that first line. War is not a New Testament thing. It’s an Old Testament thing. Turning the other cheek simply does not apply, but an eye for eyes and a tooth for teeth does. Bury them in the entrails of swine and take their promise Heaven and of the 70 virgins from them in the afterlife. It’s been done before; it can and should be done again.

      • Amazona April 2, 2016 / 11:28 am

        When I heard Trump talk about killing the families of terrorists, I did not take it as a threat to bomb areas where those families might be living, but as a threat to find those families, target those families, and kill them as a message to the terrorists. I see a big difference between the two.

        I don’t know what we do, regarding propaganda and outreach to civilians, but I have always thought we need to have a serious outreach program, such as dropping pamphlets by the millions telling people that we have no desire to kill innocent civilians, and will grant safe passage to women and children out of zones of intense combat, but we WILL go after everyone left in those zones. I would make it clear that any civilian casualties are the direct responsibility of the fighters who hide in civilian neighborhoods,hide behind women and children, hide in hospitals, and that the people need to know that this unmanly cowardice is killing innocent people.

        The same message needs to go out in electronic media, on radios and televisions, on internet sites, anywhere anyone might find it. I would hammer, relentlessly, that to the Western world these fighters are cowards, hiding behind women and children, hiding behind masks, setting off bombs which kill indiscriminately, and that it is they who are bringing death and destruction into the neighborhoods and homes of people who are not fighting.

        And when a neighborhood has been informed of our intent, with plenty of time to leave it, I would then bomb the snot out of it.

        People KNOW. People know when women and children are forced to stay in dangerous war zones, to proved cover for fighters. If these women and children are then killed, their peers will know why it happened, and the act of offering sanctuary to them before the bombing would send a message that we want to spare innocent lives as well as that these lives were lost due to the cowardice of the “men” involved.

      • dbschmidt April 2, 2016 / 7:19 pm

        It will be not until the highest levels of U.S. Government (among others) realize that the “war” with Al Qaeda/ ISIS is nothing more than the Crusades Part 4, 5, 6 or 20—take your pick. This is a continuation from the wars of Tripoli with the U.S. Marines (First Barbary War-Battle of Deme 1805) versus the Barbary Pirates through the properly named Crusades (1096 to 1487) with many “wars” before and after up till today.

        The difference is dark and light and will require an eradication to be resolved. I do not see that in my lifetime but as long a “can kicking down the road” is standard I believe it will take something worse than 9/11 to properly kick start the sleeping (or doped up these days) giant that once was a proud America to do whatever is necessary to solve this issue.

        That is the only thing I can see that sets the price “too high.” Complete Eradication – not of a people but of an idea.

    • Amazona April 1, 2016 / 8:50 pm


      At least we are starting to move away from the futility of insisting that Trump is not as awful as we think he is, and admitting that yes, he is, but he is still better than Hillary.

      As that has already been conceded, I think it is silly to keep harping on it. And the real story is not that he is a better choice than Hillary, it is that it is a choice between guaranteed completely disastrous (Hillary) and probably to a very high degree disastrous (Trump).

      And I, and millions of others, are seriously pissed off at the “conservatives” who are shoving this choice down our throats. After all these years of complaining, a lot of it done by these same people, that we need and deserve a candidate we can vote for with happiness, with confidence, without the sinking feeling in the pits of our stomachs that once again we have to hold our noses and vote for the lesser of two evils, we are once again facing that exact same scenario, only much much much worse. I am not usually a grudge-holder, but in this case I don’t see ever having any respect for any of these people, ever again.

  4. Amazona April 1, 2016 / 8:54 pm

    Trump unfavorables:

    Non-college whites 52%
    White men 51%
    White women 68%
    Conservatives 53%
    Moderates 75%

    9:10 PM – 31 Mar 2016

    ….yet some think he can beat Hillary?

    • Amazona April 3, 2016 / 7:54 pm

      So let’s say that conservatives go ahead and vote for Trump, placing the welfare of the nation ahead of their own distaste for having to do so to keep the White House from Hillary. Let’s go ahead and say that all 53% of conservatives who have an unfavorable view of Trump do this. However, “moderates” and what I assume are unaffiliated white men, white women and non-college whites may not be motivated by the same things that would drive conservatives to vote for Trump. I don’t know if this poll separates white women, for example, from “conservatives” or if a white woman can be in more than one category, so it’s hard to get too specific.

      I am just saying that such overwhelming negatives might be impossible to overcome even if every conservative falls in line to try to keep the Dems out of the White House.

  5. Amazona April 1, 2016 / 9:54 pm

    Latest entry in the “DUH—do ya think ??” category: (emphasis mine)

    “Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who has frequently praised Mr. Trump’s insurgent campaign, said the front-runner had made a series of bewildering and irrational mistakes. Mr. Trump’s campaign, he said, had failed to evolve beyond the “personal gunslinger, random-behavior model” characterized by the candidate.

    “None of the mistakes have been forced and nobody forced him to react negatively,” Mr. Gingrich said. “It’s almost as though he is so full of himself that he can’t slow down and recognize that being president of the United States is a team sport that requires a stable personality, that allows other people to help him.” “

    • M. Noonan April 1, 2016 / 11:15 pm

      Trump does seem to be imploding – pity it didn’t happen in December. Thing is, if the man had just learned to curb his mouth a bit he probably would be galloping to the nomination and would have an even money shot at winning the White House…now, he’s set to be a Trivial Pursuit answer.

      • Mark Moser April 2, 2016 / 10:25 am

        …while achieving his real goal of a Hillary Presidency.

      • Amazona April 2, 2016 / 11:17 am

        Mark M, I have considered the possibility that Trump’s goal has always been a Hillary presidency, but the more he invests of his time and money and reputation in this campaign the more I think he truly does want to be president.

        Well, maybe not BE president, because as Obama has learned that is very demanding and a lot of work, but be ELECTED president, which has to be a great ego rush for those live for such things. I think Trump is bored, and this is one of the few things left that can excite him. He’s too much of a wuss to fly around the world in a balloon, too self-centered to get involved in something like making sure primitive peoples have clean water, and too obsessed with how people view him to want to do much of anything but feed that insatiable need for admiration.

        Now, though, he is far enough along that path that there is no turning back, and if he is rejected by the Republican voters he is likely to have a Trumpertantrum and tear the whole thing down out of spite, In that case, I think yes, he would want Hillary to win, because that would show those bastids in the GOP what happens when you cross Trump!

      • M. Noonan April 2, 2016 / 11:31 pm

        I could see him endorsing Hillary once he’s denied the GOP nomination…and that would be a good lesson to the people who have backed him even after he demonstrated his lack of intellectual stability.

      • Amazona April 3, 2016 / 9:49 am

        Given his proven need to be loved, and the way the blind adoration of his followers has fed that desperate need and the immense ego that goes with it, I don’t know if he would risk losing it by openly endorsing Hillary. But simply pumping up the mob by carrying on about how UNFAIR the GOP has been to him, preaching how “Lyin’ Ted” or whoever the choice happens to be is too awful to be president and refusing to support him, would have the same effect while keeping most of his worshipful entourage intact.

        I see this happening anyway, as his favorability seems to be tanking as we speak. He is so massively egotistical he won’t be able to take this lying down, and even if Ted ends up with enough delegates I can see Trump pitching a fit and saying if he can’t win he is taking his football and going home, taking his remaining supporters with him.

        Or he can mount his own campaign, bleeding off Republican support and making it a three party race. He has already telegraphed his intention to do one of these two things, and I think an open endorsement of Hillary is farther down on that list, as it would earn him contempt and enmity, and I don’t think he would risk that.

        THAT could be interesting, as if Hillary’s toxicity goes deep enough into Democrat voters and the race is fairly evenly split three ways it could put the final result of the election into the hands of the House of Representatives, where every Representative has a single vote. That is what happens if no candidate has a majority of votes cast, and that is where the Republican Party would be in charge, of rounding up its people.

  6. Bob Eisenhower April 3, 2016 / 5:51 pm

    Mark Moser: War is not a New Testament thing. It’s an Old Testament thing. Turning the other cheek simply does not apply.

    Mark Noonan: (silence)

    OK, I’ll say it. A Christian is obligated to Jesus’ way, period. I have no idea your faith Mr. Moser, that isn’t my issue. But I do know the faith of Mr. Noonan and I wonder if he agrees that Jesus’ teachings are to be disregarded in wartime.

    • Amazona April 3, 2016 / 7:49 pm

      I am far from being a Biblical scholar, but I doubt that the Bible, or Jesus, ever instructed people to basically commit suicide by refusing to defend themselves, their families, their nations and/or their faith. Bob, you refer to “Jesus’ teachings”—which do you think contradict the desire to end the slaughter of Christians for their faith, to end the slaughter of other innocents because of the rabid hatred of others committing atrocities in the name of God, to refuse to stand by and let our nation be destroyed?

      Do you believe that Christians are “disregarding” the teachings of Christ when they go to war?

      Let’s step back a little to get a slightly different perspective—-do you think the teachings of Jesus, if followed, would mean we should continue to allow women to be sexually mutilated, that women and girls should be killed in “honor killings”, etc?

      I guess I am confused, as I often am by your posts. Even when I think I might have figured out what you mean, I am often wrong.

      • Bob Eisenhower April 3, 2016 / 8:29 pm

        There are several passages but I’ll go with the obvious, the one used in Mark M.’s quotes line about, if comeone slaps your cheek you are to show them the other cheek that they may slap that.

        The Romans slaughtered more Christians than ISIS. The Christians were not preached to rise against the Romans, but to accept martyrdom. And in doing so they turned public opinion and eventually the Empire itself to their belief system.

        Look, I don’t disagree with Mark M., I’m just surprised it did not get a rebuke from Mark N. Not sure if he agrees with a sentiment that literally says Jesus’ words are not relevant, as war is OT not NT.

        I kinda think Jesus would be a Quaker-type, a conscientious objector to all war regardless the casis belli.

      • M. Noonan April 3, 2016 / 11:21 pm

        Our Lord made no pacifist statements, as far as I can tell – Blessed are the Peacemakers is not an injunction against fighting an enemy. And He spoke in very warm terms about Roman soldiers.

        If someone wishes to strike me on one cheek, I am to turn to him the other…but if someone wishes to strike your cheek, I think my Christian duty is to try and stop it.

      • Amazona April 5, 2016 / 8:54 am

        There is one portrayal of Jesus as, as you say, a Quaker-like pacifist, but there is the Biblical portrayal of Him as rather ferocious, driving the moneylenders out of the temple. The latter tells me that Jesus had a sense of what needed to be corrected and did not hesitate to do what had to be done.

        Jesus was both God and Man, and the God part was responsible for the hardly pacifist Old Testament. Like Father, like Son? As a Man, He had human emotions and a human’s sense of indignation and pursuit of justice.

        My take on it is, when you can you should live a life of peace and love, but when you can’t, because of the misdeeds of others, you do what you have to do to protect yourself, to protect others, to protect innocents, and to defend the Word Of God, which is hardly a Word that endorses mass violence and atrocities in His name.

        You turn the other cheek to an insult, but not to murder, not to genocide, not to the torture of people for their faith, not to pathological violence.

    • M. Noonan April 3, 2016 / 11:24 pm

      Our Lord fulfilled the Law, He did not abolish it.

      I can’t imagine that God wants us to stand aside while others are being brutally treated. To be sure – to prayer; that is always our first recourse. Trust in God – He will make it all right. But the instrument of His choice might be anything…and it might even be us, from time to time.

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