Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Comment to:

Moral men and immoral society and the death of bin Laden

[this is a reply to a 12May2011 post by Mackrimin, his/her post is repeated further below]

If we are serious about following Christ, then we have to reconcile the government policies we support with the gospels, and particularly with chapter 5 of Matthew. It is odd that you mention post-war Germany and Japan because it was precisely a sense of love of enemy that was a catalyst to their recovery from devastation -- how else do you make peace? I think most would conclude that the Nazi and Japanese menace had to be confronted with force, and a follower of Christ would confess this path to still be a human failing in terms of what we are called to do. But God does not abandon and opportunities to embrace love of enemy continued to arise and a lasting peace with Germany and Japan was established.

Pope John Paul II watched the slaughter of his people with their armed uprising against the Nazis in 1944 and then fell under the Iron Curtain for 45 years. Under your theory, the West should have confronted the Soviets with force and put nuclear armageddon in play (which JFK actually and perhaps foolishly did with Cuba). But with Poland (under your calculus) the IMPOSSIBLE happened: a bloodless defeat of the entire Soviet Union was accomplished through a focused commitment to non-violent confrontation forged over 45 years of many evils endured.

The kill squad hit on Bin Laden and his companions was a shocking lost opportunity to begin closing the book on the War on Terror and to show America as a powerful country able to restrain its vengeance in order to embody how supremely important life is. Bin Laden should have been taken alive at all costs. This is not because Bin Laden deserved it, this is because a super-power can rise above the values of its enemies and prove it stands for something better.

Otherwise, for me, being a German, I have no argument. I have only the

most primitive of arguments and that is that a state under no

circumstances must be entitled to kill anyone off, for any reason,

period. You had tens of thousands of cases of capital punishment under

the Nazis, you had a systematic program for exterminating

schizophrenics in the euthanasia program, and you had a

state-sponsored, organized, monumental crime in the Holocaust, killing

6 million people. Language doesn't have an adequate word to describe

this monstrosity. For me, there's no debate. However, America has not

had this experience. And I'm a guest in your country. If I were a

voting citizen, I probably would have a more combative attitude.

Yes... And if that fine principle had been followed, then Nazis had won World War 2. After all, they were stopped by various states _killing_ enough of them that the rest surrendered. The Holocaust was not stopped by moral arguments or love, it was stopped by indiscriminate use of even more brutal violence against the perpetrators. And the Japanese Empire - which was every bit as nasty bunch of murderous thugs as the Nazis, which nobody seems to care of, presumably because their victims were Asians rather than Europeans - was finally forced to surrender through nuclear war.

And it worked: both Germany and Japan are peaceful and productive nowadays. As your quote shows, they have been conditioned to associate reverting back to type with an epic asskicking. That's why we have Germany and Japan rather than Nazi Germany and Japanese Empire nowadays.

Nonviolence worked for Gandhi because the British were decent people who didn't just kill him. The Jews also tried it, and were murdered, for the Nazis were not decent people. There's a lesson there.

Mind you, killing _is_ an extreme method only justified in extreme circumstances, and Osama's execution may or may not have been one - we don't have enough information to judge. However, the claim that the state can never do so in _any_ circumstances is absurd. States exist, first and foremost, to protect their members, and sometimes that means killing evildoers. To deny them the right to do so in any circumstances means sacrificing an unlimited number of your fellow citizens at the altar of
your principles - and then what's the difference between you and Osama?]

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