Monday, July 11, 2005

Non-violence really an option?

As someone who is still a little rattled by the bombings on Thursday, I wish to pose this question to gurufrisbee, Old Man and others that visit this blog. Is non-violence really an option? The Reverend John Dear, in an article calling most church-goers warmongers, says this,"
How do we stop terrorism? Renounce every trace of violence in your heart and your life. Adopt the wisdom and practice of active nonviolence, as Gandhi and Dr. King taught. Beg the God of peace for the gift of peace. Join your local peace and justice group. Stand up publicly for an end to war. Let your life be disrupted, and take a new, nonviolent risk for disarmament. Create new cells of active nonviolence. Embrace the religious roots of nonviolence. Study and teach the wisdom of nonviolence. Resist your local military and government violence. Stop business as usual, government as usual, media as usual, war as usual and demand peace, justice, and disarmament for the whole world, now. Announce the vision of a new nonviolent world, a disarmed world, a world without war, poverty, injustice or nuclear weapons. Explain how such a world is possible if we give our lives for it, demand it, insist on it, work for it, and begin to live it.

I think that is utter foolishness. I do believe that as Christians we should practice non-violence in our lives, but that the State falls into a different category. It exists to create order and to protect. Sometimes it will need to use violence to reach those ends because evil exists in our world. I will agree that governments, and America in general, defaults to the violent option in any crisis. Yet I don't think that disqualifies violence/war as an option. Let me give two hypothetical, but potentially real world, situations and tell me how anything other than a violent/war-like response is required.

1) In Somalia, where there is no established central government, Al-Qaeda has set up a training base. Intelligence estimates that between 1,000-2,000 terrorists go through there every month. Those terrorists are then returning to their home country, but some are moving into Europe and North America. What other option is there besides blowing the base up and killing everyone there?

2) America has rock-solid intelligence that Osama Bin Laden is in a certain 40 square mile area of northern Pakistan. Pakistan will not let American forces enter their soveriegn territory regardless of the intelligence. They refuse to budge on this and promise a military reprisal if we cross into their land. Assuming our leader truly wanted to apprehend Osama Bin Laden, wouldn't the only appropriate response be to launch an offensive on that 40 square mile area of Pakistan and then, if Pakistan kept its promise, to go to war with Pakistan?

Don't turn this into a discussion about Iraq. I'll concede virtually every point on Iraq. Also, don't make it about logistics and troop strength. These are theoretical and not decisions to be made today. Make this about non-violence. gurufrisbee you are more than welcome to address it on your Wednesday post. I imagine it will take some length to articulate an accurate response.

I used to think that non-violence was the best foreign policy, but these last days have truly shaken that belief. A previously unknown, but increasingly vocal, part of me wants to find the guys that bombed the Underground and kill them mercilessly. Then find whoever helped them financially, spiritually, educationally, etc. and kill them mercilessly. Turning the other cheek doesn't seem like an answer. It seems like a surrender.