It appears that the recent U. S. involvement in Libya ended almost as abruptly as it began. For this I am frankly grateful.
Confusion about our involvement in Libya reigns since it is very hard to know exactly what our strategy really was in this conflict. A March 29 Gallup Poll said 75% of Americans supported some U.S. military involvement in Libya. Frankly, that number surprised me.
What’s a Christian, who believes that there is such a thing as “just war,” to make of this recent engagement? Shouldn’t we at least have a conversation unless we have accepted the premise that our leaders can take us into any war they want and we should never ask hard questions?
One of the traditional requirements for a “just war” is that the war can be legitimately waged only if there is a reasonable hope of success. As an example, a war fought with an overwhelmingly more powerful opponent would have little chance for success and thus would not qualify as a “just war.” But another reason for questioning the justice of a war is whether or not there is a clearly defined mission and purpose. So far as I can tell there was none offered for our recent military engagement in Libya. If there is no clearly defined mission and purpose for using our military then how would we know if we won? A poorly defined war is, by definition, unjust. I believe many of our recent American wars have not been clearly defined. And it seems that even when some wars have been defined both the Congress and the people have not been told the real truth about the war’s purpose.
Based on this argument alone, and I could site several more, I have strong misgivings about waging war in (or over) Libya. I admit I detest the present ruler in Libya but are we, the United States, obliged to use force to defeat him? I wonder how many members of your church endorsed this war before they even had a clue as to what it was really about? I am shocked at how quickly so many Christians rush to embrace a war as just when the end is extremely questionable. Our sense of empire in the world needs to be regularly challenged on the basis of what an appropriate moral response actually entails. It is one thing to pray for our soldiers, which I do faithfully, and quite another to approve our leaders use of military force in unjust conflicts. If Christians will not raise such objections then where will the conscience of the nation be found in the future?
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