Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Ethics of War

As our country enters into yet another military conflict, the debate again renews on whether or not such war efforts should be pursued. President Obama indicated in his presentation to the nation that the US was was justified in exercising military force on the moral grounds of protecting the people of this nation from the brutality of its current dictator.  For the church the question has historically centered on the Just War Theory.  Scripture clearly reveals the right of government to use deadly force (Romans 13), but it stops short in defining the precise parameters of that force, especially outside the boarders of the nation itself.  One would hardly object to the need to protect the immediate safety and welfare of ones nation.  However, to what degree is any given nation obligated to protect the safety and welfare of other nations, or to protect the citizens of these nations from their own leaders?  Obama said that a massacre in Libya would have "stained the conscience of the world."  Yet, should then not any unjustified violence against the citizens of the globe likewise affect our collective conscience and spur us into an immediate military response?  Protecting my neighbor is a question that offers an obvious answer.  Such an ethic is at the basis of the second table of the Law.  However, does the second table also inform how a nation should protect the rights of its neighbors throughout the world?  Here we stand on different ground and the answers seem more illusive.  I raise the questions but admit that I don't have firm, well-reasoned answers at this point.  What do you think?

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