Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Election 08 - Planes, Tanks, and Bombs
This is shaping up to one doozy of an election. Folks in Maine braved all kinds of wonderful winter weather to cast their vote. Voters in VA were so fired up that many of them showed up last Tuesday to participate in their primary.
Among the issues that concern those who’ve voted or are considering their vote is the continuing war in Iraq. I’m pretty sure that most of you have already decided where you are on the war. And though I’ve given it some thought this may be the first time I’ve actually written on the subject.
For me the issue isn’t confined to where I stand on the war as much as how do I view the use of military power. The U.S. began the conquest of Iraq as a pre-emptive strike against what we thought was an imminent military threat. We were told that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that could be used against the U.S. or U.S. interest in fairly short order. We were also told that America would be safer once Saddam Hussein was removed from power. It turns out that we were wrong. There were no weapons of mass destruction and though Saddam has been removed, tried and executed we’re now told that we must remain in Iraq to battle Al-Qaeda who presumably wasn’t entrenched in Iraq until after the war. From where we sit now it seems that we’re between a rock and a hard place. Some say we must stay the course, root out all the terrorist and achieve victory. Others believe that a definite withdrawal from Iraq is the best course of action. In my view there is no easy way out which is why I’m keenly interested in the next president’s view on the use of military power.
For the last several decades America pursued a policy of having a strong military to counter any potential threat from the old Soviet Union. Our military strategy was based on matching land, air and sea power in sufficient strength so as to counter any advance by the enemy. However at this time I don’t think this strategy is wise in the battle against terrorism. We’ve already seen that an easy conquest of an enemy country isn’t the same as victory, nor does it guarantee instant safety. In all the talk about the surge, timetables, staying the course etc. one thing we haven’t done is have an honest evaluation of our current doctrine regarding combating terrorism and the most prudent use of the military in this conflict. It’s not enough for us to think that the surge worked and now all we have to do is wait another few years for the Iraqis to construct a cohesive government so that we can finally go home. Failure to thoroughly examine the mindset that led us into war may be one of the surest signs that in the not too distant future we’ll embark on the same course of action with the same flawed reasoning and end up with the same distressing results.
As a citizen I’m against the belief that America needs to increase the military and prepare for extended deployments around the world. As I said before it doesn’t appear that a huge, overpowering military is the safest bet against terrorism. We may need to develop a long term plan that focuses on digging up the roots of terror so that it ceases to be a significant factor in our way of life. Of course that may mean re-examining some of the sacred cows that make up our way of life. Some will strongly disagree with this and charge that we are at war with terrorist. Okay, so we’re at war. What’s the best way to win it? Perhaps I’m wrong and we should engage in a multi-year military build up. Shouldn’t we at least do a complete and thorough examination of all factors involved before making such a move? And should we choose such a course of action what’s that mean for our foreign policy for the next decade and the one after that and the one after that?
As a citizen I don’t think the nation can afford another military build-up and at the same time keep pace with the growing economies of China, India and other developing nations. And even if we could I don’t think it’s prudent to sink the amount of money it would take to do so. If the next president insists on having the ‘strongest most well equipped’ military on the planet then he or she should at least tell the American people that such a force would cost in excess of a trillion dollars. And I for one think that this nation could invest that money elsewhere.
Finally as a believer in Christ and thus one committed to the preservation and building up of all life created in Him image I feel it’s part of my responsibility to refrain from beating the drums of war too loudly or eagerly. War costs lives. And having the most powerful and advanced military in the world can too easily cloud our vision regarding the toll that war will take on those we invade. As believers I’m very concerned that evangelicals seemed just a tad bit too willing to jump on the shock and awe bandwagon without taking stock of the very real lives this action would take. Does that mean that we never go to war? Not necessarily. It does mean that we who hold life to be most precious must not be too eager to encourage our government to prosecute a war that will no doubt result in the loss of life for thousands or even tens of thousands of people. As believers in Christ who also happen by His providence to be Americans we must extend the scope of morality to include the rightness or wrongness of using military power. If we are to have a voice let’s make sure that voice is one of temperance in the use of force before we launch into the fog of war.
To Him Who Loves Us…