Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Supporting the Troops (Just War Style)

I was flipping around on the TV last night and came across one of the Christian channels. The talk show on at the moment was featuring an interview with Sen. John McCain, so my wife and I tuned in for a few moments.

One of the things that he and the interviewer (and the audience, apparently) were in agreement about was that neither could understand how you could call the cause of the war in Iraq unjust and still support the troops. This immediately made me wonder: is he saying that even if the war were unjust that we could not say so? Or that an unjust war is not possible given our duty to support the troops?

It must have strongly to do with the time that I was born, but I imagine that many in my generation have a different emphasis when it comes to "supporting the troops." Men and women who are willing to go to war -- to fight and to die -- for this country have a special place in my thoughts and my heart. They are, quite literally, heroes. The same goes for firefighters and all others go above and beyond to do the things that must be done in the defense of life and liberty. But for many people, the duty to support the troops goes beyond this -- it is almost a bit of divine law; a piece of the cultural code that cannot, for any reason, be broken or even seem to be broken.

It is obvious that any President is fallible, and obvious that not all wars are just. So then, if we find ourselves in an unjust war, should we not speak out against it? Can we not call real what is real? Or is our only role to support the troops and vote "the other way" next election?

To say that you honor and support our troops for the sacrifice they make is valid. To say that a war is unjust is also valid. Both can be statements of fact. I suspect that it is more the fickle, divisive, doomsday-predicting nature of pop-protesters that is more at the root of this problem -- people who, in reality, don't like the President and don't need much to ignore his orders. What McCain and others are most frustrating about (WARNING: this is just a guess -- I can't read hearts) is the individualistic tendency of Americans to all want to be little presidents and little popes -- everyone wants to decide what's right and wrong and we want everyone to know. That's why we all have blogs. Like this one. (Ignore my own hypocrisy)

What we need from more protesters is the clear restatement that a President's orders matter and should, in most every case, be followed (or at least tolerated). Sean Gallagher (a reporter for The Criterion and poster on this blog) reminds me as well that oftentimes we don't know all that goes into a President's decision until some time after the fact.

While troops must follow God first, it is the President who orders the use of force and who answers to God for it. It is a soldiers duty to follow orders unless those orders clearly and grossly violate the duty to faithful serve God and neighbor. Therefore, our troops are in Iraq doing their duty while protesters back home do there's by calling the President to reconsider his strategy.

Support the troops? Absolutely. Question the war? Sure -- but it should be done carefully, cautiously, and with every measure of intelligent, civil discourse possible.

1 comment:

Zimri said...

Well written article.