An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Guilty in Defence
"I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur
Till in her ashes she lie buried.
The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
And the fleshed soldier, rough and hard of heart,
In liberty of bloody hand shall range
With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass
Your fresh fair virgins and your flowering infants.
What is it then to me, if impious war
Arrayed in flames like to the prince of fiends
Do with his smirched complexion all fell feats
Enlinked to waste and desolation?
What is't to me, when you yourselves are the cause,
If your pure maidens fall into the hand
Of hot and forcing violation?
. . . why, in a moment look to see
The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;
Your fathers taken by the silver beards,
And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls;
Your naked infants spitted upon pikes
What say you? Will you yield, and this avoid?
Or, guilty in defence, be thus destroyed?"
- Henry V
Thus Henry evokes the spirit of war, including how Christian Just War theory works in practice. Since we, for instance in the case of Iraq or Iran, represent the Christian power threatened by nuclear bomb-toting Muslims, our invasion is actually a work of charity. Despite appearances, they are the guilty party. Therefore the fact that we have wasted the entire infrastructure of the most modern Arab country in the Middle East, killed 1.2 million of their citizens, rammed through laws that guarantee scandalous profits to our oil companies for the next 30 years, and deliberately inflamed and armed Sunni/Shiite death squads, provoking ethnic cleansing and horrific tortures, is all eminently justified. It is justified by the righteousness of our cause while Iraqi guilt is confirmed by their ingratitude for the gift of freedom. Surely we have done enough for them, they now have the duty to reconstruct their own country. We have done all we could.
As a Catholic, I find myself compelled to support the "just war" case famously made by George Weigel before the Iraq invasion, where he stated, "When a regime driven by an aggressive fascist ideology has flouted international law for decades, invaded two of its neighbors, and used weapons of mass destruction against its foreign and domestic enemies; when that regime routinely uses grotesque forms of torture to maintain its power, diverts money from feeding children to enlarging its military, and rigorously controls all political activity so that effective internal resistance to the dictator is impossible; when that kind of a regime expands its stores of chemical and biological weapons and works feverishly to obtain nuclear weapons (defying international legal requirements for its disarmament), tries to gain advanced ballistic missile capability (again in defiance of U.N. demands), and has longstanding links to terrorist organizations (to whom it could transfer weapons of mass destruction) - when all of that has gone on, is going on, and shows no signs of abating, then it seems plausible to me to assert that aggression is underway, from a just war point of view." - George Weigel, "The Just War Case for the War"
As Jesus taught long ago, we become the mirror image of what we hate. The U.S. requires enemies for many reasons, some of them economic, some of them psychological, but the most important of them are related to the fact that creating enemies allows us to turn our gaze away from the mirror in which our own grotesque visage peaks out and cries for vengeance.