Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Middle East: 4, Supplemental

Today remains Tuesday, 8 August 2006.

A comment (following) posted by “John McKenna” (to whom thanks) to today’s column deserves thoughtful consideration and response, hence this supplement.

“Proportionality can also be viewed as "Does your suffering outweigh my suffering?" If yes, the war is just. If no, the war is unjust until I make you suffer more.”

An interesting approach to proportionality, ‘though I confess I don’t know what to make of it. In the just war tradition, which originated among Christian theologians hundreds of years ago, “proportionality” means strictly, does the benefit to humanity of a particular war (not just to one belligerent) outweigh the suffering and damage inflicted upon all concerned? If benefit outweighs suffering, it is just. If not, it is unjust.

This approach derives from such Biblical passages as “an eye for an eye”, meaning that the limit of violence which the one who loses an eye can inflict in retribution is to put out an eye --- one cannot take a life in exchange for an eye. Such passages don’t mean one must take an eye; it means one can only exact retribution in exact proportion to the damage suffered.

“This is an interesting take on supposed-support of Israel - that it must exist and be a firm entity so God can wipe it (and all Jews) out on Judgment Day. I have yet to hear that as a reason for supporting either side of this conflict. Again, I say, interesting take on it.”

I am only referring here to the support for the State of Israel by certain conservative/evangelical types (J. Falwell and P. Robertson come to mind), whose theology holds that certain things must come to pass before the so-called “Second Coming” of Jesus.

One of those preconditions is the re-establishment of Israel in the Holy Land. Of course, what possible relation the modern State of Israel could have to the Israeli Kingdom which existed before the Roman occupation … your guess is as good as mine. If you want to hear that as a reason for supporting the modern State of Israel, tune into The 700 Club or its ilk.

“Your point for this whole post is what? Why even discuss/debate the topic of war theory? There is no logic to any of it. You are wringing your hands about war, which is probably one of man's earliest "activities." Boo, hoo. Get over it.”

Part of the point would be that this war is a tragedy for all concerned: for the Israeli and Lebanese civilians being slaughtered, for the Israeli and Hezbollah combatants dying for folly, and so on.

There is much logic to just war theory, to which I emphatically do not ascribe: the logic is to justify murder. I prefer St. Cyprian: “When a man kills for his own interests, it is called “murder”. When a man kills for the interests of The State, it is called “glory”."

Certainly, war is one of humanity’s earliest activities. But then, so is rape. Shall we say to victims of rape, “Boo, hoo; get over it”? But then, so is child molestation. Shall we say to those victims, “Boo, hoo; get over it”? I’m sure that’s not how Mr. McKenna thinks, but it seems to me his logic leads there. The entire “argument from inevitability” is a craven cop-out.

I should prefer we wring our hands, than wring one another’s necks.

Good night, and good luck.


Anonymous John McKenna said...

Agreed, that war is a tragedy for all concerned. My thoughts are that it would take some major Devine intervention for any side (no matter what war you name) to really see the folly of their ways. We humans have small minds and think in small ways. Yes, even war is small when compared to all of creation. My view is that war is a tool by which the Supreme Being is testing/enlightening us. Obviously, we are not too far along in the learning process.

Unfortuneately, rape and child molestation are products of the Supreme Being's gift of "free will." This does not infer that the Supreme Being made an error in giving us free will. Likewise, this does not condone the acts nor does it mean that we should ignore them nor try to prevent them.

Yes, you are right, it is better that we wring our hands rather than wring each other's necks. That would indicate that we have begun on the long path to conquering the multitude of elements that cause war.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous 1 said...


11:43 AM  
Blogger HH said...

And some think your author is too-frequently and needlessly cryptic and obscure.

Anyone care to let me in on the joke?

A Three Dog Night reference, perhaps?

12:32 PM  

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