Thursday 25 February 2010

Afghanistan: "Just War?"

Read the following for insightful succinct commentary on a 6-point analysis of President Obama's "application" of the Just War theory - by Daniel C. Maguire, a Professor of Moral Theological Ethics at Marquette University.

And is Australia, led by the Rudd government, blindly following-on with this Bush/Obama strategy??!!


The Institute for Public Accuracy posted, on 17 Dec. 2009, these comments by Executive Director of the National Priorities Project, Jo Comerford

Maguire is professor of moral theological ethics at Marquette University and is the author of The Horrors We Bless: Rethinking the Just-War Legacy.

He recently wrote that in Obama's Nobel Prize address the president "hoisted his petard on the classical 'just war theory,' a theory that, properly understood, condemns his decision to send yet more kill-power intoAfghanistan. This theory, which is much misused and little understood, is designed to build a wall of assumptions against state-sponsored violence, i.e. war. It puts the burden of proof on the warrior where it belongs. It gives six conditions necessary to justify a war. Fail one, and the war is immoral."

See Maguire's analysis of the six conditions here, online.

[Also noted by The Institute for Public Accuracy: Jo Comerford, Executive Director of the National Priorities Project, just wrote the piece "$57,077.60: Surging by the Minute" which states: "We could have dedicated that $30 billion (of escalation costs) to job creation. According to a recent report issued by the Political Economy Research Institute, that sum could generate a whopping 537,810 construction jobs or 541,080 positions in healthcare, or fund 742,740 teachers or employ 831,390 mass transit workers...."

In Afghan terms, our upcoming single year of war costs represents nearly five times that country's gross domestic product or $3,623.70 for every Afghan woman, man, and child.

The UN estimates Afghanistan's own 2008 per capita GDP at $466, the CIA at $800.]


Reviews on Maguire:

"The Horrors We Bless: Rethinking the Just-War Legacy"
By Betty Brown Hale (North Carolina, U.S.)

Daniel Maguire, Professor of Moral Theological Ethics at Marquette University, aims "to challenge the seductive power of war that so grips and hobbles our imaginations." A major cause, he argues, is "Just-war" Theory. Its original purpose -- to limit, control, and even avoid warfare -- now is commonly subverted to justify and "baptize" it. The burden of proof intended to rest upon the warrior now rests upon the conscientious objector.

Maguire has the gift of truth-telling in such a way that you can see. Noting how we have sanitized the idea of war, Maguire observes: "War can even be a form of armchair spectator entertainment. It is acceptable for people to become 'Civil War buffs,' or 'Revolutionary War buffs.' If people were to announce themselves as 'prostitution buffs' or 'necrophilia buffs,' their perverted absorption in such human disasters would raise eyebrows."

Rightly used, Just-war theory would insist that international force be deployed only "in a community context with legal and internationally enforceable restrictions comparable to the restraints we put upon our police. "

Maguire has hope: "It is in us to outgrow war. The formula is easy enough: put your main trust in justice, not weapons, trust life-power more than kill-power, specialize in diplomacy and imagination, not bludgeoning." Grounds for hope abound: "Military power, even 'superpower' military power, is being embarrassed [by its failure to assure peace], and examples of successful nonviolent modes of resistance are multiplying."

Maguire calls us to "the hard work of prophetic citizenry," particularly during times like post-9/11, when "a White House spokesman noted that the president 'considers any opposition to his policies to be no less than an act of treason.' "

Excellent for study groups: a good read, thoroughly documented in history and scriptures, inexpensive, and concise -- eighty-nine 4 x 7-inch packed and provocative pages.


Un-justifying the Just-War Theory, October 29, 2007
By Joshua Christofferson (San Diego, CA United States)

This book is very small and short (89 pgs), but that's all it needs to be. Daniel C. Maguire does a great job of outlining the hypocrisy of our modern, Western-world view of Just-war. While Maguire brings up the fact that early Christians were entirely pacifist, the book is less about religion, and more about the logic behind Just-war theory. And he's not advocating extreme pacifism at all costs. On the contrary, he is entirely behind the notion of defensive force...but only by strict criteria:

Criterion 1. Just Cause: "The only just cause is defense against unjustattack."

Criterion 2. Declaration by Competent Authority: Declaration of war can only be administered by a democratically elected body of government (i.e.Congress). "Police" actions dictated by the President alone is not Competent Authority because it may not truly represent the will of the people and is seldom up for debate.

Criterion 3. Right Intention: "Right intention: insists that the "just cause"you allege for going to war is really why you are going to war. In other words, the just cause must truly be just and not just a mask for oil or conquering.

Criterion 4. The Principle of Discrimination and Noncombatant Immunity: essentially this means - you cannot intentionally target civilians in war. In the modern era, however, this is very difficult since terrorists/guerillas are merged within the population. Therefore, if you cannot conduct war against terrorists/guerillas without killing civilians, then your war does NOT fit this criterion and must be abandoned.

Criterion 5. Last Resort: War must be a last resort. However, the US "defense" budget is the largest funded budget we have. Our wallet tells us our hearts go to war before any other options first.

Criterion 6. The Principle of Proportionality: The violence of war must do more good than harm. But as weapons grow in power, this option is becoming less and less viable.

In summary, Maguire points out the curious role our Western world is in: when going to war, why is the burden of proof on the pacifist when the burden of proof should be on the ones calling for war? In other words, why are the hawks given plenty of room to rally the country for their cause when the doves are silenced and looked down upon? Shouldn't this be the other way around? Shouldn't the hawks always be the minority and have the burden of proof to go to war entirely on their shoulders? Why must the doves fight so hard to stop the war machine when war should always be the final option?


Read Maguire's article online here. It couldn't be more succinct, yet quite profound!

Thursday 11 February 2010

Digging into my Hochstetler family origins - and some very dramatic history!

It might interest you to know that I'm a 9th generation direct descendant of Jacob Hochstetler, who came to America by ship in 1738 at the age of 26 (my daughter's current age) settling near Reading, PA. He became one of the leaders of one of the earliest (if not THE earliest) Amish Mennonite settlements in "the new world." However, in 1757 a family tragedy unfolded as a result of sticking to strong religious convictions about non-violence, and never killing someone - even if they wanted to attack your family - though Jacob's sons were expert hunters and marksmen.

Do check out "The Massacre" link - the fifth one down on this
Hochstetler Family Association website to absorb this dramatic story which has played a major role in shaping my family's ethos and theology. Had Jacob and his sons not escaped his arduous and long captivity among the Indians I would not be here today! I remember how this story was put into a very powerful drama which ran for quite a while a few decades ago at a playhouse in Lancaster PA with the title "Joseph, Put Your Gun Down!"

Here is a very interesting map of my ancestor Jacob's
probable route and significant experiences throughout his captivity in 1757-58.

...and I found this little collection of rather dated movies, but posted now on
YouTube, which were originally taken at and around the original site of the Jacob Hochstetler homestead very close to what is known today as Roadside America at Shartlesville, PA.

The Hochstetler Family Association site and its plethora of links enabled me to study up today on the most recent information regarding my ancestor's own probable European origins (in the Palatinate region near the French-German border) before he emigrated with family to America. However, I have known about - and there still remains - a bit of mystery as there are some significant gaps in the details. Probably always will because literally hundreds of Hochstetler geneologists abound - many of whom have already spent considerable time and energy seeking to address these questions over recent decades. For a great summary of the key issues behind all the puzzlement, one can digest these two brief articles
here and here by Virgil Miller.

To spur
some more reflection and possible conversation, here is one scenario a relative painted regarding what it might be like if that massacre had occurred in contemporary society in America!

Since many people in Australia who find out I'm associated with Mennonites ask this, I'll clarify now that I didn't grow up in an Amish family. However I did grow up bilingual - speaking "Pennsylvania Dutch" as well as English with my Amish friends and neighbors in northern Indiana. Today I joined the FaceBook group "I'm not Amish but can still speak Dutch" so that I can keep working on recovering what I've lost along the way!

(And no, not all Hochstetler's are Mennonites, although I suppose most of them were up until a couple of generations ago. Today there is no way to count them all but estimates range between 500,000 to a million people with Jacob Hochstetler DNA in our bodies throughout North America and the rest of the world to we all have scattered.)

-Clair in Canberra

Monday 1 February 2010