What is war? Carl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz, the renowned German military theorist, wrote in his now famous book “On War” that “war is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale…Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: his first object is to throw his adversary, and thus to render him incapable of further resistance (Clausewitz, 1873).
War has been and always will be violent. The book of Joshua is filled with accounts of destructive wars carried out by the nation of Israel. In Joshua 8:1-34 the author describes the battle to defeat King Ai. God orders Joshua to take siege of Ai because of their sin and destroy the town with fire. Verse 7-8 reads, “You will jump up from your ambush and take possession of the town, for the Lord your God will give it to you. Set the town on fire, as the Lord commanded. You have your orders (NLT Bible, Joshua 8:7-8).” The book of Revelation gives a more gruesome account of what war will look like at Jesus’ second coming. “The armies of Heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great (NLT Bible, Revelation 19:14-15 & 17-18).”
War is a terrible thing. As Christians we should attempt to avoid it at all cost. Diplomacy and reason with opposing forces should always be the first option. However, the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote there is “a time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace (NLT Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:8).” Al Qaeda’s attack on America on September 11, 2001 represented a time for a just war. The question today is does it remain a just war?
Janie wrote a very insightful piece today on her blog that I strongly encourage you to read. I think she needs to submit this one to The State newspaper, The New York Times and the Washington Post.
I want to share with you a paper I wrote this summer about the war in Afghanistan. It’s a 2,770 word essay on the justness of this war through the lens of a principled pluralist point of view. I will divide the paper up into seven segments. I hope you enjoy my perspective on the war in Afghanistan.
The War in Afghanistan: A Just War
by CPT Chris G. Neeley
The United States of America, beginning with the American Revolution, has been involved in hundreds of wars since its founding 234 years ago. Today the United States remains locked in two wars, an ongoing conflict in Iraq and a nine-year war in Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan was the first and longest of the two wars. In fact, Operation Enduring Freedom is the longest active war in United States history.
The war in Afghanistan began on September 14, 2001 when Congress authorized the President of the United States, George W. Bush, to pursue and destroy the perpetrators of September 11th. Eighty-two percent of the American public supported a strategy that involved a quick offensive to take down the oppressive regime of the Taliban and destroy the terrorist group Al Qaeda that planned and carried out the attacks of September 11 (USA Today, 2009). The strategy appeared to work. In less than three months the Taliban regime in Kabul was removed from power, Al Qaeda training camps were destroyed and its operatives were either killed or escaped to Pakistan. The coalition consisting of the United States, Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance and the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) appeared to prevail.
However, after nine years of war and little progress, the American public’s support for the war has steadily decreased. According to a new CBS News poll “Sixty-two percent of Americans say the war is going badly and fifty-four percent say the United States needs to pull out (CBS News, 2010).” The cry for pulling out of Afghanistan comes from all ideological sectors of American society. The chorus of naysayers is at an all-time high. But America can’t abandon the innocent people of Afghanistan. The United States and the international community have a moral, ethical, political and theological obligation to secure and protect the Afghan people. If America pulls out, the Taliban will move back in. And if they do, they will strike with vengeance on the innocent people of Afghanistan.
The war in Afghanistan is nothing new to man. Man has been at war with each other since the Fall of Adam. The first war, a battle between two brothers (Cain and Abel) has been followed by centuries upon centuries of warfare, bloodshed and death. The wars of the world represent the dark side of man. War is a constant reminder of the fallible nature of man and sin (Romans 3:10-18). However, war is sometimes necessary and just. A biblical and Christian worldview examination of the war in Afghanistan viewed through the lens of the principled pluralist perspective will clearly show that the war in Afghanistan is just. It will dictate that America and the world cannot turn its backs on the people of Afghanistan.
When I was a teenager I had a pet bird named Birdie. I know, a real original name! Birdie was a parakeet that my late grandfather Papa gave me. I had Birdie for several years. I even took him to college my freshman year. The other day I came across a young Afghan boy holding a baby sparrow on his finger. The boy let me hold his little pet. I used to hold Birdie the same way. I promise I’m not about to kiss the bird. I was whistling to it!
Lately I’ve become worn-out and tired. My long days and nights are beginning to wear me down. I need a break! For almost eight months I’ve worked without taking a day off. It’s a bad habit of mine. I’m a workaholic. Today while we were out on a mission I ran across these very happy children. They lifted my spirits and brightened my day. They are a reminder of why I’m in this dangerous and scary place. They keep me going.
Let me explain this picture. The building in the picture is one of the older classrooms at one of the schools where we work. Up on the roof are two beds with bed rolls. These two beds are for the watchmen who guard the school both night and day. I can’t imagine having a roof top as my home. Can you?
Recently an American Forces Network Afghanistan reporter embedded with our Civil Military Operations (CMO) team as we visited schools in Kabul Province. It’s a pretty neat clip. I invite you to watch it by clicking here. As always, I look forward to your comments!