US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Georgia, no peace I've found

By Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
blog Justice

It's a difficult spectacle to watch, the U.S. President gamely attempting to scold the Soviets, I mean, the Russians, for violating a neighboring nation's sovereignty with an unwarranted military invasion. But if the Prez can keep a straight face . . .

What's happening to civilians in South Ossetia and Georgia continues 20th century style total war-making. The resulting carnage has been appalling on both sides, but particularly the
indiscriminate use of overwhelming force by the Russian military. The U.S. and surrogates like the
Israelis have done the same, however--too frequently--and are on pretty
shaky ethical ground in calling for restraint. I am the father of four
and firmly opposed to the use of force when it is likely to engender
what we describe, in the finest of Orwellian double-talk, as collateral
damage. I have seen too many images of dead children pulled from the rubble
(in Iraq, Gaza, etc) to believe this kind of force level is ever
justified, even when going for a so-called high value target as we have
done frequently with air power in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The murder of civilians by hi-tech, professional infantry should be
completely unacceptable in the 21st Century, yet we continue to
tolerate it as a regrettable if inevitable by-product of combat. But it is not inevitable; restraint is always an option. We seem to pull the trigger (whether on a handgun or an air force bomber or missile-toting drone) and ask questions later, hoping that a good outcome will appear when the dust settles. This preferential option for violence not only leads to greater slaughter of noncombatants, but only nurtures the seedbed of future violence which will eventually endanger our trroops and our civilian populations.

You may have already guessed that I am
ultimately a pacifist and you would be more or less correct in that assessment, however, even accepting that some level of military conflict will persist into this new century, I think the world would make a great stride toward
something approaching true civilization (and to diminishing the
treadmill of recrimination we seem trapped within) if the community of
nations would recommit itself to something as simple as the jus in
bello (just war) principle of civilian immunity.

And this father would sleep more peacefully in his safe American home warmed by the thought that other fathers in the more hazardous neighborhoods of the world might be able to do the same.