Thursday, September 27, 2007

Defenseless Enemies

In a - not terribly well verified - news story running the circuit of mostly conservative blogs, it is claimed that Israel easily breached the radar defenses of Syria and bombed a certain site well inland in that country. The upshot of all of this is that, the story alleges, Syria and Iran are now shaking in their boots as they realise that any sites within their borders can now be attacked at will by Israel and/or the US.

I'm not going to link to the story, but if you want to see it, google 'defenseless enemies are fun'. That's the rather striking line that the story/ essay ends with.

Of course, that is just the sort of rationale that terrorists use, whether in open air markets in Baghdad, buses in Tel Aviv, or airliners over New York. But never mind the likelihood that we are becoming the very thing we allegedly are fighting against.

And never mind that, in the usual process of global escalation, as we constantly militarily up the ante, it will soon be our enemies saying the very things about us: 'defenseless enemies are fun'.

I say never mind that not because those aren't massive problems that even a bit of reflection and prayer might bring to mind, but because they are simply more of the same that we have had through time to this point, only magnified by technology and anxiety. It's just sin, which is banal and unsurprising, if also unacceptable.

But I do wonder what Jesus would make of it.

I seem to recall that he told us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us and do good to those who persecute us. And when he was arrested, subjected to a mock trial, and executed on a cross by his enemies, the enemies of God - that is, by us - he asked his Father to forgive them. And then after he was raised again he didn't return to kick some butt, but instead went to those who abandoned him and sent them to those (others) who killed him, with a message of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Or maybe he would agree that 'defenseless enemies are fun', not because that means you now have untrammelled, irresistable power (unchecked by love or goodness), but rather because it might deliver us from our own obsessive need for defense at any cost, giving us the basis for peaceable Christian witness, and the possibility for forgiveness and reconciliation. After all, the first apostles were sent without weapons, or security of any sort. Even granted the changed cultural situation we live in - heck, maybe because of the changed cultural situation - why should we expect to be any different?

I do wonder, however, to the extent that the attitude in this essay captures the present American spirit, on just what grounds we can maintain the pretense that America is a Christian nation.

Labels: , , , , ,


Blogger Pamela said...

Just an observation, Jason: In this entry you are equating two opposing concepts as one. "Defenseless" used in this article means "undefended"; what was probably a stockpile of weapons was vulnerable to what seems to be a surgical strike. But you would equate that with "unprotected and unarmed"; civilians are killed while engaged in peaceable activities.

Saying that "decisively destroying an aggressive military target is fun" is a far cry from saying that "ambushing unsuspecting civilians, killing and maiming them, is fun".

To say they are the same is a logical fallacy. To claim that we are becoming the very thing we say we fight based on this instance is, therefore, unsubstantiated.

You may not like the crow of victory in this instance, but you might instead blog your thoughts about whether it is proper for a government to preemptively eliminate a threat on its citizens. What is the definition of victory, when is it called for, and when it may be celebrated? Were Jesus' teachings addressed to citizens or governments, or are they judicially and theologically the same thing?

I may end up sharing some of your conclusions. But you won't get me there by equating what may have happened in Syria with that which happens at the hands of the jihadists.

It's nice to read from you, though. Apparently thinking about paint color and trim stain has become mind-numbing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007 8:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Thanks for coming back at me on this.

But your main point (viz. that I've committed a logical fallacy) is wrong, based, I think, on a misreading of the original essay. Here's why:

The last line of the essay reads, referring to Syria and Iran in the two previous sentences, 'Defenseless enemies are fun.' This is not a matter of something nonsentient ('stockpile of weapons', e.g.) being 'undefended', but - to follow the line of argument as it is presented through the essay - nations and people effectively being 'unprotected and unarmed' against incursion from the Israelis, the US, and even, possibly, the French.

The main point of the essay is that the Syrian radar and antiaircraft weapons were completely useless against this deep incursion into Syrian airspace - and so they (and the Iranians, apparently) can be acted on at will. That is the definition of a defenseless enemy, not undefended weaponry.

And just to reinforce the implication of my word choice in the post, I don't mean to equate the exact actions in this case with the exact actions of, say, a suicide bomber, but only their 'rationale' (my word) - that is, the defenselessness of the enemy. The enjoyment of a 'defenseless enemy' because of the power it affords you over them seems to be a problem. But I don't mean to morally equate killing civilians - or even killing military personnel - with destroying something nonsentient. No comparison. Never.

Continued blessings on your remodelling/rehabbing - and thanks for the updates! It's good you're doing it in Chicago and not here; it has been c-c-c-cold (and very damp) and I think would be impossible to work in.

Thursday, September 27, 2007 9:46:00 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

Oh, I wouldn't think you'd equate nonsentient weapons with living people. I should have been clearer. That's not where the difference lies. There are two very important points of distinction between two sets of sentient parties.

One is that there is a legal distinction between the military and a civilian, each with separate rights and duties. The other is that the terrorists attacks out of aggression, and Israel launched a preemptive attack against an aggressive neighbor.

That's why I think it's more to the point to discuss the validity of preemptive action. Perhaps it's not a valid use of military power, that it assumes more emnity than actually exists, or that the enemy actually has the power to do what they'd like to do. So I don't know that preemptive action is valid, but I don't know that it's not. Is preemptive always an incursion? I don't think so, but I'm not sure.

That blogger seems to be itching for a fight, and I won't join him in that, and he doesn't reflect what I understand of the American spirit. But should a sympathizer be denied any joy in finding that the bully of the playground is all fat and no muscle? And that the bully has lost his cool?

If a person pokes fun at the defenseless enemies like Syria, in no way does it mean that he is become the very thing he fights against.

The mind has great potential for great evil, and it can find justification for anything. The enemy may use this situation to justify their twisted version of warfare, but they would be terribly wrong to do so. We must have the clarity of reason to point out their faulty logic, not accomodate it.

Friday, September 28, 2007 7:19:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home