Outgoing (?) U.S. President Donald Trump has recently announced his intention to withdraw most American military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, with an aim to end two wars that have lasted almost twenty years each, cost the United States trillions of dollars, and have led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. Immediately, most of our political leaders from both parties began to screech loudly in protest, likely at the behest of the defense contractors who write their campaign checks. Tell me again the Deep State isn’t real as the anti-war crowd is now pro-war because fighting Muslim farmers in the Middle East is supposedly crucial to our national security.
To be clear, I myself am not a pacifist or anti-war, considering that I served as an Infantry Officer for six years with two combat deployments to Afghanistan. Had I not been wounded myself, I would most likely still be serving in the Army. I loved my time in the service and enjoyed being overseas, despite the obvious risks and evils that can come with war. Ernest Hemingway once wrote that “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.” Maybe I should talk to my pastor or a therapist about how much that quote resonates with me.
Regardless, the Christian perspective on war is a complicated. Countless works have been written on it and church councils have debated it since church councils began debating, which has been a really long time. The Old Testament is practically a history of the Israelites at war and there is no point in the New Testament where Christ or any of the apostles said they had been wrong in their endeavors (which included some borderline genocidal activities). Clearly as Christians we have an updated covenant with God that requires our behavior to model love as opposed to hate, but it’s definitely a stretch to say that all forms of violence are off limits. Saint Peter carried a sword and he clearly wasn’t hesitant to use it, although Jesus did rebuke him after he cut off the soldier’s ear during his arrest.
Obviously, the United States government is not required to dictate it’s foreign policy based on the Bible or Just War Theory, as we are now a secular state that must act in it’s best interest to defend itself from those who would do us harm. But the idea that there is some real danger to America posed by insurgent forces in Iraq or Afghanistan that requires a substantial troop presence is silly. Our military is more than capable of withdrawing conventional troops from much of the world and utilizing our advanced Special Operations capabilities to surgically remove any terrorist threats as necessary. It’s time to stop wasting our blood and treasure and bring our people home.