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War Is Real-World Necessity

I recognize there are significant costs to my belief that war is sometimes necessary. I am a son who remembers his Marine Corps father fighting in Vietnam, a friend who remembers his college roommate fighting in the 1991 Gulf War, and a Christian who grew up in Southern Baptist churches with soldiers who trained for war. I am currently praying for a dear alumna's husband fighting in Baghdad. Contemplating the intersection of war and faith is no mere academic exercise for me.

The Old Testament describes God calling His people to fight for righteousness. Sometimes that call led the ancient Hebrews to a military campaign for right reasons and just causes. I believe in Just War theory and think there are occasions where war is justified.
The very Sunday I baptized my youngest daughter in our faith was the same day American and allied forces invaded Afghanistan. This military intervention was just. The Taliban government harbored terrorists who attacked the United States, and refused to turn them over to us for justice. It was probable this enemy would attack again. After diplomacy failed to establish justice, in my eyes it was permissible to remove the enemy from his stronghold, and if that meant destroying his protector, then so be it. That act of removal would prevent the enemy from future attacks on Americans and non-Americans, and was an act of justice.

In some measure the campaign in Afghanistan has been a success. Terrorists no longer operate there with freedom and governmental support to plan more attacks across the world. American military intervention has altered the course of terrorist activity in this place, and saved lives around the globe.

 The war in Iraq has been more challenging to contemplate. From a human-rights perspective the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. He committed genocide against the Kurds and oppressed his own people in horrific ways. The Iraqi people should be grateful for the end of those dark days. Yet the United States has not conducted its ongoing fight against terrorism there without blemish or stain. Some of our leaders and personnel have acted dishonorably and without regard for humane conventions in conducting warfare. The same faith that leads me to believe in Just War calls me to condemn the immoral actions at Abu Ghraib.

The Bible calls us to pray for peace, and I do. I pray for wisdom for our leaders and for God's peace to break out around the world. At the same time, I firmly believe peace will escape us all until Christ returns in the Second Coming. Until that day it will sometimes be necessary to use force in accomplishing ends that are just.

Ingram is a professor of communication studies and associate dean for faculty development at Whitworth.

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