Soleimani, the US, and just war

"Over the centuries, Christian thinkers from Augustine to Aquinas to the Reformers—seeking to reconcile Christian teaching on the sanctity of human life with the Christian responsibility to love our neighbors by protecting them from evil—have proposed a set of conditions by which a violent act can be considered justified." - Christian Post

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Gene Veith

The question is not whether or not he deserved it.  He surely did.  But Soleimani was the representative of an entire nation and was acting on its behalf.  Despite our decades-long conflicts with Iran, we are not in a formal state of  war with Iran.  That may change, if Iran declares war on us, and though commanders-in-chief have a great deal of latitude in what they may do to defend the United States–including sometimes acting against undeclared enemies–to assassinate an important government official has much bigger ramifications than killing an Osama bin Laden.

josh p's picture

Great quote Aaron thanks. I’m grieved at the hoorahing I am hearing from many Christians on this issue. Christians of all people should be concerned about an overzealous war policy. Just war doesn’t include things like this in my opinion. If another nation (who we were not at war with) blew up one of our generals we would unleash a firestorm on them.

Bert Perry's picture

Folks, yes, the Iranians were taking this badly, but let's be honest here; this is a guy who was leading combat operations in a war zone, responsible for hundreds of U.S. fatalities (thousands of injuries) and tens of thousands of fatalities among Iraqis and Syrians, and every least injury and fatality that occurred under his direction was a war crime.  

If U.S. forces were allowed to kill his minions in Iraq and Syria (and they are), I don't see any reason that he should have been off limits.  And quite frankly, maybe if it starts to be the generals who do the dying instead of the privates and sergeants, maybe we'll have less of this nonsense.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

WallyMorris's picture

I keep reading quotes that "we are not at war with Iran." Formal declaration from Congress? No. But Iran is at war with the U.S., Israel, and several other nations. They have specifically said so many times. Politics and inter-nation relations are more complex, subtle, and deceptive than some perhaps realize. If you wait until they attack the White House before you do anything, you've waited too long. The Iranians are very good at manipulation and deception. The ancient Persians were also. The Iranian leaders use proxies in order to have denialibility. For my political science degree, I participated in two gaming scenarios over several weeks. Deception is the rule. Sometimes Christians are naive about the complexity and deception of nation-states.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

josh p's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

I keep reading quotes that "we are not at war with Iran." Formal declaration from Congress? No. But Iran is at war with the U.S., Israel, and several other nations. They have specifically said so many times. Politics and inter-nation relations are more complex, subtle, and deceptive than some perhaps realize. If you wait until they attack the White House before you do anything, you've waited too long. The Iranians are very good at manipulation and deception. The ancient Persians were also. The Iranian leaders use proxies in order to have denialibility. For my political science degree, I participated in two gaming scenarios over several weeks. Deception is the rule. Sometimes Christians are naive about the complexity and deception of nation-states.

 

Not sure what ancient Persians have to do with anything unless you are claiming deception is part of their ethnicity. Also, speaking only for myself, this really isn't all that complex. The constitution is pretty clear. 

WallyMorris's picture

Modern Iranians are the present descendants of the ancient Persians. The ancient Persians were masters of politics and deception. As far as the Constitution being clear on this issue: if the Constitution were clear, we wouldn't have nearly as much debate about "war powers".

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Darrell Post's picture

...the question is magnificently simple

1. If you like Trump, it was the right call.

2. If you don't like Trump, it was the wrong call.

Obama acted to take out similar enemies, and whether it was right or wrong, some of the people who said it was right under Obama are now coming out and saying its wrong. The only difference is the R or D after the name of the POTUS.

Bert Perry's picture

Substitute other ethnic or racial groups for "Persians" and see if you think that would fly.  Reality is that diplomacy in all nations is really a matter of saying "nice doggie" while you fetch a stick, involving a fair amount of deception, and that only gets worse when you decide that intentionally killing noncombatants is part of your schtick--e.g. terrorism.  We don't need to plot things out by racial and ethnic groups (or religious) when a group has already decided this.

Regarding the Constitution, agreed this is a little murky, but what I'd say is that Trump (and Obama and Bush before him) were basically operating under "letters of marque and reprisal" under the War Powers Act.  It would be nice if it were cleaner, but ever since the UN was founded, you've got a situation where as soon as you declare war, the entire General Council condemns you.  It's a strange mix of governing laws.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

WallyMorris's picture

Perhaps some need to brush up on their ancient Middle Eastern history. The Persians were masters at politics and deception - that statement has nothing to do with race or ethnic background. Just basic historical fact. Of course diplomacy contains a degree of "deception" or "sleight of hand". But some are better at it than others.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Bert Perry's picture

No history lessons needed, Wally.  It's rather a simple reality that you're going to find the same arguments made about most every nationality/tribe that's become the "big dog" in their region/continent/world for some time, so it simultaneously does not differentiate the Persians from any meaningful way from others (even if true) while earning a one finger salute from Persians.  

Besides, the last actual Persian empire ended in the 7th century A.D.  I think it's safe to say that whatever the ancient Persians knew and practiced has been pretty much forgotten by now. How can we prove that?  Simple; pretty much every intelligence service in the civilized world, from the CIA to M16 to Mossad, agrees that the Iranians fund a vast terror network, and will point to top Iranian officials stating in public that they're doing so.  

"Masters of deception"?  Hardly.  More like "thugs sitting on a giant barrel of oil right by the Straits of Hormuz."  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

Darrell Post wrote:

...the question is magnificently simple

1. If you like Trump, it was the right call.

2. If you don't like Trump, it was the wrong call.

Obama acted to take out similar enemies, and whether it was right or wrong, some of the people who said it was right under Obama are now coming out and saying its wrong. The only difference is the R or D after the name of the POTUS.

 

Not sure if you are referring to me or not but it was equally wrong when Obama did it or any other president (including some decent ones). 

Joeb's picture

Bert great response.  I can always count on you and Aaron to come up with some great responses.  We can agree or disagree if Trump made the right move but he got dealt a lousy hand and so did Obama.
 

 Both have been trying to clean up this mess the Bush and his evil twins made.  It did not help that Hillary pushed  Obama to get involved in Libya and Syria to add to this toxic stew.  Throw in the mess Obama and Hillary made in Ukraine to by helping to overthrow a Democratically elected Government and BINGO.  

Let's be honest guys this potential  war with Iran has been coming for a long time   Even now the news says the Iranians are launching missies at out basses.    Its game on now and we can all only trust that God has everything in his hands   
 

The part of this I don't like is the cheering as mentioned above and the believers pushing that Trump is going to bring on the second coming of Christ   It maybe but to say it concretely and justify every thing Trump does is wrong   Very scary   

 

L
 

Andrew K's picture

While making links in characteristics of deception might be overstated, I think Wally has a point with regard to the self-conscious veneration and emulation on the part of Iranians for ancient Persia.

I had a couple Iranian students once. I asked them about the Farsi language and they were very quick to correct me: "Persian." I'm not aware of all the history, but they really didn't care for the term "Farsi" (which I think is simply the Arabic term for the same word). Other comments and observations throughout the year made me think that they very much wanted to stress their continuity to their ancient past.

Other things I've read, and Iranians I've met, have suggested to me that there is a stronger awareness and link to the ancient Persian empire--at least in the minds of many Iranians--than we Westerners might believe. I've also heard rumors that quiet mutterings about the superiority of Zoroastrianism to Islam can be heard in certain quarters of Iran.

Bert Perry's picture

Andrew, I've had the privilege of knowing a fair number of Iranians/Persians--from grad school through my career and even at the local health club--and it varies how they like to be addressed.  I default to "Persian", though sometimes I'm told "I prefer Iranian."  Never was told to call the language "Persian", though part of that is that I figured out how "Farsi" became "Persian" in English through slight changes in pronunciation.

But even if Iranians/Persians were monolithic in their honor of the achievements of their pagan ancestors, that still doesn't mean Wally's right.  Honoring what your ancestors did is simply not the same as emulating what they did--and if we doubt this, just try to imagine the overweight guys at the VFW crossing the Delaware with Washington to attack the Hessians at Trenton.  No?  They honor Washington with their words, but they'd never have even made it to the boats in the shape they're in.  Along the same lines, I'm guessing your students did not make sure their decisions were good--as did Ahasuerus--by drinking themselves into a stupor and seeing if their decision still made sense to them.

Which is, of course, another argument against the notion of Wally's--the ancient Persians were quite often stinking drunks whose generals bailed them out from really idiotic decisions, not evil geniuses who set the bar for diplomatic deception and wizardry.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

Modern Iranians are the present descendants of the ancient Persians. The ancient Persians were masters of politics and deception. As far as the Constitution being clear on this issue: if the Constitution were clear, we wouldn't have nearly as much debate about "war powers".

There is no continuity between ancient Persian political practices and current propensities. Also the contstitution is "debated" about a lot of things. For instance the second amendment is quite clear but it is routinely debated. Blowing people up in foreign lands is clearly regulated by the constitution. It was unconstitutional when Obama did it and it remains so when Trump does it. The fact that the target is an evil man doesn't somehow erase the rule of law. 

Andrew K's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

...I'm guessing your students did not make sure their decisions were good--as did Ahasuerus--by drinking themselves into a stupor and seeing if their decision still made sense to them.

Actually, that would have explained a lot.... ;) 

Larry's picture

Moderator

Blowing people up in foreign lands is clearly regulated by the constitution. 

Out of curiosity, what are you referring to in the constitution?

Bert Perry's picture

Larry, what Josh is getting at is that if one strictly interprets the Constitution, acts of war are allowed only when (a) war is declared or (b) letters of marque and reprisal are issued, both of those by Congress.  Technically, the latter were issued to pirates to do things like chase the Barbary Pirates and steal their ships, but some would argue that the War Powers Act (under which Trump worked) meets these criteria, since it was passed by Congress, and Congress did give permission to act in Iraq.

Josh simply disagrees with that position.  I personally do not take a firm stand, except (as I did above) to note that our current treaties make a mess of this.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It boils down to Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 vs. Article II Section 2.

Constitutionality  has to consider both.

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

Larry, what Josh is getting at is that if one strictly interprets the Constitution, acts of war are allowed only when (a) war is declared or (b) letters of marque and reprisal are issued, both of those by Congress. 

I assumed that was his reference but it was rather vague and given that such a view is not generally sustained during a situation like this, it is certainly not clear. Remember, the right, by and large, thinks this was justified and legal. The left, by and large, thought it was justified and legal until a relatively short time ago (as in several days ago). The libertarians, by and large, have always rejected things like this but there are so few of them. So there really hasn't been much of a debate about whether this was an appropriate use of power until the left suddenly changed their minds. 

It's seems to me, from my armchair, to consider this an act of war. It targeted a known terrorist who had been consistently engaging in acts of terror against the US. It did not target a nation, even an army or part of a standing force. 

josh p's picture

I am one of those few libertarians. The left will approve or disapprove based on if it’s their guy doing it or not. As you say, the right generally supports it.