Mike Vanderboegh poses the following question: How many of you are willing to kill a Muslim infant because his or her parents are Muslim? He adds, “I am not arguing about the validity of their faith. I am a Christian, but I also understand that absent the burden of protecting the innocent — ALL innocents — from attack by collectivists of any ilk, including Muslim religious collectivists, it is not up to me to execute God’s judgment upon someone simply because of their faith, however mistaken it is.”
Well, this poses a complex set of issues that isn’t fertile ground for talking points or rapid fire exchange. This is a thinking man’s territory. He later links (but does not comment on) Ralph Peters and his view that “The generals who won World War II would start by leveling Raqqa, the ISIS caliphate’s capital. Civilians would die, but those remaining in Raqqa have embraced ISIS, as Germans did Hitler. The jihadis must be crushed. Start with their “Berlin.” Kill ten thousand, save a million.”
This is enough to keep us busy for a while. Reader and commenter BluesStringer1955 also links Mike’s piece, and with absolutely no basis whatsoever charged me with wanting to kill all Muslims around me (this wasn’t even the point of the article), and continues that Mike and David make a mistake to link to anything I write. Mike and David will have to decide if it’s a mistake for them to link to anything I write, and I never said anything about killing all Muslims. I think BluesStringer1995 was having a bad day.
But I did assert that making the decision to kill ISIS fighters should be an easy ethical decision for us. I would sleep well if I flew an A-10 and got the chance to blow a convoy of ISIS fighters into oblivion (but this would only happen in my dreams – flying the A-10, that is). So let’s fill in the blanks a bit. For BlueStringer1955, I don’t take you by the hand and lead you to simplistic conclusions. My goal is to force you to ponder, to make you think. Even if you end the process disagreeing with me, that’s okay if you have spent time pondering the hard issues we will all face.
There isn’t another writer who has covered more about rules of engagement than have I, from news reports, to AR 15-6 investigations, to private communications from deployed NCOs and others on the situations they are facing. I won’t rehearse the quotes I am using or the examples I cite. There isn’t enough time to find the many references I supply in my rules of engagement category, and it would break the flow of what I want to say. So bear with me, and if you want proof, please visit my prior posts.
I’m willing to listen to just about any argument you wish to make, and I’ll respect your opinion if it’s well researched and well reasoned, and that last point bears repeating. Well reasoned. If you cannot bear to face the logical conclusions of your own views, I might show pity, but I won’t be persuaded in the least by emotion, accusations, shouting or hurt feelings.
There are things to which you should stipulate as you ponder these hard issues in order to have the respect of your colleagues and family. They will listen with a critical ear and they know when you are being irrational. If you claim that the U.S. shouldn’t have dropped nuclear bombs on Japan to end WWII, then you must stipulate either that (a) it was acceptable to lose half a million Americans in a land invasion of Japan, or that (b) the U.S. should have just stopped, potentially leaving WWII to continue ad infinitum. If you claim that Marcus Luttrell and his team should have done what they did and leave those goat herders alone, then you must stipulate that it’s acceptable to you for Americans to perish by leaving enemy spotters alive since they weren’t armed at the time.
If you assert that no one can be ethically killed who isn’t armed, they you must stipulate, along with one American general in Afghanistan who wanted to charge two Army snipers with murder for killing an unarmed known Taliban leader with a long distance shot, that many if not most American sniper kills were unethical. Furthermore, most sniper shots can never be taken under such a rule, or at least, you must stipulate to that.
If you claim that under no circumstances can non-combatant casualties be tolerated, then you must stipulate that when Hezbollah ensconced their artillery among the citizen homes in Lebanon, the Israeli military cannot target those same installation in return.
There are many more examples in my rules of engagement category, but you can see that the issues begin to be complicated. Only moral and thinking men need apply for the job. As for me, while I won’t bore you with the details of my own responses to all of the above, I will try as best as I can to answer Mike’s question.
First of all, I am a Calvinist, and there is no one who is innocent. We are all guilty by virtue of being born of the seed of Adam and equally deserving of damnation, regardless of age, ethnicity, race, or gender. Those of us who believe were saved because of God’s sovereign choice, by His grace, and through faith alone. You may disagree, and I’m okay with that. But I won’t apologize for my beliefs. They are incorrigible and there will never be a time when I don’t believe those things.
I prefer to speak of non-combatants rather than “the innocent.” In the entire history of warfare, notwithstanding whether non-combatants were targeted, no war has ever been fought without non-combatant casualties. The question is whether they should be targeted. I understand the decision made by the generals in WWII, who knew that Germany wouldn’t be defeated as long as its war machine was supplied by its industry. I didn’t say I would have made the same decision, and I didn’t say I wouldn’t have. I said I understand it. But that’s quite a bit different than killing a Muslim infant simply because his parents are Muslim.
As the choice stands, my answer is no, not just for being children of Muslims, and not at all if I don’t have to. Let’s use Ralph Peters’ approach to Raqqa to illustrate. I will no more assert that we should turn Raqqa into a sea of glass that I will assert that we shouldn’t be allowed to shoot Iraqi insurgents who are throwing cinder blocks off of bridges into American convoys. The goal is to “stay between the ditches” in our decisions.
Turning Raqqa into a sea of glass is a profoundly bad idea for a number of reasons, none of which have to do with there being Muslim infants there. First of all, al Baghdadi might be away and avoid death, thereby adding to his mystique. This would be a terrible outcome. Furthermore, bombing Raqqa would be likely to create more haters of America than it killed. Again, this would be a terrible outcome.
As to there being infants there, God is the only sovereign and decisions of life and death are His alone if we don’t have to make that choice. And herein lies the crux of the issue. Ralph is playing the devil’s game. He wants to bomb Raqqa into dust, but that wouldn’t solve the problem and we don’t have to make that choice. The administration doesn’t want to solve the problem, which is open borders.
It isn’t necessary to kill the enemy or his children thousands of miles away, when the answer is to seal the borders, completely and immediately. It’s like the game my fifth grade teacher wanted the class to play. We were supposedly all aboard a life boat, and there was only enough food and water for four of us, whereas there were five on board. What do we do?
I refused to play the game, pissing her off but standing my ground. There are worse things than death, one of which would be throwing someone overboard in order to stay alive. Someone wanted Ralph to play this game, perhaps Ralph. But what they don’t want to do is what is necessary to make the decision unnecessary in the first place.
Look folks, this example is a fairly easy one, but I honestly think that things aren’t going to go down so easy for us. I think the answers are going to be much tougher, much more involved, and much murkier than this example. Again with commenter BluesStringer1955, he believes that Muslims ought to be free to practice their religion in America. I don’t think BluesStringer1955 understands what it means for Muslims to practice their religion.
No civilization in more than a millennia has been able to peaceably coexist with Islam. BluesStringer1955 sees the world through Western eyes, not through the Islamic world view. In order to assist here, I wanted to convey a little short story.
This is a story about a man we will call Mark, who lives in Boiling Springs, S.C. He lived far enough from the center of urban problems that he didn’t figure that any of this would come his way. But then resettlement of Syrians happened in Spartanburg, S.C., right down the road from him.
At first it was all benign. But soon enough a few Muslim families moved into his neighborhood – on the government dime, and problems started. They began to demand that the school system get Arabic translators, and his taxes were going up in order to pay for the translators. Furthermore, it was said that there might be more days in school in the summer to make up for the Muslim holidays that they were demanding. No, they weren’t demanding those holidays for themselves, but that everyone observe them as well.
Next, they demanded footwashing stations in the airports, malls and stores, and prayer rooms with arrows towards Mecca, complete with prayer rugs. All of this was going to cost money, and while he thought that no one would give this kind of thing the time of day, state senator Larry Martin of Pickens, along with others from Greenville and the lower part of the state, were considering actual changes to the law to allow Sharia courts for the Muslims for certain things.
But there was a more immediate and personal concern for Mark. One Muslim family near him had been eyeballing his dog, who had gotten lose and was playing with their younger children. Not biting, but playing. It happened only once, but now every time Mark goes out to walk the dog, the Muslims say something to him and the teenagers even make obscene gestures. They hate dogs. They consider them unclean.
Mark was weeping this particular day. Mark has no fence, and while his dog did not leave the yard, while he wasn’t watching someone had apparently shot the dog’s eyes out with a pellet rifle, or so the vet thinks. The dog, who had been with him for ten years, had begun to nip at anyone who came near in self defense because he was blind. Understandable, but Mark couldn’t let that go on with his own children. Mark was headed to the veterinarian to put his dog down.
As he was driving, he pondered what he was going to do? The Muslim teenagers had been ogling his own daughter, and had even yelled that she was a whore and daughter of a whore since she isn’t Muslim, dressed unseemly and didn’t wear a hijab. He wanted his wife and daughters to have weapons and carry them, but the government had cracked down on the purchase of guns since the advent of the heavier Muslim immigration to America.
America, Mark thought, wasn’t the same country in which he grew up. And this wasn’t even Dearborn, Michigan. It was Boiling Springs, S.C.
Now, as for the little short story, Mark is fictitious, but Mark’s saga is just beginning. And if you haven’t pondered long and hard about the borders, Muslim immigration, Hispanic and Latino immigration, government intrusion, and what you will and won’t allow yourself to do, including the broader moral rules you will follow and down to the tactical level, then you need to. Mike’s question is a good one, but folks, this is only the beginning. You’d better seek for clarity of thought and a strong moral compass.
For the record, so-called just war theory was constructed for centuries old models for warfare with great armies lining up in fields of battle against other armies, fought in the daylight, with non-combatants left out of the mix, with hand-to-hand tactics using implements that didn’t act as standoff weapons. Christian theologians, as I have pointed out many times, have let us down. You don’t see papers written in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society on modern warfare and its ethical exigencies. They haven’t updated their theory of warfare for modernity, with weapons that kill large numbers of people, and with non-combatants being brought into the mix (along with or against their will). Much less have Christian theologians pondered fourth or fifth generation warfare and its implications for mankind. We have been let down, abandoned, and ignored. Perhaps because of ignorance, perhaps because of cowardice, but abandoned nonetheless. As you ponder these issues, you are on your own, you and your conscience and your copy of the word of God.