Friday, August 21, 2009

Warrior's Dilemma, 9

Continued from "Warrior's Dilemma, 8"

When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it. (Deu 20:10-12)

I cite R.J. Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law:

. . . [P]rior to an attack, or rather a declaration of war, an offer of peace [must] be extended to the enemy. The offer of peace cannot be an offer to compromise. The cause, if it be just, must be maintained; the enemy must yield to gain peace (Deut. 23:9-14). A "sneak attack" after a declaration, in Gideon's manner is legitimate: hostilities are in progress. But, prior to a declaration of war, an attempt to negotiate with honor to the cause is required. The formal blowing of trumpets, both before war and in rejoicing at the time of victory, placed the cause before God in expectancy of victory and in gratitude for it (Num. 10:9, 10).

Since this is a requirement laid down by God, we must see it as a prerequisite to a just war. Thus, we must analyze our nation's wars in terms of how it has met this Biblical requirement.

Before the invasion of Iraq, for example, the U.S. did deliver an ultimatum (which was preceded by a penultimatum* and an antepenultimatum*) to Saddam Hussein . The question of the justness of invasion, therefore, hinges not only on whether the motives were just, but also on whether the U.S. negotiated in good faith.

Some observers seemed to think that every time Hussein acceded to a demand, the U.S. made a more rigorous one, making war inevitable. As with all political questions, I guess most folks will come down on this one according to party affiliation.

I am aware that that I have not addressed the last portion of this passage in Deuteronomy 20 (verses 13-14). Many will find this problematic, and I want to devote at least one full post to it.

* I coined these terms to fit this particular situation. I like them, but they're of extremely limited utility.

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