George Weigel and Just War


 I found the article to which my previous post on Cavanaugh’s article refers,  and this guy is some theological tool.  For instance:

Just-war thinking, as Johnson reminded us, is not only about the justification of the resort to armed force or the ways in which that force is deployed. Just-war thinking also includes a serious moral analysis of the goal of peace, to which the use of armed force must be ordered.

The whole gist of this article seems to forget about “not only about the justification of the resort to armed force or the ways in which that force is deployed” once he mentions it to move on to what for him is the “superceding” element of “decision” about whether a war is just or not,  which is “Just-war thinking also includes a serious moral analysis of the goal of peace, to which the use of armed force must be ordered.”

What utter hogwash and a blasphemous capitulation to “ends justifies the means” thinking.  The just war tradition obviously gives the heavier weight to the MEANS,  and that “civilian” casualties are “unacceptable”.  Nowadays,  this gets shoved aside on the name of “the way things are” and “how things must be done”. 

Then Weigel seals the deal here:

The ideal expressed in the just war tradition . . . is an ideal in which the use of force serves . . . to create peace.

In other words,  whatever the authoritative wisdom says is the “achievable means to peace” is given top billing in this neocon version of “just war”.  It’s basically capitulating to “the decider”,  whoever that may be in the halls of power and assumed to be the “common sense” of the day.  It’s the mechanisms of empire, working to set itself up as the ipso facto “empty shrine” —  the basis of a talk Cavanaugh gave a couple of years ago at The Ekklesia Project Gathering.

Source: FIRST THINGS: A Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life

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8 Replies to “George Weigel and Just War”

  1. Theoblogical Post author

    I guess my main problem with Wiegel is that his “ends” seem to overshadow the means, as if the means are irrelevant to the end; that as long as the “ends’ are met, means aren’t that relevant. That he is even invoking just war is just a device in his argument. Further, his “ends” are theoretical and abstract, and he uses them , assuming that this “ends” is recognizable, and basically says anything goes as long as the “goal” is reached.

    Definitely with you on the person of Christ being both means and end — the life lived and taught by Jesus(means) as signs of the Kingdom (the ends).

    Does that get me any closer to what you’re saying? I think we’re saying something similar, but it seems I’m not quite capturing /understanding.

    Most of all, bro, good to see you back two times in the same week! I been missin’ ya.

    Dale

  2. ericisrad

    Yes, the ‘they’ that I am referencing are those who adhere to the just-war tradition and rule out any kind of Christian non-violence as a legitimate response (all NeoCons do this, et. al.)

    The point of my referencing this:

    What utter hogwash and a blasphemous capitulation to “ends justifies the means” thinking. The just war tradition obviously gives the heavier weight to the MEANS…

    With the following:

    Well yes, but it”™s also the wrong means that they give heavier weight to. The only way to peace is active peace “” that found in Christ.

    Is to point out the fact that one cannot always play the rhetorical card of ends justifies the means, means justifies the ends, etc. The truth is, we all have ends and means which shape each other, and hopefully they are Christ. My more specific point is that the ends and means cannot be spoken about merely as empty content, but must have specific content.

    My reasoning here is that I am thinking ahead: your interlocutors could level the very same charge against you, as your own ends justify your means as well. It’s just that your own ends and means have distinctly different content than that, say, of the NeoCons.

    In a nutshell, I’m agreeing with you, and am also just trying to point out the specific content (i.e. person of Christ) that is both our ends and means.

    (by the way, I’m arguing all of this on very Hauerwasian and MacIntyrian grounds, with emphasis on the latter as Hauerwas gets much of his stuff from MacIntyre…)

    Peace,

    Eric

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  4. Theoblogical Post author

    And of course, this set of considerations are not the final decision. I consider it a matter of “can we agree at least on these things” before moving on to what the church should embody as something that moves all of this into the realm of life as God wills; the kind of people God calls us to be. Abiding by some “guidelines” aimed at limiting the destruction of war is not going to be the way we speak the truth to power, but the truth we speak is the life we embody, where killing is not allowed, under any circumstance. This place cannot be arrived at through any criteria, but through the revelation that comes to us as a people.

  5. Theoblogical Post author

    After all, isn’t all the just war stuff originally proposed by Augustine? Albeit a set of “political” rules? Wasn’t it Augustine’s motive in proposing these that the powers take these up as “prerequisites” to be met before carrying out war?

  6. Theoblogical Post author

    I was curious also, who is “they” in “it”™s also the wrong means that they give heavier weight to” ? The “just war tradition”?

    If so, which is what I am assuming, you are right , of course, but it seems to me that these “criteria” are “minimum requirements” that must be met. My whole problem here is that even these are shoved aside in favor of some theoretical, assumed “goal” which Wiegel’s approach wants to ignore (like that no civilians should be killed— a requirement that is routinely shrugged off with a “that’s war”)

    I am not at all suggesting that this set of criteria is all there is for Christians to consider. I see it more as a plea to the powers for limits, and a challenge to consider consequences outside that of the intitiating conflict or offense.

    But here Wiegel is clearly manipulating all of this, and actually asking for the church to “defer” to the “wisdom” of the government, and it is that which Cavanaugh seemingly is reacting to here, and I was giving my own comments in agreement with Cavanaugh.

  7. Theoblogical Post author

    I would say that , yes, certainly the “active means”, or the “solution” is the peace of Christ, but here I am arguing against the actual demoting of the importance of means and subsuming it to the “ends”, (which is actually an “ends” only in theory). My closing reference to Cavanauh’s empty shrine lecture was meant to indicate how all of these arguments, including that of the just war, are imcomplete. But it is Wiegel’s manipulation of this to actually try and give theological legitimation to the neocon credo and stance on this war is what I am challenging here. And in the end, it is all prostating themselves before the empty shrine.

  8. ericisrad

    The just war tradition obviously gives the heavier weight to the MEANS…

    Well yes, but it’s also the wrong means that they give heavier weight to. The only way to peace is active peace — that found in Christ.

    Peace,

    Eric

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