Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Question of the Day

Several years into the Darfur genocide, it's getting increasingly unlikely that any of the major powers will do anything to prevent the extermination of these people. This problem has led some people to propose a free market solution: mercenaries.

Let us say, hypothetically, that a group of churches or denominations came together and hired a mercenary army to protect the people of Darfur from their Sudanese oppressors. Would their actions be consistent with Christian principles?

20 comments:

QueenVic said...

I think so...but I have nothing to back it up. I like the idea though.

John said...

there's basically three issues:

1. Is violence ever morally acceptable from a Christian standpoint? A: Of course! See Romans 13, Augustine, Luther, Just War theory, etc. (Or alternatively, examine the serious moral deficiencies of pacifism)

2. What about a group of Christian communities themselves being the ones to directly raise up people to fight? *One* thing to keep in mind is that that's exactly what John Wesley offered to do when his homeland was threatened with French invasion.

3. Would such a private, religious army be an appropriate executor of violent force for the sake of justice. A: NOT according to Just War theory, which has as a key tenet the need for military force to be used by a proper government authority.

Rev. J said...

No - I do not see how acts of violence fit in with Jesus' teaching of love your neighbor as yourself or love your enemies. There can be non-violent ways to deal with crisis like this, look to South Africa and India for examples.

John said...

I didn't know that Wesley proposed a military career. Is that in Works? I'd love to read that.

Governing authority is central to traditional Just War Theory, but I'm willing to be fuzzy around the edges. For example, an oppressed people has a right to rebel, even if they cannot constitute a government before doing so.

Dan Trabue said...

What a horrifying thought.

Carrying the thought forward: If Christians in Europe were convinced that the US was taking part in war crimes in Iraq (or Somalia, or Colombia, or Nicaragua, or El Salvador, etc, etc) and decided to buy into this idea, and they hired mercenaries to conduct guerilla warfare against the US to try to stop the perceived evil, would they be correct and Christian in their response?

AND, if Christians in US were aghast that European Christians would send guerrillas to attack us and responded in kind, would they be right?

Vive la market?

John B said...

Why not? What's the difference between Christians providing money for the government to fight "just" wars (your & my tax dollars pay the salaries of the hired soldiers) and Christians providng money via an offering plate and hiring the soldiers directly?

Rev J's response sounds very much like Prime Minister Chamberlain's response to the Nazis. We all know how effective that was in the face of evil.

Dan Trabue said...

What's the difference between Christians providing money for the government to fight "just" wars (your & my tax dollars pay the salaries of the hired soldiers) and Christians providng money via an offering plate and hiring the soldiers directly?

1. That's why many in anabaptist, quaker and other peace church circles try to live below the taxable level, so as not to take part in paying for wars we don't believe in as Christians.

2. At least with an official military, there is potential for accountability. There is room for the wisdom of others to slow a mad rush to war or vengeance. There is less accountability with guerrillas.

3. Besides which, unless I'm mistaken, it is an illegal action to hire mercenaries to go and kill people in other countries. I mean, who decides what's okay? If I think that Mexico is evil, is it okay if I personally hire an assassin to kill President Calderon? If you think I'm evil for wanting to kill Calderon, can you hire an assassin to kill me?

Where do you draw the line? It is a horrible, horrible, ungodly bad idea.

Dan Trabue said...

Besides which, there is a huge difference between paying tax dollars knowing that not every dollar collected in taxes go towards programs that we approve of and collecting an offering plate full of money to hire mercenaries, yes?

What would you think of a church collection to raise money to pay for abortions? Good idea or bad?

JD said...

Everyone seems to have missed the key word that John asked in his question:

"Let us say, hypothetically, that a group of churches or denominations came together and hired a mercenary army to protect the people of Darfur from their Sudanese oppressors."

John did not propose putting together mercenaries to run out and start attacking the Sudanese government representatives. He asked if it was against principles to hire a group to PROTECT the people of Darfur. Are we not called as Christians to protect the weak and those that cannot protect themselves? Is building a wall around your city or town to protect the people inside wrong? I hope not.

That is what I gather from this conversation, is it feasible to create a group to PROTECT the people of Darfur?

Dan said:

"they hired mercenaries to conduct guerilla warfare against the US to try to stop the perceived evil,"

How did we get from protection to guerilla tactics?

Rev J said:

"There can be non-violent ways to deal with crisis like this, look to South Africa and India for examples."

How have these non-violent ways, so far, stemmed the persecution of the people of Darfur. I am not advocating violence, but the idea of "paid bodyguards" is better than what is happening now.

PAX
JD

JD said...

Oh, and to answer my own question, YES!

PAX
JD

Dan Trabue said...

How did we get from protection to guerilla tactics?

How did we get from protection to guerrilla tactics? Because those who tend to believe in violence-as-solution have also tended to use the word "protect" as a euphemism for "Kill as deem necessary."

I am very supportive of peaceful witnesses going to trouble spots to provide some protection. This worked very well when Nicaragua was being terrorized by the Contras in the '80s and may be a good idea again.

I am okay with police/guard forces, as well, even armed ones. What I'm not okay with is vigilantism or mercenaries for reasons already given.

JD said...

Dan said:

"I am okay with police/guard forces, as well, even armed ones. What I'm not okay with is vigilantism or mercenaries for reasons already given."

I can get on board with a protective force with specific orders to protect and do what is needed to, only in a protective role, like a missile defense system.

Think about this: if it got to a point with the Sudanese government where the became "Hitler Like" in their aspirations, are you still against doing something more to protect the world?

PAX
JD

John said...

Dan wrote:

What would you think of a church collection to raise money to pay for abortions? Good idea or bad?

This is a faulty analogy. I suggest a scenario in which the Church tries to protect innocent life, not exterminate it.

Dan Trabue said...

What if someone thinks that providing abortions helps protect the innocent life of the mother?

I'm guessing you would disapprove, just as I disapprove of mercenaries.

Rick said...

Almost anything can be made consistent with Christian principles, because there are so many variations to themes throughout the Bible. I don't mean to be a jerk about this; it's simply evident to me that Christian principles only work when good people pull what they need out of the Bible, which can, and has been, otherwise used to support slavery, subjugation of women, execution of adulterers and homosexuals, etc.

In short, well-meaning Christians should just do what they think is right, and stop fishing through Scripture to find support for it -- because there's support there for almost every deplorable act one can imagine.

Anonymous said...

Im sorry if I offend you stupidity? Ignorance?????? I am partially directing this towards the author of this question.
History lesson:
The whole effinking reason this was started was because the Government hired " UR EFFIN MERCENARIES (THAT SOLVE ALL PROBLEMS)" and then the government has ever since been supplying the "janjaweed << ( google it)" with funds to buy weapons and supplies which in return just increases the number of dead. Now I want you to seriously please do your research and I am not being an a**hole in trying to tell you that I know everything. I dont. But seriously..the THE WHOLE REASON THIS WAS STARTED WAS BECAUSE OF MERCENARIES WHICH THE GOVERNMENT HIRED BUT NOW THE GOVERNMENT WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. PATHETIC. simply pathetic.. not u..the goverment >> created by the people, to kill the people!.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, but what prevents the Janjaweed (i.e. the bad guys) from paying off the mercenaries? It doesn't seem too unreasonable seeing as the bad guys are reportedly supported by the Sudanese government. The only people that benefit are the mercenaries...who in fact make out like bandits. A potentially frightening example of Naomi Klein's "disaster capitalism".

Paul said...

Instead of a Christian backed army, I suggest a Christian backed business movement. The way I understand it, the problem in Darfur is a result of lack of water and large groups of people moving into already over-populated areas in search of water and food.

If Christian business men would start setting up shop in Sudan and using profits to help drill wells and increase infrastructure it would give the people the resources they need, the jobs they need, and something to do with their time other than fight.

Business As Mission is a growing movement but it still needs lots of courageous faith-based business people to do the unthinkable.

JD said...

Paul said:

"Instead of a Christian backed army, I suggest a Christian backed business movement. The way I understand it, the problem in Darfur is a result of lack of water and large groups of people moving into already over-populated areas in search of water and food."

If you want people to get involved, here is a good start: The Sudan Project

PAX
JD

Anonymous said...

Technically, mercenaries are inherently illegal by international law. The US simply re-labeled them as security contractors and nobody's had the gall to call bs. However, speaking of security, you could legitimize intervention by buying a large portion of land and deploying a private "security force" to protect your assets in the region. China did it with some of their oil holdings in the area (though I'm pretty sure they're actually just protecting their property from guerrillas who want the lucrative oil). Since most of it's God forsaken desert, one could probably buy it to the tune of 25 cents per acre or less. If some country or international organization called your motives into question you could build a mission on the land and say you're protecting it. There you have it, you even get a mission out of the deal and you can inject more Christianity into Africa as you Christians oh so love to do.