Preventative Murder

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Saturday night as I watched the debates on ABC, I was struck by many things including the prescience of Ron Paul’s monetary policy, the ignorance of Fred Thompson to the idea that printing money devalues the currency, the motivation by many candidates to dabble with symptoms while not addressing root causes, and the overall lip-service which the candidates seem to pay to the constitution. However, the greatest and most frightening impression which I received while trying to understand the candidates was that every one of them except for Paul support preventative murder. How on earth could I make such a bold and possibly slanderous claim? I’m not making the claim, the candidates stated it themselves. Let me try to elucidate what these candidates were saying.

Their first point was that there exists in the world a form of Islam that motivates violent radical jihad. This is a reasonable and rather well documented claim. There have been radical Muslims interviewed who have said as much. It is not that the candidates were painting all Muslims as such, but they were pointing to the existence of a dispersed world-wide group of terrorists with said motivation. Fine, I accept that.

Their second point was that Americans are in grave danger because of these Jihadists. In other words, if we do not eliminate the threat, that Jihadists will come here and kill us just as they did on 9/11. Now, here I think there is and there was a plethora of information absent from the discussion; information of which Ron Paul vehemently tried to remind the other candidates. We have subsidized dictators, bombed any opposition, murdered democratically elected officials, trained foreigners in our secret torture practices, but alas I diverge from the point. Though there is a motivation by Islamic terrorists to kill us, that motivation is severely exacerbated by our arrogant meddling in foreign affairs. Sure, there are some who would want to kill us anyway, but the number would be far less. Nevertheless, let’s say for the sake of argument that America is innocent and these people want to kill us solely for the sake of radical Islam. Let’s say the five candidates on the stage last night were correct and Ron Paul wrong. Even if this was the case, let’s be painfully clear about the implications of what they were saying.

Their third point was that we need to kill Jihadists. Of course they didn’t say this so blatantly, but I wish they would have. They euphemistically stated that we need to “eliminate the threat of Islamic terrorism.” Let’s remove the sugar-coating and see that they are really saying, “we need to kill people before they kill us.”

Now, before we develop the distinction between preventative murder and self-defense, let me say this: I am all for a preemptive strike if by preemptive we properly mean attacking an advancing army in self-defense. If there is a group of people on my plane with box cutters trying to hijack, I am going to do what I can to stop them. If there is an advancing naval fleet, we should stop them. This is what preemptive means. To preempt is to quickly react to someone who has already launched a threat. Then comes the question, is the general statement by a Jihadist that they want to kill Christians or remove Israel from the map a reason for military preemption? Well, what are we preempting when we act against this threat? We are essentially preempting a thought or a concept. Terrorism is a concept, and I find it metaphysically difficult to make a military preemptive strike against a concept. What you can try to do against the concept of Jihad is to prevent it by killing or jailing the one that believes in said philosophy, but ironically, and to our own peril as Ron Paul would warn, killing an individual who believes such a concept does nothing but kill that individual and consequently multiply the concept. You don’t kill terrorism by killing terrorists; you kill terrorism with philosophical bullets and theoretical bombs — a.k.a. the gospel. Our “preemptive” strike against Iraq is a peculiar and convenient error of nomenclature for we are not waging a preemptive war, rather we are waging a preventative war.

This leads me to my initial point. A preventative war against radical Islam is premeditated murder. We are planning, and are electing officials who are planning, the deaths of those who have done nothing but threaten us. There is no advancing army. There are no suicide bombers in our midst — except those who are rightfully defending their own soil against our insurgents (by the way I have nothing but respect for our troops, and I believe I am showing them utmost honor by elucidating our grave philosophical and moral errata). We are essentially planning the deaths of human beings created in the image of God simply because of what they believe. This is premeditated murder. “But their beliefs are dangerous to us!” True, but ask yourself this question. What if a person in your neighborhood called you and said they were going to kill you. Do you think you have a right under the Constitution and under a Biblical ideal to go to their house and blow up both them and their family? Sure, you would heighten your defenses, you might call the police, you might buy a gun, and on the whole you would be much more careful. However, to go to their house and kill them before they can get to you is murder. Now, if they come to your home and threaten your family and you kill in defense, this would be akin to a preemptive strike. However, we are engaging in nothing less than preventative murder in Iraq.

A word to those Christians who may have a problem with what I’m writing. The main argument I’ve heard against my philosophy is that it puts our families in danger. My response is that it is far more dangerous to engage in an activity such as preventative murder which dishonors and disobeys almighty God. The radical Muslim is no threat to those who trust in the God who “marks of the heavens with the span of His hand.” Jihad is no threat to those who believe that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” If the evangelical church at large continues to support this activity they have engaged in one of the greatest moral blunders in church history. To the degree that the church participates and supports this morality of preventative war is the degree to which they disobey God, and more tragically it is the degree to which they doubt the providence and sovereignty of the One they claim to trust. It is definitely dangerous to wait until someone is actually attacking us before defending ourselves, but since when do we allow danger and safety to define our morality? We are bound to obey almighty God be it safe or dangerous, and in the words of Martin Luther, “the body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.”

January 8, 2008