06 April 2008

A Challenge

We have passed the five-year mark in Iraq and we still debate over whether or not the war was justified. And sorry to disappoint any readers who were looking for a debate, but I'm not going to get into discussions on justification. Nor will I allow any comments that start such discussions. That's not the point right now.

Instead, I want to look at the actions of Christian Peacemaker Teams and their operations within Iraq. For those who don't know, CPT has been in Iraq since October 2002. Among the team-members was Christian activist and author Shane Claiborne. I'm actually a really big fan of Mr. Claiborne, despite objections I have to some of his teachings. And I applaud CPT's work in Iraq as a means of achieving solidarity with Iraqis. But I can't help but wonder - why did they not go until 2002? CPT has been around since 1984. Why were they not in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was massacring his own people? Were Iraqis not worth saving until the US became the aggressor? Was Saddam Hussein not worth opposing?

No, the skeptic in me thinks it's something a little more logical. Non-violence is not as effective as they claim. Sure, it works when opposing rational nation-states. Non-violence worked (eventually) against racist institutions in the US, South Africa, and India. But did it work in Tiannemen Square? Did it work in Nazi Germany (Bonhoeffer, a pacifist leader, didn't seem to think so)? Did it work in Bosnia? Or Rwanda?

So now we sit here, five years later, and the CPT has a chance to show that they stand up to all evil, not just the violence of Western powers. Tibet is slipping into chaos as China cracks down on civil rights. CPT, according to their own principles, should be "getting in the way" of Chinese soldiers. If they truly think that non-violence always work, then they should be in Tibet.

Rock on.

Edit: Allow me a brief explanation of my stance on war: I, like all people, believe that war is bad, to put it quite simply. I believe that it is not a sustainable foreign policy, nor should it be resulted to in any but the worst situations, to include the prevention of genocides and other massacres and to end mass violence - known by some as peacemaking. I support self-determination until it leads to violence. As a Christian, I believe in forgiveness, but I also believe in helping others and cannot stand by and watch as others suffer.