I find myself increasingly being asked to explain my disapproval of the current war to friends and family.
It's simple really. I'm against war. I know for a fact that war brings with it attendant murder, lies, and intractable problems. The very act of "declaring war" [or in this case "claiming" war without a Constitutional declaration . . . but I digress] . . . the very act of "declaring war" should be so detestable, so debatable, so far from desirable that Christian people ought to treat it like late, third-trimester abortion or the dropping of an atomic bomb on a civilian population.
Abortion, in fact, is the example that I most recently cited in a comment to a friend here on my blog. I share the Church's stance on abortion, but one of the reasons we have pro-life protesters at LDS General Conference is because official Mormon doctrine is not 100% anti-abortion. I suppose you could even call it pro-"choice" but not in any conventional use of the term. The official stance [as I understand it] is that abortion is strongly counseled against - even considered a heinous sin in most cases - but in certain cases such as rape, incest, and where the mother's life is seriously endangered then the counsel is to consider it prayerfully on an specific basis.
I do not believe a declaration of war should be undertaken with any less consideration. Generally in the abortion debates every individual life is given consideration by the kind of people I find at Church . . . but somehow when the topic of war gets debated the whole idea of "the worth of souls" too often gets sidelined, shunned, and forgotten. Worse, it seems that if we find any legitimate-seeming reason for U.S. military action in a foreign country we seem to act as if it means that conventional morality no longer applies to that entire region of the world from that moment and into the forseeable future.
We are not – by any stretch of the imagination – under imminent attack way back here in the U.S. by the specific Iraqi and Afghani rebels who want us out of their countries. Furthermore, however you might feel about our original missions in those two countries, we have long ago abandoned them and replaced them with far-less-respectable, brazenly imperialist goals. In Iraq when Bush declared "Mission Accomplished," the best information I can gather indicates that we should have been honest about it and left. We didn't even have "Al Queda" copycats in the country at that point. In Afghanistan it is increasingly unclear why we should not have followed bin Laden and his enterprise into Pakistan instead of continuing the strange dual objectives of occupying Ahghanistan and propping up the dictator Musharrif who promptly allowed bin Laden what has effectively been permanent sanctuary.
I am greatly troubled that many tenets of our current foreign policy only make sense from the point of view that American Corporate interests (oil, shipping, military-industrial, World Bank investments, etc.) and American Empire (our power, prestige, and control in the world) are the actual driving forces behind our actions and not - as too often claimed by pundits and politicians - the evil boogiemen of 'global jihad'. Our own intelligence services issued a non-classified report this very month citing the great strengthening of Al Queda in particular (in its new stronghold in Pakistan) – and global terrorism generally – precisely because of our current foreign policy. I worry sometimes that the problem isn't that we're not smart enough to fight terrorists any more intelligently; the problem is that for many of the policymakers and politicians [whether they realize it or not – and I opine that the great majority do not realize this] fighting terror isn't even really the goal. And that, to me, is pretty terrifying.
I believe that as citizens we can be more engaged in learning about the 'big picture' of our foreign policy and our decisions to engage conflicts using our military might. I believe that there have never been more opportunities for an informed or an involved electorate. My outlook on these things is anything but bleak, but I do fear that we are not exactly headed the right direction. If anybody has good suggestions for being productively involved I'm very interested.