Weldon Nisly is a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams, serving primarily in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Posts By This Author
America's Endless Lie of War
THERE'S A TRAGIC truth behind America’s endless war since 9/11: It’s based on lies. Two recent books confront the lies. Robert Draper and Danny Sjursen independently critique the arguably the worst foreign policy blunder in modern U.S. history.
To Start A War is Draper’s account of how the second Bush administration used 9/11 to justify invading Iraq, which was not involved in the attacks. An author’s note opens his treatise: “This is a story bracketed by two defining tragedies of the 21st century. The first was an unprovoked attack on America’s homeland. ... The second, 18 months later, was an act of war by America against a sovereign nation that had neither harmed the United States nor threatened to do so.” Draper masterfully unravels the Bush administration’s litany of lies following the labyrinthine road to war from the White House to Foggy Bottom, the Pentagon, and Congress, through national security and intelligence agencies, the diplomatic corps, and military ops. The reader becomes privy to real people and conversations. Every page stirs outrage.
The end of the road? Six weeks into war, President George W. Bush swaggered across the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, flashed thumbs up, and pronounced, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Overhead hung a red, white, and blue “Mission Accomplished” banner. Draper concludes, “The slogan accurately reflected the Bush administration’s wishful thinking and grandiose sense that history had already been made.”
Jesus and the Lies of War
DAYS AFTER 9/11, a just war philosopher and I were interviewed on Christian radio. I’m a pacifist who served on peace teams in Nicaragua and Iraq. My co-interviewee called for waging war on “terrorists” because we must kill our enemies while loving them. My plea to listen to Jesus and victims of war was scorned.
Two compelling recent challenges to Christian justifications for war are Robert Emmet Meagher’s Killing from the Inside Out: Moral Injury and Just War and Stan Goff’s Borderline: Reflections on War, Sex, and Church.
Meagher, a humanities scholar, incorporates listening to veterans of war into his work. Goff writes as someone who was a soldier before being transformed by Jesus.
Three issues in both books—just war, masculine sexual violence, and moral injury—resonate with my peace team encounters with war. Through very different approaches, Meagher and Goff offer the best reflection on these concerns that I’ve seen; both rightly implicate the church.
First, just war has a sordid rather than sanctifying history. Meagher’s survey of ancient literature, scripture, and Christian history reveals its legacy as antithetical to Jesus’ teaching: “Since the time of Constantine ... just war doctrine has served to license and legitimize state and ecclesiastical violence and to draw a convenient, if imaginary, line between killing and murder.”
A Farewell and a Welcome
AS I READ the July-August issue I note with gratitude and not a little longing the leaving of two Sojourners' torch-bearers. I add my farewell to Joe Roos and Joyce Hollyday.