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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What would a Christian foreign policy look like?

I have been having a very interesting discussion with a few of my guest bloggers here at Dignan's 75 Year Plan and thought it appropriate to open this discussion up for all. I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago stating my support of US intervention in Darfur, including military intervention.

The principle of non-intervention has a long history beginning with the Peace of Westphalia. It is generally a very good principle. However, I am wondering if it is adequate in the face of tragedies such as Rwanda, Darfur, or Kosovo.

This began as a fun discussion among friends that I hope will grow into a larger discussion that will challenge Christians and non-Christians alike. All I ask of my readers is to take the time to seriously consider the ideas here before reacting too quickly.

Although I am generally arguing in favor of intervention in extreme cases, I am still working through this issue and hope that this discussion will help me reconcile some of the internal dissonance I have.

The Case Against Interventionism - by FutureMan
At the risk of provoking Dignan to stand and wag his index finger, let me sum up my points with regard to "Humanitarian Military Actions". I am assuming, of course, that there is a parallel to fighting for democracy and fighting to save people from oppression.

1. The State is a coercive institution. It achieves its ends by means of violent force. (By definition of its nature)
2. The State has been given the authority to use force against evildoers (Rom. 13)
3. The only ends the State may legitimately pursue are those that punish wrongdoers and, conversely, protect the innocent from harm. (From 1 and 2)
4. A State is a geopolitical entity (by definition)
5. A State has authority to use force only within its jurisdiction (from 4)
6. Military actions deprive individuals of their freedom and right to life (by conscripting them as soldiers and putting their lives at risk).
7. Even in a volunteer army, military actions deprive individuals of their choice to fight in a particular war and puts their lives at risk.
8. Military actions deprive the citizenry of its ownership of property (by taxing it to fund the war).
9. Some military actions are necessary to protect the security which forms the basis of our rights to--or more weakly, the good of--life, liberty, and property.
10. The State has authority only to conduct necessary military actions.
11. Military actions for humanitarian causes abroad are not necessary for the security of the State.
12. Therefore, military actions for humanitarian causes abroad are an unauthorized use of force. (Notice the use of "unauthorized" in place of the provocative "immoral".)

Dignan argued that humanitarian military actions are justified on the basis of an extended version of premises 2 & 3 that, in whole or in part, denies premise 5. I believe the burden of proof is on the one who would redefine the common understanding of "jurisdiction". I also think this revised understanding of jurisdiction would lead to the following conclusions:

1. The US government has a cosmic moral mandate to intervene militarily in every nation where there are concentration/death camps (e.g., Communist China, North Korea, and Vietnam).
2. We should have turned the Cold War into a thermonuclear shooting war to liberate the Gulag prisoners.
3. We should go to war with China to halt the genocide of the Tibetan peoples.
4. We should intervene in the Sudan to halt the Islamic government's genocide of the southern Christians and animists.

Some of these actions would have been outright foolish. It would be impossible to conduct all of these actions. How should we decide which ones to engage? These are just some practical issues with taking the global police position. But there are normative issues as well. To reemphasize premises 6 - 8: the declaration of war, in terms of internal power relations, presupposes a master/slave relationship. The ruling power exercises its authority against its subjects (1) by putting their lives at risk on the battlefield, (2) taking away their liberty to fight the battles they want to fight, and (3) taxing their property to pay for the war. This is true whether the military is volunteer or conscripted. What, then, are the legitimate aims of military action that justify a sovereign-- whether it be king, senate, or assembly--in depriving its subjects of these basic "goods"?

Can a majority force the minority to pay and fight for a humanitarian cause that doesn't concern the national security? It seems like that is another version of the welfare state taken to the international level. It also seem like the State-as-Messiah mentality.

Klaus responds
FutureMan's argument rests on the erroneous assumption that "jurisdiction" is always limited by the geopolitical boundaries of the state. Jurisdiction is not necessarily limited to a physical space. If this were the case, then we would not have had jurisdiction to engage the Japanese in the Pacific or the Germans in Europe.

FutureMan responds
"Jurisdiction" is not a lynchpin in the argument. It is also conditioned by other considerations in the argument.

Dignan's response
Jurisdiction IS the lynchpin in this argument. You stated, "A State has authority to use force only within its jurisdiction". I would ask to to back this up. And yes, the burden of proof is on you since you put this forward as a major part of your argument.

I certainly don't see any Biblical basis for this idea of jurisdiction. Outside of a Scriptural basis, you are left with your own opinion on this matter.

I would argue that one of the most central roles that a government plays is that of enforcing justice. And what is more just than stopping genocide.

This idea of sovereignty of the state within its borders is an Enlightenment idea that certainly has no grounding in Scripture.

FutureMan responds
No, you are wrong, Dignan. "Jurisdiction" is not the lynchpin of my argument because I have supporting premises that temper the limits of what I mean by jurisdiction. Premises 6-8 demonstrate ethical limits, given a "free" country. Premise 9 then demonstrates the
requirement for a free country to set a limit on its military involvements. Jurisdiction is an integral aspect of the argument. The argument doesn't stand or fall based on some simplistic
understanding of the term. Perhaps it would be easier to refute my argument if I was depending on some undefined or erroneous concept of "jurisdiction", but that is not obviously the case. You're just going to have to work harder.

Furthermore, the Constitution opens saying:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." [Emphasis mine]

Nowhere is there any mention of insuring "international" Tranquility, or provision for the defense of "foreign" peoples (unless you opt for a completely illegitimate reinterpretation
of "common defense"). This issues from an established understanding of sovereignty and jurisdiction. Your "global police" view is the novel idea. Therefore, you have the burden of proof. So far, you have skirted this responsibility with nothing but bluster. You have not even acknowledged the troublesome consequences of redefining jurisdiction as you do.
I certainly don't see any Biblical basis for this idea of jurisdiction.
Then allow me to help you. Search through an AV concordance on the word "alien", especially in the Pentateuch. The OT law clearly draws a distinction between Israelites and "aliens", people outside the national boundaries of Israel. When an alien is within these boundaries, he or she must obey the law of the Israelites, and the exceptions are well-articulated (e.g., Deut. 14:21). However, the Law does not give Israel the authority to enforce these provisions outside the national boundary of Israel, with well-articulated exceptions (e.g., Jonah). That, my good friend, is called "Jurisdiction".

Dignan responds
Why are you looking at this from a purely American perspective?
FutureMan: I'm not. I'm using America as a case-in-point. America, like every other sovereign nation in the world, recognizes that is has a jurisdiction. The US is prohibited from prosecuting rapists in Germany. Germany is prohibited from prosecuting murderers in Japan. This basic idea is so obvious, I'm beginning to think your critique is pure sophistry, especially in making a comparison to theregulative principle of all things.
I am not making the argument that only the US should intervene in humanitarian crises. I think any country should. I don't care what the Constitution says or doesn't say about this because it isn't germane to the issue.

I do think that you have an odd reading of the Constitution if you think that because no mention is made of international issues that THEREFORE the US is prohibited from doing so. You may not like this analogy but it makes me think very much of those who hold the regulative principle near and dear.

The "global police" view as you call it is not new at all. The modern idea of sovereign nation states as they exist today are what is new as of the 18th century. There was no lack of countries intervening in other countries affairs before the Enlightenment period.
FutureMan: Please provide some historical examples then; as you are fond of saying, "back it up". You have still failed to provide even a hint of argumentation for your view. All I've seen from you is an appeal to sentiment that has utterly disregarded the human cost of military action in lives and freedom. You have not acknowledged the all-important distinction between sovereigns and subjects in the declaration of war; instead you speak as though the American people (that 18th century construct) speak univocally in military action. Did it occur to you that you critique of the nation-state -upon which my argument does *NOT* depend --actually weakens your case by drawing into question the very unity upon which the American military is based?
Once again, just because something is not expressly authorized doesn't mean that it is prohibited.

Speaking of Deut., Deut 24:17-18 states: 17 Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. 18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this."

So there is certainly a sense that God's people should provide justice even for "aliens". This verse is of course referring to aliens within Israel, but there is nothing to make one believe that this shouldn't be done outside the national boundaries of Israel.
FutureMan: Pretty much ALL the verses are referring to the alien *within your gates*. Why the qualification? Because the justice for aliens is for ALIENS - people who are *IN* Israel that don't live there! What do you think is the significance of "gates"? Is it is just a rhetorical flourish? NO! It has a jurisprudential meaning! It is not a weak argument from silence to note that, considering the egregious injustices perpetrated by the surrounding nations, the Law does not give Israel any authority prosecute outside its boundaries. Jonah was sent to Ninevah to deliver prophecy, to deliver God's judgment, NOT as a legal ambassador from Israel to prosecute the Assyrians.

Come on, Dignan. I expect better from you. You own the burden of proof whether you accept the responsibility or not. It is equally fallacious to argue from silence for an OT endorsement of foreign intervention. The stronger interpretation lies with the traditional understanding of jurisdiction.
Why is it that the example of Jonah isn't an example that we should use in this case, but the rest of Deut. is the example we should use? This seems rather inconsistant.

What else does the Bible tell us about justice? Deut. 27:19: 19 "Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"

FutureMan responds to Klaus

: "The US is prohibited from prosecuting rapists in Germany."

What prohibits us from prosecuting rapists in Germany?

FutureMan: Jurisdiction, obviously. I can only guess you would ask such an obvious question in an effort to trap me in a petitio principii, but that would become a failed effort. We are discussing the fundamental constitution of a geopolitical entity. I have said before that I believe the State is a post-lapsarian institution. This has some significant consequences:

a. The State exists as a result of sin. It's function is a response to sin.
b. Our fallen condition is conditioned by separation, alienation, and disintegration. This occurs at all levels of our being: subjective, theological, and communal. States are founded to preserve only partial unity. The State is an element of common grace in a fallen world. It is only a restraining factor against the disintegration of sin. It is NOT a saving factor. Let me say that
again, because both you and Will are ignoring this crucial point. The State is NOT an agent of salvation for the individual OR the community of man. This global police view assumes the opposite.
c. In that States are in existence only to preserve a partial unity-- that is, the peace and unity of a particular tribe of men--they have a jurisdiction by their very nature. Their authority has a boundary. A State without jurisdictional boundaries is an Empire of Heaven; it is God's Kingdom.

Klaus: 2. I'm curious what you (FutureMan) do with international institutions like the World Trade Organization (or even the UN) by which states agree to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of international bodies.
3. Was the first Gulf War authorized or was it extra-judicial? Iraq agreed to a cease fire after the first Gulf War, when they broke the terms of that cease fire, why didn't we have the right to resume hostilities against Iraq?

FutureMan: I might attempt to answer these questions after the principles for application have been more thoroughly discussed. I'm not going to fall into the trap of some superficial reductio ad absurdum. I am not going to play general or commander-in-chief and tell you which historical wars we should have fought or which international organizations we ought to join. BTW, I think our refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty effectively demonstrates the juridical limits of our international obligations.

Klaus: 4. Dignan is right that FutureMan's argument rests on the jurisdiction argument. Otherwise, the moral argument is sufficient to justify police actions around the world. If the purpose of the state is to punish evil doers, the only thing that limits the scope of that mandate is jurisdiction.

FutureMan: The problem we are having on this point is the position "jurisdiction" holds in my argument. It is NOT an ad hoc saving premise that I have thrown in to hold an otherwise weak
argument together. In a sense, my argument *is* a definition of jurisdiction. You will have to deal with the whole argument and not just assume some dictionary definition is all I am referring to.

Klaus: 5. We already have one exception to the jurisditional limits of the state (self-defense). It is only a small step from there to say that another exception exists for anything in our national interest. I see no compelling reason to limit the extra-jurisdictional use of force to self-defense.

FutureMan: Self-defense is not an exception. In defending its geographical boundary, a State is not limited to fighting within those boundaries. Furthermore, as one trained in law, you most certainly are aware of admiralty jurisdiction, which governs legal responsibility on navigable waters and related to maritime commerce. This is not an *exception* to jurisdiction. It is a working out of the principle of jurisdiction. Military action abroad, in the interest of self-defense, is also a working out of the principle of jurisdiction. It is not even an exception that would test the rule.

Klaus: 6. Even assuming FutureMan's argument holds water, it reaches an immoral and unjust result. That is, it seems immoral to restict a state's use of force to within it's own recognized borders when the practical result of that rule is that thousands or even millions of people may die. The implementation of that rule causes far greater harm and evil in the world than the breaking of the rule. Can anyone deny that it is unjust (if not downright evil) to do nothing while millions are slaughtered simply because of some man-made political boundary is set in a particular place at a particular time?

FutureMan: The "seeming" of the appearance of immorality removes the force of your critique, which totally ignores the power relation between sovereign and subject. Please review my "Master/Slave" paragraph in the original post. When you have dealt with the objective immorality of depriving individuals of their life, liberty, and property in the declaration of war, and can provide sufficient warrant for this violence, then you'll have an argument.

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