During my days working in the White House, I often came home feeling nauseated after meetings about national security. You?d feel that way, too, if you?d spent the afternoon hearing about possible nuclear attacks, first-strike survivability, and the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), which shaped every decision we made. I used to come home and tell Patty, ?I don?t know if I can take this, because we are making decisions that could, by one miscalculation, obliterate this country!?
Now consider: The entire MAD policy assumed that leaders on both sides of the Cold War?the Americans and the Soviets?were reasonable, rational people. Today it?s a totally different ballgame. With Islamic fanatics, you don?t assume that they are rational. You assume, based on their behavior, that they?re irrational?that if they get their hands on nuclear weapons, they?re willing to use them.
I have come to the sobering conclusion that we are in greater danger of a nuclear strike today than we were during the Cold War.
That being the case, can we really wait until an attack to go after the terrorists who perpetrate it? Or do we have to, instead, rethink the whole spirit of Just War arguments, accepting that preemption is the only humane and just solution in an age of terror to accomplish what the Just War doctrine proposes? Today we are dealing with an irrational enemy who knows it cannot conquer us, but will do everything in its power to destabilize us. Can we wait until the attacks?perhaps killing tens of thousands?or should we seek them out and destroy them before they have a chance to destroy us?
This is a huge debate which defies easy answers. The candidates this year are expressing radically different views. Some candidates believe in seeking out the terrorists wherever they hide, and others prefer treating terrorist acts like criminal acts that ought to be dealt with in a ?law and order? kind of way.
Christians have to decide which view makes more sense. We need to ask ourselves if we should accept the thesis of Samuel Huntington of Harvard, who has said that we are in a new kind of conflict. From the time of the Russian Revolution to the fall of the Berlin Wall, most conflicts centered on ideology?communism versus democracy?but today the great divisions are cultural. The world is divided not so much by geographical boundaries as by differences in ultimate beliefs?that is, divided by worldviews.
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