Christianity and the Just War Tradition

Though the US Air Force once withdrew a short lesson on Just War theory under criticism, the concept itself remains both valid and required knowledge for members of the modern military.

As an ROTC instructor at Loyola Marymount University, US Air Force Major Patrick Reimnitz wrote a paper entitled “The Call to Arms: Christianity and the Just War Tradition,” to

help his students reconcile their moral beliefs with military service.

The topic was covered decades ago by LtGen William Harrison (and updated here), but Reimnitz’s piece goes into great detail with regard to the specifics of the concept of Just War doctrine.  For those that have not read up on the topic since their military studies days — or those who have never considered it at all — the paper provides an excellent, in-depth discussion on Christian military service and Just War.

We as a nation cannot abandon the principles of distinction and proportionality in order to achieve our objectives in the Middle East. No matter how evil our enemy, we must continue to abide by the rules of just conduct…This is how we turn the other cheek: by not fighting for revenge, but by treating POWs humanely, by respecting the non-combatant status of those we are there to protect even when it may put us in harms way.

We will never win the war on terror unless we demonstrate the love of God to those we are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is for love of neighbor that we fight; it is also for love of neighbor that we must eventually make peace.

While lengthy, the piece is well worth the read.