The Christian Post is pleased to introduce "The Iron Room," a forum featuring analysis from an exciting new panel of CP commentators on areas where the Christian faith and public policy intersect. The name of the new CP political forum is inspired by Proverbs 27:17: "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
Our first installment covers President Barack Obama's controversial "kill list" of targeted terrorists singled out for attack, and whether such a policy can be considered biblical. This is the second of a two-part series.
"Too hot. Too hot." It was 40 years ago that the little 9-year-old Vietnamese girl would painfully cry these words as she ran from the bombs that ravaged her village, bombs dropped by the good guys in a war in which she had no voice to that point in time. Her photographed body, nakedly exposed by the napalm that did what it was supposed to do, would be forever burned into the consciousness of this country as the real price of war. She would forever be known as the "napalm girl."
There is never a good war, but there are just wars that we Christians must fight. And with war there will be collateral damage and death.
Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek, yet when Peter took his sword to the cheek of an evildoer, Jesus responded with neither surprise nor reprimand at the sight of a weapon. If Jesus saw fit to let his disciples carry weapons, I believe it safe to assume they carried them for reasons other than hunting pheasants.
So how should Christians view the use of a "kill list" by our president? A recent New York Times article detailed the president's personal involvement in using the list in the "shadow war with Al Qaeda," a process whereby counterterrorism officials and the president decide what individuals – even Americans abroad – should be targeted for death, usually via unmanned drone bombings.
Set aside for the moment the obvious legal concerns with the process. The question is whether I can give Christian, moral support to this assassination style of war being conducted? As opposed to what? A bunch of political hacks giving Congressional approval to declare war on select countries where terrorists find refuge? Seems like the last time we went with that conventional choice we put 100,000 "boots on the ground," thousands died, and over a million refugees fled to Syria.
This is really a no-brainer. If the killing is justified, strategic use of force is without question the best option, even though it seems a rather macabre exercise for the president.
Not only as a Christian, but as an attorney and an American, I find much more troubling the vaguely defined war on terror. In reality, it is a license for political leaders to trample the very freedoms we should protect. But that debate is for another day.
In the meantime, I take comfort in knowing that as a Christian, President Obama looks to "the writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas." We should all fear, however, a president having such unfettered power to decide who is and isn't a terrorist, who is and isn't expendable.
As recently reported in the Associated Press report by Margie Mason, the "napalm girl" had a name – Kim Phuc – and she lived to tell of the horrors of that day and the years that would follow. She speaks of "wishing she had died," but instead found at the library a reason to live – she found the Bible.
As Christians we should pray that this use of a "kill list" is the most humane execution of a just cause for war. That it prevents as much as possible the "napalm girl" tragedies. We should instead, however, resist the callousness by which Kim Phuc was considered by our leaders as expendable collateral damage, just another one of them. God obviously had other plans for Kim Phuc.