Beirut Explosion (Angles and Latest News Report)

Some multiple angles first:

Latest News Report (Not IDF or terror):

Hillary’s New Zealand/Sri Lanka Tweets (UPDATED: The C Word)

(JUMP TO UPDATE) The headlines are in stark contrast to how the corporate media zealously covered the Christchurch terrorist attack by a white supremacist that killed 49 last month, which highlighted not only the attacker’s identity, but his white supremacist motives. But how they and politicians do not report on more than 400% more murders on Easter.


One of my son’s pointed this out, and so I wish to UPDATE the post with the noting of this odd phenomenon. In all my religious studies I never came across this denomination.

Over at LIBERTY NATION, Leesa Donner writes about Obama and Hillary (in their Tweets) coming up with a new sect of Christians: “Easter Worshippers

Those pitching their tent on the left of the American political spectrum can’t seem to make themselves utter the “C” word. Many do verbal somersaults to avoid addressing, writing about, or publicly recognizing those who laud Easter. Are we on some sort of right-wing paranoid rant here? Well, let’s take a moment and see where the facts lead us.

Liberty Nation was first alerted to this odd assault on Christians by PATRICK HAUF, who seems to be a rather savvy college student. Perhaps he isn’t the progenitor of this phenomenon, but that’s where we spotted it. Hauf astutely noticed Hillary Clinton’s tweet that referred to Christians as “Easter worshippers.”

Then he did a taste-test, comparing HRC and former President Obama’s tweets about Easter and how they referred to people in the aftermath of the synagogue terrorist attack in Pittsburgh and the horrific killing of Christians in Sri Lanka.

This naturally led to tongue-in-cheek tweets like this one from LN’s Jeff Charles, “Can anyone actually tell me what an ‘Easter Worshipper’ is? Do these people worship the holiday Easter? Are they going to start calling us ‘Christmas Worshippers’ in December?”  Then Charles doubled down with: “What happens if a terrorist targets Jews during the same time period as Easter? Are we supposed to call them ‘Passover Worshippers’?”


Here we might take a moment to hearken back to a salient proverb of George Orwell. “Political languageis designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Orwell could have added another rubric to language distortion that works just as well: Never write or say the word you despise – just put it on extinction. Then in a generation or so people will ask one another: “Christian? What is a Christian?”

New York Democrats “Enable” Terror Attacks

By “enable” I mean legislate passivity in homeland security.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer and former NYPD counterterrorism detective Bill McGroarty weigh in on ‘Hannity.’

Sean Hannity interviews (RADIO SHOW) retired NYPD Lieutenant, Bill McGroarty, as well as Patrick Poole about the recent terror attack

Audio Description:

BILL MCGROARTY: Retired Lieutenant with NYPD, worked 10 years in the Counter Terrorism Unit. Bill McGroarty and his unit had done surveillance on the mosque that the terror suspect attended…unfortunately, Chris Christie outed the NYPD’s surveillance efforts and forced them to end the program

PATRICK POOLE: National Security Correspondent for PJ Media, give us an intel perspective on the terror attack in NYC yesterday (October 31st).

The Uzbekistan native accused of killing eight people in New York City had been planning his attack for weeks and did prior reconnaissance before he plowed a rented truck into pedestrians along a popular Manhattan bike path, officials revealed Wednesday.

Sayfullo Saipov, 29, was interviewed by investigators at the hospital after his surgery Wednesday, John Miller, NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, said in a news conference. Miller did not reveal what was said, though reports indicated Saipov bragged about the assault and said he was “proud” of the attack. NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill would not confirm the statement.

Days before Tuesday’s assault, ISIS had been encouraging its followers to carry out Halloween attacks with propaganda from the terror group showing a graphic with a blood-splattered machete and Tuesday’s date. SITE intelligence group, which monitors terror activity online, also highlighted a recent photo taken by an ISIS supporter near the scene of Tuesday’s attack; but it remained unclear if there was a connection between that photo and the rampage.


Dispelling the “CIA Trained-Funded Bin Laden/Taliban” Myth/Mantra

Politicians and leaders from both sides of the aisle make mention of this myth that we funded/created Al Qaeda via weapons, training, and money to the likes of Osama Bin Laden. The Daily Caller in 2013 notes some of the positions:

…in just a one-month span, Sen. Paul has — not once, but twice — advanced a conspiracy theory that says that during the Reagan era, the U.S. funded Osama bin Laden.

During John Kerry’s secretary of state confirmation hearing, Paul said ”We funded bin Laden” — a statement that prompted Foreign Policy magazine’s managing editor, Blake Hounshell, to fire off a tweet saying: “Rand Paul tells a complete falsehood: ‘We funded Bin Laden.’ This man is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

But that didn’t discourage Paul. During a much anticipated foreign policy speech at the Heritage Foundation today, Paul doubled down, saying: “In the 1980’s the war caucus in Congress armed bin Laden and the mujaheddin in their fight with the Soviet Union.”

The only problem is that this is, at best, highly speculative — and, at worst, the perpetuation of an outright myth.

This also puts Paul in the same camp as Michael Moore, who said: ““WE created the monster known as Osama bin Laden! Where did he go to terrorist school? At the CIA!”….

…read it all…

And, this is the crux of the matter: truthers took Michael Moore’s non-evidential presentations and statements and ran with them.

Another example that shows this myth isn’t necessarily one owned by strictly by politicians, as, this conversation on a friends FaceBook shows:

Antony: failed foreign policy means today’s buddies are tomorrows boogiemen.

Hunlsy: I just love the fact they’re fighting us with the weapons and training that we gave them.

Antony: Oh where oh where did Iran get those P3s and F-14 Tomcats?

Antony: it was the US – we used to be buddies with Iranians too. We played both sides of the Iran/Iraq war, which predicated Gulf I.

Hunsly: Likely from the Russians. Regardless, we’re fighting a group, not a country. This group makes all of its IEDs & buys all of their weapons with the money that we gave them.

Here is my short intercept of the above conversation. More info will follow it:

This is somewhat of a myth — that we sold the majority of weapons to the Taliban, to Iraq, and the like. For instance, in the following graph you can see that (in the instance of Iraq, which I was told over-and-over-again was weaponized by the U.S.) you have to combine the U.K. and the U.S. to equal 1%.

Iraqi Weapons

Moral Position
Much like us supporting Stalin in defeating Hitler, we were aligned with people whom we didn’t see eye-to-eye with in order to beat the USSR during the Cold War (WWIII)… a war that was fought from 1947–1991.

And thirdly, the Taliban didn’t exist when Reagan said this:

Reagan didn’t say that about the Taliban because the Taliban didn’t exist yet. He said that of the Mujahedin, the same men who would later go on to fight the Taliban under the name “Northern Alliance”

The Afghan Northern Alliance, officially known as the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (Persian: ‏جبهه متحد اسلامی ملی برای نجات افغانستان‎ Jabha-yi Muttahid-i Islāmi-yi Millī barā-yi Nijāt-i Afghānistān), was a military front that came to formation in late 1996 after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban) took over Kabul. The United Front was assembled by key leaders of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, particularly president in exile Burhanuddin Rabbani and former Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud. Initially it included mostly Tajiks but by 2000, leaders of other ethnic groups had joined the Northern Alliance. This included Abdul Rashid Dostum, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Abdul Qadir, Sayed Hussein Anwari and others.

The Northern Alliance fought a defensive war against the Taliban government. They received support from Iran, Russia, India, Tajikistan and others, while the Taliban were backed by al-Qaeda. The Northern Alliance was mostly made up of ethnic Tajiks, but later included Uzbeks, Hazaras, and Pashtuns. The Taliban government was dominated by Pashtuns with other groups being the minority. After the US-led invasion and establishment of the Karzai administration in late 2001, the Northern Alliance broke apart and different political parties were formed.

The mujaheddin fighters who had previously defeated the communist government and formed the Islamic State of Afghanistan (ISA) came under attack and in 1996 lost the capital to the Taliban. At this juncture the Mujahedin resorted to the creation of UIF because Rashid Dostum and other warlords who belonged to various tribes but to no specific political party did not want to recognize the ISA as a legal entity, so the defeated government devised a military strategy to utilize these forces while not offending their political sensibilities.

In October 1996 in Khinjan, Ahmed Shah Massoud and Dostum came to an agreement to form the anti-Taliban coalition that outside Afghanistan became known as the Northern Alliance.

CNN was doing a special on Afghanistan and Peter Bergen asked for questions from viewers that he would answer. One of the questions is as follows:

  • “If it’s true that bin Laden once worked for the CIA, what makes you so sure that he isn’t still?” ~ Anne Busigin, Toronto, Canada

Peter Bergen responds:

This is one of those things where you cannot put it out of its misery.

The story about bin Laden and the CIA — that the CIA funded bin Laden or trained bin Laden — is simply a folk myth. There’s no evidence of this. In fact, there are very few things that bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and the U.S. government agree on. They all agree that they didn’t have a relationship in the 1980s. And they wouldn’t have needed to. Bin Laden had his own money, he was anti-American and he was operating secretly and independently.

The real story here is the CIA didn’t really have a clue about who this guy was until 1996 when they set up a unit to really start tracking him.

One person in a forum that was similarly challenged pointed out that this surely wasn’t the Taliban because they hated women in any position of authority — look at the pic at the top again.

As you read on, keep in mind Mr. Bergen was not a fan of conservatives, or Republicans. With that in mind, enjoy the rest, it is posted here so it will never disappear on me:

U.S. government officials and a number of other parties maintain that the U.S. supported only the indigenous Afghan mujahideen. They deny that the CIA or other American officials had contact with the Afghan Arabs (foreign mujahideen) or Bin Laden, let alone armed, trained, coached or indoctrinated them. Scholars and reporters have called the idea of CIA-backed Afghan Arabs (foreign mujahideen) “nonsense”,[6] “sheer fantasy”, and “simply a folk myth.”

They argue that:

  • with a quarter of a million local Afghans willing to fight there was no need to recruit foreigners unfamiliar with the local language, customs or lay of the land
  • with several hundred million dollars a year in funding from non-American, Muslim sources, Arab Afghans themselves would have no need for American funds
  • Americans could not train mujahideen because Pakistani officials would not allow more than a handful of U.S. agents to operate in Pakistan and none in Afghanistan;
  • the Afghan Arabs were militant Islamists, reflexively hostile to Westerners, and prone to threaten or attack Westerners even though they knew the Westerners were helping the mujahideen.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri says much the same thing in his book Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner.

Bin Laden himself once said “the collapse of the Soviet Union … goes to God and the mujahideen in Afghanistan … the US had no mentionable role,” but “collapse made the US more haughty and arrogant.”

According to CNN journalist Peter Bergen, known for conducting the first television interview with Osama bin Laden in 1997,

The story about bin Laden and the CIA — that the CIA funded bin Laden or trained bin Laden — is simply a folk myth. There’s no evidence of this. In fact, there are very few things that bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and the U.S. government agree on. They all agree that they didn’t have a relationship in the 1980s. And they wouldn’t have needed to. Bin Laden had his own money, he was anti-American and he was operating secretly and independently. The real story here is the CIA did not understand who Osama was until 1996, when they set up a unit to really start tracking him.

Bergen quotes Pakistani Brigadier Mohammad Yousaf, who ran the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Afghan operation between 1983 and 1987:

It was always galling to the Americans, and I can understand their point of view, that although they paid the piper they could not call the tune. The CIA supported the mujahideen by spending the taxpayers’ money, billions of dollars of it over the years, on buying arms, ammunition, and equipment. It was their secret arms procurement branch that was kept busy. It was, however, a cardinal rule of Pakistan’s policy that no Americans ever become involved with the distribution of funds or arms once they arrived in the country. No Americans ever trained or had direct contact with the mujahideen, and no American official ever went inside Afghanistan.

Marc Sageman, a Foreign Service Officer who was based in Islamabad from 1987–1989, and worked closely with Afghanistan’s Mujahideen, argues that no American money went to the foreign volunteers.

Sageman also says:

Contemporaneous accounts of the war do not even mention [the Afghan Arabs]. Many were not serious about the war. … Very few were involved in actual fighting. For most of the war, they were scattered among the Afghan groups associated with the four Afghan fundamentalist parties.

No U.S. official ever came in contact with the foreign volunteers. They simply traveled in different circles and never crossed U.S. radar screens. They had their own sources of money and their own contacts with the Pakistanis, official Saudis, and other Muslim supporters, and they made their own deals with the various Afghan resistance leaders.”[14]

Vincent Cannistraro, who led the Reagan administration’s Afghan Working Group from 1985 to 1987, puts it,

The CIA was very reluctant to be involved at all. They thought it would end up with them being blamed, like in Guatemala.” So the Agency tried to avoid direct involvement in the war, … the skittish CIA, Cannistraro estimates, had less than ten operatives acting as America’s eyes and ears in the region. Milton Bearden, the Agency’s chief field operative in the war effort, has insisted that “[T]he CIA had nothing to do with” bin Laden. Cannistraro says that when he coordinated Afghan policy from Washington, he never once heard bin Laden’s name.

Fox News reporter Richard Miniter wrote that in interviews with the two men who “oversaw the disbursement for all American funds to the anti-Soviet resistance, Bill Peikney – CIA station chief in Islamabad from 1984 to 1986 – and Milt Bearden – CIA station chief from 1986 to 1989 – he found,

Both flatly denied that any CIA funds ever went to bin Laden. They felt so strongly about this point that they agreed to go on the record, an unusual move by normally reticent intelligence officers. Mr. Peikney added in an e-mail to me: “I don’t even recall UBL [bin Laden] coming across my screen when I was there.

Other reasons advanced for a lack of a CIA-Afghan Arab connection of “pivotal importance,” (or even any connection at all), was that the Afghan Arabs themselves were not important in the war but were a “curious sideshow to the real fighting.”

One estimate of the number of combatants in the war is that 250,000 Afghans fought 125,000 Soviet troops, but only 2000 Arab Afghans fought “at any one time”.

According to Milton Bearden the CIA did not recruit Arabs because there were hundreds of thousands of Afghans all too willing to fight. The Arab Afghans were not only superfluous but “disruptive,” angering local Afghans with their more-Muslim-than-thou attitude, according to Peter Jouvenal. Veteran Afghan cameraman Peter Jouvenal quotes an Afghan mujahideen as saying “whenever we had a problem with one of them [foreign mujahideen], we just shot them. They thought they were kings.”

Many who traveled in Afghanistan, including Olivier Roy[20] and Peter Jouvenal, reported of the Arab Afghans’ visceral hostility to Westerners in Afghanistan to aid Afghans or report on their plight. BBC reporter John Simpson tells the story of running into Osama bin Laden in 1989, and with neither knowing who the other was, bin Laden attempting to bribe Simpson’s Afghan driver $500 — a large sum in a poor country — to kill the infidel Simpson. When the driver declined, Bin Laden retired to his “camp bed” and wept “in frustration.”

According to Steve Coll, author of “Ghost Wars”, the primary contact for the CIA and ISI in Afghanistan was Ahmed Shah Massoud a poppy farmer and militia leader known as the “Lion of the Panjeer”. During the Afghan Civil War which erupted once the Soviets had left, Massoud’s army was routed by the Taliban (who were being helped by Pakistan’s ISI) and restricted to the northern region of the country. A loose entente was formed with several other native tribal militias which became known as the Northern Alliance who operated in opposition to the Taliban. On September 10, 2001 a camera crew was granted access to Massoud under the premise they were interviewing him for a documentary about the Mujahadeen. The crew members were actually Al Qaeda operatives who detonated a bomb killing themselves and Massoud. The purpose of the assassination was to eliminate a key ally for the US in anticipation of an invasion in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks which were to take place the following day.

(Northern Alliance ~ WIKI)

And here is another great post responding to the non-evidential/conspiratorial [leftists] on the subject:

“Osama bin Laden was trained and funded by the CIA” – you’ll read the claim everywhere, and it’s rarely opposed: everyone just seems to accept that it’s true. But why? How much evidence have you ever seen presented to support this?

The reality is that there are many people who say this is simply a myth. And we’re not just talking about neo-con friendly journalists, either.

Take Jason Burke, for instance, a major contributor to the BBC documentary “The Power of Nightmares”. In his book “Al Qaeda”, he wrote the following:

It is often said that bin Ladin was funded by the CIA. This is not true, and indeed it would have been impossible given the structure of funding that General Zia ul-Haq, who had taken power in Pakistan in 1977, had set up. A condition of Zia’s cooperation with the American plan to turn Afghanistan into the Soviet’s ‘Vietnam’ was that all American funding to the Afghan resistance had to be channeled through the Pakistani government, which effectively meant the Afghan bureau of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), the military spy agency. The American funding, which went exclusively to the Afghan mujahideen groups, not the Arab volunteers [bin Ladin’s groups], was supplemented by Saudi government money and huge funds raised from mosques, non-governmental charitable institutions and private donors throughout the Islamic world. Most of the major Gulf-based charities operating today were founded at this time to raise money or channel government funds to the Afghans, civilians and fighters. In fact, as little as 25 per cent of the monet for the Afghan jihad was actually supplied directly by states.

Page 59, Al Qaeda: The true story of radical Islam, Jason Burke

Steve Coll, former Managing Editor of the Washington Post, also suggests bin Ladin passed largely unnoticed by the CIA, in his book “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001”:

…According to [Ahemd] Badeeb, on bin Ladin’s first trip to Pakistan he brought donations to the Lahore offices of Jamaat-e-Islami, Zia’s political shock force. Jamaat was the Pakistani offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood; its students had sacked the US embassy in Islamabad in 1979. bin Ladin did not trust the official Pakistan intelligence service, Badeeb recalled, and preferred to fund his initial charity through private religious and political networks.From the beginning of the Afghan jihad, Saudi intelligence used religious charities to support its own unilateral operations. This mainly involved funneling money and equipment to favoured Afghan commanders outisde ISI or CIA control… “The humanitarian aid-that was completely separate from the Americans”, Badeeb recalled. “And we insist[ed] that the Americans will not get to that, get involved–especially in the beginning,” in part because some of the Islamist mujahedin objected to direct contact with Western infidels…

In spy lexicon, each of the major intelligence agencies began working the Afghan jihad–GID [General Intelligence Department, Saudi Arabia], ISI and the CIA– began to “compartment” their work, even as all three collaborated with one another through formal liasons…

bin Ladin moved within Saudi intelligence’s compartmented operations, outside of CIA eyesight…

Page 86/ 87, Ghost Wars, Stevel Coll

In a Q&A session following the release of his book, Coll said:

Wheaton, Md.: There have been accusations from the left that have directly accused the CIA of funding and training bin Laden. Is there any truth to this ? Steve Coll: I did not discover any evidence of direct contact between CIA officers and bin Laden during the 1980s, when they were working more or less in common cause against the Soviets. CIA officials, including Tenet, have denied under oath that such contact took place. The CIA was certainly aware of bin Laden’s activities, beginning in the mid- to late-1980s, and they generally looked favorably on what he was doing at that time. But bin Laden’s direct contacts were with Saudi intelligence and to some extent Pakistani intelligence, not with the Americans.

Missouri EDU

Peter Bergen expanded on the supposed CIA/ bin Ladin links in his book, Holy War Inc:

But were the CIA and the Afghan Arabs in cahoots, as recent studies have suggested? One author charges: “The CIA had funded and trained the Afghan Arabs during the war”. Another refers to “the central role of the CIA’s Muslim mercenaries, including upwards of 2,000 mercenaries in the Afghanistan war”. Both authors present these claims as axioms, but provide no real corroboration.Other commentators have reported that bin Ladin himself was aided by the CIA. A report in the respected British newspaper The Guardian states: “In 1986 the CIA even helped him [bin Ladin] build an underground camp at Khost [Afghanistan] where he was to train recruits from across the Islamic world in the revolutionary art of jihad”…Bin Ladin, meanwhile, had expoused anti-American positions since 1982, and thanks to the fortune derived from his family’s giant construction business had little need of CIA money. In fact, the underground camp at Khost was built in 1982 by an Afghan commander, with Arab funding.

A source familiar with bin Ladin’s organisation explains that bin Ladin “never had any relations with America or American officials… He was saying very early in the 1980’s that the next battle is going to be with America… No aid or training or other support have ever been given to bin Ladin from Americans.” A senior offical unequivocally says that “bin Ladin never met with the CIA.”

While the charges that the CIA was responsible for the rise of the Afghan Arabs might make good copy, they don’t make good history. The truth is more complicated, tinged with varying shades of grey. The United States wanted to be able to deny that the CIA was funding the Afghan war, so its support was funneled through Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI). ISI in turn made the decisions about which Afghan factions to arm and train, tending to fund the most Islamist and pro-Pakistan. The Afghan Arabs generally fought alongside those factions, which is how the charge arose that they were creatures of the CIA.

Former CIA officer Milt Bearden, who ran the Agency’s Afghan operation in the late 1980’s, says: “The CIA did not recruit Arabs,” as there was no need to do so. There were hundreds of thousands of Afghans all too willing to fight…

Moreover, the Afghan Arabs demonstrated a pathological dislike of Westerners. Jouvenal says: “I always kept away from Arabs [in Afghanistan]. They were very hostile. They would ask, ‘What are you doing in an Islamic country?” The BBC reporter John Simpson had a close call with bin Ladin himself outside Jalalabad in 1989. Travelling with a group of Arab mujahideen, Simpson and his television crew bumped into an Arab man beautifully dressed in spotless white robes; the man began shouting at Simpson’s escorts to kill the infidels, then offered a truck driver the not unreasonable sum of five hundred dollars to do the job. Simpson’s Afghan escort turned down the request, and bin Ladin was to be found later on a camp bed, weeping in frustration. Only when bin Ladin became a public figure, almost a decade later, did Simpson realise who the mysterious Arab was who had wanted him dead.

Page 67/68, Holy War Inc, Peter Bergen

This level of hostility to Westerners doesn’t suggest a warm working relationship with the US, and there’s some confirmation in a story retold by Richard Miniter:

…the handful of Americans who had heard of bin Ladin in the 1980’s knew him mainly for his violently anti-American views. Dana Rohrabacher, now a Republican congressman from Orange County, California, told me about a trip he took with the mujihideen in 1987. At the time, Rohrabacher was a Reagan aide who delighted in taking long overland trips inside Afghanistan with anti-Communist forces. On one such trek, his guide told him not to speak English for the next few hours because they were passing by bin Ladin’s encampment. Rohrabacher was told, “If he hears an American, he will kill you.” 

Page 16, Disinformation, Richard Miniter

Bin Ladin was himself asked about US funding by Robert Fisk:

Fisk: …what of the Arab mujahedin he took to Afghanistan – members of a guerilla army who were also encouraged and armed by the United States – and who were forgotten when that war was over? bin Ladin: “Personally neither I nor my brothers saw evidence of American help…

Fisk interview, 1996

And Ayman al-Zawahiri, second-in-command of al Qaeda, explains more in his text “Knights under the Prophet’s Banner”. Here he claims the “Afghan Arabs” had plenty of funding from various Arab sources, and points to other indications that they never supported the US:

“While the United States backed Pakistan and the mujahidin factions with money and equipment, the young Arab mujahidin’s relationship with the United States was totally different.”Indeed the presence of those young Arab Afghans in Afghanistan and their increasing numbers represented a failure of US policy and new proof of the famous US political stupidity. The financing of the activities of the Arab mujahidin in Afghanistan came from aid sent to Afghanistan by popular organizations. It was substantial aid. “The Arab mujahidin did not confine themselves to financing their own jihad but also carried Muslim donations to the Afghan mujahidin themselves. Usama Bin Ladin has apprised me of the size of the popular Arab support for the Afghan mujahidin that amounted, according to his sources, to $200 million in the form of military aid alone in 10 years.

Imagine how much aid was sent by popular Arab organizations in the non-military fields such as medicine and health, education and vocational training, food, and social assistance (including sponsorship of orphans, widows, and the war handicapped. Add to all this the donations that were sent on special occasions such as Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha feasts and during the month of Ramadan.”

“Through this unofficial popular support, the Arab mujahidin established training centers and centers for the call to the faith. They formed fronts that trained and equipped thousands of Arab mujahidin and provided them with living expenses, housing, travel, and organization.”

Changing Bin Ladin’s Guard

About the Afghan Arabs’ relationship with the United States, Al-Zawahiri says in his book: “If the Arab mujahidin are mercenaries of the United States who rebelled against it as it alleges, why is it unable to buy them back now? Are they not counted now-with Usama Bin Ladin at their head-as the primary threat to US interests? Is not buying them more economical and less costly that the astronomical budgets that the United States is allotting for security and defense?”

“The Americans, in their usual custom of exaggeration and superficiality, are trying to sell off illusions to the people and are ignoring the most basic facts. Is it possible that Usama Bin Ladin who, in his lectures in the year 1987, called for boycotting US goods as a form of support for the intifadah in Palestine, a US agent in Afghanistan?….

“Furthermore, is it possible that the martyr-as we regard him-Abdallah Azzam was a US collaborator when in fact he never stopped inciting young men against the United States and used to back HAMAS with all the resources at his disposal?

“Is it possible that the jihadist movement in Egypt can be a collaborator movement for the United States when Khalid al-Islambuli and his comrades killed Anwar al-Sadat, even before the phenomenon of the Arab mujahidin in Afghanistan emerged?”

“Is it possible that the jihadist movement in Egypt can be a US collaborator movement when in fact it brought up its children, ever since the movement started, to reject Israel and all the agreements of capitulation to it and to consider making peace with Israel as a contravention of Islamic Shari’ah?”

Book, His Own Words: A Translation of the Writings of Dr. Ayman Al Zawahiri

Richard Miniter has a little more on this in “Dispelling the CIA-Bin Ladin Myth“, and while you may not exactly trust the source, there were further comments worth at least a look on the US State Departments “Identifying Misinformation” site.

(Via 9/11 Myths)

Oh Bollard, It’s Mark Steyn!

Steyn was filling in for Rush Limbaugh on Monday (6-5-2017), and I grabbed some content that I was loving. (BTW, when Rush retires, Steyn would be a great replacement). He touches on terrorism, Kathy Griffin, “bollards,” the London Mayor, and the broader culture. 21-minutes of classic Steyn!

The MSM and #NeverTrumpers Join Forces in “Wooden” Literalism

A friend linked to a WASHINGTON POST article after I posted the above on my Facebook with this statement:

  • “Trump quoted the mayor COMPLETELY out of context. Read this:”

(I – RPT – post a section from his link for clarity):

…But then he decided to slam the mayor of the city attacked, who had calmly warned his fellow Londoners: “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There’s no reason to be alarmed.” Trump took the second part out of context and responded viciously, “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” (The mayor, of course, was telling them not to be alarmed by the heightened police presence.) Trump was not done, however, inanely tweeting, “Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck!”…

(He also linked to FOX NEWS’ story on it.) HOTAIR deconstructs Mayor Khan better:

Sadiq Khan, the mayor, didn’t say there’s no reason to be alarmed about terrorism. What he said: “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed — one of the things the police and all of us need to do is make sure we’re as safe as we possibly can be.” In other words, there’s no reason to be alarmed that another attack is imminent. The police will be out in the streets as a precautionary measure, not because there’s intelligence suggesting more bombs are about to go off.

I will now post our conversation to help the conservative leave the “woodeness” of the Left, whom complains about the Right not considering grey areas of life — but what Prager rightly notes the “black n white” truly exists on the Left (and so, in the media). BTW, this is a fellow compatriot. These are honest and cordial disagreements between us GOP’ers. I consider this an in-house debate about Trump, like the age of the earth or other theological matters. I am not posting this here to belittle my friend but merely to note the closeness of the #NeverTrumpers to the MSM’s understanding of the view they have of all Republicans since Nixon. They [the #NeverTrumpers] are just now lining up with that same rhetoric from the Left because of their dislike for Trump. You see, I am not an analyse… I am a conservative. I see the larger fight for the soul of America as between Left and Right. I want the right to win in politics… and I do so by defending Republicans from the dopiness of the Media [Left].

These two totally variant views on reality are at their core, two completely different worldviews/philosophies. My job as a polemicist is to make sure we win in arguments where truth is concerned and the ethos of our Founding is defended in some way.

The Trump Derangement Syndrome that infects the #NeverTrumpers is hindering their view that they are siding with the MSM in their false view and inability to pick up what Trump was laying down… specifically in that Tweet. I have to admit as someone who is imperfect, I bet I practiced some of this with Obama. But these people are not seeing the forest beyond a few trees…

…to wit I hope my responses shed a bit of light on this:

ME –

So a mayor who has ignored terrorism, in fact tripling since he’s been mayor, himself having ties to extremism, a police force that ran away from the attackers, and a suspect who master mined the attacks who was warned of 2-years ago, and the populace is not suppose to be alarmed? Please. And the WaPo has never taken Trump (or Rubio) out of context? Please.

J.G. –

I didn’t suggest that WaPo has never published a news article or an opinion piece in which the writer took Trump (or Rubio) out of context. When that occurs, I have no objection to anyone calling them out on it. Most of your posts on your blog do just that (and I think that is good). So, I find it ironic that suddenly, you are defensive when a similar standard is applied to something you posted. Be fair Sean.


The main point I was trying to make Sean, is that this particular post of yours was spreading a false narrative. Feel free to criticize politicians and others who are hesitant to take necessary and reasonable steps to keep citizens safe, but you can do that without helping Trump spread more falsehoods.

ME –

Trump had all that in mind when he Tweeted that. Others may not know or follow this mayor’s many previous statements about Trump and his connections to jihadists, but, but I have. What is a false narrative from the media is that the people of London are not effed, and mean ol Trump is smearing a good guy. Leftists like to pardon Islamists (like the mayor), lift up severed heads as “art,” because they have similar worldviews (I have an entire chapter from Melanie here on this). Her book Londanistan should be the topic, not something Trump says [laid down] that you or the press cannot pick up.


I feel like I am responding to an atheist. Let me explain. When I talk to persons who challenge the Bible (and take note Protestants look at Scriptural integrity differently that Catholics), they will bring up points from the O.T. as literal, without applying genres (like poetry, war texts, history, wisdom literature, prophecy, and the like), or subcategories such as hyperbole.

So I merely bring up that using the way the skeptic is using the Bible would be the same as reading Exodus 15:8 and positing that God has a BIG nose, or reading Psalm 91:4 and saying God is a giant chicken.

Similarly, WaPo is taking the rhetoric of Trump as woodenly literal without keeping in mind the following:

  • a jihadist sympathizing mayor, police running away, 2-year old warnings unheaded, and now military police in pubs [that is hyperbole in case you are not getting it]… etc.

Are you now taking Trump’s Tweet as literally using the phrase of the London mayor without reference to any deeper meaning J.G.?

J.G. –

Many reasonable people are interpreting many of the things that Trump says as asinine, ignorant, immature, and unbecoming of a POTUS. He better work on improving his communication skills if we’re all misunderstanding him. I’m not talking about left-wing nutcases misunderstanding him. I’m talking about lifelong conservatives (like me) and mainstream moderates misunderstanding him. Please don’t blame the media. The media doesn’t write his Tweets or speak for him when he’s in front of the camera.

ME –

If he was as eloquent as Obama was it would make not a single iota of difference in the stories at WaPo.

Reagan was an excellent communicator, as was Ford, Nixon, etc. But ALL were bumbling idiot according to the press.

J.G. –

Sean Giordano, you don’t get it. There is a huge difference between how conservatives and moderates viewed Reagan, Ford, Nixon, etc. and how they view Trump both in terms of competence and ability to communicate effectively. I’m not talking about the Washington Post. I’m talking about Americans across the whole country. Trump is perceived as a bafoon by the vast majority of Americans, not just journalists.

ME –

No, trump has done waay more conservative things that any of those before him in the same time.

So I separate Obama’s excellent rhetoric from his horrible policy. LIKEWISE, I separate Trump’s horrible rhetoric from his excellent policy.

He is a buffoon in public. So? So was Mozart, Beethoven, Immanuel Kant, Lewis Carroll, and others. And?

So, Trump is not a Rubio or a Bobby Jindal (my first choice) or a Ted Cruz (my second choice).

Trump still has done more in his first days than I think any of them could have (including winning the rust belt, and thus winning).

…to be continued… maybe?

Here is JIHAD WATCH’S take on the matter:

President Trump has taken London Mayor Sadiq Khan to task for his grossly insensitive statement about the London jihadist attack:

  • “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack,” the president wrote on his personal Twitter account, “and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’

Only a “leader” with either an unsound mind or an unsavory agenda could utter such bizarre words following a gruesome jihad rampage (within two weeks of the one Manchester) that began with the mowing down of innocent civilians and continued with a 12-inch blade “knife frenzy.” All the while, the jihadis shouted “this is for Allah.”

Khan’s words start to look more sinister than obtuse when one considers his own jihadist connections. He was reported by the UK’s Spectator to have known links to “extremists”:

Some of these associations date back to his time as a director of Liberty and a human rights lawyer – trying to get the UK to lift its ban on the American Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has described Jews as ‘blood-suckers’ and called Hitler ‘a very great man, and speaking at the same conference as Sajeel Abu Ibrahim, a member of the now proscribed Islamist organisation that trained the 7/7 bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan.

It doesn’t stop there:

in 2004 he appeared on a platform with five Islamic extremists at a conference in London organised by Al-Aqsa, a group that has published works by the notorious Holocaust denier Paul Eisen….In the same year, Khan was the chair of the Muslim Council of Britain’s legal affairs committee and was involved in defending the Muslim scholar Dr Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.

Qaradawi is no “moderate.” As reported by Jihad Watch in February:

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most renowned and prominent Muslim cleric in the world, has stated: “The Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-‘ashriyyah, Al-Ja’fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.”

In September, Khan stated that it was necessary for Westerners to be careful not to insult Muslims and to affirm that Muslims can hold Western values, otherwise they would join jihad groups. In other words, Khan was warning non-Muslims to beware of insulting Muslims, otherwise they would kill you.

Also, it did not matter that jihad attacks in Britain tripled in five years: Khan boasted in March that he planned on bringing in 1,500,000 more migrants….

(read it all)

Why We Are Vigilant!


(via FUNKER 530) Take a good look at the world today. We have children in the streets of the United States throwing a temper tantrum because they believe that the politicians have failed. Maybe they have. They have failed them by allowing them to believe that they live in a world of sunshine and rainbows.

Politics completely aside, this video is a snap back to reality. This is the real world that we live in today as a species. Grown men are training children, some as young as six, to move through a house in a tactical fashion with live ammunition, having them kill actual living human beings. To put the cherry on the cupcake, they are recording it with some serious production value, and then uploading it to the internet to show the world that their children are ready to die for their cause. I don’t see you marching for women and children’s rights in Syria.

While you whine and complain about social issues that are a moot point in our society, women and children are being raped and murdered around the world by maniacs. Take a look outside of your own safe space, and realize that the world can’t be the Utopian place you want. It isn’t possible, it is never going to happen.

This is why….


Muslim vs. Jewish Terrorism | Time-Lines

(Caroline’s Book: The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East)

There is a conversation going on elsewhere on the “InterWeb,” that is giving me an opportunity to import some information from a previous post on my old blog in mid-2009 regarding Arab/Muslim terror. Here is the statement I wish to address with history:

. . . JUMP TO . . .

i. Ancient History” (really, the newest world religion on the scene);

ii. or to Modern History.

  • “Hamas came AFTER Jewish terrorism. Even the Jewish leaders’ documented admissions demonstrate as much.” — Tim W. 

This statement just is not true. I will mention some past history first, then dive into more modern Zionism.

…OKAY… FIRSTLY… out of the worlds “World Religions” Islam holds the distinction of being founded by a terrorist. Muhammad personally dug graves for men, women, and children he likewise assisted in slitting the throats of and “marrying” off (sex-slaves) female children to his men. Remember, Muhammad married a 6-year old and consummated that marriage when she was nine-years old.

He instructed his followers to lie, to kill satirical poets (today known as stand up comedians) for speaking negatively of him. Orders to steal and thieve, rape and pillage, were the norm — as well as making treaties with the knowledge that they would be broken when Muhammad’s forces were stronger. You can see a a handout I made for a adult Sunday School class (linked in pic to right).

There is also this history relating to terror in the caliphates from Robert Spencer and Bill Warner. First Robert, then the video by Bill:

The Third Crusade (1188-1192). This crusade was proclaimed by Pope Gregory VIII in the wake of Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem and destruction of the Crusader forces of Hattin in 1187. This venture failed to retake Jerusalem, but it did strengthen Outremer, the crusader state that stretched along the coast of the Levant.

The almost Political Correct myth is that the crusades were an unprovoked attack by Europe against the Islamic world are dealt with in part:

The conquest of Jerusalem in 638 stood as the beginning of centuries of Muslim aggression, and Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution. A few examples: Early in the eighth century, sixty Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; around the same time, the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies – except for a small number who converted to Islam; and Muslims demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the Resurrection if they didn’t pay. Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He also increased the anti-religious tax (jizya) that Christians had to pay and forbade Christians to engage in religious instruction to others, even their own children.

Brutal subordinations and violence became the rules of the day for Christians in the Holy Land. In 772, the caliph al-Mansur ordered the hands of Christians and Jews in Jerusalem to be stamped with a distinctive symbol. Conversions to Christianity were dealt with particularly harshly. In 789, Muslims beheaded a monk who had converted from Islam and plundered the Bethlehem monastery of Saint Theodosius, killing many more monks. Other monasteries in the region suffered the same fate. Early in the ninth century, the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled to Constantinople and other Christians cities. More persecutions in 923 saw additional churches destroyed, and in 937, Muslims went on a Palm Sunday rampage in Jerusalem, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), pp. 147-148; 122-123 (respectively).

More via Robert Spencer:

  • Early in the eighth century, sixty Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified;
  • around the same time, the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies – except for a small number who converted to Islam;
  • and Muslims demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the Resurrection if they didn’t pay
  • Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He also increased the anti-religious tax (jizya) that Christians had to pay and forbade Christians to engage in religious instruction to others, even their own children…
  • In 772, the caliph al-Mansur ordered the hands of Christians and Jews in Jerusalem to be stamped with a distinctive symbol;
  • Conversions to Christianity were dealt with particularly harshly;
  • In 789, Muslims beheaded a monk who had converted from Islam and plundered the Bethlehem monastery of Saint Theodosius, killing many more monks;
  • Other monasteries in the region suffered the same fate;
  • Early in the ninth century, the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled to Constantinople and other Christians cities;
  • More persecutions in 923 saw additional churches destroyed;
  • and in 937, Muslims went on a Palm Sunday rampage in Jerusalem, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection

More on this can be found in at my The Crusades vs. The Three Caliphates (Moral Equivalence)


Before continuing however, here are some recomended books from my book shelf… click to enlarge:

Besides the myth that the “Palestinians” are being displaced (see many presentations of the myths surrounding modern-day Israel HERE), the myth that “Zionism” perpetrated terror prior to “Hamas” or the Arab-Muslims is simply a false narrative. For instance… here are terror attacks by Muslims BEFORE the first Irgun (Jewish extremist) attack ~ again, click to enlarge:


Nor are these attacks warranted on the typical Leftist drivel… and this is only a decade of examples:


  • June 5 – U.S. presidential candidate Robert Kennedy murdered by Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan, in Los Angeles, which causes further terrorist attacks, as Arab terrorist groups demanded his release.


  • Feb. 18 – Boeing 707 attacked at Zurich, Switzerland, killing the pilot and 3 passengers.
  • Aug. 29 – TWA 707 hijacked from Rome to Damascus, released with only wounded.
  • Nov. 27- EL AL office in Athens, Greece attacked. Innocent bystanders killed.


  • Feb. 21 – Swiss airliner blown up over Switzerland, killing all 47 people on board.
  • Feb. 23 – PLO terrorists open fire on a busload of Christian pilgrims killing 1 and wounding 2 Americans.
  • April 21- Bomb explodes aboard a Philippines airliner. All 36 aboard are killed.
  • Sept. 6 – “Skyjack Sunday” in Jordan. 3 planes (TWA, Swissair, Pan Am) en route to the U.S. hijacked, 400+ hostages, planes blown up in Jordan, Governments agreed to PFLP’s demands, released terrorists from jails and hostages released.
  • Sept. 14 – The PFLP hijacked TWA flight to Ammon, 4 Americans injured.


  • Nov. 28 – Jordanian prime minister Tal killed by terrorists at the Sheraton Hotel in Cairo, Egypt.
  • Dec. – Jordanian ambassador to London, England is shot by hit squad.


  • Jan. 26 – Bomb explodes on a Yugoslav plane killing all but one passenger.
  • May 30 – Ben Gurion Airport, Israel attack killed 26, and wounded 78 U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico.
  • Sept. 5 – Palestinian terrorists seize 11 athletes in the Olympic Village in Munich, Germany, 9 hostages and 5 terrorists killed, plus David Berger from Cleveland.


  • March 2 – Khartoum, Sudan. Cleo Noel, Jr., U.S. ambassador, and George C. Moore, U.S. diplomat, were held hostage and then killed by terrorists at the U.S. Embassy.
  • Aug. 5 – Suicide squad attacks Athens airport, Greece, killing 3 civilians and injuring 55.
  • Dec. 17 – Bomb explodes at Pan Am office at Rome, Italy killing 32 and injuring 50+. The terrorists take 7 Italian policemen hostage and hijack an aircraft to Athens, Greece, killing one of them.


  • March 1 – Diplomats taken hostage from Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, 2 that are killed are Americans.
  • April 11 – Kiryat Shmona Massacre at an apartment building killing 18 people, 9 were children.
  • Sept. 8 – Athens, Greece. TWA Flight 841 exploded from bomb in cargo hold, all 88 passengers killed, including 32-year-old Steven Lowe, an American citizen.
  • Nov. 23 – British DC-10 hijacked at Dubai, UAE, flown to Tunisia where a German passenger was killed.


  • Jan. 19 – Arab terrorists attack Orly airport, Paris, France, seizing 10 hostages from a bathroom. French provided the terrorists with a plane to fly them to safety in Baghdad, Iraq.
  • Sept. 30 – Hungarian airplane explodes killing all 64 persons on board.
  • Dec. 21 – Carlos “The Jackal” holds 11 oil ministers and 59 civilians hostage during the OPEC meeting in Vienna, Austria. Flew to Algeria, got $300,000,000 in ransom money, Carlos and his Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorists escape.


  • Jan. 1 – 82 innocent travelers are killed aboard a Lebanese plane.
  • June 27 – Air France airliner hijacked, forced to fly to Uganda. Some 258 passengers and crew are held hostage. 3 passengers killed. July 4th, Israeli commandos rescue the remaining hostages.
  • Aug. 11 – Terrorists attack Istanbul airport, Turkey, killing 4 civilians (1 from U.S.) and injuring 20.
  • Dec. 4 – Terrorists occupied the Indonesian Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands, 1 official killed.
  • Dec. 14 – Passenger train hijacked and passengers were kept hostage, 3 were killed.


  • Jan. 1 – F.E. Melov U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, and Robert O.Waring, the U.S. economic counselor, kidnapped and later killed in Beirut.
  • Oct. 13 – Palestinian terrorists hijack a Lufthansa Flight 181 Boeing 737 and order it to fly around a number of Middle East destinations for four days, pilot is killed by the terrorists, 90 hostages rescued.


  • March 11 – Gail Rubin, niece of U.S. Senator Ribicoff, among 38 people shot to death by terrorists on a beach near Tel Aviv.
  • June 2 – A bomb kills 2 people at the CHOGM meeting in Sydney Australia.

(More examples here FREE REPUBLIC)

So, the contention that Jewish extremism or foreign policy or removing a non-existent people from one-place to another just does not comport with the historical evidence. Not only that, but similar “evictions” of the “Palestinians do not garner U.N. attention nor the attention of the media, as is explained here:

Much has been made of the Palestinian exodus of 1948. Yet during their decades of dispersal, the Palestinians have experienced no less traumatic ordeals at the hands of their Arab brothers. As early as the mid-1950s, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Libya expelled striking Palestinian workers. In 1970, Jordan expelled some 20,000 Palestinians and demolished their camps; in 1994-95, Libya expelled tens of thousands of long-term Palestinian residents in response to the Oslo process; and after the 2003 Iraq war, some 21,000 Palestinians fled the country in response to a systematic terror and persecution campaign. As recently as 2007, Beirut effectively displaced 31,400 Palestinian refugees when the Lebanese army destroyed the Nahr el Bared refugee camp during fighting between the militant Fatal al-Islam group and the Lebanese army.

But the largest forced displacement of Palestinians from an Arab state took place in 1991 when Kuwait expelled most of its Palestinian residents in retaliation for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) endorsement of Iraq’s brutal occupation of the emirate (August 1990-February 1991). It mattered little that this population, most of which had resided in Kuwait for decades, was not supportive of the PLO’s reckless move: From March to September 1991, about 200,000 Palestinians were expelled from the emirate in a systematic campaign of terror, violence, and economic pressure while another 200,000 who fled during the Iraqi occupation were denied return. By September 1991, Kuwait’s Palestinian community had dwindled to some 20,000.

Yet while this expulsion was near the order of magnitude of the Palestinian 1948 flight (estimated by the Israeli government at 550,000-600,000 and by the Arab League at 700,000), driving PLO chairman Yasser Arafat to declare that “what Kuwait did to the Palestinian people is worse than what has been done by Israel to Palestinians in the occupied territories,” it was largely ignored by the international community with neither the U.N. Security Council nor the General Assembly doing anything to assist the newly displaced refugees and punish their ethnic cleanser….


‡ “An Invented People” — The Jamie Glazov Show w/Daniel Pipes and David Meir-Levi (there can be no two-state solution, BTW):

Three Article On Pacifism and Just War Theory (+Dennis Prager)


  1. Matthew Alexander Flannagan, “Thank God for New Zealand Anti-Terrorist Squad
  2. Keith Pavlischek, “Can a Pacifist Tell a Counterterrorism Strategy?
  3. J. Daryl Charles, “Can a Pacifist Tell a Counterterrorism Strategy?


The following is taken from Philosophia Christi Vol. 18 Num. 1 (Summer 2016). You can purchase back issues (this current issue) HERE. These articles were in response to two pacifist authors theologians. I did not include them herein, but you can see the index of the issue I am excerpting from in order to see the other authors on the opposing side of this debate, HERE. Here is a description of this journal issue:

  • The Summer 2016 issue features a new and updated discussion on “Just War as Deterrence Against Terrorism” with contributions from Paul Copan, Myles Werntz, Gregory Boyd, Matthew Flannagan, Keith Pavlischek, and J. Daryl Charles. These papers offer philosophically attentive engagements from pacifists and just war advocates.

  • Matthew Alexander Flannagan, “Thank God for New Zealand Anti-Terrorist Squad,” Philosophia Christi Vol. 18 Num. 1 (Summer 2016), pp. 129-135.

[p.129>] ABSTRACT: On November 14, 1990, David Gray’s twenty-two hour shooting spree ended when the New Zealand Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) shot Gray dead. In this paper I argue that Chris­tians should support the existence of state agencies like the ATS who are authorized to use lethal force. Alongside the duty we as Christians have to love our neighbors, live at peace with others and to not repay evil for evil, God has authorized the government to use force when necessary to uphold a just peace within the geographical area over which it has jurisdiction.


“Aramoana,” in Maori, means “pathway of the sea.” It is the name of a small coastal town, population 261, which is located about 27 kilometers (15 miles) North East of Dunedin in New Zealand’s South Island. When I did my doctoral studies in Dunedin, my family and I visited Aramoana. The town is friendly and peaceful, and it has spectacular wild life and scenery. With flat whites—frothy New Zealand coffee beverages—from the local café in hand, we took in the breathtaking beauty of the harbor, walked along the shell-covered, white sandy beach, and enjoyed up-close encounters with dozens of sea lions on the rocky point. All the while we were watching albatrosses fly into the land on the hill across the harbor. The hill on the other side of the harbor is one of the few places in the world where albatrosses make contact with land on their long journey from Antarctica to Argentina across the South Pacific.

Aramoana is not known in New Zealand for any of these features. Ara-moana is a name forever etched in the memory of New Zealanders for a very different reason. On the evening of November 13, 1990, Aramoana resident, David Gray, had a verbal dispute with his neighbor. He then went on a shooting rampage.

For twenty-two hours Gray terrorized the people of Aramoana who, unable to flee, hid in their homes while he stalked the tiny township hunting them down and shooting everyone he found. Gray would not be reasoned with or negotiated with; he opened fire on everyone.

[p.130>] The terror ended at 5:50 p.m. the next day. Gray charged police, firing at them with a semiautomatic rifle; the police returned fire and Gray was fatally wounded. He died at 6:10 p.m. en route to Dunedin’s hospital after having taken thirteen members of his community—including four children and a police officer—with him to the grave. He left another three wounded: two children and another police officer.

In New Zealand police do not typically carry firearms; at least they did not back then. The police who shot Gray that day were members of a special unit called the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS). The ATS is authorized to respond to terrorist activity with lethal force if necessary, and after Gray pretended to surrender and then shot a police officer dead, the ATS issued a shoot-on-sight order. Although Gray was a lone individual, had he been acting on behalf of an organization, the result would have been the same: he would have been shot.

The question I want to ask in my essay is this: As Christians, should we condemn the existence of state agencies like the ATS who are authorized to use lethal force? Is there justification for the existence of state forces, armed with automatic weapons, for this purpose?


A widely-held view among my fellow theologians is that there is no justification for the state to use lethal force, even against terrorism. I once raised the question of David Gray’s killing at an Auckland panel discussion in which I was participating. The topic was on the ethics of killing. The response I received from those theologians present with pacifist tendencies was evasive. While none of them seemed able to bring themselves to pub­licly condemn the state authorized killing of David Gray, they did not approve of it either. The general response was to cite Jesus’s teachings to love your enemies, refrain from seeking revenge and overcome evil with good. Encouragement was given to those listening to think on how these things can be reconciled with the concept of allowing governments to kill.

I want to look a little more closely at what Paul had to say on these things. My starting assumption is that Paul was a faithful expositor of Jesus’s teaching; in Romans 12:17-20 Paul expounded on Jesus’s teaching on this topic as follows:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
[p.131>] if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Note the words Paul uses here. Paul talks about not taking “revenge” upon those who do “evil”; instead he instructs us to leave room for the “wrath of God.” Note also that the reason he gives for this: taking revenge is a kind of metaphysical vigilantism. The right to take revenge belongs to God; if his readers take revenge, they are usurping for themselves an authority they don’t have.

Many stop reading there; however, the text immediately proceeds into Romans 13:1-6:

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are es­tablished by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condem­nation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a min­ister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.

Paul is saying that the governing authorities that exist on earth have been “ordained by God,” that they do not “bear the sword” for nothing, and that God’s servant is an “avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” The words I have italicized in the passages from chapter 12 are the same (or cognate) words in the Greek as the words I highlighted in the pas­sages from chapter 13.

Paul is saying that governments not only do these things but that they have the authority of God to do so. “The authorities that exist have been established by God” (v.2); whoever rebels against them “is rebelling against what God has instituted” (v.3); and, it is necessary to submit to governments “not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience” (v.5). Governments, therefore, act as God’s servants when they do so.

The chapter division between chapter 12 and chapter 13 is not in the original text; so these passages should be read together. When they are, these verses show Paul drawing a distinction between authorized and unauthor­ized uses of force. The very thing Paul’s audience lacks the authority to do in regard to not repaying evil for evil is what the government has been given the legitimate authority by God to do.

In other contexts, this distinction between what governments have a right to do and what private individuals have a right to do is commonplace.

[p.132>] It would be wrong and criminal for a private citizen to take another person’s property by force, even if they believed the money was going to a worthy cause. However, governments do this all the time when they impose taxes. It would be blackmail and false imprisonment for me to lay down laws for my neighbor to obey and then deprive her of her liberty if she fails to comply. Yet governments can legitimately lay down laws for others and incarcerate criminals who do not comply with them. Governments hold a monopoly on certain uses of force and, hence, have rights to use force that private citizens do not. The fact that people who don’t hold any political office have duties to refrain from certain forms of violence, force, and retribution does not mean that governments have the same duty.


Classically the just war theory is based on the premise that Paul appears to affirm: that a government has the right and duty to use force to uphold a just peace within the geographical area over which it has jurisdiction. If a criminal attempts to rape or kill a person within the geographical realm over which a government has authority, then that government can justifiably use force to prevent this, and it can also legitimately use force to try and punish anyone who does these things—hence, the existence of a legislature, police force, courts, and prisons.

Just war theorists simply argue that there seems no reason why this would not extend to when the person committing the offence is a soldier from another country as opposed to a domestic criminal. In his book Princi­ples of Conduct, John Murray captures this idea well when he asks: “by what kind of logic can it be maintained that the magistrate, who is invested with the power of the sword (Romans 13:4), may and must execute vengeance upon evil doers within his own domain but must sheath the sword of resistance when evil doers from without invade his domain.”1 Just war theorists argue that for a war to be just, it must meet six requirements (though the sixth is often divided into two):

(1) It must be fought for a just cause and aim.

(2) It must be prosecuted by someone with the lawful authority to do so.

(3) It must be a last resort.

(4) There must be a reasonable chance of success in prosecuting the aims.

(5) The cost incurred by going to war must not be greater than the evil being opposed.

[p.133>] (6) The force used in prosecuting the war must be both proportionate and discriminate, force must be aimed at combatants and not non­combatants.

These criteria come from reflection on the circumstances in which govern­ments are permitted to us force to uphold justice in general. Criteria (1) and (2), read together, reflect the notion that private citizens do not have a right to pass laws binding on—in the present case—all New Zealand citizens and back these up with force—only the government can do this. It is only morally permissible for the government to do this when it does so to uphold justice—to protect people living within its borders from injustice and to punish those guilty of crimes. Governments do not have the right to take people’s life, liberty or property at whim.

The idea of war being a last resort, (3), is also simply an extension of principles of normal governance. The police are expected to not use force unless arrest is resisted. If they are dealing with a hostage situation, they try to negotiate with the hostage-taker first. However, in the world we live in, hostage-takers sometimes start shooting, people refuse to come quietly, or they pretend to surrender so they can gain an opportunity to do more harm; force then becomes necessary and justified, albeit regrettably so.

It is also a principle of normal governance that things need to be fea­sible; this comes through in (4), the government should not authorize force, even to prosecute a just cause, unless it believes there is a reasonable chance of success in doing so. It is unjust to ask persons to sacrifice their property, resources, freedom, or themselves in vain for an end that cannot actually be achieved.

There are plenty of unjust actions that governments do not criminalize or aggressively prosecute because the evils of doing so are greater than sim­ply tolerating the offense. It is unjust to be lied to. It is unjust for people to give insults. It does not follow that the government should invest time and resources trying to prevent these actions through legislation and enforcement. Police often refuse to prosecute offenses they consider trivial or not worth police time and resources; they limit their focus to what is serious. We do not expect the police to do anything about liars, but we do expect them to act against serial killers and rapists because the evil being done by the latter outweighs these concerns. War is not in a special category here, which is the idea behind (5): the cost incurred by going to war must not be greater than the evil being opposed.

Finally, we get to (6)—the idea that any force used must be proportion­ate and discriminate. If a state uses force justly, then the force used will be proportionate to the injustice being rectified. A just government imposes more severe coercive penalties on a premeditated killer than it does against a teenager who smashes windows. While someone smashing my windows is engaging in unjust aggression against my property, the force used to stop this [p.134>] should be more measured than that employed in a hostage situation where the criminal has started killing hostages.

The force must also be discriminate. Paul’s contention is that the gov­ernment “are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” When functioning as God’s servant, “rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.” Governments can justly use force against people engaging in aggression against citizens but not in­tentionally against third parties who are not engaging in this aggression.

Of course, no war ever meets these criteria perfectly but neither does any court system, legislature, or police force. Even in a relatively just soci­ety, courts make mistakes and innocent people go to jail. Sometimes armed police mistakenly shoot the wrong person. There are difficult situations where criminals use human shields. Even in a relatively just society, there are corrupt police and judges. None of this inclines us to reject the idea that a government has the right and duty to use force to uphold justice within the geographical area over which it has jurisdiction.

We accept that people are fallible. We expect that governments should take reasonable precautions to avoid such errors and that rules governing investigation, evidence, corruption, and so on will be put in place and that honest attempts will be made to enforce them. We know that, despite this, the system will still fail on occasion and innocent people will be harmed, and we accept this. We don’t demand an end to courts, police or legislation because of this. Just war theory submits that we should take the same approach to force used by the state against external aggressors.

This conclusion applies whether the external aggressor is a uniformed soldier in a conventional army or a terrorist, who is ostensibly a member of the civilian population whose aim is to indiscriminately kill and maim people. As Alexander Pruss argues, “When the invading army marches in, burning crops and murdering citizens, they are breaking the victim country’s laws. If problematic violence is permitted to enforce the laws of one’s ter­ritory, it should be permissible to use problematic violence to stop them.”2 Terrorists kill and burn in the same way the soldiers of invading armies do, and their actions are no less contrary to the victim country’s laws.


The events at Aramoana on November 13, 1990, brought home an un­pleasant truth to New Zealanders who were used to believing these kinds of things happen overseas, typically in America, and not here at home. This truth is that there are people in the world who intentionally terrorize and indiscriminately kill men, women, and children, and who can only be realis‑ [p.135>] tically stopped with violence. For that reason, the New Zealand government has the ATS.

Alongside the duty we as Christians have to love our neighbors, live at peace with others—as much as it depends on us—and not repay evil for evil, God has ordained the government to use force when necessary. It is not “either-or.” It is “both-and.”


1. John Murray, Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1957), 115.

2. Alexander Pruss, “Pacifism,”

  • Keith Pavlischek, “Can a Pacifist Tell a Counterterrorism Strategy?” Philosophia Christi Vol 18 Num. 1 (Summer 2016), pp. 137-145.

[p.137>] ABSTRACT: In this essay I distinguish between classic Christian pacifists who embrace the dual­ism of the Schleitheim Confession, who believe that it is unjust, immoral, and in opposition to the teachings of Jesus for Christians to fight in wars or, more generally ever to threaten or employ lethal force, and modern Christian pacifists who believe this proscription also extends to secular government officials and legislators. For distinct reasons, neither have much to say to Christian just warriors or public officials seeking ways to combat the scourge of terrorism. I conclude by suggesting that attempts to find a “third way” between just war and either form of pacifism are theologically perilous.

I’m gonna lay down my heavy load down by the riverside, /down by the riverside /down by the riverside. /I’m gonna lay down my heavy load / down by the riverside, / and I ain’t gonna study war no more.

I ain’t gonna study war no more; / I ain’t gonna study war no more; / I ain’t gonna study war no more; /I ain’t gonna study war no more; /I ain’t gonna study war no more; / I ain’t gonna study war no more.

I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield /down by the riverside, /down by the riverside, /down by the riverside. /I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield /down by the riverside, /And I ain’t gonna study war no more.

Christian just warriors and pacifists can both sing that old spiritual, “Down By the Riverside,” and mean what they say. But what they mean to say is profoundly different. The just warrior has no problem singing along so long as the declaration, “I ain’t gonna study war no more” is understood as an eschatological hope and expectation. Swords will be beat into plowshares,1 to be sure, but not until after the Lord returns. Unlike the pacifist, or, if you [p.138>] prefer, the Christian committed exclusively to “nonviolence,”2 the Christian just warrior thinks that it would be unwise and unjust to cease and desist from the study of war prior to the coming of the Lord. He will resist the in­clination to “immanentize the eschaton.”3

When Christian pacifists sing, “I ain’t gonna study war no more,” they take this to be a requirement of the Gospel in the here and now and resist the idea that this is merely an eschatological hope. Pacifists insist that to be a faithful disciple of the Prince of Peace you really shouldn’t go about studying war, which means eschewing, one would think, military strategy, operational art, tactics, force structure, weapons development and employ­ment military history and the like.

For some Christian pacifists—what I call classical Christian pacifists (or perhaps sectarian Christian pacifists)—the moral requirement proscribing the study of war extends only to Christians. This seems to be the view of the Schleitheim Articles of 1527 (widely regarded as the theological consolida­tion of Anabaptist pacifism),

Concerning the sword we have reached the following agreement: The sword is ordained by God outside the perfection of Christ. It punishes and kills people and protects and defends the good. In the law the sword is established to punish and to kill the wicked, and secular au­thorities are established to use it.

This classical Christian pacifist position declares that while Christians “ain’t gonna study war no more” it is nevertheless a good thing that some­body does, namely “secular authorities.” This is why they leave no doubt that not only should Christians not study or practice warfare, but that Christians really shouldn’t be serving as secular authorities.

[I]t is asked about the sword, whether a Christian may hold a posi­tion of governmental authority if he is chosen for it. This is our reply: Christ should have been made a king, but he rejected this (John 6:15) and did not view it as ordained by his father. We should do likewise and follow him. In this way we will not walk into the snares of dark‑ [p.139>] ness…. Also, Christ himself forbids the violence of the sword and says, ‘Worldly princes rule,’ etc, ‘but not you’ (Matthew 20:25).

…[I]t is not fitting for a Christian to be a magistrate because the authorities’ governance is according to the flesh, but the Christian’s is according to the spirit. Their houses and dwellings remain in this world, but the Christian’s is in heaven. Their weapons of conflict and war are carnal and only directed against the fortifications of the devil. Worldly people are armed with spikes and iron, but Christians are armed with the armor of God.4

Now, this is a rather old-fashioned type of Christian pacifism, and my gen­eral impression is that many contemporary Christian pacifists are rather em­barrassed by it. When I bring this old-fashioned sectarian pacifism to the attention of my pacifist friends, the typical response is, “But there are many different types of Christian pacifism,” or “We have ‘developed’ beyond that,” or something along those lines. But rarely do contemporary pacifists take up the challenge to explain exactly why this position is unbiblical, or unwise, or impractical, such that more knowledgeable, mature, and progressive twenty-first-century Christian pacifists should reject it.

I suspect that the modern Christian pacifist is embarrassed by this form of classical or sectarian pacifism, because it clearly holds that secular rulers have the authority from God himself to use lethal force to protect and defend the good. These classical pacifists didn’t feel compelled to create ever-in­creasingly novel ways to reinterpret the clear thrust of Romans 13:1-7. The sword for them is ordained “outside the perfection of Christ” to be sure, but it is nevertheless ordained by God per Romans 13. But for many of our con­temporary Christian pacifists who have “gone beyond” or “developed” this classical position, the sword, it would seem, is ordained never and nowhere.5

[p.140>] For these modern Christian pacifists, the gospel’s demand to be “peacemak­ers” and advocates of nonviolence, and the gospel’s purported prohibition on the threat and use of lethal “violence” (and probably nonlethal violence as well), and the insistence that Christians cease and desist-from “studying war” also extends to secular rulers. Modern Christian pacifists insist that not only should Christians be singing “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More” (and insist that it is not merely an eschatological hope and expectation), but so should all presidents, and senators, members of Congress, diplomats, and even the military. At best, these “secular rulers” should be studying nonviolent con­flict resolutions strategies.

Some modern Christian pacifists go even further in their condemnation of those who study war. The New Testament scholar (and current Duke Di­vinity School President), Richard B. Hays, for instance, finds military ser­vice so obviously unbiblical and profoundly anti-Christian, that he has stated publicly, at an Evangelical Philosophical Society meeting in 2000, that he considers Christian military chaplains who attempt to recruit seminary stu­dents for the Chaplain Corps to be committing a form of prostitution-tanta­mount to a “Pimps for Jesus” organization.6

So, what can Christian just warriors learn about counterterrorism from either (1) classical evangelical pacifists of the old-fashioned Schleitheim Confession variety or (2) modern evangelical pacifists of the Richard Hays variety? What can either of these forms of Christian pacifism contribute to an informed discussion of how to structure a coherent counterterrorism strategy that is part of a broader military and national defense strategy? I would sug­gest that from a just war perspective neither form of pacifism (and that would include a variety of offshoots from these positions)7 has much to offer to the Christian just warrior.

First, what are we just warriors to make of a modern Christian pacifist such as Richard Hays? If you are inclined to think that military chaplains are the moral equivalent of pimps, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to think this would apply a fortiori to Christians who serve in the military since the work of military chaplains doesn’t center on devising strategies and plans to fight terrorists and who certainly don’t serve as “trigger pullers,” who do the actual fighting and killing. Aside from that, what could a Richard Hays or his many followers possibly have to say to a Christian who does study war, or, more to the point, does study counterterrorism strategy and doctrine? The [p.141>] answer is rather obvious. These kinds of pacifists really can’t say much more than “You ought to find another line of work.”

That is to say, modem Christian pacifists such as Richard Hays seem to believe that the professional calling of being a soldier or an armed police officer prepared to use lethal force is an illegitimate profession and call-ing—certainly for the Christian and seemingly for the non-Christian as well. This is not unlike being a pimp or a prostitute, an illegitimate calling for a Christian certainly, but for the non-Christian as well. The owner of a brothel dedicated to running a successful business isn’t likely to expect wise counsel on how to run a successful enterprise from a Christian pastor or theologian who believes that his entire enterprise is intrinsically immoral in the first place, or who believes that the “office and calling” of being a pimp cannot be a legitimate calling for a Christian, or anybody else, for that matter. The Christian who believes that pimping and brothel management are intrinsical­ly immoral activities, and who believes that the owners and managers of the brothel should repent of such sinful activity—”go and sin no more”—isn’t in a particularly good position to provide recommendations on the best sexual tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs in military parlance) required to run a successful prostitution enterprise.

Likewise, the last place you are going to go for wise advice and counsel if you are an expert in counterterrorism strategy, operations, and tactics is to a disciple of Richard Hays or other contemporary neo-Anabaptist theolo­gians. If military strategy and war fighting are an art and a craft, which they are, and if the prudent application of military force is an indispensable part of any coherent counterterrorism strategy, which it is, then you aren’t going to get particularly wise counsel from pacifists who think that the art of war is intrinsically immoral or who believe (to state it in theological terms) that the sword is ordained by God never and nowhere.

What about the classical Christian pacifist? While the sectarian paci­fist believes his Christian just war neighbor really shouldn’t be “studying war no more,” really shouldn’t be studying counterterrorism strategy, and really shouldn’t serve as a combatant in the fight against terrorists, he would have, in principle, little problem with military force being part and parcel of a national military strategy and national security strategy to combat ter­rorism. After all, the classical Christian (sectarian) pacifist believes, in ac­cordance with the Schleitheim Confession, the following: “In the law the sword is established to punish and to kill the wicked and secular authorities are established to use it.” Classical (or sectarian) Christian pacifists, unlike modern Christian pacifists, do not believe that service in the military is an intrinsically evil profession, per se. They simply believe it is an intrinsically evil profession for Christians. The classical Christian pacifist would surely not want non-Christian secular authorities to sing “Ain’t gonna study war no more” other than as an eschatological hope and expectation, for how else are [p.142>] those “outside the perfection of Christ” going to learn how to properly “pun­ish and kill the wicked,” including terrorists!

It is precisely because the classical Christian pacifist understands that secular authorities must “study war” while they reject for themselves the study of war that the sectarian pacifist would be generally not be inclined to “give advice to Caesar” on national military strategy in general and counter­terrorism strategy and tactics in particular. “What do I know?” the classical Christian pacifist will ask, “about those skills and procedures that are ‘out­side the perfection of Christ’? What do I know about the best and most effec­tive use of unmanned aerial vehicles, whether our national military strategy should have a counterterrorist focus at this time in this particular region of the world, while it should have more of a counterinsurgency focus in this particular region, or whether we should use coercive diplomacy at this time, but military direct action at other times, etc.?” You’ve got to study a little war and statecraft to become knowledgeable on those sorts of issues.

So the Christian just warrior will not expect the modern Christian paci­fist to provide informed and wise advice on how to address the scourge of terrorism because the latter believes to fight such terrorism using military force is intrinsically evil (like owning and managing a brothel). Nor will the Christian just warrior expect such advice from the classical pacifist. But he will not expect advice from the sectarian pacifist for a different reason. The classical Christian pacifist is likely to abstain from giving advice because, by his own account, he is in no position to do so, and being a wise Christian pacifist, he doesn’t want to talk on things he is no position to discuss. The classical pacifist will indeed sing “I ain’t gonna study war no more” but would immediately add that he isn’t about to give advice on the tactics and strategy of warfighting to those who do.

Christian pacifists of both sorts would do well, then, to understand that they really don’t have much to offer the Christian just warrior on counter­terrorism by way of informed advice. Now, I suspect many pacifists will concede this point but are not willing to give up “engaging in dialogue” with Christian just warriors. Christian pacifists may not be able to provide wise counsel on counterterrorism policy, but at least they can embrace the role of keeping Christian just warriors honest, by insisting that we hold to the jus ad bellum and jus in bello principles to which we claim to subscribe. In prin­ciple, of course, there should be nothing particularly problematic about this, as long as the pacifist doesn’t rig the game, and insist upon jus ad bellum and jus in bello criteria that are aligned to what these pacifist desire they should be, rather than what they really are.

Anyone involved in debates about just war and pacifism over the past few decades can’t fail to recognize this problem. Michael Walzer (a secular Democratic socialist with no Christian, evangelical, or conservative axe to grind) summarizes what happens all too frequently when pacifists enter into [p.143>] the debate on the use of force and seek to instruct just warriors on the re­quirements of the jus ad bellum and jus in bello.

Many clerics, journalists, and professors, however, have invented a wholly different interpretation and use, making the theory more and more stringent, particularly with regard to civilian deaths. In fact, they have reinterpreted it to a point where it is pretty much impossible to find a war or conflict that can be justified. Historically, just war theory was meant to be an alternative to Christian pacifism; now, for some of its advocates, it is pacifism’s functional equivalent — a kind of cover for people who are not prepared to admit that there are no wars they will support.8

As I have argued elsewhere,9 following the lead of James Turner Johnson and others, this cryptopacifist or functional pacifist approach of the just war tradition tends to wreak havoc on both the jus ad bellum and jus in bello such that, for example, the prudential jus ad bellum criterion of “last resort” is rendered a supercriterion of the traditional deontological criteria of legiti­mate authority, just cause and right intention while the jus in bello principle of proportionality gets distorted beyond recognition as does the relationship between discrimination (or distinction) and proportionality. But this way of viewing the just war tradition also has rather pernicious theological conse­quences that both Christian just warriors and Christian pacifists alike should reject.

The theological roots of this cryptopacifism or functional pacifism or the jus bellum contra bellum is the mistaken belief that Christian just war theory really is what Darrell Cole refers to as “a limited exception to gen­eral pacifism.”10 Whether it takes the form of Niebuhrian realism or Just Peacemaking or whatever is the latest third-way theological developments trying to strike a so-called middle way between just war and pacifism, these various approaches toward and understandings of the Christian just war tra­dition tend to boil down to the belief that while Jesus wants his disciples to completely eschew the resort to force and to embrace nonviolence, we can’t be absolutists, especially in a world of totalitarians (in the twentieth century) and ruthless terrorists (in the twenty-first). Motivated by what is no doubt a sincere attempt to find “common ground,” too many pacifists and nonpacifists alike assume that just war doctrine is fundamentally a “limited excep­tion to pacifism.” But it isn’t.

[p.144>] Christian pacifists, of course, think that just war theory developed pre­cisely because early Christians had to figure out a way to harmonize their nonviolent assumptions with the desire to aid their neighbors with acts of force. This is factually wrong. Pacifists cannot point to a single Church Father who helped develop the Christian just war doc­trine out of “nonviolent assumptions.” On the contrary, just war theory arose out of assumptions of justice and the virtue of charity. Assump­tions of nonviolence had nothing to do with the genesis of Christian just war theory.11

Because, as Cole notes, the view that Christian just war is a limited excep­tion to pacifism was unheard of prior to the twentieth century, any number of Christian theologians could be mustered to prove the point. But because it is directly relevant to the issue of terrorism I will simply cite the following passage from Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion:

But here a seemingly hard and difficult question arises: if the law of God forbids all Christians to kill (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17; Matthew 5:21)… how can magistrates be pious men and shedders of blood at the same time? Yet, if we understand that the magistrate in administering punishments does nothing by himself, but carries out the very judgments of God, we shall not be hampered by this scruple. The law of the Lord forbids killing; but, that murderers may not go unpunished, the Lawgiver himself puts into the hands of his ministers a sword to be drawn against all murderers….

Now if their [i.e., civil magistrates] true righteousness is to pursue the guilty and the impious with drawn sword, should they sheathe their sword and keep their hands clean of blood, while abandoned men wickedly range about with slaughter and massacre, they will be­come guilty of the greatest impiety, far indeed from winning praise for their goodness and righteousness thereby!

But kings and people must sometimes take up arms to execute such a public vengeance. On this basis we may judge wars lawful which are so undertaken. For if power has been given them to preserve the tran­quility of their dominion . . . can they use it more opportunely than to check the flay of one who disturbs both the repose of private individu­als and the common tranquility of all?…. Therefore, both natural equity and the nature of the office dictate that princes must be armed not only to restrain the misdeeds of private individuals by judicial [p.145>] punishment, but also to defend by war the dominions entrusted to their safekeeping, if at any time they are under enemy attack.12

Two points are worth highlighting here. First, Calvin argues a fortiori that if it is reasonable and just to expect the civil authorities to punish private in­dividuals who murder and go about committing other criminal activity, then it must be much more reasonable and just when such activity threatens not merely “the repose of private individuals” but the entire commonwealth, the entire society, or as Calvin puts it, “the common tranquility of all.”13

Second, Calvin is making a critical point that gets to the core of the difference between Christian pacifism and Christian just war. Calvin insists that it would be impious; it would be disobedient to the Lord for the civil magistrate not to wield the sword in defense of the innocent and in defense of the commonweal when, like modern terrorists, “abandoned men wickedly range about with slaughter and massacre.” It would be disobedient to God for the civil authorities to sheathe the sword and keep it clean from blood, if that is what is required to execute justice on those terrorists and terror­ist organizations who wickedly range about with slaughter and massacre. Calvin, and again, not only Calvin for he is simply summarizing the broader Christian theological tradition here, is not suggesting that the civil magistrate is doing evil so that good may come when he—Christian or not—unsheathes his sword. To the contrary, he is teaching that it is evil, for even the Chris­tian magistrate, or the Christian soldier, to keep that sword clean of blood if wisdom and prudence dictates that shedding the blood of terrorists is nec­essary to protect the innocent and to defend the commonwealth from their wickedness. The necessary corollary to this position is that modern Christian pacifists, in arguing that civil authorities disobey God by refusing to protect the commonwealth are themselves urging impiety and are counseling those in civil authority to disobey the Lord. In an age of terrorism, we would do well to recover that fundamental theological insight of the Christian just war tradition.


1. Mic. 4:3: “He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”

2. I use the terms “pacifist” and “advocate of nonviolence” interchangeably. It is fashionable for Christian pacifists these days to declare that they prefer the term “nonviolence” to “pacifism” because the latter term seems to imply that they are “passive” in the face of injustice, and they want to stress that their advocacy of nonviolence is not passive but “active.” By this they seek to stress that they do not merely advocate passive nonviolent nonresistance, but also various forms of nonviolent direct action, protests, sit-ins, political activity and the like—the sort modeled by Jesus on the way to the cross. How pacifists (or advocates of nonviolence) can claim to adopt a posture that models the nonviolent, nonresistance of Jesus—”the way of the cross”—while also embracing the latter is a mystery to me. To be sure Jesus didn’t resort to violence on the way to Calvary, but he didn’t engage in nonviolent direct action protest either, and he didn’t implore his disciples to engage in nonviolent direct action to prevent his unjust death.

3. The term is from Eric Voeglin’s The New Science of Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952).

4. The Schleitheim Confession is available at:

5. See Paul Ramsey’s essay, “Can a Pacifist Tell a Just War?,” in The Just War: Force and Political Responsibility (New York: Scribner, 1968). Ramsey’s justified frustration with the pacifist James Douglas is evident throughout the essay but is summarized in a single paragraph: It is hard to know how to deal with some who, like James Douglas, announces the same premise [Christian perfectionism of Menno Simmons] and yet wishes, in the tradition of the great churches, to continue to talk relevantly about politics. This leads him to the conclusion that the sword is ordained nowhere and never at all—at least not in the modern period. Throughout the centuries these two positions have been locked in struggle within Christian conscience: the sword may sometimes be a Christian’s secular duty and calling or a requirement of civil righteousness (the tradi­tion of the great churches: Lutheranism, Calvinism, Roman Catholicism). Douglas abolishes this perennial tension at the heart of a Christian’s double wrestle over the meaning of faithfulness to Christ and the meaning of his faithfulness to his fellow­man and to the claims of political justice. He solves the problem by the simple expe­dient of proclaiming the perfection of responsible politics. He simply declares that justice-making can now be accomplished by suffering love alone, or that the nuclear age has so radically changed the nature of politics today that this can be the only way to secure the political good. (ibid., 262)

6. This interchange with Richard Hays took place at the Evangelical Philosophical Society meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. The paper James Skillen and I presented there was published in this journal: “Political Responsibility and the Use of Force: A Critique of Richard Hays,” Philosophia Christi 3 (2001): 421-45.

7. See David C. Cramer, “A Field Guide to Christian Nonviolence,” Sojourners, January 2016,30-5. This article lists a variety of supposedly different kinds of pacifism. While this sort of taxonomy is somewhat interesting, it does little to clarify either the distinct points of con­tention and disagreement between various forms of pacifism and tends to obscure rather than clarify the fundamental differences they all have with just war doctrine.

8. Michael Walzer, “Responsibility and Proportionality in State and Nonstate Wars,” Parameters (Spring 2009): 42; available at:

9. See Keith Pavlischek, “Proportionality in Warfare,” The New Atlantis (2010): 21-34, which quibbles with Walter’s handling of the principle of double effect and of proportionality. Available at:

10. Darrell Cole, “Listening to Pacifists,” First Things, August 2002,

11. Ibid. Cole perceptively notes that this view “would allow the pacifist a meaningful voice” in contemporary public policy and international affairs.” This goes a long way in explaining why modern pacifists are embarrassed by classical or sectarian pacifism and why so many pacifists are intent on giving “advice to Caesar” regarding international affairs. In any case, as Cole says, this way of looking at the just war doctrine was unheard of before the twentieth century.

12. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.20.10-11 (emphasis in the second para­graph and in the second sentence of the third paragraph added).

13. Aquinas makes a similar a fortiori argument in Summa Theologiae IIaIIae, q.40, a.l.: And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, accord­ing to the words of the Apostle (Rom. 13:4): “He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil”; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the com­mon weal against external enemies. Hence it is said to those who are in authority.” (The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. the Fathers of the English Dominican Province)

This is a partial excerpt from a larger article…

  • J. Daryl Charles, “Can a Pacifist Tell a Counterterrorism Strategy?” Philosophia Christi Vol 18 Num. 1 (Summer 2016), pp. 153-163.

[p.153>] …Full disclosure on my part is perhaps in order at this point. I grew up in an Anabaptist—and specifically Mennonite—tradition and thus understand and appreciate the pacifist mind-set from the inside. To its credit, the pacifist perspective is sensitive to the violent tendencies that permeate both human experience in general and American culture in particular. In addition, it rec­ognizes diverse—and, in many ways, creative—avenues for social action. In the words of Jean Bethke Elshtain, pacifism puts “violence on trial” in that it views social life from the vantage-point of the potential victim and not the victor.14 Furthermore, it is keenly sensitive to the distortions of faith that come with an uncritical view of the state and fade into nationalism, a continual problem throughout history and not one that is uniquely American. Elsewhere I have critiqued the pacifism of Mennonite theologian John How­ard Yoder,15 whose influence is enormous even outside of narrowly Anabap­tist circles. Yoder’s work is worthy of serious critique, not least because of the thoroughness with which his theological justification of pacifism—errant and unrepresentative of the Christian moral tradition though it is—is built.16 [p.154>] In the end, the convictions represented in this response-essay represent not only my own position but classic “just war” thinking through the ages.17

The Ethico-Hermeneutical Fallacy

At the most basic level, given the natural moral law (as expressed, for example, in the Ten Commandments), it needs emphasis that there is no such thing as a “new morality” introduced in the New Covenant as most religious pacifists maintain. Jesus did not come to set aside the moral law but to af­firm and clarify it (as Matthew 5:17ff. makes quite clear). Murder, adultery, dishonest speech, taking justice into one’s hands (that is, revenge or retali­ation), and enemy-hatred,18 all of which are based on moral law revealed in the Old Testament, are not being set aside by Jesus; they are still prohibited.19 For this reason, Aquinas and the magisterial Protestant reformers distinguished between ceremonial, judicial, and moral law as they read and interpreted Old Testament law. Jesus, Paul, and James all agree: the New Covenant sums up-rather than changes-the ethical standard revealed in the Old?20 Thus, any hermeneutic that creates discontinuity of the moral law between the Old and New Testament is illegitimate and not representative of the historic Christian tradition.21 C. S. Lewis expresses it this way in his essay “On Ethics”:

The idea that Christianity brought an entirely new ethical code into the world is a grave error… for… its Founder, His precursor (the [p.155>] Baptist), [and] His apostles came demanding repentance and offering forgiveness, a demand and offer both meaningless except on the as­sumption of a moral law already known and broken.”22

It is no more possible, Lewis insists, “to invent a new ethic than to place a new sun in the sky.”23

The Textual and Contextual Fallacy

A second error plagues standard pacifist interpretations of Christian moral obligation. The image of “turning the other cheek” is meant to ad­dress issues of the heart—that is, personal reaction to abuse and insult, and personal revenge, not statecraft and public policy.24 This is made clear by the context of Matthew 5:39-42, in which “turning the other cheek” is one of four personal illustrations.25 The other three images are giving the shirt off your back, walking the second mile (likely a conscription to carry some­thing, such as a soldier’s gear, a common Judean occurrence), and giving to anyone who asks. If “turning the other cheek” is universally binding, at any level, then giving the shirt off your back, walking a second mile when com­pelled, and giving to whoever asks—including every irresponsible child and every irresponsible person on the street corner—are as well.

In this light, the text of Romans 12:17-13:6, consisting of two comple­mentary hortatory units needing to be taken together, offers a helpful paral­lel to Matthew 5, as Matthew Flannagan reminds the reader. Justice is pro­scribed in Romans 12 while it is prescribed in Romans 13. While I am free not to defend myself, I am not free not to defend the innocent third party who [156>] is suffering and needing protection.26 Pacifism is an option for individuals but not for communities, neighborhoods, or nations, wherein basic freedoms and rights need protecting, and often forcefully so. Since there will always be thieves, murderers, bandits, rapists, and wrongdoers, and since without the enforcement of law there will always be gangs of these wrongdoers, coercive power will always be a necessity in a relatively just and civil society.27 To not resist evil coercively is a moral absurdity, as Reinhold Niebuhr, Elizabeth Anscombe, and C. S. Lewis (among others) insist.28

The Politico-Cultural Fallacy

Given the pacifist tendency to speak in terms of “violence” or “nonvio­lence,” it needs to be emphasized that a qualitative moral distinction can be made—and should be maintained—between “violence” and “force.” It is for this reason that we conventionally speak of “military force,” not “military violence.” Analogically, it is the difference between romance and rape. Force may be defined as “the measure of power necessary and sufficient to uphold the valid purposes both of law and politics. What exceeds this measure is violence, which destroys the order both of law and politics.”29 Force, then, is morally neutral and can be used for either good or ill.

What needs reiterating in light of pacifism’s utopian tendency is that so­ciety without coercive power is impossible (not to mention fully unbiblical). Law and justice without force is a myth—try not paying your taxes! Justice without force is mythical because there will always exist evil men. And evil men must be hindered, in order that the very goods of human flourishing be [p.157>] protected; otherwise, human sinfulness would destroy everything. Peace at any price is not the Christian position. In the words of Aquinas, “peace is not a virtue, but the fruit of virtue.”30 That is to say, peace is a human good, but it is not an absolute good; peace must be justly ordered. After all, the Mafia, tyrants, terrorists, bandits, and pirates maintain a general orbit of “peace” in which they carry on their business. What then, we may ask, is “criminal justice”? And what happens to society without it? Here pacifism, with its fundamental commitment to “nonviolence,” is tragically irrelevant, despite its best intentions.

I happened to grow up in Pennsylvania, the “Quaker state.” Students of American history will recall that Quakers did have a go of it with their “holy experiment” of Quaker nonviolence. How long did the experiment last? Roughly seventy years (ca. 1680 to 1750). Well before the end, however, the high hopes for a “peaceable kingdom” were disintegrating. Forbidden to use violence, Quaker legislators hired others to fight the Indians, among others. In the end, it needs to be said, there is something very wrong with the religious attitude that basically says (or assumes), “Well, let the Gentiles—the unbelievers—do the messy business of maintaining justice in society.” Neither is this biblical, nor is it just, nor is it charitable.31 Someone must protect the neighborhood. Someone must protect the citizenry. Someone must protect society. Indeed, someone must perform those untidy public services that are often taken for granted, including guarding and transporting the life savings of pacifists from ABC Savings and Loan to XYZ Savings and Loan (as security guards routinely do).

To argue that Christians cannot serve in such positions or that political power (inclusive of “sword-bearing”) is inherently evil or that force cannot serve just purposes (as in fighting terrorism) is simply misguided at best and morally irresponsible at worst. Even the apostle Paul himself requested military protection when his own life was under threat (Acts 23). He does not take matters into his own hands, but asks the rightful authorities to do so—as, in fact, Romans 12 and 13 teach. What’s more, it finds no support from the Christian scriptures. Surely this is why neither Jesus nor John the Baptist nor the apostles ever call soldiers away from their vocation. Accord­ing to Matthew 8:5-15, Jesus commends an officer in the Roman legions for a faith that is truly incomparable: “Assuredly I tell you, I’ve not found such great faith throughout all of Israel.” In a context of repentance, the Baptist exhorts soldiers to do two things: “Don’t intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14). Were the pacifist’s arguments [p.158>] valid, we would expect the Baptist to tell the soldiers, “Repent and leave your military service if you confess authentic faith, for the ‘kingdom of God’ is nigh; otherwise, you are practicing idolatry.” Alas, such a call is not forth­coming. And, shockingly, God uses an officer in the Roman legions as the primary vehicle by which to adjust Peter’s theological understanding of the New Covenant (Acts 10:1-11:18). What’s more, this army officer becomes the first Gentile convert to be baptized.

The Philosophical and Theological Fallacy

Yet another point of correction is in order. It concerns the widespread misunderstanding of what constitutes charity or neighbor-love. Charity can take various forms, including coercive force and retributive justice. Augus­tine and Aquinas are at pains to be clear about this. Augustine speaks of benigna asperitas—”benevolent harshness”—in a letter to his friend Mar-cellinus, a Roman official in Carthage, and insists that it is a loving thing to prevent a criminal from further victimizing the community; it is best for” he offender, for the community watching, and for future potential offenders.32 And in the Summa, Aquinas subsumes his discussion of justified war, inter­estingly, under the broader topic of caritas. In the just war tradition—and in the Christian moral tradition—charity and justice are wed; thus, to separate them or place them in opposition is to do irreparable harm to both virtues.33 Justice will always seek a humane, dignified, and morally appropriate way of manifesting itself, while charity will always seek to uphold what is true, right, and just. Neighbor-love and justice, when wed together, yield an or­dered peace both at the international level and in domestic affairs (the latter being what we call “civil society”).

A principal error of pacifism, then, is that it mistakes the principles and forms of charity. Calculating consequences or effects of an action can never establish the rightness or wrongness thereof; rather, its intention and aim determine its moral quality, which in turn inform the means. At bottom, the “just war” criterion of right intention is a principal and necessary expression of “Golden Rule” ethics. Viewed positively, not only do we treat others as [p.159>] we wish to be treated ourselves, but in negative terms we do not treat oth­ers-nor do we permit others to be treated-as we ourselves would not wish to be treated. The implications for humanitarian intervention and for a mor­ally relevant response to terrorism are obvious. In the context of catastrophic geopolitical events, charity will take the form of coming to the aid of the grossly oppressed, for which coercive force will be a moral necessity. For this reason, the West’s failure to prevent genocide in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan in our time remains a scar on our collective conscience.34

It is unsurprising that among religious and secular pacifists alike, Gan­dhi is hailed universally as a model of “nonviolent” resistance. Yet one could well argue that Gandhi’s pacifism was easier in India, a British colony; it could not have existed in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Precisely this doubt was lodged in the mind of George Orwell, who spent years as a jour­nalist in India: “It is difficult to see how Gandhi’s methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the regime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard from again.”35 What’s more, most people have either forgotten or are unaware of Gandhi’s advice to European Jews who were being delivered to death camps by the Nazis during WWII. And what was his advice? That they should commit suicide in order to get the world’s attention and speak forcefully to the conscience of nations.36 Consider the unspeakably tragic irony here in Gandhi’s thinking: violence (in fact, any coercive force) is morally prohibited against others, but lethal violence per­petrated against myself (if I am a Jew in a death camp) is permissible. This is neither just nor charitable.

The tragedy of pacifism as a policy, in the face of unspeakable horror, has been expressed by political theorist Michael Walzer in this way:

Nonviolent defense differs from conventional strategies in that it concedes the overrunning of the country that is being defended. It estab‑ [p.160>] lishes no obstacles capable of stopping a military advance or preventing a military occupation…. This is a radical concession, and I don’t think that any government has ever made it willingly.37

Walzer’s point is to take the “nonviolent” position consistently to its logical end, and his point is obvious. There are no cases in which civilian defense, based on “nonviolence,” has caused either an invader to withdraw, a poten­tial invader not to invade, or a tyrant to cease and desist from terrorizing. Merely to say with the religious pacifist that as public policy we should fol­low the example of the “crucified Lamb” will not do. Not to resist is to con­done the evildoing in the moral sphere of human relations. In the end, one can be assured that European Jews were grateful for Allied intervention near the end of World War II; for this reason, the truth of the ancient proverbial wisdom remains:

Rescue those who are being led away to death;
Hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
And if you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
Does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay each person
According to what he has done?38

In the context of genocide and mass human rights violations, this rescue—this “holding back from slaughter”—will require coercive force and restraint, and such is the fruit of charity or neighbor-love—what one Christian ethicist called a “preferential ethics of protection.”39 Christian love, then, will always be in search of a responsible social policy.40 That is to say, it will always seek to incarnate itself; it will always take on flesh, in this way lending itself toward social policy. It will do so, however, without becoming a “Christian politics” or “Christian economics” per se, since idolatry by means of democ­racy or contractual agreement can become entrenched and institutionalized.

The Historical Fallacy

[p.161>] Finally, a major flaw in pacifist thinking needs revisiting. It is the re­markably widespread assumption—so widespread, in fact, that even many nonpacifists have imbibed it—that the early Church, until the fourth century, was uniformly pacifist. For example, in his influential Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace, the Quaker historian Roland Bainton asserted that “no Christian author to our knowledge approved of Christian participation in battle.”41 Virtually all pacifist writers make the same assertion, with not a few following John Howard Yoder’s line of reasoning, namely, that the early Christians rejected anything remotely related to the Empire and Caesar as “inherently evil,” including the military.

But this viewpoint is historically inaccurate and cannot hold up to scru­tiny. Far from there being a univocal witness against soldiering and military service, the picture is one of ambiguity. There is little evidence of a unified and unambiguous “Christian” view of war and military service, or that most Christians opposed war or military service per se.42 And for the earliest gen­erations of believers—until the mid-to-late second century—military service was a nonissue, since as a sociological group, Christians were insignificant, not wanted, and lacking the requisite Roman citizenship to join the Roman legions. This, however, would begin to change for purely demographic rea­sons in the second century.

More recent scholarship has tended to confirm that the early church was indeed not univocally pacifist, and that diversity rather than uniformity—as we might expect—characterized Christian attitudes toward war, soldiering, and military service. A bit of recent history at this point is in order. Up until roughly 1980, it was broadly assumed that the early Christians were “paci‑ [p.162>] fist,” based on a supposed aversion to bloodshed. By the late second century it was acknowledged that some Christians were serving in the military-a number that grew during the third century. It was further assumed that by the end of the fourth century a “Christian accommodation” to political changes was being mirrored-what some have called a “Constantinian fall” from the Church’s pristine purity (so Roland Bainton, John Cadoux, Jean Michel Hornus, John Howard Yoder, among others). Historical research done by people such as John Helgeland, James Turner Johnson, and Louis J. Swift in the late 1970s and early 1980s questioned the more or less uncritical acceptance of the pacifist interpretation of the early fathers.

Summarizing aspects of the emergent new consensus in his 1982 essay “Pacifism and Military Service in the Early Church,” K. W. Ruyter notes that while the very early fathers tended to borrow the eschatological imagery of the Old Testament prophets as they envisioned future peace, successive generations wrestled more and more with how to relate Christian faith to the present social order. In the end, Ruyter too rejects the portrait of a “purely pacifist” early Church: “On the basis of the sources, the picture seems to be more complex and pluriform.”43 Writing on the state of the question in 1989, David G. Hunter sought to add perspective to the emergence of “new consensus.” Hunter observed that “the former ‘pacifist consensus’ has been definitively revised in the light of contemporary discussion.”44 Among the findings of the “new consensus,” according to Hunter, were the following: (a) opponents of military service objected on the basis of a variety of factors, not merely bloodshed; (b) evidence from the late second century onward indicated divergence of opinion among Christians; (c) even among some pre-Constantinian fathers we see evidence of concern for a “just” case in going to war. Elsewhere Hunter has argued that “the pluralism of Christian witness today has a ground in the pluralism of the early church. From the very time when military service became a real option for Christians, there is evidence that Christians responded to it in a variety of ways. . . . The witness of the first three centuries does not provide the Christian today with a univo­cal mandate for pacifism.”45

What is striking about patristic writings of the early centuries is how infrequently the subject of Christians, war, and soldiering occurs. This is significant, for if it were the source of controversy, we would expect heated exchanges, conciliar declarations, and excommunications. Alas, these never materialize. Elsewhere I have weighed the patristic evidence and, with re‑ [p.163>] cent scholarship, have concluded that Helgeland, Johnson, Swift, Hunter, and Ruyter—and more recently, John Shean and Despina Iosif—are correct. There is indeed a scholarly consensus—and an ecumenical one at that—but it is not the consensus that pacifists would wish to salvage.46

Scholarly and theological integrity demand an accurate accounting of the complexity and diversity of pre-Constantinian Christian attitudes toward the military. It is surely worth noting that dissenting attitudes toward Chris­tian enlistment in the Roman army during this period are individual and not collective or ecclesial. No controversy on the matter involving the entire Church or even between churches erupted. And we are justified in asking whether those individuals who did dissent were in fact representative of the Church at large.47….


14. Elshtain, Women and War, rev. ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 123, 132.

15. See David D. Corey and J. Daryl Charles, The Just War Tradition: An Introduction (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2012), chap. 11 (“Why Have Our Churches Lost the Tradition? Two Temptations: Christian Realism, Christian Pacifism”), and J. Daryl Charles, Between Paci­fism and Jihad: Just War and Christian Tradition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2005), 88­106, esp. 88-93. Yoder is well known inter alia for suggesting the diversities of pacifism—see, e.g., his Nevertheless: The Varieties and Shortcomings of Religious Pacm, rev. ed. (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1992), wherein he posits nearly twenty different pacifist varieties (flavors?). If it is consistent ideologically, however, pacifism rejects the possibility that coercive force can ever be used for just purposes.

16. In some respects this thoroughness—as well as moral seriousness—is absent from the work of Stanley Hauerwas, whose debt to Yoder is considerable. In addition to Yoder, another influential contemporary pacifist voice has been New Testament scholar Richard Hays, whose book The Moral Vision of the New Testament (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996) received effusive praise from the moment that it appeared in 1996. In his important 2013 volume In Defence of War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), British theologian Nigel Biggar has subjected Hays’s work—and specifically chap. 14 (“Violence in Defense of Justice”) of The Moral Vision—to withering (and much needed) criticism.

17. The “just war” concept should not be viewed as a theoretical justification for going to war but rather as an ethic of restraint by which we severely qualify whether or not to enter conflict and how to limit and guide the conduct of such undertakings. It affirms not what may be done but what should be done.

18. The command to love one’s enemies is already present in the Old Testament (Exod. 23:4-5 and Prov. 25:21). Affirmed by Paul (Rom. 12:20), it is not at odds with Israel’s civic laws that include punishments. Carrying out punishments under the Mosaic Law, according to the lex talionis, is not opposed to loving one’s personal enemies or the “law of Christ.”

19. What is being set aside are rabbinic re-interpretations of the law (i.e., the so-called “fence around the law”) that have distorted its meaning—hence, the repeated use by Jesus of the rabbinic kelal (“You have heard it said but 1 tell you . . .”) in the six case-illustrations used by our Lord (Matt. 5:21-48). See in this regard to J. Daryl Charles, “‘Do Not Suppose That I Have Come’: The Ethic of the Sermon on the Mount Reconsidered,” Southwestern Journal of Theology 46, no. 3 (2004): 47-70.

20. The radical ethical discontinuity presumed by religious pacifists has the effect of creat­ing two Gods, not entirely unlike the heretic Marcion, for whom the ethical codes of the Old and New Testaments were discontinuous.

21. Those who object to God’s “warrior” character in the Old Testament (e.g., Ps. 18:34; 24:8; Jer. 20:11; Zeph. 3:17) typically argue that the New Testament reveals a God of love and peace, replacing a more “primitive” view of the Almighty. From the standpoint of orthodox Christian theism, such a view—”God the Warrior” vs. “God the Pacifist”—is untenable. Inter alia it ignores the mercy and Iovingkindness of God as pronounced in the Old Testament (e.g., Exod. 20:6; 34:6; Num. 14:18; Ps. 136; Isa. 55:3; Hos. 2:19; Mic. 7:18). Here I am presupposing the unity of the two Testaments as well as the unchanging nature of the divine character.

22. C. S. Lewis, “On Ethics,” in Christian Reflections, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1967), 46.

23. Ibid., 53.

24. In this vein, the difference between retribution and revenge or retaliation needs under­scoring. At its base moral outrage expressed through retributive justice is first and foremost anchored in moral principle, not mere emotional outrage or hatred. Retribution properly un­derstood is concerned with the welfare of the population as well as those doing wrong. Any parent intuits the truth of this reality. Indeed, not to act against the will of an evildoer is to hurt both the community and the offender himself. Whereas revenge strikes out at real or perceived injury, retribution speaks to an objective wrong. Whereas revenge is wild, insatiable, and not subject to limitations, retribution has both upper and lower limits, acknowledging the moral repugnance both of draconian punishment for petty offenses and of light punishment for heinous crimes. Vengeance, by its nature, has a thirst for injury and delights in bringing further evil upon the other party. The avenger will not only kill but torture, rape, plunder, and burn what is left, deriving satisfaction from his victim’s direct or indirect suffering. In addition, because of its retaliatory mode, revenge will target both the offending party and those perceived to be akin. Retribution, by contrast, is targeted yet impersonal and impartial, not subject to personal bias. For this reason, Lady Justice is depicted as blindfolded. The difference between revenge and retribution is the difference between Rom. 12 and Rom. 13.

25. It is therefore wrong to view these four images as commands, which would render them moral absolutes.

26. Notice that Jesus did not say, “Turn the other cheek of the third party being accosted.” Theologian Donald Bloesch has rightly observed that pacifism mistakenly substitutes the prin­ciple of nonviolence for divine commandment (Freedom for Obedience: Evangelical Ethics for Contemporary Times (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987), 293-4).

27. It is not the prerogative of the state to forgive evil. South African Justice Richard Gold­stone, who served as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, had this to say in a speech at the United States Holocaust Museum re­garding evil from the recent past: “where there have been egregious human rights violations that have been unaccounted for, were there has been no justice, where the victims have not received any acknowledgement, where they have been forgotten, where there’s been a national amnesia, the effect is a cancer in the society.” See “War Crimes: When Amnesia Causes Cancer,” The Washington Post, February 2, 1997, C4. Goldstone’s comments serve to remind us that bad theology is a cruel taskmaster and makes for horrendous social policy.

28. For this reason, Niebuhr lampoons Protestant naiveté on the eve of World War II with sarcastic lament, suggesting that if only Christians had demonstrated more “nonviolent love” and “if Britain had only been fortunate enough to have produced 30 percent instead of two percent conscientious objectors to military service, [then] Hitler’s heart would have been soft­ened and he would not have dared attack Poland” (Christianity and Power Politics (New York: Scribner’s, 1940), 6).

29. John Courtney Murray, We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1960), 288.

30. Aquinas, Summa Theologiae IIaIIae q.29.

31. This moral logic applies not only to the military or to police work and law enforce­ment; it applies to the myriad of vocations associated with civil and public service, including government work (of any type), holding public office, policy analysis, data collection, econom­ics, security, lawyering, as well as any public service dedicated to promoting or protecting the common good.

32. Augustine, epistle 138 (“To Marcellinus”). We may properly define charity as desiring the best—the highest—for the other.

33. Elsewhere I have attempted to address the tragic divorce of justice and charity in general ethical terms in “Toward Restoring a Good Marriage: Reflections on the Contemporary Divorce of Love and Justice and Its Cultural Implications,” Journal of Church and State 55 (2013): 367-83. Insofar as the unity of charity and justice underpins the just war tradition classically understood, see J. Daryl Charles, “Justice, Neighbor-Love and the Just-War Tradition,” Cultural Encounters 1 (2004): 47-67; “Between Pacifism and Crusade: Justice and Neighbor-Love in the Just-War Tradition,” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 8, no. 4 (2005): 86-123; and more recently, “The Moral Underpinnings of Just Retribution: Justice and Charity in Sym­biosis,” Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy (forthcoming).

34. These geopolitical tragedies illustrate why “peace” must be qualified and justly ordered. Correlatively, they expose the baseline fallacy of ideological pacifism, which proceeds from a presumption against coercive force and war rather than a presumption against evil and injustice. Hereon see J. Daryl Charles, “Presumption against War or Presumption against Injustice? The Just War Tradition Reconsidered,” Journal of Church and State 47 (2005): 335-69.

35. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus, eds., The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, 4 vols. (New York: Harcourt Brace Janovich, 1968), 4:469; see as well George Orwell, “Reflections on Gandhi,” Partisan Review 16 (1949): 85-92. Gandhi’s method indeed would appear powerless and inefficacious against tyranny as we’ve known it in the twentieth century. Consider, for example, estimates of the numbers of death in the twentieth century due to conventional war—ca. 30 million—and to political tyranny and totalitarianism—between 100 and 200 million. The combined estimate given by French historian Stephane Courtois, in the introduction of The Black Book of Communism, trans. J. Murphy and M. Kramer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), is approximately 100 million. The estimate of military historian Robert Conquest, in Reflections on a Ravaged Century (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), is in the 170 million range. Truly, the stench of death is stunning.

36. Gandhi’s thinking would appear to be rooted in the principle of satyagraha, by which it is presumed that the sight of suffering would move an aggressor to desist from his violence.

37. Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, 4th ed. (New York: Basic Books, 2006), 329-30. In the end, a very troubling question for C. S. Lewis was why pacifists were tolerated only in liberal societies. This seemed to suggest a moral incongruity, since for pacifism to be a universal moral obligation it must be prescribed for all or for none. “This, then, is why I am not a Pacifist,” concluded C. S. Lewis. “If I tried to become one, I should find a very doubtful factual basis, an obscure train of reasoning, a weight of author­ity both human and Divine against me, and strong grounds for suspecting that my [personal] wishes had directed my decision” (“Why I Am Not a Pacifist,” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, rev. ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1965), 53).

38. Prov. 24:11-12.

39. Paul Ramsey, Basic Christian Ethics (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993), 166­-70.

40. Ibid., 326-66 (chap. 9, “Christian Love in Search of a Social Policy”).

41. Roland Bainton, Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace (Nashville: Abingdon, 1960), 66.

42. Tertullian and Origen are typically cited as evidence of “normative pacifism” in the early church. But the earlier Tertullian, in Apology, speaks of the necessity of war in the service of protecting geographical borders, while observing that Christians help the emperor and the army through prayer. The later Tertullian, as represented in his two works On Idolatry and On the Military Crown, is worried about idolatry—idolatry in wider culture and idolatry in certain military practices and ceremonies. For his part, Origen writes in Contra Celsum—an apologetic work intended to argue that Christians were not unpatriotic—that Christians indeed served society by praying for the emperor and the soldiers to triumph in battle (8.73). Origen’s position was not one of pure pacifism, for although he was opposed to believers serving in the military, he did not oppose war. Clement of Alexandria, one of the earliest fathers to discuss war (late-second and early-third century), mirrors a positive attitude toward soldiering, anchoring this perspective in Jesus’s and John the Baptist’s dealings with soldiers. In his Exhortation to the Greeks, Clement observes that farmers, sailors and soldiers all are able to mature in their relationship with God (10.100.2). In the end, patristic evidence indicates that Tertullian, in his radical sectarianism, and Origen, in his selective pacifism, were not representative of the first four centuries. Moreover, it is well possible that the attitudes of both were due to an increasing number of Christians entering the military.

43. K. W. Ruyter, “Pacifism and Military Service in the Early Church,” Cross Currents 32 (1982): 54-70.

44. David G. Hunter, “A Decade of Research on Early Christians and Military Service,” Religious Studies Review 18, no. 2 (1989): 93 (emphasis added).

45. David G. Hunter, “The Christian Church and the Roman Army in the First Three Cen­turies,” in The Church’s Peace Witness, ed. Martin E. Miller and Barbara N. Gingerich (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), 180.

46. See J. Daryl Charles, “Patriots, Pacifists, or Both? Second Thoughts on Pre-Constantinian Early Christian Attitudes toward Soldiering and War,” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 13, no. 2 (2010): 17-55; “Early Christian Attitudes toward Soldiering and War,” in The Just War Tradition, 23-51 (chap. 2); John Helgeland, “Christians and the Roman Army, A.D. 173-337,” Church History 43 (1974): 149-63, 200; “Christians and the Roman Army from Marcus Aurelius to Constantine,” Aufstieg and Niedergang der römischen Welt 2.23.1 (1979): 724-834; cf. as John Helgeland, Robert J. Daly, and J. Patout Burns, Christians in the Military: The Early Experience (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1985); James Turner Johnson, The Quest for Peace: Three Moral Traditions in Western Cultural History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 3-66; Louis J. Swift, The Early Fathers on War and Military Service (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1983); Hunter, “A Decade of Research on Early Christians and Mili­tary Service,” and “The Christian Church and the Roman Army in the First Three Centuries”; Ruyter, “Pacifism and Military Service in the Early Church”; John F. Shean, Soldiering for God: Christianity and the Roman Army (Leiden: Brill, 2010); and Despina Iosif, Early Christian At­titudes to War, Violence and Military Service (Piscataway: Gorgias Press, 2013).

That the ethical ramifications of contemporary accounts of the early centuries are indeed intended to be prescriptive and not merely descriptive should give us pause. Insofar as pacifism, by virtue of its refusal to participate in politics, cannot treat either criminal justice or interna­tional affairs seriously qua politics, it misconstrues—and severely limits—not only the church’s wider cultural mandate but also the manifold expressions of charity toward the oppressed that are affirmed by mainstream Christian thinking. By following pacifists’ prescription, we in truth make everyone unsafe.

47. More recently I have responded to pacifist claims regarding patristic evidence made by Ronald J. Sider in his essay “The Early Church on War and Killing,” Books & Culture, January-February 2016. In his review of recent scholarship that challenges the pacifist consen­sus and seems to confirm an emergent “new consensus,” Sider rather remarkably dismisses this historical (and countervailing) data as “speculation.” While Sider is surely free to disagree, he is not free to dismiss a different interpretation of historical data as mere “speculation.” See J. Daryl Charles, “‘The Early Church on War and Killing’ (Books & Culture, January-February 2016: A Response,” Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy, Janu­ary 29, 2016,

Foiled Terror Attack in France

“One of the women arrested over the foiled terror attack in Paris was engaged to a man who slit a priest’s throat, it has emerged….” (JIHAD WATCH)

The Paris prosecutor said on Friday (September 9) that individuals from so-called Islamic State in Syria directed three women arrested in connection with a car loaded with gas cylinders found near Notre Dame cathedral. The French interior ministry said the women had been planning to attack a Paris railway station. Three women arrested after a car loaded with gas cylinders was found near Notre Dame Cathedral had been planning to attack a Paris railway station… (see more at The Daily Mirror)