Bishop Tikhon of the OCA quotes Noam Chomsky

A readers sends a quote by Bishop Tikhon of the OCA:

One might very well agree with Noam Chomsky that terrorism is nothing new, and that what made 9/11 particularly painful was the realization that for the first time we were the victims, rather than the perpetrators of it. Having terrorized Kossovo and Serbia, before that Grenada, Panama, El Salvador, the Phillipines, etc., etc., one would think that “with-it” Americans would have admitted, “What goes around comes around,” no?
I wonder what the citizens of Falloujah think when it is explained to them that they are now being subjected to an attack against terrorism?

Let me direct the good Bishop to some articles examining Chomsky’s ideas in a brighter light: What Noam Chomski Really Wants, or the antichomsky website.


46 thoughts on “Bishop Tikhon of the OCA quotes Noam Chomsky”

  1. Isn’t it interesting that when a guys like Pat Robertson & Jerry Falwell say America was attacked because the sinful behavior it allows and, in fact, encourages, such as sodomy and abortion, they are condemned as a religious fanatics equivalent to the Taliban. When Bishop Tikhon & Chomsky say that America is attacked because of its foriegn policy “sins” they are embraced as enlightened individuals.

    Of course, Robertson’s & Falwell’s comments are as foolish as the Bishop’s & Chomsky’s. Robertson & Falwell learned that lesson rather quickly & apologized. We all know Chomsky apologizes for nothing, including acting as an apologist for those who slaughtered 2.5 million Vietnamese & Cambodians. This leaves us with Bishop Tikhon. Anyone taking bets on when he’ll offer a retraction? Sure. No doubt that will happen when Michael Moore makes a documentary praising Pres. George W. Bush for liberating 55 million people in Afghanistan & Iraq.

    Blessings to all who are about to unleash their fury on me for claiming that anyone was liberated in Iraq.

  2. *sigh*

    usually i put religious leaders in a category all their own when they offer critiques of american foreign policy. the assumption is that they are thinking in a broader and deeper sense of life rather than just the superficiality of political debates. so when the bishop of rome offered his critiques against the u.s. military intervention on iraq, i was ok with it (until it went a little nuts when the vatican thought that the treatment sadaam was receiving was inhumane… right… and where were you when you hear about what sham the oil for food program was?).

    if the right reverend wishes to critique certain aspects of american foreign policy, that’s fine. in fact, i still have tremendous issues with how we handled kosovo by siding with one group and vilifying the other. the end result of it all is that rather than establishing regional peace; we’ve fed the ego of one group and ignored the sufferings of another (the bombings and attacks on serbian monasteries and churches in kosovo). as far as the places that took place in the cold war, think of the general reasons for being involved… and i know that the right reverend would not want to side with the bolsheviks (unless, GOD forbid, he is one).

    but to quote from noam chomsky…

    to critique using the lens of the CHURCH is one thing; to critique using someone else’s lens (which is extremely questionable and controversial) while fulfilling one of the most important roles within the CHURCH (of course it’s not the only thing in the world… after all, we are all one members in the body of CHRIST =] ) is something else. the right reverend should not be using chomsky that blindly and that religiously for the sake who he represents to his flock and to the world (this is not to imply that he speaks before the world but people do look to those of faith).

    the other reason why i have problems with that statement is how chomsky (and bishop tikhon through quoting) views those who were killed on 11.09.2001. so they are the victims getting their just desserts for america’s sins? whatever happened to look them as human beings? this is why i try to avoid over-politicizing their deaths personally. to me, every 11 september, is a day of remembering the dead because… it was horrible and it was a horrible reason for them to die [islamo-fascism]. now of course we should always pray for their souls (and we do with memorial services) but do we ever pronounce judgment on them? has the good bishop forgotten who sits on the judgment throne?

    may GOD have mercy on all of us sinners (and for specific reasons, not because i happen to be a citizen of the united states, or as the “venerable noam chomsky” calls the great satan)

  3. Daniel writes: “Isn’t it interesting that when a guys like Pat Robertson & Jerry Falwell say America was attacked because the sinful behavior it allows and, in fact, encourages, such as sodomy and abortion, they are condemned as a religious fanatics equivalent to the Taliban. When Bishop Tikhon & Chomsky say that America is attacked because of its foriegn policy ‘sins’ they are embraced as enlightened individuals.”

    Of course the distinction here is that Robertson and Falwell were saying that God punishes the U.S. for sins, or that He withdraws his “curtain of protection” from the U.S. Chomsky is saying that if you screw over enough people eventually they’ll want some payback.

    It’s interesting to see the sins that Robertson and Falwell focused on. For every mention of homosexuality in the Bible, there are probably 50 mentions of sins related to economics and materialism. Abortion is never mentioned, except that in the Levitical law the fetus is treated as the property of the man, and if you kill his fetus you owe him some money. But sins related to economic matters are not mentioned.

    Concerning Chomsky, I certainly don’t agree with everything that he says. But he does have a gift for making people understand how other people in the world see us. Of course, to many conservatives, how other people see us is irrelevant.

    Daniel: “Anyone taking bets on when he’ll offer a retraction? Sure. No doubt that will happen when Michael Moore makes a documentary praising Pres. George W. Bush for liberating 55 million people in Afghanistan & Iraq.”

    Actually that would be about 45 million people. And the extent to which they are liberated remains to be seen. They no doubt will participate in free elections, which are free in the sense that they can elect any leader who is friendly to us and will protect our interests.

  4. It is quite astounding to see a moral equivalency play of such gigantic proportions coming from an Orthodox Christian bishop who is supposed to discern truth and approach issues with balance, wisdom and fairness. Far from being on the right side of this issue, Bishop Tikhon is using the same kind of justifcations you hear constantly coming from radical Islamic terrorist groups and leaders, including, the PLO, al Qaeda, bin Laden, al-Zarqawi, etc.

    What’s really interesting, is that Chomsky is also one of those people who have a viceral hatred of America and embrace radical causes. “Chomsky has difficulty finding anything wrong with Pol Pot and his Cambodian communist movement. Before members of the Khmer Rouge killed two million of their fellow Cambodians, Chomsky supported them. While they were doing the killing, he denied it. After the truth came to light, he tried to whitewash it.” (O’Bryhim, 2004) He also, “fantasized a conspiracy between ex-Nazis and U.S. government officials to shape the post-World War II world. Prior to the war on terrorism, Chomsky maintained that the U.S.
    was “in the midst of apparently trying to murder 3 or 4 million people” in Afghanistan, predicting mass starvation and death.” (Flynn, 2004) has a good review of a book that debunks Chomsky and his radical agenda and lies. Maybe someone should send Bishop Tikhon a copy of the book. A little dose of reality and balance wouldn’t hurt.

  5. Bishop Tikhon posted a follow up to his comments in the Yahoo Groups. The new comments are even worse than the first ones.

    From: Bishop Tikhon
    Date: Wed Nov 10, 2004 8:33 pm
    Subject: Re: [paradosis] America holds the all-time record for terrorism.

    That’s right.
    Terrorism is so-o-o-o-oo- American. You just can’t get away from
    it. Imagine this, if you can. An American President announces a war on
    terrorism. One of the very first campaigns in this “war against terrorism”
    was (remember it) called “Shock and Awe.” To me, “Shock and Awe” are just
    synonyms, together of Terrorism. The only war against terrrorism is
    outright pacificism, the sort of thing that M. Gandhi practiced; otherwise,
    war is just one side terrorizing the other until the one most terrorized

    Speak to survivors of WWII’s incendiary bombings of Tokyo and, oh,
    Dresden. Speak to survivors (if there are any) of today’s and yesterday’s
    incendiary attacks against Fallujah. Tell them the reason we terrorized
    them was to conquer terrorism.

    If you can fly miles in the air, out of range of anti-aircraft measures,
    and indulge in “strategic” and “carpet bombing,” try to explain to those on
    the ground that you are waging war against terrorism.

    Terrorism is the approved technique of our armed forces and of all armed
    forces. The perpetrators of the Boston Tea Party fit the official
    definition of terrorism very well: after all, they hurt business, and
    destroyed private property in the doing of it.
    Ask the Native Americans what terrorism is.
    Ask the Bulgarians blinded by the Byzantines what terrorism is.
    Ask the families of the Moslem soldiers whose heads were catapulted over
    the walls of Antioch and Jerusalem by the Crusaders what terrorism is.

    Yes, we are the super power, and we got there by being the most successful
    at this terrorism stuff.

    Massive Retaliation. Is that threat not terrorism?

    War against terrorism is as stupid as war against jealousy.


  6. Isn’t part of the problem a lack of an accepted definition of “terrorism?” There seem to be a number of different features of a violent act that could be used to determine whether it is a “terrorist” act:

    1) whether the act intentionally targets combatants/participants or noncombatants

    2) the likelihood of noncombatant “collateral damage.”

    3) the possibility of alternative acts requiring less force

    4) whether the act is “legal” (what constitutes ‘legal’ here?)

    5) whether the act is within or outside of the context of conventional war (e.g., asymmetrical war or guerilla war)

    6) whether the act utilizes conventional or unconventional weapons (IEDs, booby traps, etc.)

    I suppose there are yet other considerations that can be brought to bear. But I really feel like there is not a concensus on what constitutes a “terrorist” act. But certainly the mere fact that an act causes “terror” is not a sufficient reason to call it a terrorist act.

  7. I wonder if the Bishop Tikhon understands that he is spitting in the face of all those families who are part of his parish and who have brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who are serving or have served in the military. And to do this a day before Veteran’s Day (Armistice Day) is despicable.

    Can he possibly comprehend the pain he inflicts on Orthodox families with members serving in the military? People who might be looking for comfort and prayers on behalf of fathers, sons, brothers, sisters, mothers and daughters serving in the United States Armed Forces should obviously NOT look to Bishop Tikhon, who clearly sees these people as terrorists.

    I served in the United States Navy. I guess that makes me a terrorist also.

    Thank you, Bishop Tikhon. Blessings also to you and your family.

  8. Daniel,

    I am so sorry that such comments tarnish the reputation of devoted men and women of our military who have sacrificed everything so that the rest of us can enjoy the freedoms and liberties we have. Please be rest assured that many Orthodox Christians sympathize with you, respect and support our military, and do not agree one iota with the biased and wrong views held by this bishop.

    Thank you for your service in the defense of freedom. Our prayers are with you and yours. May God bless you and grant you, many, many years!

  9. Daniel,

    I have a brother who died in the Marines, although his death was accidental and not a part of active combat. I believe he died an honorable death serving his country, but even if he was involved in some sort of political action that I disagreed with, I wouldn’t have judged him for it. I don’t believe that God would judge him either.

    The military is a totalitarian system. When a soldier enlists, they submit to that system. Soldiers are trained to obey orders, and not to question authority. It is not the part of soldiers to question foreign policy. If anything, the questioning of authority is the responsibility of those who aren’t in military. If my brother was bombing Kosovo, I wouldn’t have blamed him for it. If he was acting as a good soldier, I would have held him in high regard, but I certainly would question the authorities that were instructing my brother to do it.

    I don’t believe His Grace is making any judgement against those who are serving in complete submission and without question to the military authorities of this country. To do so is an honorable vocation regardless, and I know that His Grace believes this and prays for them daily. The military has often been compared to monasticism and its rule of obedience. God forbid that the authorities of our country would exploit our military personnel for terrorism.

  10. Bishop Tikon whether he realizes it or not is making a political statement, not a theological statement. His source material itself is evidence of that. And Stephen, he is making a judgement against those who did and are serving in the military and support or supported such service including many saints of the Orthodox Church.

    He says the only way to defeat the war on terrorism is through pacifism, yet his remarks are not at all pacifistic, they are militantly aggressive. He is obviously not even close to practicing the basis of true pacifisim, love your enemy.

    His remarks are a disgrace and IMO if Bishop Tikon is unable to control his mouth, the Holy Synod of the OCA ought to control it for him and silence him.

  11. Jim, your comments in #6 are quite correct. As Christians, we need to reclaim the precepts of just war, especially in the light of the modern day threats of violence. We need to clearly define the moral issues and have clear moral statements. Our task is only made harder when we replace theology with ideology as Bishop Tikon obiously did. It matters not right or left, democrat or republican, saint or sinner. It is so easy to let our own ideas sway our direction.

    Clearly, the way of the Church is weighted toward peace, i.e., war can never be the first choice or even primary choice, but to completly abandon the waging of war to the secular world only leads to more visciousness and violence.

    There are just and righteous uses of force applied in just and righteous ways for self-defense and the protection of the innocent or at least helpless. All law and order in civil society is based on that premise. To do as Bishop Tikon suggests is to advocate anarchy.

    Even with clear definitions and clear/common understanding of same, it is difficult to make clear judgements. The further we are removed from the actual decision process and the execution of that decision, the more difficult it becomes to judge correctly in all but the most obvious cases.

  12. Michael,

    I really don’t think His Grace’s comments are in anyway against the military itself. I believe he is in full support of having a strong military. Advocating pacifism is not necessarily the same as advocating a weak military. A strong military can serve as pacificist to protect and defend a country. However, His Grace definitely is criticizing the US war on terror. There is a difference.

    I personally live in NYC, and up until 9-11 I worked right next to the World Trade Centers. When that second plane hit, it shook our building violently like an earthquake, and we evacuated onto a street full of debris, smoke, flames, and sirens. It was a battlefield. I have never experienced anything like it, and I hope I will never again. Most New Yorkers though, including myself, believe that something like it will happen here again.

    Immediately after September 11, there was an overwhelming outpouring of grief and support from all over the world. The next time it happens here though, the world will most likely say “America had it coming.” Most New Yorkers are also highly critical of the so called “war on terror”.

  13. Stephen, while my comments are necessarily more academic than your’s, one cannot make the kind of blanket comments that Bishop Tikon made without including those that serve in the military. One can be critical on the war on terror without making the kind of comments that Bishop Tikon made. His comments are not designed to shed light or be constructive in any way shape or form. They are only destructive and reveal a deep anger and resentment toward the United States.

    In any case, the tone and content of his remarks do not reflect a pacifist attitude at all. He does not even begin to approach the pacifist dilemma which is that inaction leads to other people being harmed. Ghandi’s method worked for two primary reasons, 1) He was an exceptional leader who was able to motivate a native population to oppose a foreign occupier, and 2) The British had a conscience. Dr. King’s methods in the civil rights movment worked for the similar reasons, he appealed to our conscience and the forgiveness of God to heal a sinful state. Do you see any iota of forgiveness or mercy in the bishop’s comments? I don’t

    If Bishop Tikon were really a pacifist, he ought at least to condemn the violence of those who claim to oppose the US occupation of Iraq in the same statement. He ought to condemn the sin, not just one of he sinners.

    Where is the Iraqi Ghandi? I’ll tell you, if he ever existed, Saddam killed him. If anyone in Iraq had even remotely attempted to do what Ghandi did, they would have been given over to the shredding machines.

    Does Bishop? Tikon want the violence to stop in Iraq? He should go over there and help the Iraqi people to organize peaceful protests against our armies. The peaceful protestors will not be shot or harmed in any way by the U.S. military,however, I can pretty much guarantee the jihadists would do all that they could to shoot the protestors down or blow them up. The jihadists don’t give a damn about Iraq and neither IMO does Bishop? Tikon.

    Is the dear Bishop willing to put his life on the line to support his “pacifism”, I doubt it. He just wants everyone else to put their lives on the line so he can have clean hands. In my opinion, his comments reek of hypocrisy and cowardice. Neither traits are ones a bishop should indulge himself in. Pacifism is neither a philosophy nor a coerced state. It can only be choosen by individuals as a response to God’s calling to love one’s enemies. Mercy is the highest virtue of pacifism, i.e., living in a state of constant forgiveness and love. Such living love is the power of pacifism. Pacifism is not just a simple rejection of force or war. What the dear Bishop has done is to hold up both the vocation of the just warrior and the true pacifist to ridicule and condemnation while offering absolutely NOTHING positive in their place. His comments were ignorant as well as thoughtless and hurtful. The Orthodox Church has NEVER been a pacifist church. She has NEVER issued a blanket call to her children to be pacifist. The dear bishop appears to be igornant of that fact as well.

    I am disgusted. He should do public penance for his violent hateful remarks.

  14. Bishop Tikon’s comments in reference to American “terrorism” should be read,
    considered carefully, the good should be kept and the rest discarded. THere is
    much sympathy for his comments about Serbia and the Yugo conflict. The balance
    of it is too much left leaning propagada.

    May God bless us through his heartfelt Christian prayers …
    and deliver us from his overreaching political rhetoric.

  15. For several months last year I was a catechumen at an Orthodox church in Nicholasville, Kentucky. The more I learned about Orthodoxy, however, the less value I saw in moving over from one of the Continuing Anglican churches. I became aware of Orthodox like Jim Forrest of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, and even some pacifist types in the parish I attended. They felt that Orthodoxy was essentially pacifistic and got this impression from the OCA website’s Q & A on war and violence. Now, the notion that the Eastern Orthodox Church is pacifistic never seriously occured to me before then. When you think of Russians or Byzantines from the middle ages, pacifism just doesn’t enter into it. Nonetheless, there seems to be some weird morphing of Orthodox opinion, at least at the level of hierarchs. It is sad. Statements like that of Bishop Tikhon are poison to the ears of many like me who might see some truth in Orthodoxy. I know that such attitudes toward war and violence are definitely not the consensus of Orthodoxy through the ages. But the important thing to me is that it seems to be the emerging attitude now. What could I do but reject such nonsense? Could I receive communion beside such people? What’s really more important, the filioque or fundamental disagreements about practical morality?

  16. Note 9: I am sorry for your loss of you brother. I honor your brother’s service to our nation in the Marines Corps. In my mind a Marine who dies an accidental death in training is no different than one who dies on the field of combat.

    Allow me to respond to some of your comments regarding the military.

    “The military is a totalitarian system.” The greatest fighting force today is the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines. And they are all entirely voluntary. It is not totalitarian. The Nazi Gestapo was a totalitarian military force, the United States Marine Corps is not.

    “Soldiers are trained to obey orders, and not to question authority.” It is absolutely, 100% FALSE that soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are not trained to question orders. They are trained, however, to obey lawful orders given by those with authority over them. And they are trained how to address orders that they believe to be unlawful and how to question the authorities who are giving these unlawful orders or who are encouraging unlawful behavior. And they are encouraged to make unlawful behavior known to their senior officers. How do you think the military started investigating, long before anyone at the NYTimes became interested, the events at Abu Ghraib? Individual soldiers reported unlawful behavior to their superiors through the proper channels of authority.

    “It is not the part of soldiers [job] to question foreign policy.” Absolutely correct. It is not the soldiers’ job to question the foriegn policy duly elected politicians establish. In fact, I think it is a violation of the UCMJ for soldiers to engage in political activity. A soldier in Iraq complaining about Pres. Bush’s foriegn policy is a hazard to everyone around him. His mind is not focused on the job at hand, and that is a threat that can cost lives.

    I think you have a somewhat distorted image of the military. But it does not appear to be an image motivated by animosity, rather just lack of experience. I also think that you are being generous toward Bishop Tikhon. He is painting the military and the United States with the same blood red brush that Noam Chomsky uses. It is slap in the face of those who serve honorably and who sometimes, like your brother, give the last full measure in service to their countrymen.

  17. It seems to me the comments in posting no. 6 are very pertinent here. What is terrorism? Can or should we make distinctions between various acts of violence or warfare? The first question will be answered in different ways by different people. As for me I would at least say that I would not consider all warfare to be terrorism. Terrorism, I would submit is violent action against non-combatants which has little or no military signifigance. An example of this would be a suicide bomber who blows up a bus full of school children. There is no real military gain in such an act and its main purpose to cause fear and pain.

    As for the second question, if we do not make such distinctions then we make all of these acts morally equal. Thus a soldier or marine who kills an enemy fighter in a firefight is no morally better or worse than one who guns down an unarmed civilian. This does not see morally defensible to me. It would negate the notions of “rules of warfare” embodied in the Geneva Conventions and other such standards of conduct and encourage our armed forces to use the most brutal methods at their disposal in order to obtain their military objectives. The outrage of the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison is a measure of how the majority of Americans (and in fact the military itself) very much demand that our soldier conduct themselves according to a restraining code of conduct.

    To be sure, in a very fallen world none of this operates perfectly and war is always a nasty brutal business. Further, we (the U.S.) do not always live up to the standards we profess. At the same time, neither pacifism nor “just” or justifiable war are dogmatic stances of our Holy Faith.
    We pray for our civil authorities and armed forces so that they would make the most moral choices, knowing how difficult that is in this world which is ruled by the Prince of this world (the evil one).
    Lord have mercy on them, and on us.

  18. Scott writes: “Now, the notion that the Eastern Orthodox Church is pacifistic never seriously occured to me before then. When you think of Russians or Byzantines from the middle ages, pacifism just doesn’t enter into it. Nonetheless, there seems to be some weird morphing of Orthodox opinion, at least at the level of hierarchs. It is sad. Statements like that of Bishop Tikhon are poison to the ears of many like me who might see some truth in Orthodoxy.”

    I can’t speak to the Orthodox view on Christian participation in war, but the attitude of the early church was clearly pacifist. I was unable to find anything that supported Christian military service. Quite the opposite:

    – – – – – –

    “We who formerly murderd one another now refrain from making war even upon our enemies.” Justin Martyr

    “I decline military command.” Tatian

    “We are not to draw an outline of … a sword or a bow, since we follow peace.” Clement of Alexandria

    “The Christian does no harm even to his enemy.” Tertullian

    “Is it lawful to make an occupation of the sword when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword will perish by the sword? Will the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law?” Tertullian

    “So the more anyone excels in godliness, the more effective the help is that he renders to kings. This is a greater help than what is given by soldiers who go forth to fight and kill as many of the enemy as they can.” Origen

    “Our prayers defeat all demons who stir up war. . . Accordingly, in this way, we are much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them.” Origen

    “And murder — which is admitted to be a crime in the case of an individual — is called a virtue when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the wicked deeds, not because they are guiltless– but because the cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale!” Cyprian

    “Why would [the just man] carry on war and mix himself with the passions of others when his mind is engaged in perpetual peace with men?” Lactantius

    “Is the [military] laurel of triumph made of leaves, or of corpses? Is it adorned with robbons, or with tombs? Is it wet with ointments, or with the tears of wives and mothers? It may be made of some [dead] Christians too. For Christ is also believed among the barbarians. Tertullian

    – – – – – –

    I don’t know how the view of warfare may have developed later on in the Orthodox church. But it seems to me that recent pacifist tendencies in Orthodoxy may in fact reflect a return to the values and beliefs of the very early church.

  19. Jim,

    I wasn’t suggesting that there was no pacifistic tradition within Orthodoxy before the modern period. What I was suggesting is that this has not been the dominant teaching or practice of the Orthodox Church for a long time preceding this past century. It is true, as you suggested that it is difficult to find early church fathers speaking approvingly of military service and warfare, St. Clemtent of Rome and Clement of Alexandria are the only ones I’ve found. Clement of Alexandria approved of the military occupation and gave them the same advice as St. John the Baptist, to be content with their pay, obey orders and not harass the people. The fact that you quote him as an example of early Christian pacifism raises another point; namely, that early Christians tended to address things ad hoc and not systematically. Who knows what they said given a different situation or context?

    In the fourth century Eusebios of Caesarea wrote of two ways of life given to Christians. One is the “perfect way”; i.e., of celibacy, non-violence, and priestly devotion – – the way of the clergy. The other was the way for the laity that allowed for marriage, worldly pursuits and the giving of orders to soldiers fighting for the right. the second way is called “more humble” and “more human” and a secondary grade of piety, not a “necessary evil”.

    Both before the center of the Church moved out into the hellenistic world and after the Edict of Milan, much evidence suggests that pacifism was far from the only game in town. As many have noted, neither Christ, nor His Apostles, nor St. John the Baptist counseled soldiers to cease soldiering. Others who engaged in notorious sin seem to have ceased when they sought salvation from Christ. Christ himself ordered His Apostles to take swords with them when they went out to the Gentiles (in St. Luke, after the Last Supper). The Apostles speak approvingly of the kings, prophets and warriors of the Hebrew tradition. St. Paul writes that the sword is given by God to the state to keep order and punish evil.

    But the broader point is that the context of the early Church made them understandibly wary of all things military. Some Fathers allowed Christians into military service, others objected. Part of the objection was certainly due to the requirement, only sporadically enforced, that soldiers sacrifice to the genius of Caesar. Once the Church gained responsibility for public order, it’s tune changed with regard to violence and warfare. It’s all very nice to criticize when it’s not your responsibility.

    Now it is clear that the Orthodox Church has over the years had hierarchs carry the cross and icons of the Mother of God and Saint Michael before armies going into battle. It has blessed soldiers, wars and the weapons of war themselves. It is also clear that the greatest period of variance and heresy in the Church was the very period when it seems that pacifism was the dominant philosophy. After the destruction of the Temple, Christians went a thousand ways, both literally and spiritually. One of these heretical strains of thought is called Marcionism.

    In the second century, Marcion taught that the Old Testament God was really a cruel, brutal demon and that for that reason that the Old Testament as well as most of the New Testament (except redacted parts of St. Luke’s gospel) should be discarded. Unfortunately, Orthodoxy has accomplished much the same result by retaining the “offensive” passages but spiritualizing them.

    Christ lived in a country under Roman occupation where the Judeans were not allowed to carry out the death penalty and where any hint of rebellion or resistance was punished by mass executions. There are really only two choices in that context: try to get along or revolt. Revolt was futile and had failed previously with catastrophic results. It is no suprise that exhortations to military virtue do not appear in His message.

    No pacifist Savior would have told His Apostles to arm themselves. No pacifist Savior would have cleansed the Temple by even non-lethal violence. But consider this: If Christ is God, The Son, The Word, begotten before all ages, then He is the same God who ordered the extermination of rival tribes under Moses and David.

    In Orthodox liturgy, there are instances where the faithful sing “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth”. How sweet. Why not be honest and translate the meaning of the word: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Armies? We accomplish the same whitewash in the West by saying “the Lord God of Hosts” (read “Yahweh, the God of Armies”).

    When I became a Christian, I did so consciously at the age of 27. I did not sign on for pacifism or to believe that self defense or defense of country is, at best, a “necessary evil”.

    In the end, the correct guide in these matters is the advice of Solomon in Ecclesiastes. A time for war, a time for peace; a time to kill, a time to heal; time to love, a time to hate. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

    As for Bishop Tikhon and his comments, he simply hates America. America has done far more for the world than the world could ever possibly repay. America did not create the world nor are we responsible for the standard of living of its people when America first became an international presence. It is not our fault that social progress occured more rapidly in our country and Western Europe than the rest of the world. We restrained no one from developing technology, advancing representative government or using their own ingenuity for progress. Dependence on the West, and America, is not a right. We use a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources because we are responsible for a grossly disproportionate amount of the world’s production. We saved the world from fascism and communism. The Orthodox Church itself suffered horribly under the latter. We have, with the British, spread the industrial revolution throughout the world. Even those who attack us would have no capacity to do so if they were not trained in the necessary technology at the feet of Americans. It’s truly mind boggling to hear such an ungrateful person assailing America as the greatest terrorist state of all like some Arab strongman or Marxist revolutionary. The man has no moral compass at all.

  20. Scott, I am truly very sorry if the statements of Bishop Tikhon or his ilk have turned you off from Holy Orthodoxy. As has been intimated by several others here, Orthodoxy is NOT a pacifistic faith. As was made clear in the latest issue of Touchstone and in a recent issue of Again, the Orthodox maintain their own standards for determining the justice of military action, and the Church has applied it when necessary. To deny this is unwarranted by any superficial reading of history. If you are interested, I invite you to read the Touchstone article by David B. Hart (himself a former Anglican), one of our foremost theologians, available here: (if this link doesn’t work, just go to the homepage, it’s listed there:
    I am outraged that a bishop of the Holy Orthodox Church would quote a rabid anti-American totalitarian like Chomsky and his ilk. It is precisely because of such utopian nihilists that twenty million of our Orthodox brethren perished under the Communists. It utterly escapes me how any reasonable person could fail to see the difference between terrorism and the last resort of war, with a doctrine for determining the justness of it. I am emphatically NOT saying that this or any specific war meets such requirements (although I do support the current American actions in Iraq and Afghanistan), but it is historically and theologically obvious that such a doctrine does and must exist.
    Christians are called to love and defend the good, and that has always included an option to go to war to defend it. We must love our enemies more than ourselves, and we are called to live and die like Christ, but the Church has never maintained that such a calling is contrary to defending our families and our faith. Indeed, we pray for our armed forces during every celebration of the Liturgy.
    I pray that you reconsider your dismissal of Orthodoxy. All bishops, like all men, are human and fallible. Do not let that deter you from the riches that lie within. Taste and see!! May God bless you, may He bless Bishop Tikhon, and may He bless those brave men and women of the armed forces defending our peace and freedom worldwide.

  21. BTW, I only just read your latest posts, which sort of renders my posting superfluous; obviously you are aware of the the OC’s historical stance on war. I think that you may be onto something though in saying that the Church has become more pacifist in our own time. This may have something to do with horrible persecution suffered under hostile and militant regimes over the course of the past century. Moreover, I do not know that a more tempered approach to war in the age of nuclear weapons is such a bad idea, although we must be ever vigilant against the disparate enemies of faith and civilization, be they Islamofacist or neo-Marxist.
    For all that, I do not think that this represents a radical shift in the Church’s position on war. Holy Tradition is very clear on this: while respectful of those who are totally opposed to violence, it is dogmatically cognizant of necessary defense in time of danger, subject to the clear restrictions implicit in a theory of just war. As you know, the Orthodox aren’t too keen on altering the Tradition.
    The Spirit of all Truth has not and will not abandon the Church in these dangerous times. Comments like those of Bishop Tikhon are lamentable and illogical. Any such pronouncements by any single hierarch or para-church organization are abberant and run contrary to His clear intent, manifest over the course of 2000 years. As Orthodoxy grows and adapts to the West (while always maintaining the purity of the faith once delivered to the saints), it is to be hoped that some of its leaders will do the same (Grant this oh Lord!!!).

  22. The current “pacifist” trend is world Orthodoxy is not a return to the principals of the early Church. Most of those who take an outwardly pacifist stance are not pacifists at all (see note # 13). Jim Forest of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship rejects the term pacifist by the way, and he is not one. Fr. Laffon is absolutely correct when he states (note #17) “At the same time, neither pacifism nor “just” or justifiable war are dogmatic stances of our Holy Faith.” Neither IMO are they just moral choices although they require significant and sustained moral choice.

    Peacemaking that relies on the clear commandment to love our enemies, is more than just a moral choice. It should be a vocation, i.e., a clear, conscious response to the Holy Spirit speaking in one’s heart lived in every part of one’s life. Such peacemaking takes as its norm the responsibility to confront evil at every opportunity, willing to lay down one’s life if necessary without running away or condemning anyone else or responding out of fear(fear is the opposite of love). Clearly an element Bp. Tikon missed entirely. The Church needs people dedicated to such a vocation whether they be Bishops, Priests, monastics, or lay people. In fact, it is quite clear that the majority of the witness of the New Testament and the Divine Liturgies of both St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great, is in favor of such peacemaking. The controlling virtue in a peacemaker’s life is mercy with a focus on healing especially in little things. A prayer must always be on his lips and in his heart.

    There is also, IMO, a vocation within the Orthodox faith for just warriors. Those people with as strong a vocation as the peacemaker who respond to the call to lay down their lives for their friends. They are called to fight evil physically, to protect the innocent or at least those oppressed that are unable to protect themselves. To keep others from physical and spiritual harm they willingly put themselves in harms way both physically and spiritually. As St. Paul was willing to give up his salvation for the Jews, so the just warrior is willing to risk his to defend and protect his neighbors, yes and even to show mercy on his enemies at the risk of his own life. The controlling virtue in the life of a just warrior is charity with a focus on justice and order. The attributes of a society that enable those in that society to live in peace. The just warrior too must cultivate a life of prayer and fasting to deal successfully with the passions his vocation daily tempts him with.

    The Orthodox Church has long held these vocations as a sacred trust. The current so call “pacifist” trends are IMO a reaction to the persecution and captivity the Orthodox Church has experienced for the last 600 years. The Dhminutude forced on us by the Ottoman’s sapped our moral courage, diminished the understanding of the fullness and power of our faith and corrupted our ability to witness to governments and powerful institutions. The attempt by the various Soviet governments to wipe us out made many under the control of such governments feel they had to submit to will of their rulers simply to survive in what amounted to a spiritual rape. Many if not most of our current Bishops were either raised under such conditions, or trained by those raised under such conditions. No other Christian body has had to experience such a harrowing trial for so long. We don’t know yet how to handle our freedom, even here in the United States. We vacillate between effusive praise of those in power and unbridled contempt for them.

    To return to a state of holy balance requires the understanding and the grace to accept both the non-violent, non-resistant peacemaker and the just warrior. Neither is better, higher or lower. One would hope and expect that we would have greater numbers of the non-violent peacemakers than just warriors, but both are needed.

  23. Many thanks to Brian and Michael above for illuminating the matter for me somewhat. I will consult the article mentioned as well. I do agree wholeheartedly that peacemaking, if it means “making peace”, is always among the highest Christian callings. Salvation itself is the remaking of peace between man and God. I do continue to hope that the strain of thought that you two reflect carries the day in Orthodoxy. Words matter. There is a world of difference between saying, “there are two good paths, one non-violent, the other permitting justified violence” and saying, “War is evil, period. At best, to engage in violence or warfare is a ‘necessary evil’.” There are no necessary evils. Warfare, being one of the most dangerous and demanding occupations engaged in by mankind, requires a clear conscience and a faith in the cause. Otherwise, the soldier becomse “a doubleminded man”, “unstable in all his ways.” This endangers the soldier, his comrades in arms and the people he seeks to protect.

  24. Scott:
    The problem is that even when the war and the cause is “just” (e.g., to defend our homeland or protect the weak), we are still limited in our actions, no? There is a line where our actions cross from defense to aggression, and the line is not always clear, admittedly.

    The US generally works to avoid civilian casualties. I would want to personally know that we are doing only as much as necessary and that our response is proportionate to the threat.

    My fear with this administration is that they are so convinced of our moral superiority that they will no longer be aware that this line exists and initiate conflicts out of a growing paranoia masked as a desire for “security”.

  25. Michael writes: “There is also, IMO, a vocation within the Orthodox faith for just warriors.”

    In your view, where does the “just” come from? Is what makes a warrior “just” the attitude of the warrior, or is it the fact that he’s fighting a just war?

    If the former, that seems problematic to me because you could have someone with all the right attitudes and spirituality who was fighting on the wrong side of a conflict, or for the wrong government. If the latter, that’s problematic because soldiers are obligated to participate in wars and specific combat actions whether or not they believe the conflict or the mission is just.

  26. Jim writes: “…soldiers are obligated to participate in wars and specific combat actions whether or not they believe the conflict or the mission is just.”

    Exactly…a just soldier may be fighting in an unjust war. Even though soldiers are considered accountable for their actions in warfare, they are denied the right to decide whether or not a war is just. In our society, the President, and those who are not in the military, the public, are the ones who bear this responsibility.

    The American public should engage in critiquing any war that the U.S. engages in because many lives are at stake, both our enemies and our own. Critiquing a war should never be construed as not supporting our military. If I was in the military, I would want the war I was engaged in to be critiqued by the American public.

    His Grace’s comments indicate his view that America has participated in unjust wars in the past – in “Kossovo and Serbia, before that Grenada, Panama, El Salvador, the Phillipines”. Although he doesn’t substantiate his views here, it is perfectly patriotic to be critical of one’s country fighting unjust wars. However, I’m not convinced that His Grace is actually criticizing the war in Iraq here so much as he is criticizing how it is being presented. If anything, he seems to be saying that slogans like “War on terror” are simply confusing.

  27. In last week’s Gospel reading we heard Christ tell the lawyer, that one of the two “greatest commandments” is “love your neighbor, as yourself”, and furthermore your “neighbor” can even be someone as freaky and different as a Samaritan.

    Christ’s commandment to, “love your neighbor, as yourself”, creates a duty for every Christian to feel empathy for the suffering of every other human beings, to literally make their pain our pain. When human beings paticipate in war however they are ordered to behave in the exactly opposite manner as Christ instructed – to dehumanize their other person, maximize their pain and bring about their annihilation.

    It was a measure of America’s great defiance and active opposition to Christ’s teachings that one of our Marines could literally walk up to a severely wounded, unarmed Iraqi man last week and shoot him in the head, and yet somehow a majority of Americans think that that action is justified. He was just an Arab after all, not a Christian Caucasian so why not just shoot him like a dog. The BBC recently had a photo that broke my heart – a dead Iraqi father lying in the street with his head blown off while his dead child clings to his father’s lifeless body.

    We did this. We Americans have slaughtered thousands of innocent Iraqi civilian and funded that slaughter with our tax dollars. I can’t imagine the process of desensitization and dehumanization required to kill so many innocent people, to walk through the streets of Falluja and see the bodies of the dead civilians lying in the streets and not feel guilty about it, or to accept this killing as the legitimate function of our government.

    All I know is as a Christian, and for the sake of my soul and salvation, I have a duty to resist that warmongering mentality glorified by our current government.

  28. No Dean, the lesson of the parable is not to “feel empathy” but to obey the commandment to love your neighbor. The problem with progressives is that they do much feeling and too little doing. Empathy substitutes for action.

    As for your anti-war screed, where is the empathy for the soldier? Further, does it indicate an objection to all war, or just the Iraqi war? Some distinctions would be helpful because the emotional tone is thick as syprup and impossible to swim through without them.

  29. Dean:
    I often agree with you but remember that in general (*), the US works to avoid civilian casualties. Where appropriate, we punish individuals who step outside proper wartime protocol as we did with some of the Abu Ghraib soldiers, some of which will be serving prison terms.

    We dedicate ourselves to improving our technology so that we may strike only military targets with greater accuracy.

    Nevertheless, we need to avoid terms such as “collateral damage” when referring to civilian casualties and consider the possibility of reparations where appropriate if we are to consider ourselves among the “just”.

    While the actions of this Marine are regrettable and should be addressed, we shouldn’t forget that a female aid worker who dedicated her life to the poor of Iraq was recently found decapitated, amputated of her limbs and disembowled.

  30. Note 27

    Your implied assertion of moral equivalency is shameful Dean. You have done what I call “freeze frame” analysis of the situation which allows you to ignore the identity of the actors and the events leading up to the shooting.

    Let me give you a legal example. A police officer opens a door and finds person A holding a smoking gun while person B is lying dead on the floor. Do we classify the action of Person A as A) murder B) involuntary manslaughter of C) non-criminal self-defense. It all depends on who the actors were, how they came to be in the room together and what transpired before the bullet left the gun.

    What you have concocted is shameful. You have failed to take into account the true identity and role of the Iraqi who was shot. First, the Iraqi was not simply some random human being who had wandered into Fallujah. This person was an associate of Al-Zaquarhi (sp?) the terrorist who beheaded many Western aid workers in cold blood. Second, he had been apprehended in the act of firing on American and Iraqi troops. Third, after considerable warning and after allowing the evacuation of non-combatants, the proper goal of the American soldier was to kill the enemy unless the enemy actively surrenders.

    Here is the key fact. The act of feigning death was properly considered to be a subtrefuge. This subtrfuge could only be engaged in for the purpose of killing American soldiers. American and Iraqi National Forces had encountered jihadis who feigned death only to pull the pin on a suicide bomb belt when American and Iraqi forces approached the allegedly dead body.

    He wasn’t chosen as a target because he was Arab. He was chosen as a target because he was shooting at American and Iraqi National Guard soldiers. He was shot because he was a co-conspirator with Al-Zaquarhi (sp?) The London Times has reported that American forces have found many prison rooms, instruments of tortue, evidence of group slaughter of innocents throughout the city.

    The true “desensitization and dehumanization” is occurring against the interest of the peaceful Iraqis and the brave American troops who are winning their country back from the Jihadis. It takes a desenstitized conscience to accuse American soldiers of murder of a Jihadi. How can you ignore what the Jihadis are doing?How can you equate them to innocent human beings? Your comment is an outrage.

    Under your reasoning we would have been helpless before Hitler and every criminal willing to use violence against the innocent.

  31. How did events progress to this terrible stage? In March 2003 we abandoned a successful policy of containment and deterrence against Saddam Hussein and instead launched an unnecesarry “war of choice” which we justified with fictitious allegations of weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda.

    Secondly, we allowed the occupation to become a miserable failure by failing to send in enough troops to secure the country, failing to obtain international support and assistance, failing to rebuild Iraq’s shattered infrastructure, failing to maintain Iraq’s existing governmental and economic institutions, and failing to provide a sense of security and hope for the future for Iraq’s people.

    The people of Iraq overwhelmingly hate us and want us to leave. The war has become another Vietnam where the US can only control the areas we physically occupy, as demontrated in Mosul last week, when insurgents took control of seven police stations and the Iraqi police and security forces abandoned their posts or joined the insurgents. We have killed too many Iraqi people by now to expect their good will and forgiveness. By comparing death rates before and after March 2003 the British medical journal, The Lancet, has estimated that 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died who otherwise would be alive if America had not invaded.

    We as a nation bear responsibility for our disasterous choices and actions that have resulted in so much death, destruction and pain for the people of Iraq. As Christians we are taught that when you do something wrong, you must acknowlege your mistake and seek forgiveness and that is what America must do now. Kyrie Elaison, Kyrie Elaison, Kyrie Elaison.

  32. In many ways, the Orthodox Church is being dragged into progressive liberalism much like the Episcopal and Catholic Churches. The attitudes that the Left propagates (but only in non-socialist countries) toward war have found their way into Orthodox circles. “Social justice” and the leveling of disparities in wealth (instead of simple charity), environmentalism and a general hyper-critical attitude toward America seem to be healthily represented in the OC. Perhaps this is even the dominant philosophy among the hierarchs here. One hundred fifty years ago, in this country, few people would have basic disagreements with the general notions behind the patriarchy and chivalry. I suspect that 100 years ago, in most of the traditionally Orthodox world, very few would have challenged such traditional ideas. You’ve come a long way, baby. My point to the priest when leaving the catechumenate was that it made little sense to me to leave a church which had decisively rejected liberalism (the Anglican Catholic Church) to join one which, though it has a greater claim in history and dogma to legitimacy, seems to have begun going down the same path as the Catholics and Orthodox. I think many Orthodox kid themselves on this point and stick their heads in the sand. The cancer is there and growing, it’s just not as advanced as in the ECUSA and the Catholic Church. I have no interest in being a communicant in a church of which I will be ashamed (as I was when I read the OPF statement) or in which I will see replays of the battles fought in the EC or RCC. I would rather find a church that knows liberalism when it sees it and rejects it consistently and categorically.

    I have heard Orthodox Christians criticize the cult of freedom we have in America, where each person’s opinion is king. Classical just war theory left the question of whether a conflict met the standard of justice in going to war to the state’s leadership. Whether you leave it to the national leadership or to majority rule it seems that to avoid chaos, unless a person is sure that a conflict violates some rule or standard of justification, in the interest of national cohesion and order, that person should defer to the government’s judgment. I’m sure that Orthodox from centuries past would agree wholeheartedly. Today, well, you can see for yourself.

    I’m not saying debate should be stifled or that Christians or others, if they oppose the war, shouldn’t speak out. I do not think that the rhetoric about America being the greatest terrorist nation, about the war being manifestly contrary to Christ’s teaching or the teaching of the Church is defensible if one accepts the notion of a just or justifiable war. Who of us would claim, “No war is legitimate unless I personally agree with it.” Do you trust yourself so much in so serious a matter that you cannot defer to any broader consensus? At what point are you willing to defer to some higher authority than “almighty me”? When the war started, 70 percent of the people here supported it. Now it’s down to about 54 percent. The President decided (in part by consulting just war theory, as he has stated), Congress approved, and the American people supported it at the time it was initiated and ratified that support in the last election.

    I have seen the video of the Marine in Fallujah who shot the wounded (or dead) man. Weak hearted people shouldn’t be given the responsibility of making life or death decisions. They just don’t have it in them. Most all civilians, along with the Zarqawi leadership, had already fled Fallujah. All that was left were the fighters who supported Zarqawi, and our troops (American and Iraqi national). The wounded or dead in the building had already been identified as “insurgents”. They had been shooting at our troops from that building. A soldier who had been wounded in the past couple of days, and who had been fighting pretty constantly for three straight days, thought he saw one of the “dead” moving. The “insurgents” had frequently had their people play dead and hide a weapon so that they could kill our troops as they discovered them. This had occured again several days prior to the incident. I’m willing to give the Marine the benefit of the doubt. Whether he actually saw movement, or some weapon, or just thought he saw it, he had to decide whether to risk his life, the lives of our soldiers in the room, and the journalist and film crew.

    There is a reason why only men, and men who were expected to be tough, traditionally have been charged with making war and war decisions. There’s no time for a trial and often the best and only way to play it safe is to err on the side of killing. Anybody in that room was an enemy combatant without benefit of state alliance or uniform. Really, ethically, the Marines would have been justified in lining any survivors up against the wall and executing them.

    Many people lack any serious appreciation of what the human condition has been like over the centuries and millenia. American conduct (how we are fighting, not whether we should) in the current conflict in Iraq is radically humanitarian by any historical standard, even by any Christian standard short of absolute pacifism. Let reasonable men take responsibility for the Iraq war. Any of you who are concerned about the harshness involved can forgive them later once the bad guys are a memory and everything is safe for you. Christianity would have died out as just another hellenistic mystery cult had it not been suitable to the Lord to raise up Constantine.

  33. Dean wrote: “In March 2003 we abandoned a successful policy of containment and deterrence against Saddam Hussein and instead launched an unnecesarry ?war of choice? which we justified with fictitious allegations of weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda.”

    This paragraph is simply factually inaccurate. Saddam Hussein had NOT been successfully contained but rather had continually rejected and violated numerous UN resolutions since the cease fire. American intelligence, British intelligence, French intelligence, Russian intelligence, Israeli intelligence and even the intelligence services of some of the Arab countries in the region ALL indicated that Saddam Hussein was actively engaged in producing large amounts of biological and chemical weapons. They also indicated that he was within 18 months of a nuclear capacity. Saddam Hussein had numerous opportunities over years to come clean and prove our intelligence to be wrong. Bush acted upon the same intelligence available to the Senate. Even Bill Clinton asserted forcefully during his presidency that Hussein had such weapons. The question was what, if anything to do about it. BUSH DID NOT LIE.

    Iraq DID have ties to al-Qaida. It’s just a simple fact confirmed by the 9/11 commission as well as other commissions. He met al-Qaida operatives in Baghdad and provided them with assistance he also let them train in northten Iraq. All that has not been proven is that he had any ties to 9/11 – – something the administration never claimed. BUSH DID NOT LIE.

    The Democrats were absolutely shameless in the last election making such spurious and unsubstantiated allegations.

    I do however agree with Dean that we have botched the occupation. We should have used a dramatically larger force and secured the entire country as quickly as possible. Only when everybody involved knows that there is no serious possibility of effective resistance can we expect peace. Moreover, we should have set up some semi-representative council and aggressively trained Iraqi national police and military, incorporated most of the old police and military except for the leadership. Then we could withdraw to newly established and permanent military bases and leave the carnage to the Iraqis.

    The only defensible reason to use U.S. military power in this way is for national defense, not dreams of nation building however well intentioned. Colin Powell warned Bush that if he broke it he owned it. WRONG. Deal with the threat, set up some government we can deal with, arm it to the teeth and let it go.

  34. Note 33

    There have been several references to Richard Clarke in our discussions. At one point someone strongly suggested that I read Richard Clarke’s book. It is on my list, hope I will get to it soon. However, there is considerable proof that Clarke has mistated important facts about the transition from the Clinton to the Bush administration. Here is a quote from the Powerline blog:

    Clarke’s credibility has long been in tatters, but the final blow was delivered today when the joint Select Committee on Intelligence released the transcript of his testimony before that committee on June 11, 2002. Clarke’s testimony, with only slight redactions for security reasons, can be accessed here.

    Clarke’s testimony is completely devoid of any suggestion that he delivered any warning of any kind to Rice or any other member of the Bush administration, let alone any claim that any such warning was disregarded. In fact, what is notable about Clarke’s appearance before the Joint Committee is that the Bush administration was scarcely mentioned at all. There was a great deal of discussion about what happened during the Clinton administration, and Clarke generally tried to defend Clinton against criticism. But, with a single exception noted below, not even the most partisan Democrats on the committee, like Nancy Pelosi, tried to suggest that there was anything the Bush administration could or should have done differently during the brief time it was in office prior to September 11, 2001.

    This is the complete text of Clarke’s prepared testimony as it related to the Bush administration:

    In 2001, the Bush administration, immediately upon coming into office, asked for a review of how we were organized on terrorism, on homeland security and on cybersecurity. The recommendation of that review was that we split the counterterrorism portfolio from the cyberterrorism portfolio. That was agreed by May in the principals committee, and I asked to be assigned to the cybersecurity portfolio, since I had done counterterrorism for 10 years.
    The Bush administration also tasked in February [Ed.: That is, within a matter of days after taking office] a policy review of al-Qa’ida. That was developed over the course of the spring and resulted in a draft Presidential directive to eliminate al-Qa’ida. That Presidential directive was finalized by the principals in the first week in September.

  35. Scott:
    Fact: Powell says Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon.

    Fact: North Korea has developed nuclear weapons as well and had at one point intercepted a US aircraft.

    If anything, these countries have proved to be more of a direct and imminent threat than Iraq was. What is your explanation as to why we neglected the use of military force with these countries?

  36. Scott, you would appreciate Charles Krauthammer’s article in the most recent issue of “Policy Review.” You can read it at Borders Books.

  37. James, you would enjoy the article too. BTW, Korea does not represent a direct and imminent threat, not yet anyway.

  38. James,

    Actually, it’s more than just what Powell says. The UN and its nuclear regulatory agency are also deeply concerned that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capacity. It could be a serious problem because even those who discredit reports of Iraq’s connections to terrorism cannot possibly deny Iran’s. Iran actively sponsors Hezbollah and other nasty organizations. A nuclear weapon in the hands of Hezbollah WILL be used against Israel, the U.S. or both. The President has said that we will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. I would guess that instead of invasion we (or the Israelis) will bomb the producion facilities much like Israelis did in 1981.

    As far as North Korea is concerned, yes the leader over there is certifiably insane. Yes he is trying to or already has developed nuclear weapons. No, alone or without the Chinese, it is unlikely we will do much of anything militarily about it. Getting the right deal together with China is the wiser approach. N. Korea is China’s back yard. They wouldn’t stand for us invading. I’m sure we’re talking with the Chinese about exactly what they want in order to solve problem of N. Korea’s leadership. They can’t be happy that that crazy fool wants or has nukes. It’s unlikely he has long range missles so its really more of a threat to his immediate neighbors. They also can surmise that the S. Koreans have no intentions of invading the North. Eventually, either China will deal with the N. Korean leadership (some type of coup) or they will give us the green light to do something short of invasion.

    The interception of the jet is irrelevant and no threat to our national security. It’s just a nuisance.

    Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in the 1980’s and there was a long bloody war that lasted the decade. He invaded Kuwait back in 1990-91. As a person he has demonstrated that he has no aversion at all to reaching out and touching his neighbors. His neighbors include some of the leading oil producing countries on earth. The American government had a real concern that Saddam Hussein might develop an extensive stockpile of bio and chem weapons and decide to go sight seeing again. That was the most likely threat. Once he overruns another country and thus acquires a much larger share of the world’s oil reserves, it would be very difficult for even the U.S. to raise the political will to kick him out if he let us know he would use bio or chem or, God forbid, even nuclear weapons. There are those who chant, “No blood for oil!” Really? Oil is the life blood of industrialized nations. To cut it off or drastically reduce it would cause widespread human suffering as a result of shortages. Ambulances and hospital helicopters have no fuel, people have no heating oil, the economy slips right through recession into depression. That’s power, and it could have been Saddam Hussein’s.

    Also, there was also a perceived danger that he wouldn’t be totally averse to sharing such weapons with the highest bidder, or specifically with anti-American and anti-Israel terrorist groups. We’ll never know, thank God.

    Invasion was the right weapon to use against Iraq but the others may have less drastic remedies. Oh, by the way, the WSJ reported some time ago (in the spring I think) and it has become widely known that the Russian Orthodox Church was on the take from the oil for food program. Some of the countries which opposed us were getting very large illegal payments out of what was supposed to be a charitable endeavor. The documentation on this stuff is part of what we found when we took Baghdad. Heck, if I were an Orthodox bishop, maybe I’d be sorely perturbed at America too!

    Anyway, I must take my leave of this string now. I think I’ve demonstrated through the comments of others that the OC, at least the modern OC, is deeply conflicted about matters of war and violence in a way that’s unique to the modern era. I also don’t really belong here since I discontinued my catechumenate and have no ties to the OC. This is really, I surmise, a site for Orthodox to express their views.

    It’s been fun. God bless all of you.

  39. Jim, re your comment #25: I cannot fully respond to your question although it is a good one. My post came from a two year adventure and study with my son. I am helping him prepare for the vocation he has chosen of a just defensive warrior in the Coast Guard. We have the very question you ask, can a just warrior participate in an unjust war before us. The easy answer is no, but one thing I have found out in the last two years is that the quick response is usually wrong or at best terribly incomplete. To indicate a direction in answer to your question, I would first reiterate what Fr. Laffon so correctly pointed out, the Orthodox Church has no dogma or doctrine specifically on warfare, and probably never will. Therefore, we must look at the moral conduct of the person for whom being a warrior is his calling. The nature of the government and the culture which is being protected and the nature of the enemy.

    Unfortunately, most wars are not easily identifiable as just or unjust. Many would say that there were more concrete, justifiable reasons to invade Iraq than to bomb Kosovo, yet liberals generally approved Kosovo while rejecting Iraq while conservatives did the opposite. However, if a war is clearly unjust, then our hypothetical just warrior would have to refuse to participate even at the cost of his own life. However, the most likely event that a just warrior will have to decide is similar to the moral decision made by the U.S. trooper to shoot the terrorist in the mosque. If it were my son, I would hope he would find some way to make absolutely sure the man was a direct threat before pulling the trigger. I would hope he had prepared sufficiently to master his fear. I would rather my son erred on the side of mercy for the enemy when he has only his own life to consider. However, when the lives of others in his unit are at stake, the decision becomes more difficult.

    The Uniform Code of Military Justice makes each U.S. soldier responsible for the moral and ethical conduct of himself and others. Soldiers not only have a right, but a duty to refuse and report illegal orders and illegal activities.

    Jim, even those opposed to any use of force or any use of deadly force must face a similar dilemma. For the non-violent, he must come to terms with the fact that there will be times when, because of his inaction, harm,even death might come to another person or persons, even innocent ones. For the just warrior, he must come to terms with the fact that his action harms or kills others, even the innocent.

    One final note, classic western just war theology, drawn primarily from Augustine and Aquinas does not require that all other avenues be totally exhausted before going to war, just that they be completely and honestly considered.

    My son has choosen a path that not many would or should choose. Clearly the great preponderance of the Orthodox witness is for non-violent peacemaking, but it is not the only witness. I would rather he were called to something else, but I have no doubt whatsoever that his calling is valid and worthy. As I love my son, I honor that to which he has been called. If he follows his path with dedication, faith, and honesty, God will protect his soul, if not his life.

  40. Scott, re #23. If Brian and I are correct, the Holy Spirit will reveal it the life of the Church. If we are incorrect, the same will occur. When my son read Bp Tikon’s statement, his reaction was that it was filled with anger and fear. I have never known a belief based on anger and fear to be ratified by the Church, so I am confident that Brian and I are at least on the right track.

    God Bless you Scott, trust in the Holy Spirit to lead you in the right way.

  41. Dean, for your benefit I am posting the complete letter from a Marine in Iraq, from this article by a professor at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I:
    “This is one story of many that people normally don’t hear, and one that everyone does.

    “This is just one most don’t hear:

    “A young Marine and his cover man cautiously enter a room just recently filled with insurgents armed with AK-47s and RPGs. There are three dead, another wailing in pain. The insurgent can be heard saying, “Mister, mister! Diktoor, diktoor (doctor)!” He is badly wounded, lying in a pool of his own blood. The Marine and his cover man slowly walk toward the injured man, scanning to make sure no enemies come from behind. In a split second, the pressure in the room greatly exceeds that of the outside, and the concussion seems to be felt before the blast is heard. Marines outside rush to the room, and look in horror as the dust gradually settles. The result is a room filled with the barely recognizable remains of the deceased, caused by an insurgent setting off several pounds of explosives.

    “The Marines’ remains are gathered by teary-eyed comrades, brothers in arms, and shipped home in a box. The families can only mourn over a casket and a picture of their loved one, a life cut short by someone who hid behind a white flag. But no one hears these stories, except those who have lived to carry remains of a friend, and the families who loved the dead. No one hears this, so no one cares.

    “This is the story everyone hears:

    “A young Marine and his fire team cautiously enter a room just recently filled with insurgents armed with AK-47s and RPGs. There are three dead, another wailing in pain. The insurgent can be heard saying, “Mister, mister! Diktoor, diktoor (doctor)!” He is badly wounded. Suddenly, he pulls from under his bloody clothes a grenade, without the pin. The explosion rocks the room, killing one Marine, wounding the others. The young Marine catches shrapnel in the face.

    “The next day, same Marine, same type of situation, a different story. The young Marine and his cover man enter a room with two wounded insurgents. One lies on the floor in puddle of blood, another against the wall. A reporter and his camera survey the wreckage inside, and in the background can be heard the voice of a Marine, “He’s moving, he’s moving!”

    “The pop of a rifle is heard, and the insurgent against the wall is now dead.

    “Minutes, hours later, the scene is aired on national television, and the Marine is being held for committing a war crime. Unlawful killing.

    “And now, another Marine has the possibility of being burned at the stake for protecting the life of his brethren. His family now wrings their hands in grief, tears streaming down their face. Brother, should I have been in your boots, I too would have done the same.

    “For those of you who don’t know, we Marines, Band of Brothers, Jarheads, Leathernecks, etc., do not fight because we think it is right, or think it is wrong. We are here for the man to our left, and the man to our right. We choose to give our lives so that the man or woman next to us can go home and see their husbands, wives, children, friends and families.

    For those of you who sit on your couches in front of your television, and choose to condemn this man’s actions, I have but one thing to say to you. Get out of you recliner, lace up my boots, pick up a rifle, leave your family behind, and join me. See what I’ve seen, walk where I have walked. To those of you who support us, my sincerest gratitude. You keep us alive.

    “I am a Marine currently doing his second tour in Iraq. These are my opinions and mine alone. They do not represent those of the Marine Corps or of the U.S. military, or any other.”

    Dean, my father served in the United States Army in Korea, my brother served in the United States Marines, and I served in the United States Navy during the 1990 stage of the war in Iraq. When you refer to military personnel as nothing but a force that slaughters civilians you spit in all our faces, and you spit in the face of the Marine who wrote the letter above. I am proud that we chose to stand a watch defending your right to sit in safety and spit on our efforts.

    As the Marine above says, “Get out of you recliner, lace up my boots, pick up a rifle, leave your family behind, and join me. See what I’ve seen, walk where I have walked.” Until you’ve done that, shut the hell up, you don’t know a damn thing, and I, for one, am sick and tired of your pissing all over those who are keeping your sorry butt safe.

  42. Iraqi Reaction to the U.S. Marine in Fallujah


    Our reader Haider Ajina phoned his father in Baghdad for an update on Iraqi sentiment concerning the Marine killing. Haider sends us the following message:

    I just got of the phone with my father in Baghdad. I asked him what is the reaction of the Marine killing the injured Iraqi in the Mosque in Felujah. His first words were “Good riddance.”

    People are not giving it a second thought. Any terrorist who attacks soldiers from Mosques has no sanctuary. Any terrorists who fake death to kill in a mosque deserve no mercy. He says Iraqis (including Sunnis) are fed up with the terrorists and want them eliminated.

    There was much uproar about the brutal kidnapping killing of Mrs. Margaret Hassan. Iraqis are upset outraged and disgusted with her brutal abduction & killing. She helped us, helped the poor & needy and this what the terrorist do to her and her family.

    He says we must stay strong, united and relentless in the pursuit of the terrorist. Baghdad had relative calm over the last few days. People are even going out in the street till 9:30pm now.

    Please spread the message, let America Know that the Iraqis are with us, grateful and want us to stay strong and get stronger so that we can all defeat terrorism.

  43. Daniel writes: “I wonder if the Bishop Tikhon understands that he is spitting in the face of all those families who are part of his parish and who have brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who are serving or have served in the military. And to do this a day before Veteran?s Day (Armistice Day) is despicable.”

    I used to be under this bishop’s omophorion. I left his OCA parish in no small part for the reason set forth in your comment quoted above. His Grace writes much that is despicable, and he is anti-American to the core.

    Thankfully there are a number of Orthodox hierarchs, priests and theologians who have effectively countered Bishop Tikhon’s thoughtless rants. It’s just sad to see that he does not exhibit much pastoral sensibility in this regard.

Comments are closed.