by Thomas Lee Abshier, ND11/23/2010
—– Original Message —–
To: Thomas Lee Abshier
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 2:04 PM
Subject: Fwd: The War Party Vs. Rand Paul
Subject: The War Party Vs. Rand Paul
A few days after his slam-dunk election victory, Senator-elect Paul appeared on This Week with Christiane Amanpour and not only came out for cuts in the military, but also made the case that a decade of war and occupation in Afghanistan may indeed be enough. For that, he is being attacked by the War Party, as well as the administration loyalists among the liberals, and you can bet the smears have just begun. He has so far shown that he is every inch his father’s son, and I very much regret implying – or, rather, openly stating – otherwise. Rand Paul proved me wrong, and I have never been happier to make public contrition.
The movement of which Rand Paul is a leader has the potential to turn American politics – and American conservatism – upside down, and pull off a fundamental political realignment in this country. No amount of smears and jeers from the upholders of the status quo is going to stop them, at this point: only they can stop themselves, by failing to follow through on the bright promise of their pledge to cut the American State down to its proper and constitutionally-mandated size – both at home, and abroad.
From: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 7:25 PM
To: John Subject:
Re: The War Party Vs. Rand Paul
Obviously, bringing government down to the “Constitutionally mandated size” is a noble goal. I applaud Rand Paul, and every politician who actually pursues restoring government’s size, structure, and authority to match the intent of the Founders. If Rand is a Libertarian, then his view of the role of government may be skewed toward a minimalist.
The question of whether we are justified or not in intervening in Afghanistan is an issue that should be examined based on the facts of that individual situation. If the facts do not justify our presence, then we should examine how war is conducted within the larger issue of the philosophy and motivations of government.
The author indicts the Republicans as being “The war party” and seeks to gain reflexive support for his position of reducing the size of government by using pejorative associations between war and Republicans. I certainly do not defend the policies or philosophy of the “moderate” (RINO) Republicans. They appear to be tools of the Democratic party, and their gradual slide toward Statism and socialism. Removal of every RINO and exposure of his erroneous philosophy of government should be applauded. To the extent that Rand Paul works toward this goal, we now have an ally on the side of the Founders’ vision of Constitutional government.
But, the author is not really using a rational argument for Constitutional government. Instead, he is appealing to the visceral repulsion of war as his tool of generating support for Rand Paul. (We note the site he published for is “Anti-War”. I have not read the entire site, and I cannot say with certainty that he leaves no rationale open to war.) War is hell, and no rational and moral person would pursue war unless it was conducted for some larger noble purpose.
Many argue that government is simply a tool of the military industrial complex, which raises the issues of crony capitalism and corruption. The charge of corruption is justified to the extent that the legislators have been bought by lobbyists (using campaign contributions, perks, and junkets to create obligated votes), rather than supporting a war on the basis of principle.
War can be conducted by men who are driven by the feeling of power, and thus conduct war when there is no threat, no people freed, and no boundaries or principles defended.
On the other side of the argument, critics of big government and war use images of the violence inherent in war, and charges of corruption influencing policy, to elicit a reflexive repulsion against it, and thus win visceral alignment with their positions. But, corruption (influence by personal gain) is its own issue, as is the merit of any particular war. Each war and every program of big government should be debated based on the costs, circumstances, and principles. Simply calling war and “big” government evil is not justifiable, since neither institution is inherently or totally immoral, wrong, unrighteous, or unGodly.
The real question is, “What is the right use of war?”
War is justified in the repulsion of force that seeks to subjugate righteous men, and to free men already under the yoke of slavery. War (in all its metaphorical forms) should be waged against those who place others unjustly under the subjugation of the many manifestations of bondage.
Obviously, men can be seduced into war for less noble purposes; such as serving an egotistical/power-addicted soul, rather than for serving in the purpose of restraining and dethroning evil. Throughout history, such men have repeatedly risen up inside morally weak societies, and either seduced or forcefully taken the reigns of power. This type, those like Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot… are easy to identify. But the more subtle and pernicious threat comes from those who are deluded, misguided, or unaware of the passions that drive them. It is not possible to do therapy on a dictator, nor to suddenly change the philosophical motivation and structure of an entire people. After subduing the forceful threat of an aggressive government, we should follow that victory with a campaign of media and education to change the hearts of men and their culture.
The cult of anti-war pacifism is just as pernicious as the cult of war. If a nation truly is righteous, then it should come to the aid of the oppressed. There no place for eternal and full isolation from the affairs and plight of other peoples. Arms should be the last tool of enforcing right relationships within other nations.
Properly executed intervention serves the cause of righteousness, even though it is a burden on the enforcer. In each situation, the violation must be properly judged, the proper force exerted to stop the offense, and a new paradigm of life taught to replace the cultural philosophy that allowed the violation.
To: ‘Thomas Lee Abshier, ND’
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 7:39 PM
Subject: RE: The War Party Vs. Rand Paul
I agree with your statement, Tom. I think that Rand Paul & Ron Paul fall exactly within the sweet spot you described. Perhaps everybody (including Hitler) considers his or her own preferred level of force as the “just right” balance you described. The devil is in the details. We have to consider that there are also amoral lobbyists since the days of the catapult who urged the king to buy the new improved catapult, and then non-overtly sold the same catapult to the opposite side, benefiting financially from all sides obviously without regard to morality. Such people and their persuasive seduction have an effect on the decision making of otherwise moral leaders.
John, as you note, this discussion well illustrates the fact that the devil is in the details, and every man thinks he is in the sweet spot (of every issue). The debate between people who believe their position is right in its balance, philosophy, and good-outcome is the very substance and nature of political debate. Underneath every man’s position (which he believes is right/true/good) is a philosophy of life which biases his position. And, as you note, there are other factors that pervert men’s opinions away from the good of society; such as self-enrichment from promoting the particular war/no-war position for which they receive additional tangible and/or intangible compensation. Ultimately only the man with a pure heart who hears the voice of the Holy Spirit will be able to consistently serve goodness with perfect judgment and action. Sadly, none of us walks in that divine space consistently. Not even the man who is sincerely dedicated to that stand can claim to advocate and articulate the Right position at all times on all issues. Nevertheless, we must continue to try.
For this reason, we have organized ourselves as a democratic-republic for the purpose of group decision-making. The foundational assumption underlying the democracy-republic-market system is that men are self-interested and that men competing against each other nullify the ill/excessive desires of others who are likewise self-interested. The force of self-interest organizes men only to a modest level of civility. The next level of civilizing and sanctifying society arises when men not only advocate for their self-interest but also judge what is Right. When men use God’s standards as the center of their moral directive, they will function at a higher level of cooperation and harmony than if only acting out of self-interest. When men judge thoughts, speech, and action according to God’s standards, they will illuminate and reject the extremes of selfishness and personal motivations in themselves, and in others. They will actively pursue value for value trade, and confront error with kindness and appropriate force. Mercy and care for the well being of the other are characteristics of the Godly interaction.
In general, the boundaries of self are well defended in societies where individuals and small groups advocate for proper treatment of themselves. But, when government intervenes as the judge and enforcer of “right” action, extreme violations of boundary can occur. Governments are formed to enforce and facilitate interactions between large groups, but this results in legalism (mindless rule-following) and depersonalization. This illustrates the peril of giving a humanistic government the power of state and sword.
The democratic-republic-market system fails to execute good policy when the mass-culture has adopted and accepted any perversion (i.e. tolerance of sin of any stripe) within its group philosophy. Such was and is the case in Emperor worship, Nazism, communism, Islam, and our increasingly Godless-hedonistic culture. In these systems, errors of thought and speech are reinforced and used as templates for action because they include errors embraced by the group mind. The culture acts out in offensive ways because the group decision unavoidably expresses perverse and harmful actions and policies.
This, as always, is the reason I continue to argue for a Christian society. The Christian culture has Truth at its center. It allows for a completely free consideration of all perspectives in the debate. It allows all men to believe anything they want to believe. It allows for varying degrees of belief and disbelief, and various interpretations of law. But the tolerance of perspectives and opinion is not blind, as there is a spirit of Truth against which all perspectives are compared. In such a society, righteous men express their positions of approval and disapproval with respect/love, appropriate personal force and conviction, and with ownership. Men who have drunk deeply of that spirit, and seek to live it daily in their lives, recognize Truth and error when it is spoken and acted. And while the voice of Truth each man hears inside may not be perfect in its fidelity, the group consideration illuminates and negates the error by reasoned debate, the counsel of wise men confront, consider, and advocate for change. This process progressively moves the society and its debate toward Truth in its societal expression in the areas of policy, program, and expenditure.
I hear you, Tom. As always, there is much you said I completely agree with and a very few points that open whole new areas of discussion. I always seem to suffer from the illusion that a few email exchanges with most of my discussion partners will flesh out most issues except for a few bits. But what inevitably happens is quite the opposite – the discussion fans out to a wide spectrum that is almost unanswerable in its scope in any practical time period and with any reasonable number of words.
I’m not complaining, just observing. Again, even on a subject as relatively narrow as this one, we could spend a whole day and never complete the issues. There are just not enough breaths in a lifetime to cover everything sufficiently with one person, let alone a whole culture.
Have a great Thanksgiving….
John, you are right, the complexity of the human experience is far too multifaceted to create a full linear recitation of a philosophical justification of any theory of life. We will have to be content with speaking our truth, being open to others speaking theirs, and modify our opinions as the data and logic filters through our belief structures. It’s great fun confronting our beliefs, in the hope that we will be able to clarify those deeply held concepts, which have only a shallow level of integration with the entire body of human and divine knowledge.