www.thornwalker.com/ditch/howso ldiers_lte.htm

To Mr. Neff's article.

To the editor ...

Mr. Neff writes of "far-off people."

Unfortunately, there is no longer any such thing as a far-off people. The United States has been under attack since the late '70s. If the American military personnel took it upon themselves to somehow stop going to war, it would simply lead to unfettered attacks on this country.

There is nothing happening now that I would not describe as self-defense on the part of the United States.

Richard Miller
Ruffin, N.C.
March 16, 2003


Mr. Neff replies

Since Mr. Miller believes his country is under attack, I hope that as a true patriot he has at the very least presented himself for induction into the armed forces and has encouraged his sons to do likewise.

The United State has indeed been under attack for quite some time. I wonder whether Mr. Miller has any idea why. There were plenty of Muslims in the world before the 1970s. And it used to be a lot easier to get into the country. Or even to assassinate its leaders (vide Messrs. Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley). Where were the radical Muslims then? Where were they in the 1950s?

The reason American soldiers should refuse to kill Iraqis is that it is not good for them to commit murder. And that is precisely what they are about to do. Once the war begins, there will be men dying to defend their country and their homes. None of them will be Americans. They will all be Iraqis.

Mr. Neff does well to characterize Just War Theory as one of the West's great intellectual achievements. St. Augustine had an incisive thing or two to say as well in his corollary about homicidal humanitarians and terrorists.

Thus quoth a doctor of the Church: "A fitting and true response was once given to Alexander the Great by an apprehended pirate. When asked by the king what he thought he was doing by infesting the sea, he replied with noble insolence, 'What do you think you're doing by infesting the whole world? Because I do it with one puny boat, I am called a pirate; because you do it with a great fleet, you are called an emperor.'"

Augustine's conclusion would surely horrify many who profess to admire him, e.g., Michael Novak, William Bennett, and the neocon commentators at Detroit Catholic (sic) Radio: "What are governments but great bands of thieves?"

Tony Pivetta
Royal Oak, Michigan
March 16, 2003

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