So I held to the Cross, after all....

I despise war. I think that, in a fallen world, people must sadly prepare for it, but only to keep out. Like many, I wish that people of reason and strength would not embrace it, but human beings are flawed and some want the badness and some want to fight it. Indeed, there are times when men must fight. Just not for the sake of it, or all at once.

Many of my instinctive rejections of what is going on in Libya right now are, probably, illegitimate. The bombs which we are using cost a great deal, and the aeroplanes we are using to drop them on the sons of others cost more. A raid with stormshadows using three laden aeroplanes yesterday, as far as I can gauge, cost as much as a small hospital. But it is no objection to war to point to the cost of murdering others as the reason not to do it. Money is very rarely the measure of anything, and certainly not the reason to allow those brave rebels their death.

Human history is a tale of badness. To embrace the darkness because it is there is, well, to sail by a very chilling star and to go the way things always went. Romans, Persians, people from Empires of which you and I have never heard, all made order by throwing stones or stones on arrows or stones on chemicals or stones on fire on people. This will go on and on until people stop. To buy some people a few more years, and to further our own interests, that is what we are doing now.

This war as constituted is also not illegal, at least in the United Nations. The last best hope of man, riddled with our hypocrisies and contradictions, demands a world of law, but law was built on lawgivers. Liberals say, 'Either we have a kind of international state, minimal as it may be, or we have anarchy and worse'. In a real way, they are right. Chapter 7 of the UN Charter is a high aspiration. It allows for the international community to uphold law, and to pursue the proud whilst sparing the humble. In this, it is true to its Imperial British origins. Those people long ago thought of their sundry emendments to their rapine peace like that, and in truth, to spare the humble is to take on the proud. Pride is a very sinful thing.

I also know that the argument that this is an Arab civil war and an Arab fight is a dubious one; but no more than that which holds that the Vietnamese Civil War or the Irish or the American one was theirs to win and intervention would have lost their futures now passed. Things are complicated. We are humans, after all. We breathe and live, and Gibran and Kennedy went into the dust that makes democrats of us all, together, poet and King. Not to take sides is in itself, as others have pointed out, a positive act.


I can't do it. I can't embrace the idea of a Blitz to keep our concentration camps of refugees and our oil safe, our arms contracts secure. I cannot embrace massive direct interference in the fight of other men to be free even though I know that they are, otherwise, hopelessly outgunned, without making a mockery of the living God whose love and person and life gives me meaning.

I'm a member of the Bar and I spent a great deal of time in a seat of learning too. I know about bullshit. But here is the thing. I mean all that when I embrace the cross. I can believe in the brotherhood and sisterhood of man, and the melding of love and reason and the bona fides of the good liberals and conservatives and others who are friends of mine who embrace what is going on in Libya in good conscience.

My God was nailed to a tree by power seeking order and by all the base things that go on in a human heart and a calculating mind and the only blood price he asked was my own and that of any other real believer. I fall, I get angry, I have hit out in my life. But Christ's blood washes and saves me. I have very little anger anymore.

That said, you can take this war and shove it, because I am going to cling to the cross and the resurrection and salvation and passion that are bound up in it and which it represents. Those bombs in the desert will one day be a memory. Your soul and mine will not, and in the winds now blowing we all just have to hang on to the timeless things that make us not afraid, of ourselves or the reactions of others or of bad men.



Toni said…
I love this post Martin and admire your candour. You know, in some ways I am quite uninterested in the endless struggles of the middle east but as a humanist, I cannot ignore such suffering. I was speaking to a Kurdish immigrant today watching the latest news about Libya and he said to me that Iraq is a million times better without Saddam and I realised all of us that say, "oh we should have left it alone", don't understand that for a substantial number of people in that country even the current mess is far better than before. Its the same in Libya I suppose. People crying out for change, for freedom. Just because in our country we exchange one lot of money grabbing bureaucrats for another we fail to realise other places have bigger concerns than congestion charges. I also hate unnecessary wars and having been to Belfast as a child in the seventies, Liberia in the eighties and Indonesia in the nineties am really rather tired of all the pointless killing. What is odd to me about this latest conflict is the eagerness of France and Britain to get involved and the reluctance of America and also how quick China and Russia have been to distance themselves.
Martin Meenagh said…
I think that there is a greater game going on, on several levels. Since Kosovo, Putin has tended to 'bank' rash Western actions and then to deploy them in Russia's interests, in Kosovo for example. I guess if Gadaffi establishes any sort of a hold,they, Germany and China will gain the oil, which they will no doubt sell back to Europe via another taxed pipeline. Gadaffi also seems to have something on Sarkozy, and has been expecting something since he started piling up gold in January. I wish sometimes that the events beneath the events were apparent, but they tend never to be until far later.
As for helping the suffering, if I thought bombing the desert and killing members of the armed forces might preclude something worse, then yes, I'd understand the case. But we've already had attacks on retreating tank columns without warning and the deployment of vast weapons with no clear aim, no clear exit strategy, acommpanied by a vast flood of new arms to very dangerous people. I just look at all this and feel fear and trepidation, as well as moral disgust at the easy wany we now deploy war.
Toni said…
You are right, of course. The ease at which we unleash military action is shocking, especially when you consider the reluctance to stop the Nazi threat, although that is conveniently forgotten these days. Sometimes, when you read the propaganda it seems we actually went to war to halt the injustices to the Jews. Like you I am a Roman Catholic and have my own issues with the Jews but nobody can condone the final solution and Britain, while condemning the Vatican was equally complicit. In fact the Krauts actually offered Britain the chance to take them to Mandatory Palestine, but the British were more concerned about upsetting the Saudis and their newly discovered oil fields. The great game is no longer in India but the motivations have changed little. It would be too perfect if we could see the events beneath the events but that will never happen. My mother was a diplomat in Tokyo in the 60's and has some very strong opinions about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the truth behind that weapons test.
Martin Meenagh said…
I meant 'in Georgia for example' in the earlier comment--sorry. Toni, thanks as ever
Martin said…
Amen to that, Martin, in its entirety.

Very best,

Martin Meenagh said…
and to you, m'friend

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