Vikings in Afghanistan
Medal of Honor history: Howard and Yano

A Late Hit on Dr. McCarthy

I see that Jim has already been beating on Dr. Colman McCarthy, as have many others.  I won't reprise what has been said, but I do want to raise one small additional point.  The man doesn't even have the courage of his own discipline.

He claims to be a professor of "teaching peace."  He objected to Notre Dame having ROTC, on these terms:

Notre Dame was a model of patriotism, he said, by training future officers who were churchgoers, who had taken courses in ethics, and who loved God and country. Notre Dame's ROTC program was a way to "Christianize the military," he stated firmly.

I asked if he actually believed there could be a Christian method of slaughtering people in combat, or a Christian way of firebombing cities, or a way to kill civilians in the name of Jesus. Did he think that if enough Notre Dame graduates became soldiers that the military would eventually embrace Christ's teaching of loving one's enemies?

The interview quickly slid downhill.

There may be reasons for a pluralistic nation like ours to worry about the military becoming excessively Christianized; I don't worry myself, but I respect that some might have concerns along those lines that could be framed in a way that was legitimate.  

Still, it's a pity Dr. McCarthy didn't do his companion the honor of at least summarizing his response.  I suspect it would have been along these lines:

1)  The Geneva Conventions and other limits on violence in war do not track to Islam, or Chinese philosophy (except pragmatically:  Sun Tzu did say that the highest level of generalship was to win without fighting, but not because it was more moral to win in that way).  Islam has its own set of theories about how to wage war morally, but they are both unrelated to our laws of war, and entirely ignored by the modern Islamic fighter.  Neither did the grand Marxist armies of the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China institute military disciplines designed to limit casualties among civilians. 

2)  Rather, they come from a tradition known as Just War theory, which originated among the Romans, passed to St. Augustine of Hippo, and was particularly articulated by St. Thomas Aquinas.

3)  In between Augustine and Aquinas was a whole set of movements by the Church to regulate and limit the violence of war, known as the Peace and Truce of God.  The idea that there is a class of "noncombatants" who should be protected from the wars of the powerful is wholly a product of the Catholic Church.  It bent itself for a thousand years toward creating and defending that idea.  You might call this a "Christian way of slaughtering people in combat," because it designates just who and just how you may fight so that you do not endanger those in need of protection.

It also explains just why it is wrong for terrorists and "insurgents" to hide among the population:  because it endangers the innocent to be used as shields.  This is a point upon which our "peace studies" friends could usefully focus their minds.

4)  The Geneva Conventions and their earlier predecessors came straight out of this tradition.  The UCMJ limits on the use of force against civilian targets likewise come from this tradition.

5)  That is to say, all actually-enforced limits on the use of military power against civilians have a Christian origin.  Anyone "teaching peace," or professing to be a scholar of "peace studies" ought to know this.  The fact that you apparently do not is telling.

I suppose a response like that could be described as the interview "going downhill."  Still, it seems an inadequate summary of what was likely a worthy reply.