Friday, January 28, 2005

Neighborhood Just War 

I usually read discussions about "Just War" with interest, but of course I'm no expert. I don't have much to add to discussions like the one on Amy Welborn's site the other day. But just as I wrote about one of my next-door neighbors a few days back (the one with the maple tree that just won't die), perhaps I'll write about a next-door neighbor who used to live on the other side.

When we first moved into our home, which is just one block from the public grade school and three blocks from a Catholic Grade school, our neighbors were all older and had no children living at home. How nice, then, when a family with two little girls our children's age (9 and 6) moved in right next door. This was a blended family, the two little girls were the children of the couple and the wife brought along two teenage boys from a previous marriage. The happiness of having friends for our children so close soon wore off, though, when the older of the girls started telling different mothers in the neighborhood that her teenage step-brothers had been "at" her, if you don't mind the euphemism, "at."

What to do? Well, several of the mothers on the block, including my better half, got together and asked those parents if this was true. "Well, yes, it is true," said the mother, "but our whole family is in therapy and we're dealing with it."

The neighborhood mothers discussed this among themselves, worried because the parents of those girls both worked and those poor girls were home alone with those boys quite often. And worried, too, of course for all the hundreds of children that lived and walked through the neighborhood to get to school. The women decided to call the welfare department and discuss the situation. This resulted in a visit by the authorities next door and a rather horrible series of confrontations on our doorstep. Suffice to say that our pool, every morning from then on, had dirt clods and garbage thrown in. Suffice to say that our dog was foreverafter treated to stick-poking and thrown rocks when he went outside. Suffice to say that even the little girl who we were trying to protect (along with our own family) threatened to take her father's pistol and blow our brains out.

Over the course of years, the boys were forced by court order to be removed to live with their father (and every time they showed up back home to make neighborhood life horrible we had to call for the authorities) and finally the girls grew up and the family moved away. A new, very nice young family now lives next door.

So what does this have to do with Just War Doctrine? Just assume that our neighbor was Saddam and their house was Iraq. Look at all the times we had to call on the authorities (the United Nations) to enforce the law and protect the neighborhood (the world). What, pray tell, would we have done if the city officials did nothing to enforce the law? What would we have done? Move? Yes, of course, but countries can't move. The United Nations proved toothless, the United States had recently been attacked by Osama Bin Laden (and people today seem totally focused on the World Trade Center attack and seem to forget the people running for their lives from the White House and the Capitol... people seem to forget that the Pentagon itself was attacked, the seat of the defense of our nation, and many died) and many, me included, felt it was high time someone did something about Saddam popping off at our Air Force and flaunting United Nations Resolutions.

I remain thankful that through the intervention of authorities, no Just War was needed with my neighbor. I never found how far I could be pushed before I pushed back. President Bush faced a level of decision I never had to face and it's why he remains in my prayers.

Update: More on Just War Doctrine at the Southern Appeal Blog (via Amy Welborn).

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