(This is in response to Jameson Campaigne’s comment on George Carey’s post “Nisbet, War, and the American Republic”. The complete comment thread can be found at the end of that post.)
When David was called by the Lord through Samuel, and when he went out to face Goliath, he knew that he was on a mission that came from “Hear, O Israel, that the Lord Thy God is One Lord.”. The story that almost everybody can recite is that David beat the Big Guy with a slingshot stone to the forehead. Killed him dead. My Dad once had a slingshot with a telescope on it, and could take out garage windows from blocks away. He was also a veteran of the Good War, in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, England, France, Germany—whack over to the Pacific, Saipan, Okinawa, Japan, Shanghai, Manila; he signed up on December 8, 1941, as a doctor who didn’t have to go, and came home in the spring of 1946 after the Great War had been over for several months. He never thought we had a mission from God.
The David story is important for what we tend NOT to remember. David cut Goliath’s head off. He held it up, blood dripping. He probably let out a Tarzan yell, a Celtic war cry, an Alabama football cheer. My Dad never wanted to bring home Hitler’s head, or Tojo’s for that matter. He thought the war crimes trials were morally and legally ridiculous. OK, so for what do we fight?
Thirteen generations of Willsons have fought and bled and died and killed to defend their patria. Some of them, I think the ones in Lincoln’s War, thought that they were doing what David did. Most did not. Now here is where we get to Jameson’s wisdom.
I’m a simple guy, who believes that if we have an army its job is to kill people who are trying to kill us. In a republic an army is never meant to create other republics. It’s to kill the bad guys and go home. We should not, for example, be ruling Okinawa 55 years after we blew the hell out of the place, and we should not be completing (try to find this on your internet) the largest embassy complex IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD in Iraq. To do what with it?
Jameson’s “facts” are just that. Sometimes we have to find out who is trying to kill us and kill them first. My New England ancestors had a clear idea of gun control: every citizen was required to own guns. They did bad things with guns sometimes, and what people, family, community, sate, country hasn’t? But do we have to say things like “Israel is the solemn ally of the western world” and therefore do anything we can to let them slaughter people while we claim that others are the slaughterers?
I do, solemnly, truly believe that Jameson has put facts on the table, and I can’t respect him more for the lack of ideology in his argument. But remember, David ended up staying home while Joab took the army out, and had Uriah killed so that nobody would know that he brought Bathsheba to his bed. He did eventually become again the man that God wanted him to be, but does anything we are doing in the Levant relate in any way to the purposes of the Created Order?
Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.