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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, October 26, 2002

America's rush to war alarming

By Wally Fukunaga

Today our nation is on the brink of waging war against Iraq and I am gravely alarmed.

I am alarmed over our government's uncharacteristic willingness to engage in a pre-emptive or first strike.

Christian faith has always held a strong presumption against war and, more squarely, against engaging in the first strike.

I am alarmed because the justification of a first and pre-emptive strike lies in the questionable moral stance that Walter Winks, in his book "Engaging the Powers," calls "the myth of redemptive violence." The myth casts the world into black and white, into good guys and bad guys. It promotes the notion that violence is bad only if the bad guys do it and good if the good guys do it. It negates the Biblical teaching that good and evil exists in all humankind and therefore we should "not judge, lest we be judged."

Another fallacy of the myth is the presumption that when we kill the troublemaker, the trouble will go away. Immediately after Sept. 11, our government identified the troublemaker as Osama bin Laden and so we attacked Afghani-stan. Today it is Saddam Hussein and we are anxious to attack Iraq. Who is to be next? Kim Jong II of North Korea?

I am alarmed because the "war against terrorism" is turning out to be a war against the world. It is making us into a war-mongering nation rather than a peace-loving one. Rather than seeking constructive solutions to the gravely serious problem of terrorism, we seem bent on waging destructive acts that will surely kill more innocent lives.

I am alarmed because the nobleness that emerged from the tragedy of Sept. 11 seems forgotten and lost. A month after the tragedy I visited the site at Ground Zero. As I walked the neighborhood and talked to people, I was moved by a new humanity that was evidenced everywhere.

Strangers reached out to each other in compassion. Patriotism that embodied the highest ideals of freedom, justice and peace seemed to have swept over the city and, indeed, the nation. Today that patriotism appears to have been used so as to turn it into a dogmatic self-righteousness and arrogance.

Finally, I am alarmed because our current preoccupation with war has made our nation and our government ignore the critical domestic problems facing us. It's estimated that the war against Iraq will cost around $200 billion. In the meantime, our nation wallows in rising poverty, unemployment, medical costs and drug use. The quality of public education continues to decline. And our cities' infrastructure remains in a state of growing decay. We seem to have lost sight that these social ills are greatly the seeds of terrorism and violence. Thus I speak the voice of alarm.

Rev. Dr. Wallace Fukunaga is interim minister of Waiokeola Congregational Church. Expressions of Faith is a column that welcomes submissions from pastors, priests, lay workers and other leaders in faith and spirituality. E-mail faith@honoluluadvertiser.com or call 525-8035. Articles submitted to The Advertiser may be published or distributed in print, electronic or other forms.