Talking Torture with the Green Berets

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Thanks for linking to that excellent symposium.  I attached a long comment to the original blog site that presents my full argument against torture, which readers can find here.

Also, I had the great privilege a month or so ago of preaching at a conference on the Christian view of war held by Andy Webb's church in Fayetteville, NC.  Many of those who attended were Green Berets who had just returned from Afghanistan.  Among other things, I spoke to them against torture.  I was not the least bit surprised to find them so responsive to my point of view.  I had expected that in the combat arms of the Regular Army, the tradition American military virtues continue to thrive.  Here is the excerpt with my remarks to them about torture:

It is the glory of American war-making that the enemies we vanquish in war have usually become our closest allies and friends after the war. In the heartland of America there are German enclaves that began with prisoners-of-war in the Second World War who did not want to return home after their time of imprisonment in America. America wages war with the aim not of domination but of mutual peace and prosperity. And the way America wages war is designed to promote those very ends. Surely this is one of the reasons why God has blessed our arms so singularly during the 230 years of our existence as a nation.

It is for this reason that I have been so horrified at the recent rhetoric surrounding the idea of the torture of captives in our present war against terrorism. I know very well that isolated incidents of torture have always taken place in war. I also admit that I do not know the details of what has taken place in our present war. I do know that many public figures, some of them high government officials, have suggested that the dangers of our situation warrant the use of torture. This violates the nobility that has been embedded in our military tradition and can only signal the advanced barbarity that has grown in our society. Moreover, a nation that tortures its captives has forgotten the aim of peace. Torture creates multi-generational enemies; it fosters hatred and it violates the image of God with which the most hardened terrorist has been born. If America is to continue to wage war in a manner that is biblically defensible, we must repent of even the suggestion that we ought to practice torture as part of our way of war.

Posted September 19, 2006 @ 4:12 PM by Rick Phillips

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