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Sunday, February 23, 2003

This is a copy of a letter I sent to a friend who very much opposes the coming action with Iraq. As I say in the letter, its the first time I've set my thoughts to "paper." Having posted so many thoughts from others, I figure its about to time to post some of my own.

Thanks for the email Kathy. I read it Friday night, and very much enjoyed it. I also knew upon reading it that it would require me to think deeply about both the article, and the antiwar movement from which I suspect it springs.

I have read much from both those who support war, and those who oppose it, since that awful day when the skyscrapers fell, and three thousand people died. No world event has so profoundly affected me. It forced me to think deeply about world events, and their affect on both myself, and my family. It has caused me to weigh the consequences of each vote I make, each political speech I hear.

I'm well aware you and I stand on opposite sides in our view of the upcoming battle for Iraq. I believe historians will write that the War started September 11th. The upcoming preemptive strike on Saddam Hussein is but the next theater of operations. And yes, I firmly believe it won't be the last, just as the invasion of the Solomons, or the Battle of Midway surely did not mark the end of World War II, but only one more hard fought goal toward the ultimate end.
I'm not sure what this war will be called in the history books, just as no one was sure what WW I would be called in 1915. Perhaps it will be called World War III, perhaps the Islamo-Terrorist War. That is for historians to decide.
But there is no doubt that the results will be just as cataclysmic as the so-called Great War, or its continuation a generation later that we call World War II.

And just as surely as World War II, this war must be fought. Fought and won. The stakes are just as high now as they were in those dark days of 1942, when the Swastika ruled Europe, the Emperor ruled the Pacific, and the outcome of the war was truly anyone's guess.

A few weeks after September 11th, Peggy Noonan wrote a profound commentary, entitled "We're All Soldiers Now" She describes parts of life, like Halloween, getting back to normal. Yet beneath the normality is the sure and certain knowledge that nothing will ever be the same again.

A profound illustration of that fact is found within this email. I've used the date of September 11th three times in this email. I have purposely left out the year. Did you have any doubts about which of over 2000 "September Elevenths" since the birth of Christ I was referring too? Such is the scar that terrible day left on us all. That day The War began.

I would draw your attention to two recent articles. One speaks to the anxiety you mention, but from a very different perspective.

Peggy Noonan:2/17/03

Also, one of the pivotal editorials to come out in recent weeks,
Charles Krauthammer: 2/14/03

Below is a quote from that editorial.

We are in a race against time. Once such hostile states establish arsenals, we become self-deterred and they become invulnerable. North Korea may already have crossed that threshold.

There is a real question whether we can win the race. Year One of the new era, 2002, passed rather peaceably. Year Two will not: 2003 could be as cataclysmic as 1914 or 1939.

Carl Sagan invented a famous formula for calculating the probability of intelligent life in the universe. Estimate the number of planets in the universe and calculate the tiny fraction that might support life and that have had enough evolution to produce intelligence. He prudently added one other factor, however: the odds of extinction. The existence of intelligent life depends not just on creation but on continuity. What is the probability that a civilization will not destroy itself once its very intelligence grants it the means of self-destruction?

This planet has been around for 4 billion years, intelligent life for perhaps 200,000, weapons of mass destruction for less than 100. A hundred -- in the eye of the universe, less than a blink. And yet we already find ourselves on the brink. What are the odds that our species will manage to contain this awful knowledge without self-destruction -- not for a billion years or a million or even a thousand, but just through the lifetime of our children?

Those are the stakes today. Before our eyes, in a flash, politics has gone cosmic. The question before us is very large and very simple: Can -- and will -- the civilized part of humanity disarm the barbarians who would use the ultimate knowledge for the ultimate destruction? Within months, we will have a good idea whether the answer is yes or no.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Many have spoken in these days of the consequences of doing nothing, of "giving peace a chance." I've placed many of those voices on my blogsite. http://longinus62.blogspot.com/

Finally, a word about guidance during this critical time. As Christians, the highest calling is knowing God's will. Inner guidance has been historically but one of the pillars of knowing his plans for individuals, societies and nations. It has traditionally been known as the least trustworthy of those pillars. Scripture, Church tradition and teaching, and the wisdom of Christian leaders are also guides for knowing the will of God. Of these, Christian history has always pointed back to the Bible as the ultimate guidance. It is from this source that Augustine and Calvin forged the theory of Just War. There are many voices in Christendom today on crying out against the coming phase of the war. It is important to listen, and to judge the wisdom of those voices by the guidance of Scripture, tradition, wisdom from Christian leaders, and the"still small voice" within. Few modern Christian leaders have laid out the biblical case better than Charles Stanley. His recent message, A Nation At War clearly lays out what both scripture and Christian Tradition have said about the Christian's responsibilities in time of war. It is a message worth hearing, even if you disagree with it. His scriptural case is difficult to refute.

I do not expect to change any minds by this email, Kathy. This is the first time I have set my own thoughts to "paper." It has been therapeutic for me to finally do so. I am very open to hearing other views on this deeply personal, deeply disturbing time. My respect for you has only grown over the almost 20 years I've known you. It is out of that respect that this letter was written.