Afghanistan April 2012

Afghanistan and ending the war

The editorial of the Sunday Age, ‘Four Corners’, letters to the Editor, and retired military leaders, are saying it is time to recognise the failed military effort in Afghanistan.

My reflections are not based on a military strategy – the professionals do this well enough. My considerations come from an adulthood of attempting to make sense of war and efforts for peace.

I did not begin as a pacifist. As a teenager I was in the school military cadets, and theologically convinced we should honour the decisions of government to oppose the enemies of our society. Then came the Vietnam War, and a growing conviction that that war was wrong. In the 1980s the anti- nuclear movement convinced me that we are to care for the future of this planet – and it is necessary to oppose nuclear weapons. Was I a pacifist at that time? I was attempting to work this through by wondering what a Christian response involved. In the past two or three decades I have come to the conclusion that we must break the cycle of violence – and the primary Christian stance is to show the practicality of peacemaking. So, I end up opposing military adventures, training for violent conflict and military planning for all war. Which now makes me a pacifist.

What does that mean for Afghanistan? First, admit the futility of attempts to resolve conflict with military means. And a recognition of the history of Afghanistan.

I believe it is necessary to remove our troops from Afghanistan, and to  do every thing in our power – non-militarily – to end the conflict.

Be suspicious of the latest explanation as to why our troops are there.

And cry out in pain with and for all who have been killed and maimed and traumatised by this war.

What of the church? Why are we not raising our voices in anguish at the waste of life? Crying out to God to convert our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh!

Soon, later this month (25th April) we will be asked to honour military adventures, told that this is what makes us Australian.

Let the 25th this year be different: an outcry of grief, and a cry of longing for peace between those called ‘enemy’.

Wes Campbell

15th April 2012

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