James Kenneth Echols
This month's journal on war and peace is published in the shadow of Memorial Day, an observance and national holiday in the United States on which those who have defended the country and died in wars are remembered. Globally and throughout human history, it is estimated that the total number of people killed in conflicts is between 150 million and 1 billion. In this issue, Stewart Herman provides a critical perspective on the ELCA's 1995 social statement on "For Peace in God's World," while Daniel Bell explores the ethical implications of drones, one of the most recent weapons used in war.
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The Drone Wars and Just War
by Daniel M. Bell, Jr.
Drones have risen in prominence during the war on terror in the last ten years. In theory, they make war safer, by protecting civilians and American soldiers. However, is this actually how drones function? And what are the moral and psychological implications of committing acts of violence thousands of miles away behind a screen? Bell examines the darker side of drones and how the rise of robotic warfare will change the moral landscape of combat.
Review: The African American Challenge to Just War Theory: A Christian Approach, by Ryan Cumming.
Review by Wollom A. Jensen
Cumming asserts that the African American voice has been conspicuous by its absence in the Christian debate over the relevance of the just war theory in the 21st century. The absence of African American voices in the just war debate in American Christendom is significant because the debate is fundamentally one about power. The lack of voices representing those who are not empowered weakens the debate and ultimately calls into question all assertions of legitimacy regarding the use of military power as a tool of geo-politics in the 21st century. Cumming argues for a value-relative cost analysis that includes an honest assesement of what government is intended to do, how the national budget reflects the moral values of the society, and who suffers the decreased economic incentives resulting from increases in military spending.
Review: Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy, by Andrew Preston.
Review by Ward Cornett III
Preston's book is a study of how religion shaped America's engagement with the wider world – not just the use of diplomatic and military power, but also the efforts of private citizens, missionaries, and other nongovernmental organizations. Religious faith, which infused the American population, played a significant role in mobilizing citizens to engage the world, to organize around international concerns, and often to directly appeal to the power structures of Congress and the White House. Religion, argues Preston, has been largely ignored in the discussion of foreign affairs, even as it plays such a significant role in lives of the American people, and has been an element in the arena of US foreign affairs. Preston covers the broad sweep of American history from the early revolutionary period, addressing the influence of religion in most presidential administrations, to the recent years of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He does not intend to create another master foreign affairs narrative, but to show the missing link, the influence of religion on foreign policy and foreign affairs.