Speaking at the U.S. Military Academy in June, President Bush offered an expansive statement articulating a doctrine of preemptive action against rogue states and terrorist groups. Iraq was not mentioned, but subsequent statements suggest the West Point speech laid the foundation for war against that nation. If the president moves ahead with these plans, Christians will once again face a decision about whether to support military action.
If that day comes, Christian thinkers undoubtedly will break out the just war theory. Every time U.S. leaders sound the alarm for war, this ancient tradition is put to work. The counterterrorist war in Afghanistan was the latest occasion. In the 1990s just war theory was applied to actions in Iraq, Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo, Haiti and elsewhere.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).