In Defence of War, by Nigel Biggar

Many North American Chris­tians have become skeptical of U.S. military interventions. Since World War II, our nation has engaged in sustained conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq and more briefly fought in the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Libya, and elsewhere. The Pentagon budget now exceeds the combined military expenditures of the next ten nations and supports U.S. forces in more than 150 countries. As Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich has declared, “Washington rules” by its own rules to justify “permanent war.”

Nigel Biggar, pastor of moral and pastoral theology at the University of Oxford, counters that Western Christians have become too skittish, too cynical. They have succumbed to the virus of wishful thinking, willfully ignoring the fact that soldiers and military action, like police officers and law enforcement, are essential to social peace and justice. Military power guarantees what Amer­icans too often take for granted: a high standard of living and civil liberties. War can sometimes help us extend these blessings to peoples who suffer under tyrannous regimes.

Biggar is no militarist. He knows that war inevitably leaves inexpressible loss and sorrow in its wake. He is nevertheless persuaded that war can sometimes be just. Moreover, he believes that U.S. and other Western leaders care deeply about just war principles. If Biggar is right, the Christian tradition has insights that can help them—and all of us—to think more responsibly about war and peace.