Obviously there are some situations, there are other parts of just-war theory that would mitigate against our ability to do so. North Korea comes to mind. North Korea is a situation where we certainly would like to help the North Koreans obtain their freedom, and there are certainly ways in which we can put pressure on the North Korean regime, but military action is not an option, because it would not pass the test of proportionality.


Even without nuclear weapons, the estimates are that if there were to be armed hostilities breaking out on the Korean peninsula, that close to a million Koreans, North and South, would die within a month. That's the level of armed might on both sides on the peninsula. So the last thing that any human being would want is to see an outbreak of military hostilities on the Korean Peninsula, conventional or nuclear.

North Korea isn't the only other dictatorship in the world. According to biblical principles, does the American military have an obligation to go into other countries that are suffering under unjust regimes, in Africa or Iran?

You have to use all of the tests. You have to use the test of just cause, just intent, you have to have a declaration of war or a joint resolution from Congress, it has to be authorized by legitimate authority, which in the case of the United States is the elected Congress of the United States. It has to meet the test of proportionality—will the good gained outweigh the suffering in the loss of life.

You talked about some future examples, let's talk about some past ones. I argued for intervention in Rwanda. If we had intervened in Rwanda, it would have taken probably 10,000 Marines to save about 750,000 Africans from being hacked to death. I think we're morally culpable for not having done so. I think we should have intervened in Bosnia, and I argued in 1991 that we should have. One of the biggest tests that we face as an international community today is not how we deal with aggression from one state to another, but how we deal with a state that is committing crimes against humanity and is acting in an aggressive way that amounts to genocide against its own people. I argued for American-led NATO or U.N. intervention in Bosnia, and I argued for the same thing in Kosovo.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus