I watched an interview with President Bush last night. He was unapologetic for taking us into Afghanistan and Iraq. God bless him. He took the responsibility for the decision, a rare thing for a politician to do. Lately he's been taking the responsibility for all President Obama's screwups too. I admire him for his patience in not speaking out in his own defense. GW is a class act. He understands the proper balance between the Golden Rule and a leader's charge to protect his people from thugs and bullies.
I was reminded of his policy of preemptive military action, when a reader of my last weblog took me to task for defending the principle on which Bush based his military action. I've written extensively about how the "fortress defense" as proposed by both Liberals and Libertarians, is absolutely wrong and won't get us anything but overrun in the end. I believe you have to go after your enemies when they go after you. You don't respond to military style attacks (machine guns, bombs, missiles and projectile aircraft) by sending police to arrest people. It's stupid and doesn't work.
My friend responded saying, "Probably would not be a good idea to try that tactic on the playground..... "striking your potential enemies". Good way to start a problem.... and would def. not solve the problem. I think the counsel given in the NT might be better."
That all sounds reasonable on the face of it, but I can tell you from hard experience, the playground analogy doesn't work. In fact, it proves my very point.
On every peaceful playground there is one superpower - the teacher. To keep peace on the playground the teacher intervenes right now or else bullies and thugs reign supreme and the little ones are persecuted unmercifully. When I was a teacher, I had a peaceful playground because I practiced President Bush's doctrine of strategic response. I watched the kids closely and I picked off the bullies before they could get started. Having been on the receiving end of bullying, I recognized it when I saw it happening and took immediate preemptive action. At the first indication that one of my young hoodlums was going to torment a smaller kid, I caught 'em up by the scruff of the neck and set them down the playground wall. They soon learned to play nice or they wouldn't be allowed to play at all.
I grew up in a school with an unsupervised playground. The teachers often stayed inside to grade papers for the first 15 to 20 minutes of recess. It made for a miserable time of it for the smaller kids. I didn't bother anybody (according to my friend's and the New Testament's suggestions). I was skinny and small and made good grades. I might as well have worn a target on my chest. The local bully boys tormented me until I finally either got tired or (in one case) bloodied a nose. I finally decided I didn't mind getting beat up for standing up to them If I stood up to them, my beating usually was spectacular enough to draw the attention of a teacher and they'd get in trouble and have to miss a few recesses which made for a few days of precious peace. Since it discouraged them from messing with me, I figured being on the receiving end of a little pain was worth it. I went home bruised and bloodied many a day, but the local thugs finally got tired of getting a few bruises of their own and winding up in detention for their trouble. The teachers knew I was a peaceful kid and was being bullied, so I never got in trouble for defending myself. The bullying kept up till eighth grade, after which, they finally left me alone for the most part. That was partially because I grew big enough that they thought I might have become a threat to their own noses.
Ironically, the reader who made the playground analogy, actually went to my elementary and high school and knew the bullies I was talking about. Somehow, though, he missed the lesson I learned all too well. Bullies do not forgo bullying just because you leave them alone or try to be nice to them. They are predators and only understand a rapid and forceful response - usually by whoever is the local superpower.
There was one guy in particular that one afternoon took a basketball away from a bunch of the smaller guys that were playing at the other end of the basketball court. Without the ball, we couldn't play any more. He did it for no other reason than to spoil our fun. Mr. Pauly, our PE coach and principal hadn't come out onto the court for PE yet, so we were unsupervised and at the mercy of the school bullies.
I had got tired of their thuggery and went after the ball. My nemesis snatched it back. I got nose to nose with the guy and explained rather heatedly that he had no right to take our basketball from us. I told him exactly what I thought of him.
For some reason this particular guy didn't bother me much any more after I stood up to him and took a punch in the face. I think he was ashamed of himself for attacking me. He was also scared of the consequences if I told the principal who had hit me.
Like Pres. Obama suggested the U.S. ought to do, I "absorbed the attack". It probably protected the younger and smaller kids from bullying at least for that day. After he hit me, he threw the ball back to the others and Mr. Pauly watched them like a hawk. The principal knew what had happened even without proof and all the playground thugs knew what would happened if they gave him any excuse to punish one of them.
You see I had this guy's fate in my hands. If I'd told Mr. Pauly, he'd have been in far more trouble than he wanted to be. He was already in trouble most of the time anyway.
Mr. Pauly, as principal of the school, was the superpower you see. This young man knew the principal would take action if there was any more nonsense - severe and stern action that would make this boy very uncomfortable indeed. They still used paddles in those days and Mr. P had a powerful arm.
Roosevelt had it right. "Speak softly and carry a big stick!" If the local bully boys know you'll use that stick, it makes for a much more peaceful world for you and everyone about you.
People who don't understand that may simply have had such really good teachers that the bullies were kept in line. They might have been too young to understand why their world's were so peaceful and sheltered when they were children, so they take it for granted that being peaceful insures others will be peaceful to you.
Either that OR they were running with the bullies themselves and still, as grown adults, don't recognize the harm and misery they inflicted on their classmates with their thuggery.
I am a devout practitioner of the Golden Rule. I have often "absorbed attacks" rather than retaliating because it was the right thing to do. I get that whole New Testament advice and apply it on a personal level.
However, the role of a government, a teacher or other type of leadership is to protect its charges from those who would, without just cause, attack them. God, Himself, called upon kings and rulers to defend his people. That's what soldiers do and it is an honorable profession if you take up the sword reluctantly and only to defend those weaker than yourself. It's not a bad job for those who are strong and tempted to be bullies themselves - a way to exorcise those demons by protecting rather than attacking.
Or as King Arthur said, "Not 'Might is right,' but 'Might FOR right!".
That's my opinion whether you like it or not.
Tom King - Tyler, TX