Military, War, Armed Conflict

Hope in the Face of The National Security Strategy: Three Readings and Patriotic Publicity

[1] He looked straight into my eyes that night and said it. “America is a nation with a mission, and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire”-2004 State of the Union Address.1 That President Bush had to tender this assurance eyeball to eyeball to […]

Response to Robert Benne on Civil Religion

[1] In his essay, “American Civil Religion: Destructive, Useless, or Beneficial?” (JLE April 2005), Bob Benne offers a spirited defense of the “commonly-shared religious framework” that undergirds, and invites attachment to, the transcendent ideals of American political culture. There is much to admire in Benne’s argument; foremost is his implicit claim that liberal polities need […]

American Lutherans on the Home Front During World War I

[1] It is perhaps surprising that given the wide ethnic and religious pluralism that have long been characteristic of the United States, that there have not been more incidents of tension and conflict between different groups of Americans. Certainly there have been such incidents, often in times of war or national upheaval, and some of […]

Loyalty Days

[1] The performance by Garrison Keillor with the Minnesota Orchestra entitled “Lake Wobegon Loyalty Days” draws its name from the alternate designation for the Fourth of July in that mythical Minnesota town. “Back during World War I, they called it ‘Loyalty Days,’” Keillor states, “and they made all the people of German extraction stand up […]

Who Counts? A Review of Hotel Rwanda

[1] Hotel Rwanda attends, with sensitivity, to the actions of a man and his family in the midst of carnage they do not understand and are powerless to stop. It is Rwanda, 1994. Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), a Hutu, and his Tutsi wife and children, have taken refuge at the Belgian-owned Hotel Des Milles Collines […]

A Study Guide for Parishioners and Classes viewing Hotel Rwanda

[1] At one point, the Canadian General bitterly says to Paul, “you’re dirt, Paul. You’re not even a nigger. You’re African.” Discuss the stereotypes (positive or negative) we have of “Africa” and how we have arrived at them. What do we know or not know of the daily lives of Africans? Was there anything in […]

Turn Abu Ghraib Inside Out?

[1] In the July 2004 issue of the Lutheran, John Hoffmeyer, a theologian at the Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia, comments on the Abu Ghraib scandal by posing a quandary of the sort that ethicists used to love: what if by torturing one person you might extract information that would prevent a major terrorist attack? Hoffmeyer […]

A Historian’s View of Current Ethics: Vietnam and Iraq Compared

[1] When asked to write an article that compared and contrasted ethics regarding the Vietnam and Iraqi Wars, I thought about the overused notion that those who fail to learn about history repeat it, or other such common sayings. While I often agree with the general notion, the historian in me bristles–nothing ever recreates the […]

Rooting, Reforming, Restoring: A Framework for Justice in Rwanda

[1] The Gacaca (ga-CHA-cha) trials in Rwanda represent a radical and necessary alternative to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the reconstructed state judicial system. Attempts to legitimate the establishment of a traditional community justice approach have focused primarily on three issues: (1) dislodging an entrenched culture of impunity; (2) responding to the […]

First the Sentence, Then the Verdict? Counting the Real Cost of Detention and Trial by Military Commission

[1] The wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 has been marked by approaches to law and justice on the part of the United States government which have the potential for profound adverse effect. Domestic and international legal orders; conceptions of human and civil rights; and the balance of relationships among states, citizens […]