Magazine article The Christian Century

Not in Our Backyard

Magazine article The Christian Century

Not in Our Backyard

Article excerpt

PHILOSOPHER Immanuel Kant argued that it is always wrong to treat a person or a people purely as a means to an end. According to Kant, to say nothing of common moral sense, human beings are subjects and as such should never to be treated as mere instruments or objects. And yet it seems that the U.S. is rather transparently using the people of Iraq as a means to the end of keeping the battle with the Osamas of the world off of our shores.

In his graduation address at the Naval Academy in May, President Bush came right out with his better-in-Baghdad-than-in-the-Beltway strategy. "We are," he insisted, "taking the fight to the enemy abroad so we do not have to face them here at home."

The metaphor that Bush strategists often resort to is this: it is better "to keep the ball in their court" than to have suicide bombers careening down Main Street.

Former national security adviser Richard Clarke recently called the "better there than here" strategy into question on pragmatic grounds. According to Clarke and many others, taking the battle to Baghdad has provided an enormous recruiting boon to al-Qaeda. And the war has also become a veritable training ground for our foes. Fighters who used to be ignorant about urban combat are fast becoming wily veterans.

The practical issues aside, the idea of fighting a war in someone else's backyard so that we do not have to fight it in our own is in itself morally questionable.

Depending on the issue, politicians seem to acknowledge that people are not to be used as instruments. …

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