I’m in school again, and I am trying to decide what my focus should be. Metaphysics, natural theology, natural law, and political philosophy are my major interests. I want to take a common sense, Scholastic, and Christian approach to each of these fields. But it seems impossible to specialize in all of those fields. So I may drop natural theology just because there’s already a lot of work going into that. But that’s hard because I want to refute existential inertia, brute facts, and the so-called Gap problem. Maybe even offer arguments for the Trinity. I’d prefer not to drop metaphysics because I want to continue developing a Thomistic approach to Quantum Mechanics, offer a defense of prime matter, and defend essentialism. Then as far as natural law, I want to write a book called “A Meta-Ethical Case for Natural Law” where I evaluate every major realist theory of ethics and demonstrate how they must all assume that essence grounds goodness, which would show NL is superior. I also want to evaluate the role of intuitions and provide a defense of the perverted faculty argument. Less abstractly and more practically, I want to write a natural law approach to political philosophy where I offer a defense of classical conservatism and refute competing philosophies, especially those from the Left like John Rawls. Lastly, I want to do something like Descartes. In my opinion, his approach can be salvaged if we use Scholasticism. I’ll assume radical skepticism, show how that fails, return to common sense, demonstrate God’s existence, and then argue for the entire Scholastic foundation. But more than that, I want this to be a poetic, philosophical journey of wonder. Something like “The Consolations of Philosophy” except I’ll go from metaphysics, epistemology, natural law, natural theology, politics, and eventually Christianity itself. It’ll be an encapsulation of my thought process from beginning to end, where I’ll use philosophical + theological arguments to support it. It’ll be a long series. I’ll probably call it “Contemplations.” Anyways, I’m just daydreaming out loud here. Who knows if I’ll ever get to do any of this, or whether it’s even a good idea. Any thoughts? Or other avenues you think I should take?
This is some Sodom & Gomorrah type of depravity. Absolutely disgusting. What’s even worse? I saw a thread where people justified it. They said, “It’s just a movie. The only thing sexual is sex. You’re the ones making this sexual. Anyone who sees this as sexual are the real sickos. This is just an example of girls expressing themselves. It’s a normal thing for girls their age. They should be free to do what they want. If you shame them for this, you’re being sexist. And claiming that this caters to pedophiles is like claiming that adult females dressing “immodestly” are catering to rapists. Shut up. Leave these girls alone.” Words cannot express how furious this makes me. This is a reductio ad absurdum against Leftist sexual ethics. Their minds are absolute trash.
Look at these lowlife animals celebrating this act of violence against cops. This came from my local city’s FB page! These anti-cop sentiments are becoming more and more common. Disgusting filth like this deserve to have their heads bashed with a baseball bat. As a friend of mine said, “This is why it’s morally unacceptable to vote Left this year. Until the mainstream Democratic Party publicly condemn this in the strongest terms possible, they are not worthy of anybody’s vote, and should not be allowed in power. They will pander to this stuff.” Which applies equally to BLM.
Character matters. No action is done in a void; it either flows out of one ‘s character, or helps to shape one’s character. This is why Jesus says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:18). This is why we can judge people’s character based on their actions (Matt 7:16), and we can predict people’s actions based on their character. It also helps us make prima facie judgments. If a kid was shot dead and you were told either Hitler or Mother Teresa did it, who would you think most likely did it? Well clearly Hitler. Legally, this isn’t sufficient to establish guilt (nor should it be) but it is evidence, albeit defeasible evidence. Further facts could reveal our character judgement to be false in a particular instance. Which makes sense because character does not *determine* action, it influences action. But to say character has no relevance at all, or that Teresa and Hitler are equals, would be absolutely foolish.
Thomists sometimes get flack for pointing out that their view is not understood, but for the most part it’s true. The analytic sees an “is-ought” problem but the Thomist sees oughtness laden into the very structure of existence. Moral oughtness is just a special instance. Our idea of physical objects is also radically different. We think that all physical objects are composed of matter and form (hylemorphism), which provides a far richer conception of the world than a mechanistic conception of matter. Qualia isn’t problematic for us. The interaction problem doesn’t exist because an immaterial principle is laden in all physical objects (substantial form). We understand the nature of morality, time, epistemology, etc in a way rather foreign to the modernist paradigm. Metaphysics is king for us. Finally, Thomism is an interlocking system with a rich array of concepts refined by centuries upon centuries of great thinkers. You can’t expect to fully understand the ideas in isolation. For this reason, most analytic philosophers do not want to put the time required to understand it. This is not to say that you can’t have some basic understanding of key concepts like act and potency, but the modernist paradigm can be a great obstacle on the road to full understanding. At the same time, there are quasi-essentialist leaks in the modernist paradigm that would lead to a more Thomistic understanding (e.g, possible world semantics or dispositions). There’s some great value in analytic philosophy. Nevertheless whenever someone says, “I understand Thomism well enough” and proceeds to give objection X, more often than not their objection shows that they do not understand it enough. There are good objections out there, and I’m not saying that if you disagree with it, you can’t possibly be understanding it. There was plenty of disagreement even among Scholastics precisely because the issues are so complex. Disagreement is not the issue. Rather, the issue is that unlike the Scholastics, most of the moderns just don’t have a proper understanding because they interpret it under their paradigm and often never studied it beyond a brief introduction.
Simple answer? Because I am a conservative. What some may be surprised to hear is that during the primaries I was anti-Trump. I called him a bucket of volcanic vices, narcissistic, a clown, and God’s Trumpet of Destruction. But because Hilary was so bad, I was a reluctant Trump supporter. Unlike some conservatives, I could never be a never Trumper. Voting is about voting what more closely aligns with your values, not with what mirrors your values. Selecting a doctor for his skill does not mean you endorse his adultery. Voting for Trump does not mean you endorse all that he has done or said. What’s more important are (a) his policies and (b) whether he will do them. Ideally I would OF COURSE prefer someone with a Christ-like character, but alas, that was not the choice.
These Leftists are increasingly vicious and intolerant. Don’t support BLM, LGBTQ, abortion, pre-marital sex, or SSM? You’re a racist, sexist, homophobe, transphobic, a prude, and whatever other name in the book! Their god is sex, power, and government. So they’ll enforce their ideology in law, indoctrinate kids in schools, cancel or censor those who disagree, and eventually label those who speak against it as “hate speech.” More are voicing support for late-term abortions. Pence was wildly mocked for his sexual purity because these people are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (2 Peter 3:4). Then they display their sexual filth for all to see on social media, entertainment, and music. We live in an age when evil is good and good is evil. Modesty, self-control, and truth is lost on these people. They are lovers of self; hence their idea of immodesty as “self-expression.”
The case for Trump in 2020 is stronger than ever. I would not call myself a “reluctant” voter anymore, but an ardent voter. This is mostly because of just how absurd and contrary to common sense the Left is becoming. More crime? Shortage of police officers? Here’s an idea! Defund the police! Violent protests and looting? Downplay or justify it! Sexual trafficking, diseases, and crime at the border? Eliminate borders and abolish / defund ICE! A black man gets unjustly killed? Assume it’s racism without evidence, support a pro-Marxist organization (BLM), embrace Critical Race Theory, act as if racism is everywhere and just as bad today, and promote anti-white and anti-America propaganda (see White Fragility). Don’t get me started on the coronavirus. Their double standard on BLM protests and church gatherings is outrageous. It’s all a political agenda.
Trump is without a doubt one of the greatest indulgers of this sinful culture. He was adored by the Left, but then he took a surprising turn against them, and now he’s hated. No conservative excuses Trump’s sins, but we do look past it because the sins of the Left are far greater, and because his political actions have taken a turn against his former life and more closely aligns with our values. Surely Trump is still egotistical, definitely not a Christian, and he does say foolish things, but I am convinced that “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise” (1 Cor 1:27). They looked like overconfident fools after Trump won the election, it was great. Really, Trump is the troll that the media deserves 😂
Someone may object, “How could a Christian support a liar, sexist, racist, narcissist pig like Trump who has been accused of sexual assault?” But whatever you can charge Trump with, I can just point to Biden who has had something equivalent or worse than Trump. Biden had a very credible sexual allegation charge, and he’s a known creep that smells up girls. He’s also said racist things like “You ain’t black if you have trouble deciding who to vote for.” Biden has lied plenty of times. Yet somehow the Left does not seem to have trouble voting for Biden! So you can spare us the moral appeals if you’re pro-Biden. Neither of us think our candidates are ideal. However, I do think that the case against Trump on some of these accusations are far weaker than Biden’s after inspection.
The choice is before us. Either we choose a party of death, madness, and godlessness, or we choose a POTUS who aligns more closely with common sense and the constitution. One party is anti-America, the other is pro-America. Really, the decision here is simple and obvious. I firmly believe that God is using Trump as a double edged sword: to separate the wheats from the tares, to give grace to this nation, but also to punish it. For too long have our people stood against the values of God that this nation was grounded in. The blood of millions of babies are on our hands. America’s sexuality immorality corrupts the world. As Scripture says, “the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her sexual immoralities…” (Rev 17:2).
If we do not repent, if we do not stand together, and if we do not break our silence as the silent majority, this nation will fall. Trump cannot save us. Let’s make that really clear. He desperately needs to repent for all the vile sins he has committed or his pride will be his destruction. So when we vote, we don’t vote for a savior. We vote to push toward values of righteousness. We vote to make a stand for God. But don’t ever conflate Trump with God, and don’t let your vote be your only voice. Speak out against the sins of this world to your social sphere, and proclaim the gospel. This nation needs revival. Pray for these things! 2020 is a year judgement. Just as God judged the nations of old, so too does he judge the nations of today.
P.S. If you want to see a list of Trump’s accomplishments, see here (https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/…/trumps-list-289…). He’s done an amazing job selecting hundreds of conservative pro-life judges, had achieved lowest unemployment rates for minorities and women, and a lot more. Disagree with his policies as you will, you can’t deny that he gets things done.
I could not give a more succinct response to the coronavirus panic than what the title already says. We need to treat this virus calmly but seriously. That’s the opposite of what is happening right now. Some take it too seriously, to the point of panicking and become selfishly irrational to the point buying out all of the toilet paper. The world is not going to end, but it truly feels like an Apocalyptic Black Friday with how everyone is acting. Others take it too lightly, comparing it to the flu and pointing out (albeit correctly) that this has not caused more deaths in the United States. The crucial qualification is yet. It hasn’t caused more deaths, yet. But the issue isn’t over the current death rate but the exponential rate at which it has the potential to spread, and then the higher death rate which is from 1-2% [source] compared to the swine flu’s death rate of 0.02%. In fact, it could even be worse than those numbers. We don’t have enough data to be certain. It’s particularly dangerous because it can remain hidden for 14 days without symptoms.
As Christians, we need to be concerned for our neighbor. We need to love our neighbors just as we would love ourselves. Even if it’s just a cold or a flu, we wouldn’t want to shake hands with a person who has it. None of us enjoy being sick. We’d stay away from others in hopes of not spreading it to others. How much more should our response be to a virus like this? If you had a grandma or a daughter who had a weak immune system, would you not be worried for their well-being? Every life matters. My concern here is that some on the calmer side of this issue are perhaps too complacent. You don’t need to downplay the severity of this virus to justify being calm. We should still be calm because most people will not die from this, but we should also be factual and realize that this is worse than the flu. It’s easy to be complacent when we just treat the death rate as a small statistic or if we know it will not affect us and those we care about. But that’s not the attitude we’re commanded to have.
The Power of Fear
On the other hand, as Christians we are commanded to not live in fear. As Henry Longfellow said, “The grave itself is but a covered bridge, Leading from light to light, through a brief darkness!” Those we seek to save their lives will lose it. So do not cling so desperately to your life as many people have. God is sovereign over everything, including this disease. He will use it to accomplish His purpose. As Paul said, it is better to die “and be with Christ, which is far better indeed.” To live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil 1:21). People act as if we only get to live once. If this is true then surely there is reason to fear, but as Christians we have a hope that the unbeliever does not have: eternal life. Nevertheless, being fearless of death does not mean we should not take precautions. God wants us to care for our health because our bodies are a temple of God. I should note that having some fear is good. Obviously it is otherwise God would not have placed that emotion in our hearts. We are to fear God, for example. And it makes sense that we would fear touching fire or coming across a dangerous animal because that fear can be used to protect our lives. But the difference is that we do not let that fear control us or define our future.
Frankly, it’s absolutely amazing to me just how stupid and selfish people can be. Fear is a powerful, stupifying force. Why in the world is there a need to buy up all the toilet paper and water? People will needlessly suffer because of their ridiculous hoarding. In fact, it seems like more people will suffer from this selfishness than from the virus itself. If we react this badly toward a virus, what about something with a much higher death rate? We would all be killing each other! To me this just demonstrates the depravity of man. But being callous can just as well prove our depravity as well. We are not as good as we like to think we are. This is serious. We should wash our hands, keep contact to a minimum, and go on our with peace in our hearts knowing that whatever the outcome, all things will work out for our good. More importantly, let’s pray and repent of our sins. When Jesus was asked if the sins of those who died in tower were worse sinners, He said, “No, I tell you. But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Surely then this should be a time to come to God before it’s too late.
What We Should Do
So people, you all need to keep calm, wash your hands, stay home, and pray. Stay home if you’re sick, reduce travel to a bare minimum, avoid large groups, wash your hands, and sanitize your areas. Do all that you can to protect others. Pray and fast for this nation. As long as we do this, this virus will more than likely go away and it’ll be back to life as usual. Don’t be hysterical, but don’t get cocky and believe it can’t get worse either. It may just end up like the other viruses (SARS, Ebola, Swine, etc) but we can’t be willing to risk that. Share with others who do not have the provisions that you do. Do grocery shopping for people with weaker immune systems. Do all that you can to show the love and peace of Christ through your life no matter the circumstances. Proclaim the good news to those who are perishing and comfort those who are in the faith. Blessed are those who do these things!
Equality is all the rage today, especially for the Left. First it was about black slaves, who were treated as sub-humans at best and continue to be oppressed by the system. Second it was about women, who were treated as servants to men’s needs and were not deserving of the same rights. Third it was about homosexuals and lesbians, who were unjustly oppressed and deserved the right to marry as any other straight couple could. Now it’s about transgenders, it’s about the inequality between the rich and the poor, and much more. Egalitarianism is so central to the Left’s notion of justice today, that the Left would be nothing without it. Because of this, I would like to utilize the Left’s own notion of justice to argue against abortion. It can be formulated as follows:
- All human beings as such have equal value and equal rights, regardless of the differences in the exercise of their capacities, intelligence, sexual orientation, gender, skin color, religion, or culture.
- If a fetus is a human being, then it has a right to life just as any other human being does.
- But if a fetus has a right to life, then abortion is immoral.
- A fetus is a human being.
- Therefore abortion is immoral.
Premise (1) is at first glance fairly undeniable for the consistent Leftist. Their entire social justice project falls apart if they deny it. Premise (2) is without a doubt going to be the most controversial premise, but before I delve into that, let me just speak briefly on premise (4). Some might be inclined to deny this, but the scientific consensus is overwhelming. The zygote is without a doubt the birth of a new human being. It isn’t a parasite. It isn’t a skin cell. It isn’t a newly added vestigial organ either. It is a unique, individual life form that fights for its own survival and development. The egg and the sperm do not exist anymore; it is now a wholly new organism. You can look at the facts here. Common sense supports this too. Whenever we see an ultrasound of a fetus and compare it 20 years after, everyone knows that it is true to say “You were once that fetus.” We are identical to that fetus despite our developmental differences. So if it is reasonable to say that fetus was you, it is reasonable to say it is a human being because no human being is identical to a non-human being.
Only Persons Matter
Let’s get back to premise (2). Some would wish to attack it indirectly by denying that the fetus is a human, but we just saw how that is anti-science and anti-common sense. The only other option is to deny its personhood. The Leftist could concede that the fetus is a human being, but then argue that it isn’t being human as such that offers equal rights but the ability to exercise certain rational capacities like self-awareness or ability to feel pain that give humans a right to life. In other words, they’d accept the egalitarianism of premise (1) but amend it to say that being a human is not enough because you also have to be able to exercise certain capacities that are relevant for personhood. To state their position succinctly: All persons have equal value and equal rights. This may seem to allow the Leftist to consistently embrace egalitarianism and abortion, but there’s a serious problem with this view. If a human being was in a temporary coma and could not exercise any of the relevant capacities for personhood, does he then lose his right to life? This seems completely absurd, and it would additionally justify infanticide as the philosopher Peter Singer defends because the infant cannot exercise the relevant capacities.
This puts a damning question mark on their position that we can push against using egalitarianism. Who in the world gets to decide what capacities count as relevant for personhood, at what time do they acquire these capacities, and why should we be able to exercise these capacities here and now in order to have rights? You see, a racist in the 1800s could easily provide his own account. He could say, “The black man has a servile will and is too simple minded to think properly for himself. He was born to be a slave. The white man is far more intelligent, which gives him the right to be free. ” The racist is partly justified because blacks in the past did not compare to the white man’s intelligence as far as education is concerned. If a life’s value depends on whether it can exercise its rational capacities here and now, then how is it not also the case that a life’s value increases or decreases based on how well that being exercises those capacities? For example, a computer is valuable insofar as it does its function and to the degree that it does that function well. If a computer takes 10 minutes to perform a simple task, we would regard it as inferior in value to a computer that can do it in 2 seconds. Why shouldn’t the same be true of humans if having capacities doesn’t make us valuable, only exercising our capacities does? At one point in history, whites were contingently more intelligent than blacks, so it should be true that blacks were inferior for a time.
Most Leftist egalitarians will of course find this conclusion absolutely abhorrent, so they’d have to do something else to dispute my argument. The only qualification left is to say that the mere exercise of these rational capacities is relevant for personhood, not the degree by which these capacities are exercised. As long as some volition, some thought, or some level of self-awareness is exercised, that is sufficient to qualify as a person. Their view can succinctly stated as follows: All beings capable of minimally exercising the capacities relevant for personhood have equal rights. But why should we prefer this account over one that sees inequality of ability as entailing inequality of value? If we value computers unequally, why can’t we value humans unequally too? The pushback will be that it’s because what’s relevant to being a person are the kind of capacities a human is exercising, not the degree. A computer is by definition something that computes. If it can compute, it is a computer no matter how badly or how well it does this. Similarly, a person is a person no matter how well it exercises the qualities of personhood.
The Final Blow
This response only works if it is the kind as such that grounds value. You see, whenever Leftists claim that it is the ability to exercise certain kinds of capacities that creates value, they necessarily introduce variability in value because value follows after the nature of that which creates it. What creates value is exercising our rational capacities, but since activity usually entails being able to exercise capacities in a better or lesser way, it should follow that our value can be had in a greater or lesser way as well. Notice that we are not saying a person is more or less of a person based on that how well that person performs. Rather, we are saying that a person’s value is greater or lesser based on performance. The egalitarians position at best has a base value where if the capacities are minimally exercised, then you at least have minimal value. But that doesn’t preclude us from having greater or lesser value.
The only way to avoid this problem of inequality is to say that being of the human kind as such grounds value. That’s it. No problematic qualifications like the “ability to exercise a capacity” is attached to it. A fetus is either a human or it is not. Being human does not come in degrees; it is an all or nothing affair. So if value derives from being human as such, then all humans are equal regardless of how well they exercise their capacities. After all, what’s first in importance? The ability to exercise your capacities, or being the kind of thing that has these capacities? Well obviously the latter. You can’t exercise your capacities if you don’t have any. Any value that comes from exercising capacities must derive from having those capacities. It is important to see then that fetuses aren’t potential persons, they are persons with potential. All humans are persons (or deserving of value and rights) just in virtue of being human.
Therefore abortion is immoral.
Not only is it immoral, it is good ol’ fashioned murder.
Living the good life is all about moderation. Every day I see just how right Aristotle was about this. Humans are prone to taking extremes. Food is good, but too much of it is bad and too little of it is bad. There is a proper amount that satisfies our nutritional needs and avoids significant waste. Wealth is good, but sometimes people desire it too strongly as if it’s an end in itself, or others shun it too strongly as if it’s evil in itself. Do not be too eager to be wealthy. Our attitude should be like Proverbs, “Give me neither riches no poverty.” If riches do come, be wary of becoming too attached to it and use it wisely for the good of others, not just yourself. Do not excessively indulge in pleasure like some mindless animal, but rather find pleasure in the good, and do good because it’s good. Do not be prideful, but nether should you be too humble or timid. False humility says, “I am terrible” at something they’re in fact good at. Pride says, “I am the best” at something they’re not in fact the best at. Humility is confidence that is neither arrogant or timid. Humility is thinking truly about one’s actual abilities, and using those abilities to love and serve others, as opposed to tearing them down.
Another example is anger. Aristotle puts this best, “Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” We are too easily persuaded that we are right. If we feel x degree of anger and express it, we feel we are right just because we felt it. But how many of us ask ourselves, “Was I right to react as strongly as I did?” Do not let feelings control your beliefs or your responses. Be slow to anger. Self-control is everything. As Solomon says, he “ who controls his temper is greater than one who captures a city.” Since self-control is essential to doing good, destroying that self control with something like alcohol or drugs is bad even if it’s temporary. In moderation alcohol is good, but in excess it (becoming drunk) is bad for us. This is why I also think taking 20+ selfies a day is wrong. it shows narcissism. But I also think it’s ridiculous to say that all selfie-taking is wrong, or that taking more than 2 selfies in one day is wrong. This is “holier than thou” legalism.
The difficulty with Aristotle’s doctrine of moderation is that it is hard to pin down at exactly what point something becomes “excessive.” We all know that there is such a thing as eating too much, but can we put an exact number? 4 burgers? 10.453 burgers? When does it become too much? But Aristotle dismisses this objection. Ethics isn’t some precise, mathematical science in the first place. Some of it varies from person to person. That’s not to say it is all relative either, however. There are absolutes, but those absolutes aren’t mathematically precise but more like general rules. If you eat 50 burgers a day, for example, that’s clearly excessive. But when it comes to when something STARTS to become excessive, that’s what we cannot pinpoint. Some think this is bad, but I think this is a good feature of Aristotle’s ethical theory because it is true of real life. Can you pinpoint exactly how many pieces of hair a person must have until we can call him “bald”? I submit to you that you cannot, but we still have a general idea of when a person is bald. The moral life is very similar.
Against Legalism & Relativism
I cannot stand legalists and relativists because this aspect of morality goes over their head. They have to think in a black and white way with mathematical-like precision for everything. It’s either all or nothing for them. I understand perfectly why some women, for example, would be upset at men “slut-shaming” them. Some women have been shamed just for showing the skin on their shoulders. Some have been shamed for wearing dresses 0.2 cms shorter than the “standard.” I get that, but then they go to the other extreme where pop artists are allowed to show a lot of their butt and do all kinds of sexual poses (including dancing on a pole), all in the name of beauty, expression, and empowerment. Is there any line? I am speaking specifically of this year’s Super Bowl Half Time Show that Shakir and Jennifer Lopez. Not the worst thing I have seen, but definitely immodest. They think that in order to liberate themselves of legalism, they must go in the total opposite extreme and reject any rule whatsoever, including the more general and reasonable ones. In principle, all the justification they give to support such behavior can justify going naked.
Lastly, I want to clarify one common confusion. Moderation does not mean doing everything mildly like some dull boy. There are times to be extremely angry, but we must also be sure that it does not control us. There are times to be intense in our responses or feelings that is anything but “tame.” Moderation is not about being tame, mild, or anything like that. It’s more about being proportional and doing things at the proper time and for the right reasons. If someone murders and rapes you wife, your anger should be proportional to that. In fact, if you fail to feel any anger at all, one would suspect that something is morally wrong with you. You should feel very upset! But if someone tapped your car by accident, it would absurd for you to start acting as if someone murdered your wife. Moderation may not be the most precise of doctrines, but I think it steers clear of two extremes: legalism or lawlessness. We learn what moderation is by experience; not by pure intellectual thought.
In an absolutely stunning and unexpected move, Trump recently killed Suleimani. First, there’s no reasonable doubt that Iran’s top general deserved to be killed. He’s killed thousands of people, planned to kill more Americans, and was the mastermind’s behind a corrupt military regime. The question then isn’t whether the attack was morally justified, but whether it was strategically correct. If you do not respond with force, Iran continues to get away with its recent provocations. Iran’s desperate because of their crumbling economy and decreasing influence over its own people. Instead of renegotiating, as Trump has repeatedly offered, they prefer to act with violence. Trump has shown a lot of constraint in the past. And Iran, knowing the US is scared of war, thinks it can get away with these attacks. They want to force us to play the timid “diplomats” and remove the sanctions because they hope that our fear of war is greater.
We should not let Iran’s misdeeds go unpunished because justice demands it, but we do not want war either (hence the sanctions). Trump has been very cautious in his response. He called off an attack because he asked the right question, “How many people are going to be killed?” and found that it was not proportional. But Iran continued to escalate their attacks by attacking two oil tankers, an Aramco oil facility, and then finally attacked a US installation that killed an American contractor and harmed four soldiers. Attacking physical objects requires sanctions or cyberattacks. Attacking our people requires a more lethal response. Trump launched a very limited airstrike against those responsible for the attack. Their response? Use it as an excuse to escalate and attack the U.S. Embassy. Trump vowed to never allow another Benghazi to happen again. A justified concern. After discovering further malicious plans by Iran’s top general, Trump decides he needs to make a big, decisive attack to show that the U.S. is not going to play footsies with this any longer in hopes of deterring and weakening Iran. So he kills Suleimani.
I am no foreign policy expert, but I do not think that this decision is black and white. Trump is taking a risky gamble here. He’s hoping Iran does not want war either (Iran’s shadow war tactics indicate this) and that this will have the effect of weakening and deterring Iran. But Iran in their pride may say, “We’ve come this far. We can’t back down now. We will treat this as an act of war. It’s either all or nothing for us.” Some evil men are willing to risk senseless war because of their pride. Irrationality seizes them. But Trump is hoping that fear will overpower that. And if not, Trump is showing to the world that America is not to be trifled with because it will give a decisive, powerful, and swift response to attacks. Trump’s message is this: I don’t want war, but if Iran wants war, then war is what they will get. Otherwise, let’s negotiate.
Now what I am saying here is rather tentative. There may be forces behind the scenes that are pulling the strings and misinforming us. Perhaps Suleimani did not really plan an attack. Maybe I got my facts wrong. Perhaps some group serves to benefit financially or strategically from Suleimani’s death. However, this is true of any war, no matter how just. Anyone could exploit a just war for their own gain; We do know that Suleimani did help destroy ISIS. Would his death embolden extremists? Maybe. Will someone worse replace him? Will this create an internal power struggle? And if war occurs, how many stand to die? Will other nations get involved? How likely is it that WW3 will occur? These are all good questions. Even the very wise cannot foresee all consequences. But as things stand now, WW3 seems very unlikely. The death count depends on Iran, not us.
The Ultimate Question
The ultimate question is this: is doing nothing better than responding with lethal force? What would the anti-war people have us do? Let Iran attack us, and drop some of our sanctions? Do we want to have a repeat of Benghazi? Unacceptable. Regardless of the consequences, we took a justified course of action given the information that we had available. Answers are never as simple as, “Never go to war!” or “Just go to war!” Each response is naively reactionary. If anything, this situation should demonstrate just how difficult it is to make a wise decision. All a wise leader can do is think carefully, pray, and hope for the best.