The other night while searching for Russian Orthodox blogs I came across this ARTICLE entitled, Jack Bauer and Just War. This should be interesting, perhaps it is an in-depth critique/commentary on the television program "24" and the contemporary neo-conservative justification for preemptive war and torture. Well, that certainly did not turn out to be the case; rather, the article is a simplistic, almost laughable, justification for Jack Bauer's actions. The article is so pathetically illogical and contrary to the Gospel that it is hardly deemed to be taken seriously, except to perhaps understand the warped utilitarian worldview that many of our fellow Christians have adopted. Below are some poignant excerpts. I really cannot see how Christians accept this rationale, but I know of some Evangelical colleagues and even a few Catholics that aggressively love Jack Bauer as well as the Bush doctrine, so this worldview is not limited to secular conservatives.
Pray for them, and for our enemies.
But the question is: How do Bauer's actions hold up to the Christian Just War Theory?
(okay this is off to a good start)
First, it is important to keep in mind that Bauer works for the government. Clearly, the state's right to wage war and right to use force when necessary are affirmed by Holy Scripture. For example, St. Paul wrote: "Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain." (Romans 13:3-4) Bauer is a combatant or a bearer of the government's sword.
This is laughable. Bauer is an agent of the state, therefore his actions are moral. When in doubt, pull out the trump card: Romans 13! Now this is biblical exegesis-- forget what the historical time period in which St. Paul wrote and how it differed from our own, and forget the meaning of the words used--hey, I will just interpret the text to what a 21st-century Enlightenment modernist says the text means! I am sure a man like St. Paul, who had suffered so much at the hands of the state, who had seen so many of his fellow Christians martyred, and he himself probably martyred at the hands of Nero, he definitely would be in favor of the federal superstate with no moral restraints on it "Jack Bauer style" that exists in "24" and nearly in contemporary America.
So, what do we make of Jack Bauer's actions from a moral perspective via the Just War Theory?
First, Bauer clearly is partaking in a just war -- acting in self-defense; securing peace; and establishing justice, remedying justice, and protecting the innocent -- against terrorists.
The more challenging questions regarding Bauer pertain to how war is waged. Do Bauer's actions meet the requirements of proportionality, i.e., that war should be the lesser of two evils, and should be what is needed to secure peace and improve conditions? When confronted by immediate and clear terrorist threats against civilians, it seems that Bauer's actions meet the proportionality standard.
I would argue that even instances where Bauer tortures terrorists, it is justified. The threat of a massive terrorist attack is immediate, and Bauer is directing the torture at actual terrorists or their suspected allies. It is waged against actual combatants, and combatants whose stated objective is to do harm to civilians.
The article closes with perhaps the most anti-Christian statement of all:
In the end, it must be acknowledged that there are enormous evils in the world that government has the responsibility to confront on behalf of its citizens. And while every action taken in that defense might not be morally ideal, make no mistake, when confronting Islamic extremism -- today's most daunting evil -- we need individuals like Jack Bauer who are willing to risk everything to protect innocent life.
This is a totally non-Catholic, perhaps even un-Orthodox, position in terms of ecclesiology. Since when is it solely the government's responsibility to decide what is evil and to "confront it?" What about the Natural Law and of "speaking truth to power?" This guy needs to read the Holy Father's second encyclical, Spe Salvi, where Benedict XVI clearly lays out that true eternal hope, truth, and life, is only found in Jesus Christ, not these temporal orders that so many moderns place their hope and faith in.
Second, it is clearly an overstatement to say that "Islamic extremism" is "today's most daunting evil." American law and policy has justified the killing of 60 plus million helpless children through abortion, is intent on creating a lucrative industry (with the help of government funding and Wall Street) to manufacture human life in order to cannibalize and destroy it through human embryonic research, and yet Islamic "extremism" is today's "most daunting evil?" And of course this does not include American foreign policy that perpetuates the invasion and bombing of countries, killing women and children, that do not adhere to the demands of Washington. This is just what the Middle East needs, they need to be "civilized" and accept "the modern world" at the hands of American soldiers--so that we can build abortion clinics and have gay parades on the streets of Baghdad, then they will have "freedom and democracy." Is this the freedom that St. Paul talks of in his epistles? The truth is that Christians, at least orthodox ones, have much more in common with pious Moslems than they do with secularists or even their fellow travelers in the form of state-worshiping lax Christians. Look at St. Thomas Aquinas, who learned and had much in common with the Moslems of his day. This is not to paint all theological or moral aspects of Islam in rose colors or affirm their validity, but it is to question the notion that contemporary American and Western societal values and post-Christian epistemology is somehow superior to those of the Islamic community.