Since September 11, 2001, we have faced a terrible dilemma and have not yet discovered an effective a response to it. When a small group of men destroyed the World Trade Center and hit the Pentagon, most of us were stunned by the ferocity and destructiveness of the attack. As a result, our nation was politically unprepared to answer the question, "What do we do now?"
In the confusion following September 11, American policy makers were under pressure to act quickly. With little time to imagine or plan for new approaches, our leaders turned quickly to familiar ideas and methods. The situation was defined as "war" and military modes of thinking took the fore. The United States engineered the Fall of the Afghani Taliban regime using military might. But the worlds leading terrorists eluded our grasp. Civilians suffered, and children died. We failed to stamp out the existing terrorist network.
When the United States focused its attention on Iraq, the "War on Terror" became even more complex. Allegations that the Hussein regime had helped Al-Qaida, and concerns that Iraq had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction which could be given to terrorists, have not been supported by the evidence as of this writing. But the brutality of the Hussein regime, never in doubt, was even more graphically confirmed after the regime had been toppled. Hussein was a terrorist to his own people, and fostered terrorism in Israel and other places. Leaders in the United States and Britain linked terrorism and Iraqi tyranny but had trouble convincing the public of the connection. So, three years after the September 11 attack, our national leaders are still struggling to find an effective response. Terrorists and would-be tyrants still ply their trades around the globe.
We need some new ideas, new approaches to combating terror and tyranny. We cannot surrender, but neither can we fight over the long term using our current methods. Endless warfare will in the long run erode our way of life and undermine our democratic institutions, giving the terrorists and the tyrants the victory they seek.
In my half-century in politics, I learned that God never leaves us without a way forward. So when governmental leaders ran out of good ideas, I found that the most promising new thinking could be found somewhere else. It took private citizens acting boldly to lead our country out of its decades of paralysis on civil rights. Private citizens led the way to new ideas for how to be good stewards of our environment. In Eastern Europe, brave citizens acted on a new vision and ended the Cold War that had stymied policy makers for two generations. In cases like these, crucial leadership was provided by thoughtful Christians seeking ways to apply the gospel to new problems.
We have arrived at a similar point in the history of our response to terror and tyranny. So, in a way, I have been expecting a book like Loving Without Giving In to appear. Ron Mock does here what his predecessors have done in other times of crisis: He draws on sources typically ignored by policymakers to suggest some new responses that offer genuine hope for a long-term winning strategy against terror and tyranny.
This book reminds me of John Howard Yoders Politics of Jesus, which helped Christians sort through their responses to the war in Vietnam. It also reminds me of Ron Siders groundbreaking Nuclear Holocaust and Christian Hope, which did so much to help believers find a prophetic voice and help me work in the U.S. Senate for an end to the nuclear arms race. And it reminds me of Walter Winks Violence and Nonviolence in South Africa, which proved so prophetic itself in suggesting from a Christian basis a nonviolent path out of the seemingly hopeless conflict in apartheid-era South Africa.
Like those works, the direct effect of this book will be on prayerful Christian peacemakers. But I have hope that, once again, God will use their faithful responses as one of his tools to create a victory over terror and tyranny that seems so elusive to us now.
Mark O. Hatfield
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