A Just Isolationism

Christians debate over the requirements for a “just war“–the circumstances that would have to exist to justify a nation’s use of violence. But what are the requirements for a just abandonment of war? I mean, let’s say you’ve decided to engage in a war for reasons that you’ve determined are just. Under what circumstances, short of victory, would you finally withdraw from that war?

What’s got me thinking about that? Stuff like this:

A newly recruited Afghan village policeman opened fire on his American allies on Friday, killing two U.S. service members minutes after they handed him his official weapon in an inauguration ceremony. It was the latest in a disturbing string of attacks by Afghan security forces on the international troops training them.

And this:

The targeting of U.S. and other NATO soldiers by members of the Afghan security forces first spiked in 2009, and the number of incidents has gone up each year since. 

In Friday’s attack in Helmand, three U.S. Special Forces soldiers were killed. An Afghan official told reporters that a commander at a police checkpoint had invited them to a predawn meal and security discussion, where he opened fire on the Americans before fleeing to take refuge with Taliban militants.

Let’s skip over the debate about whether we should be in Afghanistan in the first place, because we’re there and time only runs in one direction. And let’s say that, while we’re there, we’re doing “just” things, like keeping the peace, protecting basic human rights, building infrastructure, etc. Because that’s what we’re doing.

If our soldiers are attacked and killed again and again by people we’re ostensibly there to help, should that eventually lead us to abandon a mission that we think is just? At what point do we abandon Afghanistan to the tender mercies of the Taliban?

Because if we leave Afghanistan, you’re sure to see more stuff like this:

…officials in southern Afghanistan said Taliban insurgents beheaded 17 Afghan civilians, including two women. Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry says the civilians were killed late Sunday in the Kajaki district of Helmand province.   

There are conflicting reports about the reasons for the killings. Earlier, Afghan officials said the Taliban attacked a late-night party because insurgents disapprove of music and dancing.

I don’t have an answer here; I’m just wondering where these issues would fall in a “just war” philosophy. Does the fact that things will get much, much worse after we leave mean that we’re obligated to stay?

(Cascading hat tips to Mark Steyn and Scaramouche.)

Leave a Reply