President Bush has demanded that Iran release the British sailors being held by the Iranians for an alleged security threat.
The question comes to mind whether or not President Bush has the moral authority at this time to make such a demand. Though I have serious disagreements with him, I like the president and believe him to be a well meaning man and a sincere Christian trying to do his best during excruciatingly difficult times.
But, we have kept prisoners at Guantanamo Bay for years, held as alleged security threats. I have no doubt that at least some of the Gitmo prisoners are terrorist combatants; I also believe that the British sailors were likely just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that the scary Iranian leadership is using this situation (and these sailors) as an excuse to further its own bizarre ends; I am reasonably certain that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a lunatic.
Still, President Bush has made some questionable decisions which have now resulted in at least ethical ambiguity, and potentially a complete lack of moral authority.
President Bush wants to secure his nation; President Ahmadinejad wants to secure his nation.
President Bush has been willing to detain individuals indefinitely he claims are potential threats to national security; President Ahmadinejad has been willing to detain individuals indefinitely he claims are potential threats to national security.
Mind you, I don't believe the two presidents to be morally equivalent. But I also believe that President Bush has put himself in an awkward situation by blurring the ethical lines in Gitmo, and now in the odd position of denouncing the same act when it's committed by someone else.
Of course, for me this points out the strange and inconsistent road that is "just war" philosophy. First we make one compromise, then another, and, before we realize it, we're even violating "just war" principles by demanding "unconditional surrender", dropping atomic bombs on civilians, or holding prisoners indefinitely, without any resolution in sight.
We need to be in prayer for both presidents, for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, for the British sailors now held, and for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. And, of course, we need to be in prayer for the Church, that in a day when people seem desperate for moral clarity, we might faithfully be the voice of God.
Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquility your dominion may increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)