All three mainstream political parties have agreed to a 3rd Iraq war.
Once again the assumption that the greater the violence and brutality of the enemy, the greater the justification for a violent response, rules the day. But if violence breeds violence, then this response will only breed a greater violence. Nevertheless, the “peace through sovereign power” model that has ruled the day throughout Western history and beyond has no other answer to give.
So what is the alternative?
If kenotic, life-laying-down, enemy love is a genuine source of political power, then it does apply in situations of extreme violence and brutality such as those inflicted by IS.
There are seven strategic components:
1) the infinite demand of love
Simon Critchley presents this inescapable motivation to love that extends beyond confessional limits in his book The Faith of the Faithless http://www.versobooks.com/books/1044-the-faith-of-the-faithless. Disciples of Jesus get this, or frankly they are really not disciples yet. Others get it too, thank God. That love not hate wins. That restorative justice not retribution works. That we have to stick with nonviolent methods whatever the cost. That there’s an infinite demand.
2) deep structural subversion of the Western way
Serious examination of the genealogy of the West suggests ongoing deep structural links between the violence of militant Islam and the violence of the West. See my The Fall of the Church http://tinyurl.com/ohoo28n. Unless we undo the underlying violent structures of the West there is very little hope for a parallel end to extreme brutality against it.
3) the fruit of lives laid down
The good news of the incarnation, that is to say the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, is that loving one’s enemies to the death actually does consume evil and triumph over it. In which case the extraordinary bravery and determination of some to remain on the ground in situations of extreme danger to maintain a strategy of love is crucial.
4) dangerous opportunities for dialogue
There need to be alliances between Muslims, Christians and other peoples of faith, who have some empathy or at least understanding of where IS is at and why. Peaceful people of faith who are ready to take the immense risk of meeting extreme self-designated islamists for dialogue even if it leads to beheading and death. How much worse is that than incarnation and crucifixion?
5) leadership example
Recent episodes of 24 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/24:_Live_Another_Day had Jack Bauer rescuing the fictional US president from a situation where he was ready to give his life to terrorists in exchange for peace. A similar proposal by George Bush Junior on the eve of the War on Terror might have saved a lot of lives and prevented the current bloodbath. The jingoistic refusal of such political action in 24 highlights the deep structural mindsets of the West that honour yet reject such a path.
Those of us committed to prayer such as http://www.24-7prayer.com/ need to be praying for a change of heart among IS funders, commanders and troops; for strategy and courage to engage them non-violently on the ground; and new ways of introducing creative, love-based, initiatives for peace to be discovered.
I added this last, because sending money somewhere can either be to assuage guilt at inactivity or making the false Western assumption that money is the ultimate answer. What I mean here is giving our technical, creative, rational, financial and above all our emotional and relational giftings to the cause of peace through love.