Thursday, July 24, 2008

Policing: A Middle Way between War and Pacifism

An international police force may be a way between war and pacifism that can reduce violence in the world. This is the thesis of a new book of essays, “Just Policing, Not War: An Alternative Response to World,” reviewed by Donald W. Shiver Jr. in the July 29, 2008 issue of the “Christian Century.” Ivan J. Kauffman, an author of one of book’s essays, points out the defects of both the just war tradition and pacifism. The former assumes that violence can achieve justice, while the latter assumes that opposing violence is the way to justice. However, merely opposing violence does not produce peace. Peacemaking is a larger effort, in which policing can play a major part. Policing, Shiver points out, is unlikely to eliminate violence in the world, but policing can diminish violence, subject it to judicial restraint, and treat life as worth preserving, and thus lead us toward a world that deserves the name “civilized.”
I haven’t yet read the book. Shiver’s review makes me want to read it, but more broadly, I’m drawn to reconsider the role of policing in the world, especially as undertaken by international organizations like the United Nations. I hope these essays lead our policy makers to see policing as an important alternative to both war, which is rarely if ever just, and pacifism, which often seems merely oppositional rather than actively peace seeking.

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