Would cement dominance of the bad guys

PAzifism is an honorable attitude that can definitely be justified in Christian terms. That he “does not lead to good, but would cement the dominance of the wicked, the criminals and the inhuman”, as Joachim Gauck has just impressively explained is then a bit too sweeping. Gandhi’s unarmed struggle for independence was crowned with success. Can’t appreciate that enough. Non-violent resistance against Hitler or Stalin, however, as Gandhi saw it himself, would have led to the victory of evil.

Even the Russian war of aggression does not make pacifism obsolete as a personal attitude. But as a generous endorsement to Ukrainians at risk of death, that attitude is downright obscene. After all, there is a moral, Christian, and legal duty to help people in need. And there is also a right for states to self-defense and the right to help. This as stated in the Charter of United Nations means that “natural rights” do not have to be observed, but to mock it and only watch the slaughter of your neighbor is a pretty bloody pacifism.

Today, fortunately, it is no more than the devil’s responsibility to take up arms in defense. That was quite different not so long ago. Quite a few of those who bear responsibility today and, as a matter of course, want to stand up to Putin militarily, refused to do military service with arms at the time.

The conscience is difficult to examine

Remarkably, this happened at a time when, at its core, the situation was not all that different from what it is today. Threatened by a nuclear-wielding Moscow-ruled empire, the West rearmed and conscripted its young men, particularly in continental Europe.

Based on the experience of totalitarian coercion, the Federal Republic of Germany granted everyone a remarkable basic right: “No one may be forced into armed service against their conscience.” Anyone who has genuinely refused to carry out armed service for reasons of conscience deserves respect. But conscience is difficult to examine; this eventually led to an easy way to refuse. But there was never a right to choose between military and civilian service. The Basic Law also never stipulated that military service could be refused for political reasons. Still, that was largely the practice.

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