America has not responded to ISIS.
This moral failure proceeds from America’s inability to recognize the objectivity of morality. Our response amounts to the conclusion: there is no right response, or if there be a right response, there is no way to know it.
It is the reaction of a nation lacking a standard of values. That is to be expected, for once self-preservation is denounced, what could be the standard? It is only from the goal of self-preservation that there rises a need for a code of behavior or values. If America would once accept (or even consider) self-interest as the foundation of values and morality, the irrationality of her policy of self-sacrifice would become obvious.
What is the standard for all values? One’s own life. Why should a man follow a moral code? In order to preserve and benefit his own individual life. A proper moral code does not condemn men or nations as morally evil for seeking to stop an attacker.
In our age there is great ignorance about moral concepts.
We do not even know how to speak of good or evil; or righteous self-interest. But in light of the slaughter committed by ISIS we see both the necessity of moral judgment and the cowardice of inaction.
Why doesn’t the United States impose its overwhelming military might upon those nations, groups, and individuals that systematically seek to kill Americans? We are paralyzed by our acceptance of the moral code of self-sacrifice. As a nation, we would rather see Americans killed daily than commit the sin of self-assertion.
So indeed we will watch as Americans are killed. And the dictators of the world will watch and feel empowered as they see the world’s mightiest nation cower before mere outlaws, for fear of self-assertion.
A nation cannot defend itself by a partial commitment.
As the late John David Lewis argued in Nothing Less than Victory, when attacked, a nation must take the war to the aggressor and end its willingness to fight. The solution to ISIS is a righteous and wholehearted war, leading to the termination of those individuals, groups—and yes, nations—that enable attacks on America and her allies.
But the prerequisite of such a war is a code of values based on individual self-interest. That is what America lacks, and that is what she desperately needs. Do we seek a future for the United States? We must recognize that value is individual and self-interest is proper. And we must start talking about it.
*For a more thorough treatment of the concepts behind this series and the political and historical facts of the case, you can do no better than John David Lewis’ article:
“No Substitute for Victory.”
In this series:
Christianity and ISIS: Toward a Better World Pt. 1
Christianity and ISIS: Toward a Better World Pt. 2
Christianity and ISIS: Toward a Better World Pt. 3
Christianity and ISIS: Toward a Better World Pt. 4
Christianity and ISIS: Toward a Better World Pt. 5