Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Big News: Some Seek Justice, Others Prefer Peace

Big News with Dave Crampton

When some seek justice – but others prefer peace

I recently received a number of e-mails on the peace march held in Wellington on October 27. While they certainly didn’t tempt me to march for peace, I did question why the march was planned. As well as peace, the organisers want to see justice, not vengeance – as if justice and peace were one and the same.

You have to ask how a peace march would contribute to justice, let alone peace in an already disturbed country like Afghanistan. It may make the participants feel better but what actually changes? Nothing. So why march at all? To create awareness of something everybody is aware of anyway, or to make those already aware feel better as a result of joining a peace rally?

Vengeance and justice are not complimentary, but neither is justice and peace, sometimes – hence the US attacks. Justice has to be seen to be done. Justice also has a higher priority, and normally comes ahead of peace. Peace is often the result of justice, not the other way around as the peace marchers would have you believe.

Many people taking part in the peace march were Christians and lived with the Christian conviction that God is a God of peace. Some of the Christians, including Race Relations Conciliator Greg Fortuin, spoke at the event. Even some Greenies joined the march against the bombing and were told by Jeanette Fitzsimons that “there may be a place for armed forces in this strategy” as long as it was in conjunction with the UN.

But God is not merely a God of peace, he is also a just God, and he views justice as a means to peace. God is not anti-war, as long as it is just, but he certainly does not tolerate vengeance between humans - that’s his job.

Many people view the US attacks on Afghanistan as vengeance. If bombings were resulting solely to avenge, they would arise out of anger, with the US not caring whether they pursued justice or bombed civilians - and from the Christian viewpoint that is a sinful act from a wrong motive – just as the attacks on the US were.

However, responsive and responsible military action must be as limited as possible, with the aim of peace. The term used is a “just war”. The just war theory dates back to the 4th Century and was used by the church as a framework for the discussion of issues of war and peace, to deal with the reality of war in a fallen sinful world. St Augustine argued that a just war is a primary justification for is for the protection of innocent people. – ie the advancement of good and the avoidance of evil. Evil such as further terrorist attacks.

A just war theory does not justify war, but it does not mean anything goes, either. In fact if everybody subscribed to the just war theory there would be no wars, or acts of terrorism, as aggression would be eliminated. The theory’s first rule clearly states that only defence against aggression can be just.

One person, in an email said: “I will support the march against the bombing all the way. There are other, more effective, ways of waging war against terrorists and the Afghani people have endured enough already.” They didn’t say what these “effective ways” were.

Afghanistan, Asia’s poorest country, has endured enough. It was in trouble even before the US bombings. Some 75 per cent of Afghans do not have safe water, 90 per cent do not have adequate sanitation, and only two per cent of the population has access to health care. As a result, 25 per cent of children die before the age of five. After 20 years of war, much of the infrastructure has disappeared or lies in ruins. More than 70 per cent of the population is illiterate and this rises to nearly 90 per cent amongst women.

In the past year alone, 800,000 people have already been displaced, both within Afghanistan and to the world's two largest hosts of refugees, Pakistan and Iran.
Even before current events, 5.5 million people were already partially, or completely, dependent on food aid, which will run out next month, according to the World Food Program (WFP). Groups like Christian Aid have called for a pause in the bombings so they can safely get food to Afghans. But one of the reasons stopping the donation of food is the exorbitant taxes levied to the NGO’s by the Taliban. NGO’s want the Taliban to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian supplies.

Waging war against Taliban terrorists or against those who react to their attacks won’t be addressed by peace marches – or a vengeance –type reaction, for that matter. Likewise military action is a short-term fix and a last resort. A longer-term fix is to understand the anger behind terrorism and address it, and peace marchers would do well to contemplate that if terrorism is to be adequately addressed.

Another e-mail I received this week spelt out the alternative. “To give the terrorists free range and accept that the horrors of 11 September will become normal…. that each week we will see a summary of the four or five buildings that were destroyed by planes or bombs, hear the statistics of four or five or ten thousand more dead - and have no more reaction that we do at hearing the road toll over labour weekend.”

Now is that the kind of world you want to live in? If so, keep on marching for peace. If not, seek justice. You can’t always have it both ways. You really can’t.

Oh yeah… if you attended the peace march this week, maybe you can tell me what you actually achieved.


- Dave Crampton is a Wellington-based freelance journalist. He can be contacted at

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news