Has War Become Dysfunctional?

By Jeanine Elliott, Bethel Congregational United Church of Christ

Just-Peace banner smIn 1971, Robert Moss, then second president of the UCC, wrote in the United Church Herald, “In our kind of world, war has become dysfunctional. We now need to put as much effort into defining a just peace as we have done in the past in defining a just war.”[1]

Today we don’t even know what a war is.  On any given day, we can list conflicts between nations or peoples that result in death and injury of civilians and military alike.  This day we see Kiev, Bangkok, Syria, Central African Republic, Caracas, Iraq, and Afghanistan in conflict. Next week we may have a different list. We know our political leaders and those around the globe must wake each morning to see what parts of the world are on fire. At the same time, civilians in those areas may have no idea the anxiety, pain, and suffering the day will bring for them.  Most of these conflicts are not defined as wars.  Civil unrest hardly seems a big enough term to describe them.  Armed conflict may not reflect the imbalances of power.