[A response to Sen. Santorum, who had replied to my inquiry about his position on the Michael New case. New had been court marshaled for refusing to wear a UN uniform on the grounds that the President had no authority to order such an action. E. Fox.]
October 20 , 1997
Senator Rick Santorum
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510-3804
Dear Senator Santorum,
Thank you for your response to my query concerning the Michael New situation concerning American troops wearing the UN uniform.
You note that you oppose American troops being under UN command, but that military discipline require obedience to orders -- which is certainly true. We have seen many times, however, during this century when obedience to orders led to abuse and atrocities which no orders could justify. So the issue is not whether there are limits to the rightfulness of orders, but where to draw that line.
That is an issue which has not, to my knowledge, every been fully explored or defined, either by the military or (more significantly) by the Christian community, partly because we have for all practical purposes lost any connection between civil law and the law of God. Because power corrupts and because of pressure to create a unified fighting force, the military of any country tends to ignore that there are any limits -- which is why the American military are put under the command of the President, an elected non-military official. But, if the Biblical view be true, all things are under the law of God, God is the Commander-in-Chief, the President is accountable to God, and orders contrary to the law of God are no orders at all. A basic constitutional principle.
That does not tell us much specifically about the UN situation, but I think we in America must revisit that discussion -- about being under a law higher than any civil official. The discussion is beginning to happen, one of the healthiest things happening in America today.
The American constitution was written with the understanding that the role of civil government is not to create law ex nihilo, but rather to administer the law already given by God. That is the clear implication of the Declaration of Independence and the opinion of all the Founding Fathers. I suspect that you subscribe to that principle yourself. I pray for the time when it will again be a common place among the citizens and leadership.
I would say at least this much about the Michael New situation, that New operated in good conscience and that he was willing to stand trial for his actions. I am seriously disappointed that the court was unable, so far as I am aware, to address the issue to which New was pointing, namely the illegality of the President's orders to wear a foreign uniform. The court appeared to assume that New had no right to raise the issue to which he was pointing, and that he was to obey regardless. That, in my mind, was a very faulty and dangerous conclusion.
The military are rightly concerned for a unified spirit. But the most powerful unifier of any group is a moral consensus. It was not the communist military might which inspired their 20th century sweep around the world, but the impression that they held the moral high ground against nasty capitalists. No military power can long withstand the erosion of its moral superiority. Right really does make might. The unity which the military rightly seeks therefore depends on whether they can sustain the belief that they are morally and spiritually under the law of God.
A democratic republic cannot be sustained unless it is populated by self-governing persons under the same law of God as the civil (and therefore military) government. "Self-governing" must mean "according to the law of God", to which any one of us can appeal against any perceived injustice on the part of other intermediary jurisdictions. If we make such an appeal, to avoid the chaos to which you pointed, we need then to be willing to be tried for the righteousness of our actions (as New was). But the trial must then be conducted with the understanding that all things are under the higher law of God, not under a civil or military jurisdiction which recognizes no law higher than itself.
I would not be against temporarily putting troops under a "limited government" UN, which itself was dedicated to the principles of a Godly democratic republic with representation on the order given to us by our Founding Fathers. A world government is inevitable, and we are foolish to think otherwise. The question is not whether, but what kind. But we should never submit ourselves, our government, or our troops to any jurisdiction that does not itself acknowledge the law of God. To do so is for the authority to forfeit its moral standing and any right to the trust and loyalty of those under the given authority. Unity then will come by compulsion, not by moral commitment.
I see that the mission of America as a political entity therefore is to recover its Godly principles of government and to "evangelize" the rest of the world, promoting the only form of government in which true freedom can be sustained. Civil government apart from the law and grace of God is incapable of setting its citizens free, it will always degrade into totalitarianism of one sort or another.
These, I believe, are the deeper issues behind the New situation.
And thank you for your strong leadership on so many issues.
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