The fourth century Theologian—St. Augustine of Hippo [present day Algeria] arguably the most influential—second to St. Paul in canonical discourses including in moral and ethical treatise also wrote extensively on a Just War in tandem with his major works on “Confessions” and “City of God.”
The issue of violence takes the center stage if not becomes a contradiction in terms if the ethos of “give your other cheek..” is to be taken for its literal meaning where the “eye for an eye” was later reformed or supplanted by the extraordinary power of love when the golden rule is “do not do any harm to others as much as you do not want to be harmed by others.”
Question is, what if one finds himself or herself in harms way? Or in a larger scale, what if a country finds itself invaded, should the nation give its other cheek instead of defending itself? That is where the theological defense for a Just War comes into play which was brilliantly expounded by St. Augustine in particular.
St. Augustine’s a Just War theory has its own historical underpinnings but of course it is not relevant with the context at hand in this particular take, nevertheless, his theory is threaded in three tenets:
For war to be just, its objective should not be for territorial ambitions or the mere exercise of power. The second condition is that, a Just War must be waged by properly instituted authority. Finally, the third rule, and the most relevant to the extraordinary moral standing of TDF and of course to St. Augustine as well—is that, even in the midst of violence that is a necessary part of war, the motive of love must be central.
Tigray in general and TDF in particular is carrying all the hallmarks of a Just War including when they exude the restraint and self-control when raw emotions are so high given all the atrocities Tigray has gone through. Instead, TDF was able to see deep and distinguish between the military fatigue and the person who donned it where the latter is not an enemy once he or she surrenders. Incidentally, the sublime moral insight coincides with what General Tadesse Werede had to say the other day about TDF when he said, “we have trained them in conjunction with the Tigrean cherished values and norms.” And it showed, when TDF fed, tended and cared for the wounded PoWs including when the residents of Mekele extended the same care if not more from their meager resources.
The above should be seen in a sharp contrast with what the recently surrendered Colonel Mekuanent—Commander of the 11th Division of the Federal army had to say when he literally confessed about the objectives of the first invasion almost two years ago. He said, the directives that was given to them was to destroy, violate and kill anyone they come across to throughout Tigray. He may not have conceptualized it in a proper context but clearly, it was far from being a Just War when he and the hundreds of thousands armies who invaded Tigray intended to take territories which belongs to Tigray by imposing a military power on the defenseless where atrocities in the form of genocide reined on instead of the love St. Augustine theorized to be found amidst violence. And that is precisely the difference between the morally giant TDF and the diminutive ENDF.
ዘልኣለማዊ ክብሪ ንስዉኣትና
ትግራይ ዓደይ ወለላ ትስዕር!