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The First Sino-Japanese War, 1894-1895

(Artwork by Korechika)

Trade, Treaties, Francisco de Vitoria, and the First Sino-Japanese War

by Dawn Pisturino

Chinese Point of View

       In 2014, China commemorated the 120th anniversary of the First Sino-Japanese War by releasing a collection of essays analyzing the event (Hengjun, 2014, pg.2; Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 2, 3).  China lost the war against Japan – a loss which still bothers the Chinese government and the Chinese people.  The essays were written “by members of the People’s Liberation Army ‘analyzing what China can learn from its defeat’” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 3).  The writers concluded that “the Qing dynasty’s failure to effectively modernize” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 3) China led to China’s defeat and that China must continue its program of Westernization (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 3).

       Japan’s strong navy was a key component in its victory.  China’s leader, Xi Jinping, wants to strengthen the country’s navy because “the ocean remains central to national security interests today” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 5).

       PLA writers also denounced Japan’s militaristic, nationalist, and imperialistic behavior that led to the war.  It was not until Japan’s defeat in World War II that this behavior was finally restrained (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 5).

       China still fears a rise in Japanese militarism and warns its military to “guard against the sneak attack that Japan has a history of making” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 6).

       On the bright side, the Chinese defeat led to the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, the establishment of Taiwan as a democratic state, and the rise of China as a world power.  Japan’s war against China was “horrible . . . but that cannot cover up the fact that the Qing dynasty was a decadent and declining dynasty that existed in opposition both to historical trends and to the Chinese people” (Hengjun, 2014, pg. 3).

Japanese Point of View

       People in Japan believe that “the First Sino-Japanese War from August 1894 to April 1895 is one of the most important wars in Japanese history in that it heralded Japan’s appearance on the world stage as a serious player” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1).  Although Japan recognized Korea as a tributary state of China, it was also aware of the turmoil in the country as factions fought for control of the government.  Reformists wanted more Japanese influence in Korea and pushed for increased Westernization.  Traditionalists identified with China and Chinese culture (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1).

       Japan needed important natural resources, such as coal and iron, and looked to Korea to get them (Britannica, 2021, pg. 1; Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1).  Japan wanted free access without interference from China and, if possible, to control Korea’s natural resources.  Japan aggressively tried to break China’s influence and control in Korea for its own benefit (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1). 

       Although China had a larger army, the Japanese navy was more organized, efficient, and better equipped.  Corruption in the Chinese military had left China’s navy weak and under-equipped.  Japan’s ground forces were also in better shape than China’s.  By October 1894, the Japanese “expelled the Chinese from Korea . . . [and] entered China itself” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 5).  Japan soon controlled Manchuria, the Liaodong Peninsula, Beijing, Weihaiwei, and Taiwan (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 5).

       Proudly, Japan became the dominant power in Asia, freed Korea from China’s domination, and brought Westernization and trade to the whole region (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 6).

Korean Point of View

       As a tribute state of China, Korea followed “the Confucian principles enshrined in the Chinese classics and the rules of tributes elaborated in the Chinese statutes [which] constituted the backbone of the system” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 1).  The Korean king was content to be under Chinese influence and Confucian international law.  But Japan wanted to break China’s hold over Korea in order to establish a base of power in which to prevent both China and Russia from controlling the region (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2).

       On February 26, 1876, Japan and Korea signed the Treaty of Kanghwa which gave Japan trading rights to three Korean ports, access to the coastal seas, and unequal trading privileges in Japan’s favor.  Another treaty signed on August 24, 1876, granted Japan “duty-free importation of Japanese goods carried by the ships belonging to their government” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2).

       Article 1 of the treaty declared that “Choson [Korea] being an independent state, enjoys the same sovereign rights as does Japan” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2).  This addition to the treaty was meant to undermine China’s claim on Korea.

       From the Korean point of view, “independence” meant that “the political and legal matters of tributary states are totally in the hands of them” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2), in accordance with the Confucian legal system.  Korea, therefore, felt no hesitation in signing the treaty because it meant that Korea would carry on its diplomatic duties as usual.  The Qing dynasty supported Korea as “entirely independent in her relations with other states” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2) but continued to regard Korea as a tribute state.

       In spite of the treaty, Korea did not make any changes in its relationships with Japan and China.  The treaty was regarded as more of a sign of friendship with Japan.  But since Japan and China both had special privileges over Korea and its resources, Korea became a pawn for both parties in their quest for control.  As Korea became more unstable from within, diplomatic relations began to break down.  After the Japanese were expelled from Korea by the Chinese, “the Convention between China and Japan for the Withdrawal of Troops from Korea, signed on 18 April 1885” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2, 3), established Korea “as a buffer state between them” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 3).

       The First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) spelled the end of Chinese dominance in Korea.  The Treaty of Shimonoseki between China and Japan ended the Confucian legal system and brought Western international law and trade to Eastern Asia, with Korea at its center.  The treaty ended Korea’s status as a tributary state to China and granted the country both independence and autonomy (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 3).

The War

       The First Sino-Japanese war began in the first place because Japan ended its isolation from foreign trade, embraced Western technology, and aspired to expand its trading territories.  Korea had been an important tributary state to China for many years.  “In 1876, the Japanese negotiated a treaty with Korea, opening Korea up to foreign trade for the first time” (Rickard, 2013, pg. 1), with Japan becoming the main beneficiary.

       The treaty led to much discourse in Korea, with pro- and anti-Japanese contenders vying for power.  In 1882, an anti-Japan uprising occurred against the Korean Royal family.  The Chinese stepped in to quell the rebellion (Rickard, 2013, pg. 1).

       Japan negotiated with Korea for peace and then secretly prepared for war.  Japanese influence in Korea continued to grow, with China suppressing a pro-Japanese rebellion in 1884.  “Japan and China signed a new treaty [Li-Ito Convention Tientsin Treaty]” (Rickard, 2013, pg. 1) which removed all Chinese and Japanese troops from Korea.  Korea became “a co-protectorate under [China] and Japan” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 3).

       Although Japan signed the treaty, its expansionist ambitions took priority.  In 1884, pro-Japan Korean leader, Kim Ok-Kyun, was assassinated — and his body mutilated – by the Chinese.  This led to more tension between Japan and China.  When China sent troops in to quell the Tonghak rebellion at the behest of the Korean king, Japan accused China of breaking the treaty and sent troops to Korea (Britannica, 2021, pg. 1, 2).  “On July 23, 1894, Japanese troops deposed the Korean king, annulled Korean-Chinese treaties, and proceeded to try and expel the Chinese from Korea” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 3), something Japan had been planning to do all along.

       On August 1, 1894, war was declared.  Due to its more modern and better equipped military, Japan quickly won the war when it invaded Manchuria and the Shandong province, and China negotiated to end the war (Britannica, 2021, pg. 2).

       The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed by both countries, and Korea gained its independence.  Japan gained significant trade rights.  The conflict sparked a movement in China against foreigners and rebellion against the Qing dynasty (Britannica, 2021, pg. 2).

Francisco de Vitoria and the First Sino-Japanese War  

       Just war philosopher Francisco de Vitoria strongly believed that the “enlargement of empire and personal glory or convenience did not constitute just grounds for war” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 82).  Although he believed in free trade between sovereign nations (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 81), he would not have supported Japan’s aggressive actions to exclude China from the mix.  At the same time, I believe he would have condemned China for the assassination and mutilation of the Korean leader, Kim Ok-Kyun — which alone would have been a violation of the Tientsin treaty.  Japan, therefore, had a right to defend its interests when China sent troops to Korea, even though the Korean king had requested China’s help.  And China had a right to defend its interests.  Japan was already prepared to wage war, and when it sank the British steamer Kowshing, killing Chinese troops, there was no turning back (Britannica, 2021, pg. 2).

       Russia, Germany, and France attempted to moderate the Treaty of Shimonoseki in order to limit Japan’s influence in the region.  In the process, Russia gained control over Port Arthur and railway rights, which upset the British.  This, in turn, angered the Japanese and led to the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 (Rickard, 2013, pg. 2).

       Although Japan, China, and Korea all had a cause to wage war, it was Japan’s aggressive actions regarding trade which ultimately created the conditions that led to war.  The Japanese government should have honored its treaty with China and stopped trying to exclude China.  China should not have aggravated the situation by assassinating Kim Ok-Kyun.  Korea should not have played both ends against the middle.

       Vitoria would have viewed all of these shenanigans as an unjust basis for war because peaceful trade agreements between sovereign nations should be respected and negotiated peacefully. Japan’s continued aggression in the region, however, threatened China, and China reacted in response.  Korea was destabilized by warring factions within the country.  Both China and Japan wanted to control Korea exclusively.  In spite of their differences, Vitoria would see this as a fight over territorial conquest, which he condemned as unjust because “not all causes of war were just . . .such as territorial conquest and glory” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 86).

(This essay is part of a longer paper. Contact author for sources.)

Happy Veterans Day 2022!

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 23, 2021; November 11, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

Euthanasia and Healthcare Ethics: An Ethical Dilemma

A recent case of euthanasia in Europe prompted me to post this. Here’s the link to the case:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11291995/Woman-23-survived-2016-Brussels-airport-ISIS-bomb-euthanised-Belgium.html

(NOTE: Some laws may have changed since I wrote this in 2017.)

Euthanasia and Healthcare Ethics: An Ethical Dilemma

by Dawn Pisturino

Abstract

Healthcare ethics deal with life and death situations which involve every member of the healthcare team.  But the patient is at the heart of healthcare ethics, and the rights, safety, and well-being of the patient must come first in all healthcare decisions.  It is not up to healthcare personnel to decide who will live and who will die.

Euthanasia and Healthcare Ethics: An Ethical Dilemma

       Every discipline has a code of ethics to follow when it comes to making ethical decisions, and healthcare is no exception.  Ethics in healthcare is so important, in fact, that most organizations have a process through which tough ethical decisions, such as end-of-life decisions, can be made.

The Hippocratic Oath and Modern Healthcare Ethics

       The origin of healthcare ethics dates back to the Hippocratic School of 200 B.C. (Geppert & Roberts, 2008).  Hippocrates devised the Oath of the Hippocratic School, which includes confidentiality, nonmaleficence, and beneficence (Geppert & Roberts, 2008).  Since then, technology has forced changes in healthcare ethics, adding principles of autonomy, respect for persons, compassion, privacy, and honesty (Geppert & Roberts, 2008).  Most of these principles can be applied to end-of-life issues.

The End-of-Life Debate 

       The end-of-life debate has been fueled by the preponderance of chronic disease in modern society, quality of life issues, and the soaring cost of healthcare.  In most countries around the world, euthanasia and patient-assisted suicide are illegal.  Hippocrates himself said, “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect” (Doukas, 1995).

Dr. Jack Kevorkian

       In 1999, Dr. Jack Kevorkian was found guilty of second-degree murder by a Michigan jury in the death of Thomas Youk (Charatan, 1999).  Dr. Kevorkian had administered a lethal dose of medication to Youk, who was suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).  He could not prove that Youk had asked him to end his life.

       The Hemlock Society, a proponent of physician-assisted suicide, condemned the verdict (Charatan, 1999).  But many organizations devoted to disability rights applauded Dr. Kevorkian’s conviction, claiming that euthanasia is a threat to people with disabilities (Charatan, 1999).  The American Medical Association issued a statement by Dr. Nancy W. Dickey, who was president at the time: “Patients in America can be relieved that the guilty verdict against Dr. Jack Kevorkian helps protect them from those who would take their lives prematurely” (Charatan, 1999).

       John Roberts, North American editor of the British Medical Journal, labeled Dr. Jack Kevorkian “a medical hero.”  He considered Kevorkian an honest man who was acting according to his personal moral principles (Roberts & Kjellstrand, 1996).  Still, most physicians want to be perceived by the public as healers – not death dealers (Doukas, 1995).

Dutch Euthanasia Act

       In 2002, the Netherlands passed the Dutch Euthanasia Act, sparking a world-wide debate on end-of-life issues (Van der Heide, 2007).

       Euthanasia, as defined in the Netherlands, is “death resulting from medication that is administered by a physician with the explicit request of the patient” (Van der Heide, 2007).  In physician-assisted suicide, the physician prescribes the medication and the patient administers it himself, leading to death.  In both cases, the physician is legally protected by the Dutch Euthanasia Act for ending life “at the request of a patient who was suffering unbearably without hope of relief” (Van der Heide, 2007).

       Before making a decision, physicians are required to discuss euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide with the terminally-ill patient and his relatives.  If there is any question about the ethical nature of the decision, physicians may discuss the matter with colleagues.  In 2005, in the Netherlands, 73.9% of all patient-requested deaths were the result of neuromuscular relaxants or barbituates; 16.2% were the result of opioids (Van der Heide, 2007).

Ethical Dilemma Case Example

       Physicians are not the only healthcare workers faced with ethical dilemmas.  Nurses also find themselves in situations where they must apply ethical principles.

       The Charge Nurse at a local hospital wanted to open up a patient bed in order to admit a patient from the emergency room.  She asked this author – the patient’s nurse – to give a dose of intravenous morphine to a patient who was dying of end-stage kidney disease.  Legally, the patient was a “Do Not Resuscitate.”  The family was at the bedside.

       “Ethical dilemmas often provoke powerful emotions and strong personal opinions; however, emotions and opinions alone are not a satisfactory way of resolving ethical dilemmas” (Lo, 2013).   Faced with an ethical dilemma of tantamount importance, this nurse had only a short time in which to make the right decision.

       The first thing to consider was the law and the legal ramifications of any decision made in this situation (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  How would the decision affect the Charge Nurse and the patient’s nurse?  Would we be held legally liable if the patient died after receiving an extra dose of morphine?  Would we lose our nursing licenses?  Would the family sue?  Would we lose our jobs?  Euthanasia in Arizona is against the law.

       Secondly, would the patient want to be given an extra dose of morphine?  A “Do Not Resuscitate” status merely indicates that the patient does not want to be revived if the heart stops beating or respirations cease.  It is not a request for euthanasia.  Would it violate the patient’s personal or religious beliefs to administer an extra dose of morphine?  Would it violate her core ethics?  Would it take away her right of self-determination and autonomy (Pojman & Fieser, 2017)?

       Thirdly, to go into the patient’s room and administer an injection of morphine without just cause would violate the culture and ethics of the hospital, the doctor, and most of the nursing staff (Pojman & Fieser, 2017).  It would look suspicious to the family.  They would question what this nurse was doing.  It would place this nurse in an uncomfortable situation.

       The ethical dilemma posed here is this: should the patient’s nurse do what the Charge Nurse requested or refuse?  In order to make a rational and ethical decision, the patient’s nurse must first analyze the situation.  According to Pojman and Fieser, “most ethical analysis falls into one or more of the following domains: (1) action, (2) consequences, (3) character traits, and (4) motives.”

Action

       Giving the patient an extra dose of morphine would be the right action if the patient was in pain and wanted the medication.  It would be the right action if the patient seemed uncomfortable and the patient’s family requested it.  It would not be an obligatory act if it was too soon to give the medication or if the patient did not need it at that time.  It would be considered an optional act, based on the nurse’s professional judgment and opinion.  On the other hand, it would be a wrong action to give the morphine if the patient did not need it or the patient’s family did not want it given.  If euthanasia were legal and the physician was at the bedside and requested the patient’s nurse to draw up the medication, it would be considered a supererogatory act if the physician administered it to the patient.  He would be ending the patient’s suffering.  The nurse would be involved in a legal and compassionate act.

Consequences

       If the patient was in pain and needed the medication, giving the morphine would be the right action because it eased the patient’s pain.  If the patient died as a result, there would be no legal or professional consequences because there is no way to predict if that particular injection will cause the patient to stop breathing.  The morphine was given according to medical guidelines ordered by the physician.  If the patient was not in pain and the extra injection of morphine caused the patient to stop breathing, it could raise ethical and legal issues for the nurse who administered the medication.  Those issues would most likely be raised by the family, if they were concerned.

Character Traits

       The Charge Nurse was more concerned about opening up a patient bed than respecting the rights of the patient who was dying.  It seems callous, malevolent, and unfeeling.  The patient’s nurse must examine her own feelings and attitudes and decide if the Charge Nurse was right or wrong in her request.

Motive

       The motive of the Charge Nurse was clearly to give in to pressure from the emergency room to admit a patient.  She showed no concern whatsoever for the patient who was dying.  She had no respect for the patient’s rights and autonomy – or for the patient’s family.

       The nurse’s motive should be to protect the rights and safety of her patient.  She is the patient’s advocate.  If she gives in to pressure from the Charge Nurse, she will fail in her duty to her patient.  Even if she believes that euthanasia is a moral act, neither she nor the physician has informed consent from the patient or the family.

What Happened

       The patient’s nurse evaluated the motives of the Charge Nurse, felt disgusted, and went into the patient’s room to check on her condition.  She was resting quietly with her eyes closed, and the nurse saw no evidence of pain or discomfort.  When the nurse asked the patient’s family if they wanted the patient to receive a morphine injection for pain, they agreed with the nurse that the patient was resting quietly and did not need it.  Relieved, the patient’s nurse reported all of this to the Charge Nurse.  As a parting shot she added, “And I’m not Dr. Kevorkian!”

Conclusion

       Patients and their families have the final say in what happens to terminally-ill patients.  It is not up to healthcare personnel to make decisions about end-of-life care for a patient.  This will be particularly true if euthanasia and patient-assisted suicide ever become legal on a widespread scale.  The medical community, in line with its own ethical principles, must respect the right of self-determination and autonomy of terminally-ill patients.

References

Charatan, Fred. (1999). Dr. Kevorkian found guilty of second degree murder. British medical

       journal, 318(7189), 962. Retrieved from

       http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1174693/

Doukas, D.J., Waterhouse, D., Gorenflo, D.W., Seid, J. (1995). Attitudes and behaviors on

       physician-assisted death: A study of Michigan oncologists. Journal of Clinical Oncology,

       13(5), 1055-1061

Geppert, M.A., & Roberts, L.W. (Ed.) (2008). Book of ethics. Center City, MN: Hazelden

       Foundation

Lo, Bernard. (2013). Resolving ethical dilemmas: A guide for clinicians. Philadelphia, PA:

       Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins

Pojman, L.P., & Fieser, J. (2017). Ethics: Discovering right and wrong. Boston, MA:

       Cengage Learning

Roberts, J., & Kjellstrand, C. (1996). Jack Kevorkian: a medical hero. BMJ: British

       Medical Journal, 312(7044), 1434

Van der Heide, A., Onwuteaka-Philipsen, B.D., Rurup, M.L., Buitina, H.M., van Delden, J.M.,

       Hanssen-de Wolf, J.E., . . . van der Wal, G. (2007). End-of-life practices in the Netherlands

       under the euthanasia act. New England Journal of Medicine, 356 (19), 1957-1965.

~

UPDATE:

Where is assisted dying legal in Europe? 

Assisted dying refers to both voluntary active euthanasia and physician-assisted death, when a patient’s life is ended at their request. 

Only three countries in Europe approve of assisted dying as a whole: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

 The first two even recognise requests from minors under strict circumstances, while Luxembourg excludes them from the legislation.

 Germany, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, and Austria allow physician-assisted death under specific circumstances. 

Countries such as Spain, Sweden, England, Italy, Hungary, and Norway allow passive euthanasia under strict circumstances. Passive euthanasia is when a patient suffering from an incurable disease dies because doctors stops doing something necessary to keep them alive. 

Sources: Euronews

~

Dawn Pisturino

Philosophy 151

May 2, 2017; November 2, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

32 Comments »

Japanese Invasion of China and the Tokyo War Crimes Trial

(Photo from the National WWII Museum)

The Japanese Invasion of China, 1937-1945

       After the First Sino-Japanese War, when Japan gained control of Korea, Japan continued to grow militarily and technologically, eventually embarking on the invasion of China on July 7, 1937 (U.S. Department of State, 1943, pg. 1).  The invasion resulted from a skirmish between Chinese and Japanese soldiers outside Peking (Beijing), North China.  Japan never formally declared war against China, and the invasion forced opposing forces within that country—the Chinese Nationalists and the Communists—to band together against the Japanese (U.S. Department of State, 2021, pg. 1).

       “In 1935, Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Hitler’s Germany, laying the foundation for the creation of the Axis (Fascist Italy would join the following year)” (Mankoff, 2015, pg. 1).  With the backing of Germany and Italy, Japan sought to conquer China.  Japanese forces had already seized Manchuria in 1931 and Jehol province in 1933.  The Japanese military “adopted a policy of deliberate savagery in the expectation that it would break the will of the Chinese to resist . . . [however], the Chinese Army . . . put up strong resistance to Japan’s armies, . . . [prompting the Japanese to engage in] an orgy of murder, rape, and looting that shocked the civilized world” (Pacific War, 2021, pg. 1).

       After taking Shanghai in late 1937, the Japanese moved on Nanking.  “Chiang Kai-Shek ordered the removal of nearly all official Chinese troops from the city, leaving it defended by untrained auxiliary troops.  Chiang also ordered the city held at any cost, and forbade the official evacuation of its citizens” (History, 2019, pg. 2).

       A neutral zone was established inside the city, managed by the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone.  Once the Chinese Army left Nanking, “all remaining citizens were ordered into the safety zone for their protection” (History, 2019, pg. 2).

       Japan’s Central China Front Army entered Nanking on December 13, 1937.  Rumors of their atrocities had already preceded them – including stories about “killing contests and pillaging” (History, 2019, pg. 2).  The Nanking Safety Zone was ignored.  Over six weeks, thousands of Chinese soldiers were murdered and buried in mass graves, families slaughtered—including infants and the elderly— and thousands of women raped.  At least one-third of the city was destroyed (History, 2019, pg. 2).

Tokyo War Crimes Trial

       On April 29, 1946, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) gathered “to put leaders from the Empire of Japan on trial for joint charges of conspiracy to start and wage war” (Burton, 2020, pg. 6).  The Allies were immediately accused of seeking a “victor’s justice” against Japan, so judges from non-Allied countries were recruited to partake in the trial.  The United States arrested 28 Japanese leaders, who stood trial between May 3, 1946 and December, 1948.  They were charged with “war crimes, crimes committed against prisoners of war, and crimes against humanity” (Burton, 2020, pg. 6).

       As a result of the Potsdam negotiations, Japanese Emperor Hirohito and his son, Prince Asaka, were protected from prosecution; no testimony was allowed that implicated them; and Japanese media censored all information that portrayed the emperor and General Douglas MacArthur in a negative light.  Furthermore, only limited evidence was allowed in court, and media coverage was restricted (Burton, 2020, pg. 6,7). 

       Twenty-five defendants were found guilty. Two had already died.  One was hospitalized for mental illness.  Eighteen were sentenced to prison.  Seven were executed by hanging, including the General of the Imperial Japanese Army, Hideki Tojo.  After the Tokyo trial concluded, 2,200 more trials were held, and approximately 5,600 additional war criminals were tried (Burton, 2020, pg. 8).

       The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials “created a new standard of international justice” (Burton, 2020, pg. 9) that holds political and military leaders accountable for their actions and helps the countries of the world to avoid another World War.

Pufendorf, Vattel, Accountability, and Punishment

       [Philosopher] Samuel Pufendorf believed that humans wanted to live in peaceful, organized societies and “that actors [must] refrain from harming each other while pursuing their own interests and provided a universal right to punish those who violate the law” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 146).  He further emphasized that states bound by treaties and friendly relations are perfectly capable of living together in peace.  In fact, he saw this as a necessity for survival.  Some theorists have extended this idea to mean “that Pufendorf’s law of nations ‘involves an obligation on the part of one social group not merely not to harm, but actively to promote the welfare of all others’” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 147).  Pufendorf, therefore, called for stricter rules when it came to waging war against sovereign states (Glanville, 2018, pg. 146, 147).

       He recognized, however, the three traditional causes for just war: “to preserve ourselves and our possessions against injury; to claim from others the things that are rightfully ours if they refuse to provide them; and to obtain reparations for past injuries and guarantees that they will not be repeated” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 148).  Pufendorf insisted that “lust for fame, domination, and riches ought never to be considered just causes for war” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 148).

       By Pufendorf’s standards, Japan was wrong to invade China because Japan did not have an absolute right “to receive a benefit from others [China] in the form of trade, passage, hospitality, or settlement . . . and should not be considered subject to enforcement [by force]” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 149).  Japan’s motivation for invading China was domination, a reason that does not support Pufendorf’s guidelines for just war.

       At the same time, Pufendorf rejected the idea “of a universal right of punishment” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 150) unless punishment is rendered by the sovereign who has power over the guilty party.  That said, he would have made an exception in the case of the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials because the Nazis and the Japanese committed atrocious acts and “all men had a right to punish those persons who placed themselves beyond the jurisdiction of any courts of justice and [behaved] as if they are the enemies of all others” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 150).

       The Chinese had not done anything to deserve the invasion of their country, and they had a legitimate right to defend themselves against the Japanese invaders.  Pufendorf fully supported the right of a state to defend itself from aggressors as a fundamental cause for just war (Glanville, 2018, pg. 148).  Not only were the Japanese waging an unjust war against China, but their atrocious jus in bello behavior was unjustified and unnecessarily cruel.  Their behavior justified the Tokyo War Crimes Trial conducted by the Allies later on since “belligerents [and] their savagery motivates present or future enemies to act in kind” (Glanville, 2018, pg. 152).  It was absolutely unjust to protect the emperor and his son from punishment since they must have been aware of the tactics used by the Japanese military and its policy of total war.  They were certainly in charge of Japan’s imperialist ambitions in China.  And, even if military leaders ordered the butchery of the Chinese, individual soldiers were responsible for making a game out of it (killing contests) and carrying it out (History, 2019, pg. 2).

       [Philosopher] Emmerich Vattel developed the idea that sovereigns should be treated as “one treats others, whether a person or a state” (Christov, 2018, pg. 157).  He fully recognized that not all nations or people would follow this rule.  “If there were a people who made open profession on trampling justice under foot, — who despised and violated the rights of others whenever they found an opportunity, — the interest of human society would authorize all the other nations to form a confederacy in order to humble and chastise the delinquents . . . the safety of the human race requires that [such a nation] should be repressed” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

       The Japanese invasion of China would fall under this category of a rogue nation that has no respect for the rights of other nations and must be neutralized.  Since Japan did not officially declare war on China and refused to engage in peace negotiations with the United States, Japanese leadership violated the rights of China and the Chinese people.  They, therefore, became subject to punishment and international justice at the hands of other nations who wanted to rectify the situation and restore peace (U.S. Department of State, 1943, pg. 1).

       Japan had no claim to China except through the use of military force.  When they invaded China, they were sending a message that “we prosecute our right by force” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160) – which is a corruption of Vattel’s definition of war.  Vattel would have considered the invasion an “illegal war, which would include ‘conquest, or the desire of invading the property of others’” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

       The invasion of China also led ultimately to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, dragged the United States into World War II, and may have influenced President Truman to order the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the final stage of the war (U.S. Department of State, 2021, pg. 2; Compton, 1946, pg. 1-3).  This chain of events illustrates the importance of addressing conflicts early in order “to provide for our future safety by punishing the aggressor or offender” (Christov, 2018, pg. 160).

       Vattel also insisted that “there are limits on what states can do in war” (Christov, 2018, pg. 162).  He rejected unnecessary brutality against people and destruction of property, calling these tactics of warfare “of an odious kind . . . unjustifiable in themselves . . . [and] prohibited by natural law” (Christov, 2018, pg. 163).  He regarded the individuals who engage in this kind of behavior “as savage barbarians” (Christov, 2018, pg. 163).

       Since the Japanese behaved like “savage barbarians,” they deserved to be prosecuted and punished during the Tokyo War Crimes Trial.  Vattel explained this in his book, Law of Nations, when he wrote, “when we are at war with a savage nation, who observe no rules, and never give quarter, we may punish them in the persons of any of their people whom we take . . . and endeavor . . . to force them to respect the laws of humanity” (Christov, 2018, pg. 164).

       Therefore, Emperor Hirohito and his son, Prince Asaka, and all of the military leaders and soldiers involved, should have been punished – even executed – to the full extent of the law, as determined by the Tokyo War Crimes Trial.

References

Burton, K.D. (2020). War crimes on trial: The nuremberg and tokyo trials. National

       WWII Museum. Retrieved from

       http://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/nuremberg-and-tokyo-war-crimes-trials

Christov, T. (2018). Emer de vattel (1714-1767). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (156-167). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Compton, K. (1946). If the atomic bomb had not been used. Manchuria Document Set. Truman

       Library. Retrieved from http://www.trumanlibrary.gov/public/Manchuria_DocumentSet.pdf

Glanville, L. (2018). Samuel pufendorf (1632-1694). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (145-155). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

History, The Editors. (2019). Nanking massacre. History. Retrieved from

       http://www.history.com/topics/japan/nanjing-massacre

Mankoff, J. (2015). The legacy of the soviet offensives of august 1945. Manchuria Document Set.

       Truman Library. Retrieved from     

       http://www.trumanlibrary.gov/public/Manchuria_DocumentSet.pdf

—-. (2021). The rape of nanking or nanjing massacre (1937). Pacific War. Retrieved

       from http://www.pacificwar.org.au/JapWarCrimes/TenWarCrimes/Rape_Nanking.html

U.S. Department of State. (1943). Peace and war: United states foreign policy, 1931-1941.

       (DOS Publication No. 1983). Retrieved from

       http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/WorldWar2/china.htm

U.S. Department of State. Office of the Historian. (2021). Japan, china, the united states and the

       road to pearl harbor, 1937-41. Retrieved from

       http://history.state.gov/milestones/1937-1945/pearl-harbor

~

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

November 20, 2021; August 31, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

24 Comments »

Humanitarian Aid and Peacekeeping in Somalia, 1992-1994

(Famine in Somalia, December 13, 1992. Photo by Yannis Behrakis, REUTERS.)

Jean Bethke Elshtain’s book, Women and War, insisted that “the roles men and women play in war are represented and narrated in the stories we tell about ourselves” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218). Women are represented as “beautiful souls” and men as “just warriors,” but ethicist Elshtain felt that this was too simplistic and that the roles were “more ambiguous and complex” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218) in reality. She believed that St. Augustine had the best understanding of humans and their relationship to war and peace because he saw that humans are fragile and limited in their ability to control the world and human impulses. She further elaborates on this theme in Augustine and the Limits of Politics. (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218-220) By the time she wrote Just War Against Terror, she was convinced that the United States had to embrace its role of most powerful nation and step up to the plate to address terrorism (Rengger, 2018, pg. 220,221).

Based on her beliefs, I believe she would have encouraged the United States’ involvement in Somalia. In an interview with Dissent magazine (2005), she said:

“Beginning with that principle of equal regard, faced with a terrible situation, an enormity, one is obliged to think about what is happening, and to conclude that the people dying are human beings and as such equal in moral regard to us. So we are then obliged to consider this horrible situation and think about whether there is something we can do to stop it. Would the use of force make a difference in this situation? Minimally you are obliged to do that. Perhaps the use of force would not. But one must not just evade the question. Another minimal requirement is that if you have decided that you can’t intervene you are obliged to explain why that is, in light of the principle of equal moral regard.”

However, she would have recognized our limitations and possibilities for human inadequacy when dealing with the situation in Somalia.

The Role of the United Nations and the United States in Somalia

In 1969, Mohamed Siad Barre came to power in Somalia through a military coup. The regime became more and more repressive, and opposition forces removed him from office in January 1991. “The country descended into chaos, and a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions began to unfold” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1). The Somali people faced “the combination of civil war, a famine after a poor harvest, and a prolonged drought” (Mugabi, 2018, pg. 2).

The United Nations and the United States attempted to aid the Somali people in 1992, but “intense fighting between the warlords impeded the delivery of aid to those who needed it most, and so the United Nations contemplated stronger action” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 2).

“There was a fairly lengthy period in which preventative diplomacy and the focused attention of the international community could have headed off the catastrophe in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 5). The United Nations and the international community could have engaged in diplomatic negotiations when: 1) the Somali National Movement (SNM) was repressed by Barre in 1988 and the situation exposed by Amnesty International and Africa Watch; 2) the Manifesto Group arose in 1990 and suggestions by the Inter-African Group “that the UN appoint a special envoy to conduct ‘shutter diplomacy’ in the Horn” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6) were squashed; 3) Barre left office in January 1991 with no replacement government in place and the UN declined to get involved until a year later, when it passed its first resolution on Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6).

From January to March 1992, UN resolutions “called for an arms embargo and increased humanitarian aid, and urged the parties to agree to a cease-fire, which they did through an UN-sponsored meeting in New York in February” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). In April, the Security Council approved UNOSOM, which “was intended to provide humanitarian help and facilitate the end of hostilities in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). However, these efforts met with resistance from warlord militia leaders Aideed and Ali Mahdi. In August, Operation Provide Relief was implemented which authorized the United States to deliver humanitarian aid and bring in five hundred peacekeepers (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). Later, a Hundred Day Plan was devised to bring together UN agencies and NGOs to deliver aid, but continued violence interfered with the plan (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7).

Bureaucracy at the United Nations also held up operations. “Food and medicine could not be distributed because of looting . . . [and] famine intensified as the civil war continued” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). People around the world reacted emotionally to the famine in Somalia, and “President George [H.W.] Bush announced the initiation of Operation Restore Hope” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7) on December 4, 1992. The United Task Force (UNITAF) was “a multinational coalition of military units under the command and control of the American military” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8) authorized by a United Nations resolution (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8). UNITAF’s goal was to provide “security in the service of humanitarian ends for a brief period” (United States Institute of Peace. 1994, pg. 8) in compliance with Chapter VII of the United Nations charter and allowed the use of force (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8-11).

Unfortunately, conflicts arose between the United Nations and UNITAF which impeded the efficiency of these efforts. Secretary General Boutros Ghali insisted on nationwide disarmament in Somalia with the United States in charge of implementation, but UNITAF refused. The task force was more interested in a cease-fire.  The UN also insisted on top-down reconstruction of the country, whereas the United States believed that reconstruction should begin at the local level. The UN refused to take long-term responsibility in the operation, insisting that UNITAF held that responsibility. The United States countered “that the project was limited not only in scope but in time, and that when certain humanitarian and security goals had been met, responsibility for Somalia would be turned back over to a ‘regular UN peacekeeping force’” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 10). When Ghali created the peacekeeping force, UNOSOM II, the United States agreed to participate (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 9,10).

On May 4, 1993, UNOSOM II assumed all military responsibilities in Somalia and became “the first UN peacekeeping force authorized under the provisions of Chapter VII of the UN charter” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 11). The new goal for the force was rebuilding Somalia and safeguarding the peace.

After Aideed and his soldiers killed twenty-four Pakistani and three American peacekeepers, the United Nations and United States agreed to go after Aideed. The effort resulted in the raid of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993, which killed eighteen American soldiers. By the end of March 1994, all U.S. troops had been withdrawn from Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 12).

Responsibility of the International Community

The United Nations had a definite responsibility to address the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and to make an attempt to end the violence. This is the designated function of the United Nations. People around the world, shocked by the starvation in Somalia, were demanding action. The United States, as the most powerful country with the most resources, was obligated to get involved. Politically and morally, it was the right thing to do.

Jean Bethke Elshtain, as a proponent of St. Augustine and his writings, would have supported it because Augustine stressed love of neighbor and extending charity to others. To ignore the situation would have been immoral and inhuman.

The problem with Somalia isn’t that nations got involved. The problem is that the fierceness and tenacity of the warlord militias was underestimated, and bureaucracy and internal disagreements were allowed to undermine the operation, as outlined by the United States Institute of Peace. But both St. Augustine and Elshtain would have recognized that humans are imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world, and as such, there is only so much we can do to contain and control chaos.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 15, 2021; March 11, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Department of State. Office of the Historian. (2021). Milestones: 1993-2000: Somalia,

       1992-1993. Department of State. Retrieved from

       http://www.history.state.gov/milestones/1993-2000/somalia

Dissent, The Editors. (2005, Summer). Interview with jean bethke elshtain. Dissent. Retrieved

       from http://www.dissentmagazine.org/wp-content/files_mf/1390329368d1Interview.pdf

Mugabi, I. (2018, December). Opinion: How George h.w. bush’s failed somalia intervention

       shaped us-africa ties. DW. Retrieved from

       http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-how-george-hwbushs-failed-somalia-intervention-shaped-

       us-africa-ties/a-46598215

Rengger, N. (2018). Jean bethke elshtain (1941-2013). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (216-226). Abingdon, Oxon:  

       Routledge

Special Report. (1994). Restoring hope: The real lessons of Somalia for the future of                                                                                                                                       

       intervention. United states institute of peace. Retrieved from

       http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/sr950000.pdf

5 Comments »

Cicero’s Three Tenets for Just War

(Marcus Tullius Cicero)

It is difficult to determine just when the just war idea began. Aristotle used the phrase, “just war” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 4), but it is Cicero who developed a “systematic ethical project” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 8) around the concept of just war.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BCE – 43 BCE) grew up in a wealthy Roman family, acquired a good education, and worked his way up the ladder to achieve the high political status of Consul. When Catiline tried to seize power over Rome by force, “Cicero had five of the conspirators executed without trial and was thereafter hailed as ‘the father of his country’” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 9). His experiences helped to shape his ideas about just war.

Cicero tried to place an emphasis on “virtuous behavior” (Stewart, 2018, pg.8) based on the principles of natural law. He believed that all civilized nations were bound by the same law and that “the god will be the one common master and general (so to speak) of all people” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 11). He expected all civilized nations to follow a course of laws, morals, and ethics that reflected the will of God. Following the will of God would lead nations to make the best decisions.

Out of this came Cicero’s idea of the “ideal statesman” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 14, 17, 18) who would have the wisdom to discern the difference between the justice of war and the necessity of war. After a thorough analysis, an ideal statesman would decide when conflict could be solved by diplomacy and debate, and when the use of force would be necessary. He would base his decision on what was best to ensure the safety and survival of the Roman Empire.

He developed three maxims:

     Jus ad bellum covered the justification for the use of force.

     Jus in bellum outlined the limitations imposed in the use of force.

     Jus post bellum offered guidelines about how to deal with participants after a war was over.  

          (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1).

If we adhere to Cicero’s idea about the ideal statesman then jus ad bellum is the most important. The decisions that leaders make can determine the fate of the whole nation. If they make wrong decisions out of a “selfish passion” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 15) for glory and ambition, justice has not been done, and the whole nation may suffer.

In order to justify the use of force, there must be a legitimate reason to declare war. Roman officials must have the authority (right thinking and right intention) to declare war. The decision to go to war must come as a last resort. There must be a high probability of a successful resolution. And the use of force must lead to more benefits than harm to society (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1).

The use of force in war will be limited to what needs to be done to defeat the other side.  It must never exceed the purpose of its use. It must only be aimed at “legitimate targets” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1). Discrimination in the use of force must be exercised by military leaders to achieve the objective and nothing more.

After the conflict is over, the winner must decide what to do with the survivors and post-war plunder. Can peace be restored? Has justice been done? Have grievances been resolved? The winner is responsible for restoring balance and harmony in the region and making sure that humanitarian efforts are made to help the survivors recover. This fulfills the principles of beneficence and honor (Stewart, 2018, pg. 13).

If peace cannot be restored and a nation continues to be a threat to the survival of the Roman Empire, Cicero concludes that necessity overrules justice and beneficence and complete annihilation is justified (Stewart, 2018, pg. 14-16).

Rome was a militarized society. Cicero served in the military and never discounted the inevitability of war. He believed in ius gentium (international obligations between nations) (Stewart, 2018, pg. 9). These international relations involved treaties and agreements made in “good faith” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 10). Broken treaties and other wrongs were justification for the use of force. But Cicero insisted that there were acceptable limits when following a path of revenge and retribution (Stewart, 2018, pg. 12). He believed that there were duties owed to the people who broke good faith and were defeated in battle (Stewart, 2018, pg. 13). This, for him, is what defined justice.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 6, 2021; March 4, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Brunstetter, D.R., & O’Driscoll, C. (Ed.). (2018). Just war thinking: From cicero to the 21st  

     century. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Stewart, G. (2018). Marcus tullius cicero (106 BCE – 43 BCE). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

     (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (8-19). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

16 Comments »

What is the Role of the Prophet Muhammad in Islam?

It is impossible to separate the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an from Islamic culture, society, politics, and religion. In the Islamic world, the Prophet Muhammad exemplifies the model of the ideal human, and the Qur’an outlines the duties and responsibilities (the rules, so to speak) of Muslim believers.

In the Qur’an, all of life belongs to Allah; and all believers owe their allegiance to Allah above all else (including family, clan, and country). The Prophet Muhammad never claimed to be anything more than a human being and the messenger of Allah. This places all the emphasis on Allah and away from his human representatives on earth.

Over the centuries, the Prophet Muhammad has been mythologized in many ways. A good example of this is the 16th century book, The Path of Muhammad by Sufi mystic Imam Birgivi, which assigned magical and supernatural powers to the Prophet.

But this is a departure from Muhammad’s original intent. The Qur’an clearly states in Surah 9:18 that “the Mosques of Allah shall be maintained only by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day; perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) [daily prayers], and give Zakat [charitable alms] and fear none but Allah. It is they who are on true guidance” (Al-Hilali and Khan, 241). Any believer, therefore, who is sincere in his beliefs and actions can be a religious leader in Islam. Nowadays, however, it is more common for religious scholars to manage mosques and act as imams (religious leaders).

The mosque in my community, for example, was built by a local physician who was also an imam in his native country of Pakistan. He hired a religious scholar from Pakistan to be the full-time manager and imam, but he retains total control over the mosque. His control moderates how far the imam can go in conveying orthodox/unorthodox beliefs to the community. When the imam announced one Friday that all Muslims who do not pray the five daily prayers should be killed (an announcement that shocked this westernized community), his fundamentalism was quickly squashed, and he returned to Pakistan a few months later. As a result of this shocking pronouncement, I suspended my visits to the mosque.

Political power has always been important in Islamic history to protect the Islamic community and spread Islamic beliefs (Esposito 60). Muhammad established the first Islamic political state in Yathrib, which was later called Medina. Many Arabs in the town were open to new ideas (Salahi 183-184) and converted to Islam. But the town was also split by internal disagreements and opposing groups. Eventually, a delegation from the town “invited [the Prophet] to come to Yathrib as arbiter of their disputes and de facto ruler of the town” (Esposito 8-9). Muslims from Mecca migrated to Medina, with Muhammad following them in 622.

The Quraysh in Mecca continued to oppose Muhammad and his followers, which led to more persecution and warfare between the two groups. It is during this time that Muhammad’s first revelations about jihad (holy war) appeared in Surah 2:190-191: “And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you . . . And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out . . . But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers” (Al-Hilali and Khan, 47).

Later, when pagan, Jewish, and Christian communities were conquered by Muhammad’s armies and refused to convert to Islam, more revelations about jihad appeared in Surah 9:29: “Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) until they pay the Jizyah [protection tax levied by the Islamic state] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Al-Hilali and Khan, 243).

By the time of Muhammad’s death in 632, all of western Arabia was under his control (Esposito 10).

Muhammad’s death left a leadership vacuum which led to a major political schism in Islam that still persists today. Passages in the Qur’an can be vague and contradictory – open to many interpretations. And traditional reports of sayings and events attributed to the Prophet (hadith) are not always reliable. Such is the case concerning Muhammad’s successor.

“Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s close friend, was elected by the majority, but some believed that he would have wanted Ali ibn Abi Talib, his cousin and son-in-law, to be his successor (kalipha)” (Armstrong 158). This belief was rooted in the events which reportedly happened at Ghadir Khumm on March 10, 632. While returning from Hajj, the Prophet Muhammad stopped his caravan at Ghadir Khumm and gave one of his last great speeches. He honored his son-in-law, Ali, by saying, “One who has me as his master has Ali as his master” (Tahir-ul-Qadri 17). Muhammad referred to his son-in-law as mawla, which has many meanings but generally translates as “friend” or “helper.” This is how Sunni (mainstream) Muslims interpreted what he meant. But the supporters of Ali interpreted this to mean that the Prophet was giving absolute authority to Ali. A permanent political split occurred between Sunnis and Shiites (supporters of Ali) which lasts to this day. Violent clashes and competition for territory and believers broke out, which resulted in the death of Ali’s grandson, Husayn ibn Ali, by the Ummayad Caliph Yazid in 680 in the territory that now comprises Iraq (Armstrong 158-159). Shiites still regard Husayn as a martyr and honor his death every year. Sunnis and Shiites still fight over political leadership and territory. Iran, a Shiite country, remains in conflict with Sunni Saudi Arabia. And the goal to spread Islam around the world is still alive and well.

The unifying power of Islam, however, is the concept of ummah (community). Every member of the community acts as one body to worship Allah and create a just and equal social order. There is no separation between Allah and the “tribe.” A Muslim’s duty is, therefore, both theological and social, as one evolves from the other.

____ Tahir-ul-Qadri. The Ghadir Declaration. Lahore: Minhaj-ul-Quran Publications, 2002.

Al-Hilali, Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din, and Khan, Muhammad Muhsin. Interpretation of the    

       Meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English Language, 15th ed. Riyadh: Darussalam, 1996.

Armstrong, Karen. A History of God. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1993.

Birgivi, Imam. The Path of Muhammad. Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2005.

Esposito, John L. The Oxford History of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Salahi, Adil. Muhammad: Man and Prophet. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1995.

Dawn Pisturino, RN

December, 2018

Thomas Edison State University

Copyright 2018-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

5 Comments »

Jesus and Moses and the Qur’an

Artists’ Renderings of Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses

While Jews and Christians would recognize the story of Moses in the Qur’an as similar to the story in the Old Testament, the same cannot be said about Jesus. Stark theological differences between Christians and Muslims are clearly reflected in how Jesus is viewed in the Qur’an and the Islamic belief system.

“Moses is known as both a religious leader and a lawgiver.” All three Abrahamic religions portray him in this light. For Muslims, it goes a little farther. Moses (Musa) is regarded as both a Prophet (someone who spreads news from God to the people) and a Messenger (someone with a special mission from God).

The Qur’an mentions Moses more than 120 times because the story of his life and actions holds many lessons for humanity. Pharaoh represents an all-powerful ruler who enslaves people, worships many gods and goddesses, and sets himself up as a god. In Surah 28:38 he says, “O chiefs! I know not that you have an ilah (a god) other than me. So kindle for me (a fire), O Haman, to bake (bricks out of) clay, and set up for me a Sarhan (a lofty tower or palace) in order that I may look at (or look for) the Ilah (God) of Musa (Moses); and verily, I think that he [Musa (Moses)] is one of the liars.”

When Pharaoh has a dream that a challenger will rise up from the people of Israel and defeat him, Pharaoh embarks on a campaign to kill all the male children of the Israelites. Moses’ mother is inspired by God to build a waterproof basket and throw him into the river. The basket is found by the wife of Pharaoh, and Pharaoh agrees to raise the child as his own (this version differs from the Old Testament story). Moses’ sister steers Pharaoh into accepting Moses’ mother as the child’s wet nurse. Moses grows up as a Prince of Egypt with all the luxury and power that position entails. But he is different from Pharaoh.

While Pharaoh is arrogant and cruel, Moses is sensitive to oppression and suffering. In the Qur’an, Prophethood is conferred upon Moses when he attains adulthood. He grows up knowing about monotheism. When Moses kills one of the Egyptians (polytheists), he is horrified and vows to never help the polytheists again. He cries out in Surah 28:17: “My Lord! For that with which You have favored me, I will never more be a helper of the Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners).” He escapes to the land of Midian, where he marries a chief’s daughter and starts a family of his own.

One day he sees a fire, and when he investigates, Allah (God) speaks to him: “Verily, I am Allah, the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn, and all that exists).” Allah tells him to throw down his stick, and it turns into a snake. Allah tells him to take out his hand from behind his cloak, and it turns white. Allah explains: “These are two Burhan (signs, miracles, evidences, proofs) from your Lord to Fir’aun (Pharaoh) and his chiefs. Verily, they are the people who are Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” Moses asks Allah to give him his brother Aaron (Harun) as a helper, and Allah agrees.

When Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh and his chiefs and perform the signs, they mock them, saying, “This is nothing but invented magic. Never did we hear of this among our fathers of old.” Allah eventually drowns Pharaoh and his chiefs, and this teaches that God will overcome and defeat “the Zalimun (wrongdoers, polytheists and those who disbelieved in the Oneness of the Lord (Allah), or rejected the advice of His Messenger Musa (Moses).”

After this, Moses receives the Torah (Taurat) from Allah “as an enlightenment for mankind, and a guidance and a mercy, that they might remember (or receive admonition).” Later on, Aaron watches over the followers of Moses in the desert while Moses goes up to Mount Sinai. Allah reaffirms his commitment to Moses and his mission. Then he gives Moses the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. (The lesson here is that Moses brought the law from God, and the Israelites were meant to follow it.)

While Moses is gone, the people make a golden calf out of gold ornaments. Then they regret what they have done. When Moses comes back, he angrily chides his brother and the people and asks for God’s forgiveness. Allah forgives them and divides the people into twelve tribes. He shows them where to find water and food. But the people who were committed to doing wrong “changed the word that had been told to them. So we sent a torment from the heaven in return for their wrong-doings.” The Qur’an repeatedly chides the Jews for not trusting in God and His mercy, committing polytheism, and changing the Torah and the word of God. Then the Qur’an exhorts the Jews and all people to accept Muhammad as the Prophet and Messenger from God and to follow his will.

Moses is presented as an historic figure and a real human person in the Qur’an. He is one of the special Messengers from God, along with Abraham and Joseph (who was kidnapped and sent to Egypt). On the other hand, “Jesus is a controversial prophet.” The Qur’an insists that Christians have perverted the message of Jesus, and therefore, God must cleanse him and raise him above the Christian heresy. Surah 3:55 says, “And (remember) when Allah said: ‘O Isa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you [of the forged statement that Isa (Jesus) is Allah’s son] of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you (Monotheists, who worship none but Allah) superior to those who disbelieve [in the Oneness of Allah, or disbelieve in some of His Messengers, e.g. Muhammad, Isa (Jesus), Musa (Moses), or in His Holy books, e.g. the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), the Qur’an] till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute.'”

“In Islam, Mary’s purity and sinlessness highlight Isa (Jesus) as an important prophet. Islam considers Jesus to be one of Islam’s four main messengers, along with Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad.” But the prohibition against polytheism has led Muslims to reject altogether the divine side of Jesus Christ. He is regarded as no more special than any other prophet. He is always referred to as Jesus, Son of Mary, to highlight his humanness.

Muslims believe in the power of God to perform miracles. They have no problem believing in Jesus’ virgin birth. Just like God created the world with a word, “Muslims believe that Prophet Jesus was created by a word from God and this word was ‘Be!'” In this context, Jesus is also called “the word of God.” Mary, Jesus’ mother, is highly revered by Muslims as someone blessed by God. And yet, Muslims completely reject that Jesus — who was born by the power of God — had any special relationship to God. They regard the creation of Jesus as similar to the creation of Adam. God spoke the word “Be!” and Adam was created. God spoke the word “Be!” and Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb.

While Christians believe that Jesus received divine spirit from God and was, therefore, the Son of God, Muslims reject this idea as polytheistic. They also reject Christ’s crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension to heaven after forty days. The Qur’an does recognize that Jesus performed miracles and was sent by God to reaffirm the belief in Abrahamic monotheism. They also believe that the New Testament Gospels were revealed to Jesus, even though he did not write them down. Part of his mission was to amend Jewish law and to make “some things lawful which were otherwise forbidden.” He relaxed the burden of the law on the Jewish people. “God sent Prophet Jesus with the Injeel (Gospel) to correct and restore the divine law” which had been corrupted by Jewish leaders.

Muslims also believe that the Sanhedrin rejected Jesus out of pride “with full knowledge that he was the Christ.” Then, God lifted Jesus up to heaven before any harm could come to him. Everything the Christians believe about the crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus is an illusion. The Qur’an addresses this issue in Surah 4:157: “And, because of their saying (in boast), ‘We killed Messiah Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,’ — but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Isa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary).”

In Surah 4:158, the story goes on: “But Allah raised him [Isa (Jesus)] up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise.” An unfortunate effect of these beliefs is that Muslims view Christians as superior to Jews “because of Jewish rejection and crucifixion of Prophet Jesus.” But they also view themselves as superior to both groups because of their acceptance of the Oneness of God and Muhammad as the Messenger of God. They also reject the Gospels of the New Testament as evolving over hundreds of years and not existing in their original forms.

The biggest point of contention between Muslims and Christians is the concept of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And it is a point that can never be resolved without Muslims converting to Christianity or Christians converting to Islam.

Abrahamic monotheism recognizes the Oneness of God and rejects polytheism. This is the major theme running through the Qur’an. Muslims believe that Christians have invented an all-new “conceptualization of the nature of God that contradicts the Jewish and Muslim notions of oneness.”

After Jesus’ death (or disappearance for Muslims), there was much debate over the person and nature of Jesus. Some people believed in his divine nature. Other people saw him as strictly human. Emperor Constantine intervened and called for the Council of Nicea. The Arian notion of Jesus as human was discredited. The Nicene Creed affirmed the divinity and eternity of Jesus Christ. The trinity was accepted based on the Old Testament concept of “the one Godhead.” The Second Nicene Council affirmed the divinity of Jesus Christ, once again. Anybody spreading Arianism was condemned and persecuted. Later on, people who supported Arianism were easily converted to Islam because of their belief in his humanness.

In short, the rejection by Muslims of Jesus Christ as a divine, eternal being can be summed up in three points: “Jesus Christ is not divine because he was a created being; he was not divine because his rank and status was not coequal to God; and Jesus Christ exhibited limitations and dependence which go against the Abrahamic concept of God.”

“Muslims believe that Prophethood is the highest honor that any being can be bestowed by God.” God can have no partner, children, or siblings. Therefore, Jesus Christ cannot be divine or the Son of God according to the Qur’an and the Islamic view of God.

Dawn Pisturino

February 17, 2019

Thomas Edison State University

Copyright 2019-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact the author for sources.

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The World is Too Much with Us

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The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not. –Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

~ William Wordsworth (1770-1850) ~

My Thoughts:

If this was true over 150 years ago, it’s even more true today.

The world is overwhelming us, beating us down, blasting wave after wave of propaganda and lies into our heads. Who knows the truth anymore? Who knows what’s right from wrong? Who even knows what’s real? The constant prattle of commentators/agitators, politicians, and celebrities is driving all of us mad. Where is the escape? When will it end?

Escape into the wilderness, they say, but a tumultuous crowd awaits us there. The noise! — oh, the noise! I long to escape it.

Quiet, peace, serenity, silence — a long-forgotten reality.

I will find it inside myself.

Dawn Pisturino

September 28, 2017

Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Karl Marx was a Deadbeat

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For all of his talk about freeing the workers, Karl Marx himself was a deadbeat who never worked. He forced his wife and children to live in poverty, supported by his friend, Friedrich Engels. Marx fathered an illegitimate child while still married and persuaded Engels to marry the woman.

His in-depth analysis of capitalism (Das Kapital) was pertinent in its time, but Marx failed to recognize that capitalism is a resilient and adaptable economic system.

Karl Marx is now regarded as one of the founders of sociology because of his thorough study of capitalist society and development of conflict theory. But his predictions about the demise of capitalism and the rise of communism proved to be dead wrong.

People who still follow him are deluding themselves, at best. Millions of people around the world have died in the name of Marxism/Communism/Bolshevism/Castroism/Maoism/Socialism — something Bernie Sanders doesn’t seem to comprehend and neglects to share with his followers.

Don’t be misled by pretty words and false promises! The people attracted to Marxism (I was one of them) are people on the fringe who feel powerless and angry. The idea of overthrowing the system sounds romantic and gives them a false sense of power. But people rarely get what they want. It’s all too easy to go from the frying pan into the fire.

America is still the greatest country in the world, and people who cannot appreciate her, should consider leaving.

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Be an Independent Thinker!

the-thinker

The Thinker by Rodin

In a world bombarded by information, where are the independent thinkers?

Where do the fresh, untarnished minds hang out?

Where does ORIGINALITY rear its beautiful head?

In a world deafened by conformity instead of individuality, the imaginative Creators of art, music, literature, and science are silenced under the dull roar of sameness, mediocrity, and

group think.

I will not be hampered by intimidation!

I will not be silenced by coercion!

I will not bow down to threats!

I will rise above the mundane crowd and be, above all,

AN INDEPENDENT THINKER!

Dawn Pisturino

February 7, 2017

Copyright 2017 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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