Weak States

Much of Stanley Hauerwas’ work is directed against the claims of loyalty Western states make on their citizens—claims, for instance, which may require Christians to take up arms to kill others:

No state will keep itself limited, no constitution or ideology is sufficient to that task, unless there is a body of people separated from their nation that is willing to say ‘No’ to the state’s claims on their loyalties [….] Democratic societies and states, no less than totalitarian ones, reserve the right to command our conscience to take up arms and kill not only other human beings but other Christians in the name of relative moral goods. (Against the Nations, 123, 127.)

What about states in the turbulent regions of the Third World? Places where states are in fact not strong enough and order breaks down? What is the Christian responsibility there?

Given the emergence of religion and business as global contexts, we may now have to ask whether the modern state is powerful enough to perform its function in the global order. The weakness of the state in places where resources or people are exploited by business and the breakdown of government in places where religious movements have the capacity to make war are warning signs the state’s place in the new global order is more fragile than it appears to be in Western Europe and North America. (Robin W. Lovin, Christian Realism and the New Realities, 174.)

Might it be the responsibility of Christian communities in these regions to support the growth of more stable, powerful states? Even if it means supporting the deployment of violence against rebel or terrorist groups? How could Christian communities be faithful witnesses to the peaceable kingdom in these weak states?