Reflections on the Fourth of July







As the reader will note, this page is no longer being updated. I've left it here in hopes it will remain of interest to some.


The Fourth of July

On the Fourth of July Americans reflect on those things about our republic in which we can take pride. For our first two centuries as a nation, we took pride in being a peace-loving people. We did not invade other nations, but fought only when we or our friends were attacked. These grounds for patriots' pride were taken from us when the U.S. unleashed an unprovoked assault against the sovereign state of Iraq. Never again can patriots boast that the United States does not start wars.

Not only is it the long-standing American tradition that military aggression is wrong, it is also the traditional Christian understanding:

"At the very outset I want to say that whoever starts a war is in the wrong. And it is only right and proper that he who first draws his sword is defeated, or even punished, in the end. This is what has usually happened in history. Those who have started wars have lost them, and those who fought in self-defense have only seldom been defeated. Worldly government has not been instituted by God to break the peace and start war, but to maintain peace and to avoid war. . .God tolerates no injustice and he has so ordered things that warmongers must be defeated in war. . .And in Psalm 68 [:30] God has the psalmist sing of him. . .'He scatters the peoples who delight in war.' Beware, therefore; God does not lie!" (Martin Luther, 'Whether Soldiers, Too, Can be Saved,' quoted p. 149, War and Christian Ethics, Classic Readings on the Morality of War, Arthur F. Holmes, editor).

And not only has condemning the aggressor been the long-time Christian response to war, but civilized nations have concurred since the time of the Peace of Westphalia. How, then, given the long traditions that hold military aggression to be unamerican, unchristian, and uncivilized, has this nation turned on a dime and now describes the desire to start wars as 'idealism'? The diplomats who concluded the Treaty of Westphalia did not hold war in bad repute because they had never seen military utopianism in action, but because they had. They agreed that, if sovereign nations are willing to leave their neighbors alone, they themselves should be left at peace, even if their form of government does not meet others' ideals. If the people are poorly governed, at least they are alive, as many of them will not be once the 'idealists' mobilize. Moreover, ideals differ. If you leave it to the last 'idealist' standing to organize society, he may have little left to organize beyond burial brigades.

And how is it that 'evangelical' Christians turned into military aggression's most enthusiastic cheering squad, when their King told them, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52)? How is it possible that, when the United States invaded a sovereign nation which had not attacked America nor was threatening to do so, 'evangelical' Christians prayed, not for their leaders to come to their senses, but for the other side to just give up?:

"Continue to pray for the leaders of the Iraqi military efforts, that they will choose to surrender, minimizing the loss of life in this conflict." (The Presidential Prayer Team web-site).

Pre-Emption Ezekiel 28
Utilitariansim King David
The Centurion John the Baptist
The Sword Southern Baptists
Christian Zionism Terrorism
The Crusades Adolf Hitler
Civilization



The Company You Keep

When I was young, had I said to my elders, 'I know of a country which invaded another country because they felt that country would be better off living under their governing system rather than its own,' people would have said, 'Oh yes, you're talking about Hitler's Germany, or Mussolini's Italy.' Had I said, 'No, I'm talking about the United States,' people would have thought I was raving. As everyone knew then, America does not start wars. As everyone knows now, yes, we do.

Even Mohammad ibn Abdallah realized that those who start wars are not on the side of the angels: "And fight for the cause of God against those who fight against you: but commit not the injustice of attacking them first: God loveth not such injustice..." (Koran, Sura 2:186). Americans used to concur.

When we accused German leaders at Nuremburg of having prepared and carried out aggressive warfare, we were confident our charge could never boomerang against us. That was prior to George W.

(For young readers who may not remember this lost world, I've added to the Thriceholy Library the 'Cross of Iron' speech by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a middle-of-the-road Republican. Notice that the charges on which President Eisenhower exonerates America, and by implication condemns the Soviet Union: seeking security through global military domination and claiming the right to impose its own political system on other nations,-- constitute the celebrated Bush doctrine.)

Prior analogies fall short. The United Stated never invaded South Vietnam, and at no time was Vietnam governed by an American proconsul like L. Paul Bremer. We did not start the guerrilla war between South Vietnam and a Communist insurgency; neither did we start the Spanish-American War. While American troops found themselves corralling restive civil populations during these and other conflicts, since we did not start them, the opprobrium of 'aggressor' cannot belong to us. Moreover, intervening in a nation torn asunder by civil war is very different from invading a quiet, intact nation. Patriots, who remember a very different country, ought not minimize the radical veering off course this war represents.

One might expect such a radical reversal would require an heroic effort at persuasion. Turning a massive ocean liner like the Queen Elizabeth II around is not the work of a moment; can a great nation swivel about 180 degrees in an instant? When did the administration persuade the American people that, though their forbears thought military aggression wrong, they were mistaken? And that, in some circumstances, namely when the invaders' intent is to establish democracy, aggression is noble and 'idealistic'? They did not. Rather, they pretended Iraq was the aggressor. Instead of explaining why the prior civilizational consensus against aggression was in error, they justify their polices by. . .explaining that aggression is wrong. Michael Gerson piously intones, "At some point, those who decide on aggression must pay a price, or aggression will be universal." (Michael Gerson, 'How 9/11 Changed Bush,' Newsweek). Yet Iraqi tanks did not spill across America's borders, Iraqi airplanes did not drop bombs on her soil, Iraqi infantrymen did not sprint through her public squares. There is an aggressor in this war, and it is not Iraq. How did they do it?:

Saddama bin Laden

Public opinion polls reveal a large majority of the U.S. public convinced that Saddam Hussein was behind the September 11th aerial assault on the twin towers:

  • "According to a Washington Post poll, nearly seven in 10 Americans believe Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11th attacks."
  • (Portland Press Herald, September 9, 2003).

How did the Bush administration transform a whisky-drinking leftist into an Islamic fundamentalist? By merely saying that it's so, it would seem. What else does the 'counter' in 'counter-attack' convey? But it ain't so.

'Scape-goating' is the political process by which one population group is made to bear the blame for wrongs committed by others. Before Saddam's conversion and sanctification was accomplished in the public's eye, it could not have been appropriate to punish Iraq for Osama bin Laden's crimes. Failing to catch those responsible for the murder of three thousand innocents, we instead lashed out indiscriminately at persons of like ethnicity and faith. Mr. bin Laden walks free while tens of thousands of Iraqis uninvolved in his crimes have paid the ultimate penalty.

Had Timothy McVeigh brought down a structure in Toronto instead of Oklahoma City, would it have been proper for Canada to invade the U.S. in response? Suppose instead they had invaded Mexico, explaining it was in the same "part of the world." Would this have been justice?

Unfortunately, it is not a new thing for a lurid crime to be 'solved' by lynching random representatives of the community to which the perpetrator is reported to belong. This time we did it on a national scale.

Retaliation

Jesus gave a new law to His followers:

"You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." (Matthew 5:38-39).

Some prefer old wine to new, saying "the old is better" (Luke 5:39). But even those who want to do as their Lord taught them may feel they cannot so act in their public capacity. Whether as public officials or even as voters, a prudent regard for public safety prevents them from acting as their Lord commands. It is a savage world, and letting go of retaliation, it is feared, would allow criminality to proceed unchecked. Some, like a president who cannot even 'talk Christian' unless Karen Hughes is standing by his side telling him how, likely do not feel the dilemma.

In any case the dilemma does not here arise, because even where retaliation is allowed, there is no license to nominate an innocent party to suffer it. Yet that is what we've done: "The poll also shows..that 85 percent believe a major reason they were sent into war was 'to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the Sept. 11 attacks.'” (Zogby International). You don't get 85 percent of any group agreeing with anything unless there's been a concerted effort so to persuade them. Evidently the soldiers' commanding officers have instructed them we invaded Iraq as retaliation for 9/11. How so? Because it's 'in the same part of the world.' A lynch mob is more discriminating.

Hama

Our transformation of an aging Stalinist into an Islamist militant is all the more startling when one realizes that the human rights atrocities for which the Baath Party became infamous were committed in large part against Muslim fundamentalists. Baath Party ideology centers around socialism, Arab nationalism, and secularism. For all its flirtations with Islamic style, in substance this party has never wavered in its opposition to Sharia. Nor has their opposition been only verbal. In 1982 Baathist Hafez Assad flattened the Muslim Brotherhood stronghold of Hama, Syria, massacring its citizenry. When neighboring Iran adopted an Islamic Republic form of government, Saddam Hussein promptly invaded, convincing his officer corps that Iran's example pointed the way back to the dark ages:

"But Saddam convinced us that Iran wanted to export its revolution to the rest of the world, starting with Iraq. That would have taken us—-and a lot of other people as well—-backwards to a new dark age, instead of forward to a bright future. To prevent that, we were willing to put up a fight." (Adnan K. Karim, former rear admiral in the Iraqi navy, Cairo Times, Issue 42 vol. 7)

Saddam acquired his reputation as butcher by slaughtering Iraqi Shi'ites whose political objectives paralleled those of their Iranian counterparts. This is not a state which lacks an ideology, yet that ideology is not Muslim purism: "In effect, whether puritan movements end up being persecuted entirely depends on the extent to which their ideology conflicts with the state. As a result, in countries such as Saddam's Iraq, Libya, and Syria the vast majority of Islamic movements end up being savagely repressed because their ideology conflicts with the secular nationalist ideology of the state." (The Great Theft, Khaled Abou El Fadl, p. 166). Yet for all the fundamentalist Muslim blood dripping from his hands, Saddam, a professed admirer of non-Muslim Josef Stalin, came to be perceived by the American public as himself one of their tribe.

For its part al Qaeda is a revolutionary movement, not an advocacy group for the status quo continuance in power of existing leftist Arab kleptocracies. Yet the Bush administration succeeded in marrying this odd couple in public perception. Once married, the guilt for 9/11 became communal property. How can this have happened? These two rival ideological factions, the leftists and the Islamists, had been shedding one another's blood for a generation: "Responding to Fahmi Huwaydi's questions, Ziad Abu-Ganima, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman in Jordan, says:. . .If you want evidence, ask the gallows of the revolutionaries who brought about the crime and shame of our defeat in 1967, and you will find out that the bodies of the Muslim Brothers were hung by the revolutionary  ropes. . . .Forget, if you wish, the prison cells of the revolutionary regimes in those lean years, but remember the thousands of youths and women of the Islamic movement who crouched in these cells unjustly, and the many thousands who still crouch in them until today. . .'" (Ziad Abu-Amr, Islamic Fundamentalism in the West Bank and Gaza, pp. 40-41). The lefties saw the Islamists as fit gallows-birds, yet American policy identified the two as one.

We commenced our invasion shedding sympathetic tears for Saddam's old antagonists in Iraq's Shi'ite community. Then heredity found an outlet: like father, like son. Moqtada al-Sadr followed in his slain father's footsteps by founding his 'Mahdi Army.' We had already shown our willingness to ape Saddam by employing military aggression to achieve political aims. We ended by killing the same people Saddam killed, for the same reason. Why did it not occur to Saddam that all he had to do was call these people 'terrorists,' and it would be OK to slaughter them? It increasingly appears that Saddam's efforts to prevent an Islamic Republic in Iraq were in vain; we, of all people, came to the rescue of this once failing revolution.

Reichstag Fire

Politics makes strange bed-fellows. When the Soviet Union waded into their Afghanistan quagmire, the U.S. funded the Islamic extremists fighting them, not out of ideological affinity but on the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. (We did not call them 'terrorists' then, but 'freedom-fighters.') Because Osama bin Laden counts Saddam Hussein an infidel, and Saddam Hussein wades knee-deep in the blood of Islamic extremists, portraying al Qaeda as Iraq's pawn is like claiming Richard Nixon manipulated the Black Panthers or the Weather Underground. Truly, stranger things have happened. But because it is hard enough for people who share the same world view to work together, evidence is needed to show that people pulling in opposite directions can overcome their natural antipathy to achieve a common goal. Despite the employment of such tried-and-true methods of fact manufacture as forgery and torture, even a compliant CIA chief remained unconvinced on the eve of invasion. The evidence was lacking, but a public eager for war did not miss it. How is it possible that, to punish an individual for a crime, his involvement must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas to punish a country, all that is called for is bare assertion?

Nor have the President and his partisans at any time ceased to repeat the accusation:

"Giuliani, who presided over New York for eight combative years before leaving office as a hero after Sept. 11, also defended the invasion of Iraq...He began his 40-minute speech by citing one of the indelible moments of Bush's presidency: his visit to the rubble of the World Trade Center, where he grabbed a bullhorn and told a crowd of rescue workers that 'the people who knocked these buildings down' would soon hear from the United States.

""Well, they heard from us," Giuliani said. "They heard from us in Afghanistan, and we removed the Taliban. They heard from us in Iraq, and we ended Saddam Hussein's reign of terror."" (Los Angeles Times, 'Bush is Praised as War Leader,' Mark Z. Barabak, August 31, 2004)

One can only parse this assertion by noting that the "they" who "heard from us in Iraq" are also "the people who knocked these buildings down," the 9/11 hijackers. To identify Iraq as "the people who knocked these buildings down" is as false an accusation as any prior blood libel in history.

To our President it suffices to 'back-date' Iraq's having become a terrorist playground after we 'liberated' that nation, but justice requires that if we are willing to punish Iraq for 9/11, we must also show that nation bears some legal or moral responsibility for that crime. Not only have we failed to show this, it is substantively false. Iraq got railroaded. How did the American public become convinced Iraq was behind September 11th?

Perhaps this is like wondering how all those Germans became convinced that Jewish war profiteers were behind Germany's failure in World War I. Blind hatred has its own reasons; perhaps the horrific assault on the Twin Towers will turn out to be our Reichstag fire. Listen to administration supporters:

"This is no time to be precious about locating the exact individuals directly involved in this particular terrorist attack...We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war." (Ann Coulter, National Review Online, September 13, 2001).

If anyone should be 'convert[ed]...to Christianity,' it is this author, because scape-goating is an indulgence forbidden to Bible-believers. God forbade our treating those juridically innocent as if they were guilty:

"You shall not follow a multitude to do evil; nor shall you bear witness in a suit, turning aside after a multitude, so as to pervert justice...Keep far from a false charge, and do not slay the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked." (Exodus 23:2-6).

Those Christians who wish to follow the multitude in blaming Iraq for 9/11 ought either to advance their evidence so that the public may inspect it, or else reflect on Exodus 23 as it pertains to making accusations without substantiating evidence.

The Red Queen

In their sales pitch for this war, the Bush administration justified the invasion of a sovereign state as a pre-emptive response to a threat not yet arisen, namely the transfer of Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction to terrorist gangs. And when had they done that? They hadn't...yet! Surprisingly, killing people in punishment of crimes they have not yet committed is not a new idea:

  • "'For instance, now,' she went on, sticking a large piece of plaster on her finger as she spoke, 'there's the King's Messenger. He's in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn't even begin till next Wednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all.'
  • "'Suppose he never commits the crime?' said Alice.
  • "'That would be all the better, wouldn't it?' the Queen said, as she bound the plaster round her finger with a bit of ribbon." (Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass).

Not only had Iraq not transferred to terrorists the doomsday weapons with which the Bush administration terrified the public, they could not have done so, lacking the wherewithal: they had no such weapons. The strange spectacle of a super-power cowering in fear before an aging Stalinist seated astride a deteriorating arsenal, his economy hollowed out by years of punishing sanctions, grows only stranger as that arsenal dissolves into mist.

The claim that Iraq possessed chemical, nuclear and biological weapons co-existed incongruously with administration predictions that the military conquest of Iraq would be a "cake-walk." The public should have smelled a rat; in no war in which such weapons have been used has the casualty count been less than horrendous, which is the very reason why these weapons shock the conscience of mankind. Even the peace movement fell for it, predicting huge initial casualties...brought about by non-existent weapons. Those who predicated a "cake-walk" must have known there were no such weapons; they chose not to share the information with the public.

Seek Peace

"Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." (Psalm 34:14).

This administration did not "seek peace" from Day One:

"In the book, O'Neill said he is surprised that no one on the National Security Council, which includes national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, asked why Iraq should be invaded at that time.
"'It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying, "Go find me a way to do this,"' O'Neill told Suskind, according to the excerpt." (Maine Sunday Telegram, 'Book: Discussion of Saddam ouster began before 9/11', January 11, 2004.)

The way the President hit upon of getting the war he always wanted was to pin the blame for 9/11 on Iraq. It 'worked;' public rage and thirst for vengeance made this a wildly popular war. But assigning blame to Iraq because it is in the same "part of the world" where the perpetrators live is a grievous evil by Biblical standards. While the law has been nailed to the cross, it continues to give insight into the mind of God. And Moses' law does not allow one to get away with assigning blame to the wrong party:

  • "If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you."
  • (Deuteronomy 19:16-20).

That is to say, the false accuser who testified to 'murder' must himself suffer the penalty meted out to murderers. This is so whether the one falsely accused of 'murder' is, or is not, guilty of some other offense: 'adultery,' say, or 'crimes against humanity.' One can only hope God deals with America according to mercy and not justice, for by Moses' standard we owe the same penalty,-- the horrors of war and loss of national sovereignty,-- we visited on Iraq upon the strength of our false accusation.





Axis of Evil

The intellectual framework for this classic case of scape-goating is the 'Axis of Evil.' An 'Axis,' according to the dictionary, is comprised of nations who have, by intention, joined together in a common project or purpose, as did Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany: "axis, aks'is, n....an agreement between two or more leading powers by which lesser powers may align themselves for or against the general principles set forth..." (Webster's International, 1964.) So how did two nations which in recent memory fought a punishing war against one another, Iran and Iraq, come to be lumped in together with a far-away xenophobic out-post to comprise an 'Axis'? According to this new way of understanding the world, nations do not act in pursuit of interests, nor in accordance with political ideals, whether vicious or virtuous, but merely because they are "evil."

What this approach lacks in correct word usage, it gains in simplicity. Only two concepts are needed for understanding the complexities of world politics: good and evil. Since we are 'good,' then, it goes without saying, those opposed to us are 'evil.' So why not admit Osama bin Laden to the club; after all, he's evil, too. Since, now, Iraq is part of an 'Axis' with Osama bin Laden, why not punish that nation for his crimes?

Categorizing nations, not along the traditional, rational signposts of alliance, ideology, or common interest, but solely by whether or not their leader is deemed 'evil,' results in illogical and incoherent policy, such as responding to an attack on America by Islamic fundamentalists with a "counter-attack" against a secular socialist state uninvolved in the attack.

Constant Din

"That which thus captivates their reasons and leads men of sincerity blindfold from common sense will, when examined, be found to be what we are speaking of: some independent ideas of no alliance to one another are, by education, custom, and the constant din of their party, so coupled in their minds that they always appear there together, and they can no more separate them in their thoughts than if they were but one idea, and they operate as if they were so. This gives sense to jargon, demonstration to absurdities, and consistency to nonsense, and is the foundation of the greatest, I had almost said of all, the errors in the world..." (John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book II, Chapter XXXIII. 18.)

A good example of Locke's "independent ideas of no alliance to one another" which have come to be joined in the public mind are 'George W. Bush' and 'Christianity.' On the big issues central to the mission of government, no further gulf could be imagined than that between the Bible's teaching and this government's policies. Did the Lord say 'Blessed are the warmongers?' To the contrary, peace not 'preventive war' is the believer's mission:

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:..." (Hebrews 12:14).

"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (Romans 12:18).

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9).

"In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me....I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war." (Psalm 120:1-7).

"If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:) Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honor in the dust. Selah." (Psalm 7:4-5).

"Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy." (Proverbs 12:20).
"Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." (James 3:18).
  • "I don't bring God into my life to, you know, kind of be a political person." --George W. Bush, interview with Tom Brokaw aboard Air Force One, April 24, 2003
  • (http://bushwatch.org/english.htm)

The Lord never said 'Do unto others before they do unto you,' which is pre-emption, but "as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise." (Luke 6:31). This President claims Jesus Christ as his favorite "philosopher." If Jesus is his favorite "philosopher," why does he not do as Jesus instructed?

The pith of the case for war foretold joint projects with al Qaeda sharing Saddam's doomsday weapons stockpile. Both stockpile and partnership are fictions. One must look back to the days of Richard Nixon to find a more deceptive occupant of the Oval Office, yet the Bible says,

"But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie." (Revelation 22:15).

The President scoffs, "What's the difference?" when asked how "weapons of mass destruction," measured by the ton, the gallon, and the cubic yard, faded into the vaporous, measureless "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

Counter-balancing this unchristian record is this President's willingness to give lip service to, but not to expend political capital in realizing, a cause popular with Christians, right to life.

Think no Evil

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

In the eyes of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the proof of President Bush's vocal profession of Christian faith is his willingness to demonize America's adversaries. There are abroad in the world, it seems, moral relativists who do not know enough to think ill of their enemies. By ascribing absolute moral evil to Saddam Hussein, according to the English Prime Minister, Mr. Bush stands firm against these moral relativists.

But I wonder whether there really are any people in the world who are unwilling to think ill of their enemies. People have always been willing to project boundless evil upon outsiders: witches, Jews, gypsies. In fact the capacity for demonizing others belongs to the old Adam.

The capacity does, indeed, flourish in this administration. "'You work the intelligence to the best of your ability,' Cheney said, 'to try to anticipate what the enemy is going to do…'" (L.A. Times, January 19, 2004, Maura Reynolds, Times Staff Writer). This process of 'anticipation' involves ascribing intentions to the enemy simply because they are evil, not because they promote the enemy's interests or goals. Although the U.S. administration of the day favored the Nicaraguan Contras, no one would expect the U.S. to transfer the hydrogen bomb to the Nicaraguan Contras, because who after all knows what they would do with it; perhaps they would sell it to our adversaries. And the Nicaraguan Contras had never even stated any revolutionary preference for overthrowing their patron government! Still states do not transfer their major strategic assets to groups they cannot control. But Mr. Cheney 'anticipated' that Iraq would do so, simply because that would be evil. (While one can transfer barrels of botulinum toxin by fork-lift, one would have to resort to pantomime, I suppose, to transfer "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.")

Just as people used to accuse witches of spoiling the crops, a capability no human is known to possess, so the administration accused Saddam of evil beyond the bounds of nature. Other people's chemical arms degrade with time and become unusable; not his. Iraq was known to have deployed chemical weapons in its war against Iran, nor could it be documented that this arsenal had been destroyed; this was the only actual evidence there ever was behind the accusation. Normally chemical weapons cannot retain their potency for more than a decade. Yet his did. This process of 'anticipation' involves letting one's mind run free, to imagine any kind of evil in the world, possible or impossible.

Prime Minister Blair is mistaken in imagining that the world needs Christians to teach them to demonize their adversaries. Not only does the world need no such instruction, Christians are not supposed to do it. This is what Paul means by "thinks no evil." Do not 'anticipate,' wait upon the evidence...and we will not wake up one day to discover we have cut short tens of thousands of human lives in pursuit of phantom weapons.





Furthering the Islamic Revolution

In September of 2001, the United States mainland was assaulted and 3,000 of its citizens murdered by Islamic fundamentalists. In response, the Bush Administration has taken the nation of Iraq, uninvolved in the attack on America, away from the secular socialist regime previously in power, and handed it over to . . . Islamic fundamentalists. It remains unclear how strengthening our enemies advances the national interest.

You train a dog by giving him a bone when he does what you want, slapping him when he does what you don't want. Reward elicits desirable behavior, negative reinforcement suppresses unwanted behavior. Thus nations attacked do not customarily reward their attackers. Mr. Bush's America is a signal exception. Attacked by Islamic fundamentalists, we rewarded them with a major mideast nation not previously in their possession.

Mr. Bush enunciated the doctrine that those nations who finance terrorists are as guilty of their acts as the actors themselves. By this 'logic,' America was attacked on 9/11 by Saudi Arabia, who funnel funds to terrorists through Islamic charities. Yet we did not counter-attack against Saudi Arabia; we 'counter-attacked' against Saudi Arabia's main enemy in the world, Saddam Hussein's Iraq. As fortune would have it, young Mr. Bush's failing oil company was bailed out by a Saudi investor. This striking set of circumstances has provoked comment.







Election 2005

The big winner in Iraq's recent election was Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, whose candidate slate captured a majority of seats in the new assembly. Ayatollah al-Sistani's list, a coalition, comprises two main constituents, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Dawa Party. Ibrahim al-Jaafari of this latter party looks to become Iraq's first elected prime minister of its new, American-liberated era. His Dawa party has an interesting past, including in its long history of opposition to Saddam Hussein's government suicide bombing, assassination, and other means of advancing its views which some might describe as 'terrorism': "In the early 1980s, Dawa carried out several suicide bombings in Baghdad..." ('Al-Jaafari Led Anti-Saddam Fight for Years,' Tuesday, February 22, 2005, by Todd Pitman, Associated Press Writer). Of course no true-blue American would so describe these activities; a Frenchman perhaps, might so describe them.

Here is what we have achieved: the former terrorists of the Dawa Party are now the government, while those formerly in the government have taken up the practice of terror. This is, no doubt, a great victory in the War on Terror.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari

Who is Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the prime minister for whose ascendancy American soldiers struggled and died?:

"Iraq's minorities must be protected, and they must be given their rights,'' Jaafari said in a recent interview with the Monitor. "But we must also respect the majority, so Islam should be the official religion of the state . . . and we shouldn't have any laws that contradict Islam." (Christian Science Monitor, 'A "pragmatic" Islamist for Iraq,' February 17, 2005).

How has Mr. Jaafari's Dawa party historically operated?:

"A Dawa splinter group staged two suicide bombings at the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait in December 1983. Seventeen of them were caught, convicted and imprisoned by the Kuwaitis, including the brother-in-law of Imad Mugniyah, a Lebanese Hezbollah member who began taking Americans hostage in Beirut in an attempt to spring his wife's brother." (Knight-Ridder Bureau, 'The History of the Dawa Party,' February 16, 2005).

In spite of the Islamist Dawa party's history of terrorism against American targets, this administration is pleased as punch to see it come to power in Iraq: "On Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described Jaafari as 'someone who is devoted to a better future for Iraq' and said 'we will work very well with him' on NBC's 'Meet the Press.'" (In Mideast, Shiites May Be Unlikely U.S. Allies, by Robin Wright, Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, March 16, 2005.)

Mr. al-Jaafari's succesor, Nouri al-Maliki, belongs to the same political party and embraces the same Islamist program.

If you do not understand why it enhances American security to transform Iraq from a secular socialist nation into a land governed by Islamist terrorists, then you must be unaware of the "sinister nexus" extant between al Qaeda, the Baath party, fluoridation of the water, and the Trilateral Commission.

Treason

What led Mr. Bush to display such contempt for the safety of his fellow-citizens? Not only was this outcome not unanticipated, the administration contrived to make it all but inevitable. The Baath party, Iraq's prior governing party, was secular. This party garnered 0 per cent of the vote in the recent elections, having been criminalized by Mr. Bush.

It is not the normal response to aggression to reward the aggressors. So why did Mr. Bush reward the Islamic fundamentalists who assaulted the U.S. homeland on September 11th by handing them a major mideastern nation which had not previously been in their possession? Though the Saudi Wahhabis who brought down the trade towers dislike Shiism, there is an undoubted synergy between their efforts and those of the Dawa terrorists who blew themselves up at the U.S. embassy in Kuwait. It is not for nothing that people do not usually reward those who assault them. Pigeons peck when rewarded, neglect to peck when not. People are similar. It is thus prudent to offer aggressors negative reinforcement, not the vibrantly positive reinforcement they've received from Mr. Bush.

Why? Some people point out that the Bushes are different from you and me. You and I look at the Saudi royal family and see capricious, woman-hating tyrants. The Bush family looks at the Saudi royal family and sees their financial backers. Thinking well of one's benefactors is a constant of human nature. We excoriate those who do not feel it as 'ingrates.' The Bible confirms this ingrained tendency:

"Wealth brings many friends, but the poor are left friendless...Many seek the favor of the generous, and everyone is a friend to a giver of gifts." (Proverbs 19:4-6)

It is for this reason that Moses forbade judges to accept gifts: "Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous." (Deuteronomy 16:19). Our own legal system is not so far behind Moses,' because it is customary for judges with financial ties to those who appear before them to withdraw from the case. It is beyond controversy that the Bush family has a long and profitable history entwined with the Kingdom's wealthy elite. How can it be that, if the Bushes were judges, they would be unable to preside in a case involving the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, yet there is no institutional barrier to their taking our country to war against the Kingdom's enemies?

Prior to this war, the Saudi royal family, alongside the neocons, were a standing lobby for 'regime change' in Iraq:


  • "In 1994, King Fahd had proposed to President Clinton a joint U.S.-Saudi covert action to overthrow Saddam, and Crown Prince Abdullah in April 2002 had suggested to Bush that they spend up to $1 billion in such joint operations with the CIA."
  • ('Plan of Attack,' Bob Woodward, p. 229).


  • "'Mr. President, I just hope you haven't changed your mind,' Bandar said to Bush, 'now that you have issued the ultimatum.'"
  • ('Plan of Attack,' Bob Woodward, p. 376).


Saddam Hussein was beyond question an enemy to the Saudi royal family. Yet even so a trace of mystery remains. The Saudis, Sunni extremists who keep their own Shiite minority down, may be nearly as dismayed as the rest of us to see Shiite Islamic extremists placed in control of their oil-rich and populous neighbor. While it remains ever true that success has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan, the qualms subsequently expressed by Saudi government officials, like those expressed by congressional Democrats, may represent something beyond the usual desire to swim away from a sinking vessel. Perhaps the Bushes were not just taking care of their patrons' business in staging this invasion. Was there a simpler reason?

To look for a reason presupposes rationality, which may be overly generous.

Mr. Bush's conceptual framework for understanding world politics is strictly personal: "Wolfowitz: I remember once when the President in the middle of a discussion about a particular country said just how brutal are its leaders. I thought it was an incredibly perceptive question and it's too often left out of the equation as a sort of pragmatic view that you've got to deal with them as the leaders of country X and you shouldn't inquire too deeply into what kind of people they are." (United States Department of Defense, News Transcript, Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Friday, May 9, 2003, ). Mr. Bush does not deal in conceptual abstraction or national interest as conventionally understood, rather he likes or dislikes other world leaders. The Saudi royal family who have been so good to his family he likes, never mind that they fund world-wide jihad. But Saddam Hussein he hates.

Islamic Republic of Iraq

Some journalists have been too charitable to the Bush Administration, describing the election result as unexpected or unwelcome. When a vacuum is created, what rushes in to fill it: what exists, or what does not exist? This result is only what history indicated, nor has Mr. Bush stated that he finds it unwelcome.

Saddam earned his reputation as a butcher in his bloody suppression of two uprisings, one of which sought to establish an independent Kurdistan, the other an Islamic state in Iraq. Both uprisings were described by the administration as if they had no further aims than Saddam's overthrow. But they did have further aims...aims which were never abandoned, and which the public has lately discovered. Even during Iraq's colonial interlude, these aims surfaced:

"In Baghdad, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a leading Shi'ite member of the Governing Council, said negotiations on the handover of power were under way with the Americans and some progress had been made. 'It has emerged that one of the things that the occupying powers are accepting is acknowledgement of Islam as the identity of the Iraqi people and as the official state religion and the basis of law,' he told a news conference." ('Iraq Political Plans Amended After Cleric Objects,' Reuters, November 27, 2003, by Khaled Farhan)

"Hakim said Sistani supported an explicit articulation of the role of Islam in the interim government...Hakim said Sistani 'didn't find anything that assures Islamic identity' in the agreement. 'There should have been a stipulation that prevents legislating anything that contradicts Islam in the new Iraq, in either the interim or permanent phase,' Hakim said." (Top Cleric Faults U.S. Blueprint For Iraq: Shiite Cites Need For Citizens' Role, 'Islamic Identity,' By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post Foreign Service, Thursday, November 27, 2003)

Democrats could only sympathize with the Ayatollah's demand for elections in the face of the occupying power's un-American preference for oligarchy. Who would have thought that the U.S. would invade Iraq to restore the millet system of the old Ottoman Empire? However, it is far from clear why American blood was spilled and American treasure expended in order to overthrow a secular government in favor of a system that "prevents legislating anything that contradicts Islam."

Sunnis, like Protestants, think the individual believer competent to discover the tenets of his faith, while Shi'ites, like Catholics, find only a specially trained caste competent to tackle the job. The discovery of what does, or does not, contradict Islam belongs to the Ayatollahs under the Shi'ite understanding.

The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits establishing an "official state religion" in the United States. It's a shame there is no bar to our adventures abroad establishing Islam as the "official state religion" of a state which incorporates a sizeable Christian minority. Mohammad established, not only a religion, but a political blue-print and a detailed body of law. It would be more comforting that American's military might imposed his creation upon some who don't want it were he anything other than a false prophet.

In the end the ayatollah's views prevailed: "...and that no law will be passed that violates the tenets of the Muslim religion." ('Iraqis draft an interim constitution,' Portland Press Herald, March 1, 2004). Here is sufficient legal warrant for an Islamic Republic.

But the first commandment says, "And God spoke all these words, saying: 'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.'" Is the God of the Koran 'another god'? He is described as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,--Who is the true God,--but not as the God who became incarnate in Jesus Christ. According to the Koran, Jesus, while prophet and Messiah, is only a man. Yet American Christians are taxed to accomplish the overthrow of a secular government in favor of an Islamic one, and American troops are commanded to fight in the same cause. Our nominally Christian rulers until recently stationed American troops in Saudi Arabia, where they were prohibited from practicing their religion, even though Jesus said, "But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God." (Luke 12:9). How is it that a government constitutionally prohibited from making any establishment of religion can nevertheless sear its citizens' consciences by compelling them to contribute in money and in blood to the establishment of a false religion?

On the global chessboard, Iran is the big winner in these events. Iran's support for the "Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution" doesn't sound as odd as the protestations of its rival suitor, the U.S. of A.

"The poll found the most popular politician is Abdel Aziz Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The group was part of the U.S.-backed opposition to Saddam Hussein and is now receiving millions of dollars in aid from Iran, U.S. officials say." ('Religious Leaders Ahead in Iraq Poll,' October 22, 2004, by Robin Wright, Washington Post.com)

Is this by coincidence, or have the Iranian mullahs suckered the American public into funding their vision? Recall that Ahmed Chalabi, once the darling of the Republican right wing, is known to have channelled information to Iran. For whom was he working when he regaled Mr. Cheney with tales of WMD?

Spin Cycle

President Bush could not stop congratulating himself when Iraq first held elections. His listeners might almost have forgotten that the United States did not want these elections, preferring undemocratic 'caucuses.' It was Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani who put his foot down and insisted on real elections. Voters in multi-ethnic areas like Baghdad and Mosul showed great courage in going to the polls. Unfortunately, where threats against voters were most credible, in the Sunni Arab belt, few participated.

These elections have been trumpeted by a compliant press as 'free,' yet that is a misnomer. A political party to which many Iraqis once belonged, the Baath party, was not free to take part. When Communism fell in Eastern Europe, the Communist parties continued to participate in public life. The rising democrats would hardly have been true to their own principles had they, like the Communists, eliminated rival parties! Socialism was given a fair trial during the twentieth century and failed. Yet some voters still want to vote that way. How is an election 'free' if these voters have no one to vote for?

The Baath party focused on Arab nationalism, socialism, and secularism. Since one of its founders was a Greek Orthodox Christian, the party's commitment to religious tolerance was sincere. When faced with Islamist sedition, Saddam Hussein resorted to extra-judicial execution, torture, and other excesses. Once upon a time,-- before the United States itself had a President who boasted of extra-judicial murder in a State of the Union address, and before the United States had an Attorney General who judged torture legal if conducted in the national security interest,-- the U.S. stood on sufficiently high moral ground to condemn these human rights abuses. But the Baath party is not the party of human rights violations, any more than the Republican party is the party of corruption. Tom DeLay's alleged misdeeds did not result in banning the Republican party, nor could they, because the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of association. Adherents of this political philosophy were not free to exercise the franchise. Also missing from the ballot were any 'Sinn Fein'-style political fronts representing the variety of armed resistance groups fighting foreigners.

Which brings us back to the no-shows, the Sunni Arab population. The personal valor of Iraqis cannot be doubted when one studies the daunting casualty figures of the Iran-Iraq War. Perhaps these potential voters stayed home because Sunni clerics had condemned the vote on grounds an election held under conditions of foreign military occupation is invalid. Or perhaps they stayed home because there was no one on the ballot they wanted to vote for. Might we, had we been true to our own democratic principles and permitted a genuinely free election, have seen all sectors of Iraq's ethnic and religious mosaic turn out?

What Does the Future Hold?

As noted, Grand Ayatollah's victorious slate brought to the fore candidates who want Islam to constitute the prime source of law in 'liberated' Iraq. 'Islam' requires interpretation, of course, but the Ayatollah is undoubtedly up to the task. A sect which, while a majority, is not an overwhelming majority, might naturally expect to encounter opposition from dissenting minorities as it seeks to impose its vision of 'Islam.' Not to worry, the Ayatollah has at his disposal a ready source of cannon fodder which can be dispensed at no political cost to himself, wearing as they do the infidel American uniform.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits Mr. Bush from establishing Islam as the official religion and source of law in this country. Why did nothing prevent him from doing so, with American tax dollars and American blood, in a foreign land?





The Wrong War







A New Birth of Colonialism







The War on Terror







Destroy the Village








Pre-Emption





Unfortunately there has been no shortage of Christian 'prophecy teachers' willing to spout pseudo-Biblical clap-trap about 'Babylon' to jutify this unjust war. What gives?:


Christian Zionism

Christian Zionism
Deuteronomy 28
The Potter and the Clay
Nebuchadnezzar
Traditional Values
Neo-Conservatives
October Surprise
Self-Evident
Gods' Helpers
Mother Ship
Red Heifer
Liberation of Iraq
Racialism
So Shall We Ever Be
Titus 2:13
Second Chance
Patriotism
A Repentent Jihadi



Cui Bono

The view is popular with many in the Middle East, and also with some Americans, that 9/11 was an 'inside job.' For Muslims, this enables them to avoid the cognitive dissonance of believing that practitioners of their 'beautiful' religion could be capable of such bestial violence. Are these ideas plausible?

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9/11 Conspiracy Theories

9/11
Free Fall
The Government Did It
Dig a Pit
Building 7
Fire Safety
Topple Like a Tree
Squibs
Replication
China Vase
Betty Ong
Lizzie Borden
Public Anger
The Illuminati
Private Network
Stranger than Fiction
Western Union
The Flash
Voice Morphing
Motivation
Stalinist Wedding-Cake Architecture
Explosions
A Perfect World
Mother of All Conspiracy Theories



What is to be Done?

What is to be Done?

When Mr. Clinton testified to his conversion, many heard it coldly. But this President, whose habitual facial expression is a roguish smirk, seems to have struck a chord with the Christian public.





Return to Answering Islam...


A Christian?


Marketing

How was the invasion of Iraq marketed to the evangelical Christian public, who were generally in enthusiastic support? Shamefully, by a Potemkin Village full of phony ex-jihadis like Ergun Caner and Walid Shoebat:

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