Bloodthirsty Evangelicals

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A sad fact of contemporary American Christianity is the open-ended support many Christians give to war. Among the most fervent supporters of George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan have been conservative, Evangelical Christians. This is not to say that all Evangelicals support the wars–as with any group, there are exceptions. However, Evangelicals, who are mostly politically “conservative” (though I fail to see what is “conservative” about waging war) have tended to support U. S. military intervention abroad. Many Evangelical churches will have special services to honor our “heroes,” the troops returning from Iraq or from Afghanistan. Evangelicals in general are the most zealous supporters of “American Civil Religion,” with a U. S. flag prominently displayed in church and with patriotic songs sung at services on or near the date of national holidays such as July 4. Christians who protest the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are labeled as “wimps,” “liberal peaceniks,” or worse. Sometimes the rhetoric comes across as saying that a person who opposes these war is less of a Christian than those who support the wars. And some Evangelicals I have heard are bloodthirsty–there is no other accurate description. They will talk about nuking all “enemies of America” with an expression of sadistic glee.

Even if a Christian supports the notion that war is sometimes necessary, that does not imply that the Christian should accept the justness of any war a nation wages just because he is a citizen of that nation. Some advocates of just war theory opposed the Iraq War in particular–Iraq had never invaded the United States and was not a threat to the United States. “Preemptive war” is nowhere a part of just war theory. Yet millions of traditional Christians naively supported Dubya, Cheney, and Rumsfeld in their execution of an unjust war that killed many thousands on  both sides.

Even if a war is necessary, no Christian should support it with glee, nor should the Christian rejoice at enemy deaths. Such a message is contrary to Christ‘s command to “love one another” and to “love your enemies.” A bloodthirsty attitude toward killing is incompatible with Christianity. Such an attitude is so contrary to the message of Jesus that, from a traditional Christian point of view, it is difficult to see how one who accepts that attitude could live in the eternal presence of God. Hatred of others and joy in killing and in war are products of Satan, not of God. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Christ said in the Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps Evangelical Christians, who are so literalistic on other parts of the Bible, should follow this advice literally.

War as Brutalizing

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Justin Raimondo’s column (http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2010/10/07/support-the-troops/) reminds us that war is brutalizing. Although I think there are more U. S. troops who retain a moral sense than Raimondo believes, when human beings are put into a situation in which they are in combat constantly, are always watching their back for the next shot that could kill them, and in which they do not know whom to trust among the local population, no one should be surprised at the results.

This, however, does not morally justify the action of those U. S. troops who have done wrong. Their crimes are horrifying to anyone with the moral sense of a human being. Sadly, I would not be surprised if those people most likely to either soften the actions of these troops or, worse, justify them, will be otherwise traditional Christians. “Christian warmonger” is an oxymoron, and always has been, despite centuries of Christians who have failed in this area. In any case, I am appealing to natural law, the notion that brutalizing another human being is intrinsically wrong no matter what utilitarian result one might wish to gain from it. In the case Raimondo cites, the actions of the troops seem more sadistic than utilitarian. They clearly were evil.  Thank God for the one soldier who was willing to stand up for what was right despite facing the wrath of his peers. He is a moral hero.If only there were more.

More Deception about Iraq

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So American troops fight in Baghdad after “all American combat troops have been withdrawn.” Anyone with minimal intelligence should have known that combat for American troops would not end in Iraq. Although Mr. Obama had the good sense not to declare victory, as Mr. Bush did when he announced the end of “major combat operations,” his actions remain deceptive. So-called support troops will come under fire from insurgents, and they will have to choice but to defend themselves. Iraqi forces will become overwhelmed at times, and U. S. troops (and “civilian contractors” in some cases) will come to the rescue. Mr. Obama claims all U. S. troops will be withdrawn by the end of 2011. I’m not holding my breath.

The Iraq war began in deception and continues in deception. How many more Americans and Iraqis will die or be maimed for life due to this insanity? It may take the United States many years to recover from the foreign policy blunders of the previous administration. I had hoped that the new administration would not follow suit. Unfortunately that hope has been dashed as the American empire continues to gasp its dying breaths. The aftermath, I fear, will be ugly.

The Neverending Warfare State

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For anyone who believes that the so-called “withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq” means the end of the Iraq War for the United States or the end of American and Iraqi casualties, you can also believe I have terraformed the planet Mars. Mr. Obama has been a huge disappointment in foreign policy for anyone who opposes continual U. S. engagements in places it ought not to be. President Eisenhower, in his January 1961 Farewell Address, warned of the dangers of the growing power of “the military-industrial complex.” What many Americans don’t realize through the fog of war rhetoric is that many people profit from war. The defense industry profits. The workers in the defense industry benefit, for they keep their jobs. A small-time defense contractor told me once, “I love Republicans,” since Mr. Bush had pushed the United States into a needless and costly war in Iraq. But Democrats do no better, as Mr. Obama shows. In the end, they also yield to the forces of the military-industrial complex. It is dangerous for a country to have a large portion of its work force in both the armed forces and in the defense industry. This situation only pushes the United States into further military adventurism–a prospect it cannot afford. The short-term pain of a smaller standing army and a smaller defense industry will be outweighed by the long-term gains of a smaller budget deficit and a more diverse economy. In addition, the risk to freedom resulting from a nation have a large standing army would be reduced. Mr. Obama could keep his promise and withdraw all U. S. forces from Iraq. He could do better and withdraw all U. S. forces from Afghanistan, and South Korea. Closing European and Asian bases would be helpful as well. If a massive reduction in U. S. defense spending does not become reality soon, the U. S., like the old Soviet Union of the 1990s, will spend itself, if not into disappearing, into becoming a third world country (especially if China and Japan refuse to buy U. S. bonds to finance the deficit). War is a waste–of soldiers’ and civilians’ lives, health, and productivity. I say to my fellow conservatives: it is a conservative position to oppose the military-industrial complex–what, after all, is more big government than that alliance between the federal government and the defense industry? Where else is there such a concentration of power, power that conservatives claim they eschew? Conservatives, libertarians, and anti-war liberals should ban together in opposing the constant state of war in which the United States has fallen. I recommend that everyone take a look at http://www.antiwar.com and read the articles from an alliance of people from all sides of the political spectrum who desire the United States to withdraw from current wars and stay out of future ones.