Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Dogs of Holy War

Balboa found the Pacific, and on the trail one day
He met some friendly Indians whom he was told were gay
He had them torn apart by dogs on religious grounds they say
The great nations of Europe were quite holy in their way

--Randy Newman, "The Great Nations of Europe"

I managed to catch just enough of a replay of the recent ABC GOP presidential debate to hear Fred Thompson say that we won in Afghanistan. I made the sound of one jaw dropping: not so much over what Thompson said, but because not one of the other candidates batted an eyelash.

They didn't contradict Thompson, or take him to task for being senile, or roll their eyes and make one of those "Grandpa smells funny again" faces. I have to conclude that they all think we won in Afghanistan, or that they know better but don't want to admit that we're actually still there and still losing. In either case, this episode illustrates one of the major reasons we don't want any of the Republicans currently running for president as our next commander in chief. They're either disconnected from foreign policy realities or they refuse to recognize the ones they don't like.

We've had enough of that sort of thing.

Another thing we don't need any more of is faith based foreign policy, and it looks more and more as if that's what the GOP front-runners plan on if they grab the brass ring.

God Is My National Security Adviser

Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee says God intervened in the race on his behalf. Then again, Huck also swears on a stack of you-know-whats that the crucifix appearing behind his head in his Christmas ad just happened by accident, so you can pretty much figure anything Huck says is jive.

The New Hampshire victor and "Comeback Codger" John McCain ran a Christmas ad that dramatized the oft-told story about the guard at the Hanoi Hilton who stood next to a battered Lieutenant McCain on Christmas morning and etched a cross in the dirt with his toe. Taken out of its political context, this story is about bravery, cruelty and compassion. As a piece of pandering to the pre-sentient segment of the religious right, its message is slightly subtler but as unmistakable as Huckabee's: Like Christ, John McCain too was tortured.

Mitt Romney, who took the silver in both Iowa and New Hampshire, gave a pre-Christmas speech on December 6 in which he told America that "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." Mitt's grasp of history is as firm as his issue positions are consistent. Freedom and religion have often been practiced independently of each other. Think of how many societies have sought solace from tyranny in their religions (e.g., "Render unto Caesar…").

Mitt said that, "It is important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions." Apparently, to Mitt's analytical mind, those moral convictions aren't contained in "the creed of conversion by conquest" practiced by "radical Islamists [who] do their preaching not by reason or example, but in the coercion of minds and the shedding of blood."

Mitt doesn’t mention, and possibly isn't aware, that the shedding of blood in our present nightmare in the Middle East was caused by a messianic Evangelical Christian who invaded another country halfway across the world because God told him to.

It's important to point out here that while Mitt pointed his finger at "radical" Islamists, there is really no distinction in neoconservative dogma between radical Islam and any other sort of Islam. Listen to talk radio luminary Neal Boortz wax wacky on the subject some time. He'll remind you of the insane Colonel Kurtz, rotting in his lair at the mouth of the Nung River, gasping, "Kill them all." Deriding any effort to separate Islam the religion from global terrism is one of Big Brother Media's major initiatives, as a recent Washington Times piece written by Diana West illustrates. The article, titled "Foul Play," ridicules initiatives in the Pentagon to parse "Islam" from "jihad" as politically correct appeasement. West makes the standard weekly comparison of the Muslim evil doers to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, blithely skipping over the kind-of-critical detail about how the Nazis and Soviets were honest to goodness peer competitors, whereas today's evil ones don't have a formal army or an air force or a navy or a country or a gross domestic product or even a pot to plant in.

Onward Christian Soldiers

If you think nobody who matters is taking this fear and loathing of Islam talk seriously, think again. Boortz, who refers to Islam as "a deadly virus," has one of the most loyal fan bases in the broadcast media. (If you want to go highbrow in a political debate at a right wing bar, you cite Neal Boortz instead of Rush Limbaugh.) Evangelist Jerry Falwell says the prophet Muhammad was a terrorist. Pat Robertson of 700 Club fame denies that Islam is a religion at all. Rather, "It is a worldwide political movement meant on domination of the world. And it is meant to subjugate all people under Islamic law." So make no mistake; the message says that history is leading up to an apocalyptic showdown with the Jews and Christians on one side and the Muslims on the other, and the talk radio/Fox News crowd is eating it up like hotcakes.

One member of this hate speech audience is a retired Army officer I've been acquainted with for some years. Norm (we'll call him) is the kind of Christian conservative who makes an annual production number out of condemning the War on Christmas but who probably hasn't seen the inside of a church since the Cuban Missile Crisis. A couple of Christmases ago, while holding court in one of his favorite watering holes and discussing the war on terror, Norm offered the considered opinion that if we had to slaughter every man, woman and child of the Muslim persuasion to keep America safe, he was sure Jesus Christ would approve. A lot of heads at the bar nodded in agreement.

We can't simply dismiss yahooligans like this because they vote. They get to vote, of course, because they, like the children of some of them there immigrants they don't like, were born here.

The Dogs of Holy War

It's sad to say, but the history of humanity is largely the history of its wars, and the armed conflicts of western civilization more often than not involved clashes of religious ideologies.

The Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC) that ended Greece's reign as a hegemon pitted a society of Athena's followers against a cult of Ares worshipers. The Crusades waged by Christian Europe against Muslims, pagans, Orthodox Christians, Gnostics, Shamanists, Buddhists, Hussites, political enemies of the pope, etc. drug on for centuries. Subsequent conflicts among the great nations of Europe involved Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans and Orthodox Christians crashing into each other and/or persecuting Jews and/or buggering heathens in the third world. This led to World Wars I and II, and then the Cold War, which was an ideological struggle between the Judeo/Christian west and the Evil Empire of Godless Communists complete with proxy wars that featured more buggering of third world heathens.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution insisted on separation of church and state for a number of reasons. Premier among them was to prevent a self-proclaimed unitary executive from exploiting misplaced religious fervor to wage unnecessary and ill-advised wars. That the leading candidates of what has become America's War Party would fall all over each other invoking God and Islamo-fabulism as the pillars of their foreign policy platforms is not unexpected, but it is disheartening to watch the country Abraham Lincoln called mankind's "last best hope" devolve into a postmodern incarnation of the old world at its worst (Excuse me, great nations coming through…).

If we're not very careful, our politicians will deliver unto us a brave new world of war everlasting with victory just around the corner forever and ever, amen. And if you really think more theo-conservative doctrine can solve our present cornucopia of foreign policy fiascos, please consider this: mankind has been praying for peace for as long as it has been fighting wars, which is about as long as there has been a mankind.

All that praying for peace hasn't done a fat lot of good, has it?


Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books) will be available April 1, 2008.


  1. Anonymous8:50 AM

    Thanks a lot! You have scared me spitless! ;-)

  2. Anonymous9:47 AM

    Is it coincidence that the "current war" is being fought in the area of the Middle East where all three major religions, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, are on a collision course?

    Probably not. For some unknown reason, that's where "Whatever Higher Power" you believe in, decided to locate most of the oil in the world.

    Next time you see your "friend" at the watering hole, would you see if he can explain -- to some of us anyway, why --- we bombed Afghanistan, which did not attack us, and be invaded Iraq, which also did not attack us, and we genuflect to the Saudis, the country from which all the "terrorists" who attacked us on 9-11 came. And we called these wars a "Crusade."

    I'm getting old. My powers of deduction may not be what they used to be.

    Thanks Commander.

  3. Anonymous1:22 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Anonymous1:25 PM

    Please delete my prior post and publish this corrected version.

    I agree with the thrust of this message, but I can think of three candidates that disagree very strongly with Fred Thompson's position. On the Democratic side we have Kucinich and Gravel. In fairness, they did not participate in that Republican debate. On the Republican side, we have Ron Paul. He is a Southern Baptist. He has never taken a position supporting or voted for any way a war that was not declared by Congress. I suspect that he did not bother to reply to Fred Thompson's statement because his position is so well known. It is precicesly because of the situation that you here address that I will vote for Dr. Paul.

    Very respectfully,
    ADCS USNR-R(ret)

  5. Well, South Carolina is coming up. Whoever is in 1st/2nd in the Republican Party Race after South Carolina are likely to be the only two standing come convention time. Although Rep. Paul has considerable strength both in organization and in certain locales, from what I have seen so far, he will be eliminated as a serious contender after South Carolina. My bet is Romney or Huckabee in any order. The rest will be finished. Both are foreign policy looney tooners.

    For that matter, the Democrats have largely completed the culling process. Although there's still some room to maneuver, I suspect Obama and Clinton (again, in any order) will be the remaing choices.

    Why this rapid reduction to just four? MONEY! All that TV time considered essential to winning costs so much that front runners are forced to reject matching funds so that they can raise enough to make Rubert Murdoch, Disney, and Sony happy.

  6. MME,

    Your wish is my command, heh, heh. Lucky thing for me I can edit this site myself and don't have to ask anyone to do it. I typically have to make at least two major corrections after I initially post.

  7. I've decided not to torture myself watching the political horse races, and ensuing media circus.

    I may not be e-du-ma-cated, but I'm done with the media treating me like I'm retarded.

    I don't have your tolerance, patience, or sense of humor, Jeff, but I enjoy the hell out of your blog.

  8. John,

    Any thoughts/predictions on the Dems' number two choice?


    Much appreciated, both the sentiment regarding the race/circus and the kind words.



  9. Anonymous12:11 PM

    Well I wouldn't blame this on Christianity, but more like people who call themselves Christians (from the 1st Century to the present). We have a cultural Christianity in the United States that is far removed from Biblical Christianity. Read Luke 6:46: "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"

    I'm not sure what scares me more: how quickly politicians throw out the religious lingo, or how quickly the "moral majority" is ready to accept that lingo as being genuine.

    Huckabee, being a ordained Southern Baptist minister, should know that, in God's eyes, the highest calling a man can strive for is the pastorate. So why is he bothering with the presidency, or with politics at all?

    As for the president, I think Matthew 7:20 explains it all: "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

  10. Jon,

    Maybe Huck thinks of the presidency as the biggest pastorship of all.



  11. Jeff,

    "If we're not very careful, our politicians will deliver unto us a brave new world of war everlasting with victory just around the corner forever and ever, amen."

    This is happening, but not because of religion, that's only been a tool for control of the masses for thousands of years.

    The goal is monetary profit. I'm finding that Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine makes much more sense than my kid's snoozefest of a macroeconomics text, and more sense than the incomplete Poli-Sci text for the class I just got the easiest A of my life in.

    I know, you're wondering, huh?

    She covers the devastating effects of the (Milton) Friedmanites on the military. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of military personnel blaming Clinton for everything. This shit started under H Bush with Cheney. Rummy & Cheney have made millions pushing the privatization agenda onto the military.

  12. Nunya, you're right, religion is just the control mechanism.

  13. For me the answer to these questions are paramount.
    Who will take on the Mighty MIC in full knowledge of the powers he will face?

    Who will by and large disband the CIA (he said so on a PBS interview), which has been a tool to generate Wars and topple elected governments, including our own?

    Who will pull the plug on the misdirected "War on Drugs".

    Who will re establish our Constitutional Liberties?

    Who will pull the plug on funding Israeli's Genocidal campaign against the Palestinians?

    Who will hold subordinates accountable and not give them medals when their actions have caused the countless death of our Countrymen?

    Who will put the brakes on this Phony War on Terror?

    Who will, however painful it maybe(and the pain is a coming in one way or another) put America on the right track at home and internationally?

    There is only one candidate that any honest casual observer could say meets this criteria.

    Rep. Ron Paul.

    'Course with Diebold accounting, the fix is already in. The NeoCons will have two "candidates" in the general. Killer Hillary and Crazy McCain.

    That won't stop me from writing in Ron Paul come November.

    Peace. It's possible.

  14. Huck - TheoCon in Chief. Oh yeah the Crusaders love this guy too.

  15. Oh and Jeff about that release date, April 1st, there is a real book isn't there? I suffered enough April Fool's jokes by my 5 older siblings. "Oh yeah, look at the baby go crying to mommy because he can't take a lil joke." As if telling a 8 year old that the dog died was funny.

  16. Human,

    Yes, real book there is. Click on the link, you can pre-order a copy from Amazon. You can find it in a couple other places too, but Amazon has the deepest discount I've seen to date.


  17. Jeff,

    My thoughts on the Democrats' number two:

    Senario 1: H. Clinton. She will be percieved as a "Yankee" from New York and so the hunt will be on for a VP from the South. Edwards springs immediately to mind, but there are other possibilities.

    Senario 2: Obama. He will percieved as relatively strong in the South (if the African Americans get out and vote--or are allowed to), but weak in the West. Richardson springs to mind, and would have the added benefit of being a draw for some Hispanics, but again, there are other possibilities.

    Some of these possibilities will start to assert themselves in the Spring, particularly if the Republicans are perceived as going over the deep end (translation, every VP candidate likes a slam dunk winner).

  18. I hope you know I was only joking about the book. I'll have a friend who is already hooked up w/Amazon order it.

  19. I kind of figured you were, Human. ;-)