Monday, August 20, 2007

George Bush's Holy Crusade in Iraq

We're on a mission from God.
-- The Blues Brothers
I do believe there is an Almighty, and I believe a gift of that Almighty to all is freedom. And I will tell you that is a principle that no one can convince me that doesn’t exist.
-- George Bush
I've been pretty tough on the prez -- calling him everything from a coward to a crackpot -- but there is one thing that I have not criticized him for: His messianic faith-based convictions.

Well, Mr. Bush, time's up.

By way of introduction to this subject, I should note that there is an aspect of George Bush's life of which I am deeply respectful: His successful battle to overcome a drinking problem and probably a drug problem, as well. (Although some would say that an addict's recovery cannot be complete without humility, which he seems to not have a shred of.)

It was through this catharsis that he has said he found religion, and as president his speeches have been suffused with allusions to the Almighty. Indeed, he believes that as the Leader of the Free World he is nothing less than on a mission from God and channels the wisdom of the Holy Son.

That's okey-dokey with me, but as was the case when Bush was boozing and snorting cocaine, he seems to do nothing in moderation – except of course when it comes to intellectual curiosity.

So his view that the Iraq war has an eschatological underpinning and therefore is the right thing to do is appalling.

It does not matter if the president came to the view that God is America's tailgunner in Iraq as his neoconservative coven planned the war or after it started going badly. I suspect the latter, because I also believe that while Bush may have God in his head and on his Teleprompter, there's damned little of the spiritual in his heart. The man is flat out delusional when it comes to the place in a non-sectarian state that religion has, but he is delusional in a cynically pragmatic sort of way. (Thank you, Uncle Karl.)

We also know that Bush has curried favor with the right-wingnut Christianists whose agenda he tiresomely extols, although despite a lot of bravado and federal dough for faith-based programs, for the most part he has merely used this segment of his now miniscule political base for his own ends. (Ditto, Uncle Karl).

* * * * *
What makes George Bush's embrace of His God in beating the drum for His War even more problematic is that war is being fought in a part of the world where the seeds of Christianity and Islam were sewn.

Then there is the little matter of the Islamic jihad against the West. Having worn out previous rationales for the Iraq war, the president now natters endlessly that the war actually is all about defeating those nasty Islamic insurgents in Iraq who launched the 9/11 attacks – a kind of reverse Crusade, if you will.

The Crusades are, in fact, an apt analogy because Islam has been depicted in the GWOT as a dark religion shot through with ignorance and anger that is quite literally a threat to people of the Christian persuasion.

That happens to be true, it's just that a mere fraction of the 1.4 billion people who are Muslims want to kill you and I, our children and Uncle Stanley. It also is my belief that damned few put destroying the American infidel ahead of having food on the table and a roof over their heads. Some health care, a little education and a national government unlike those in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh that treat them as offal would be nice, too.

A great thing about the Christian Bible is that it is like a big vending machine with pastries, cakes, candy, chewing gum and breath mints. There is something in it for almost everyone, so it's useless to quote one of the Holy Dudes in declaring that George Bush is a sinner or a savior.

I happen to worship at home and my God is a little bit of everyone else's. World travel will do that to you. But it does say in my Bible that if you plant ice you're going to harvest wind. No matter who your God may be, George Bush has incurred the wrath of his, and Iraq, America and the world are worse off as a result.


Fran said...

Thank you for yet another outstanding and thought provoking post Shaun.

I admire your restraint in NOT going after him on this yet, but I am glad to have been around when you did.

As a practicing (read liberal, progressive) Catholic who has no need whatsoever to drag anyone to my own spiritual table or judge anyone, I am offended beyond belief over the way GWB and his brand of insane nutty right wing Christianity influences our land. He may not be the root cause but he has been a huge lever in moving it about with speed.

It is disturbing and dangerous. As you aptly note, some world travel will change ones outlook on things about how you view religion etc. I have been most fortunate to travel widely and freely, moving among people and not behind the tinted windows of a tour coach. That changes one indeed.

However I am going to challenge you respectfully on this point... I do not admire in any way his so called successful battle against drugs and alcohol.

Having grown up around a lot of hard drinking, while that is not my demons there have been others, so I know the landscape a bit. So may you I say in respect. That said, I am not the first or last to posit:
1. Maybe he "flipped" one addiction for another or is what is known as a "dry drunk".
2. Maybe he was not at all successful and I think we have seen possible evidence of this

The biggest reason I have for this is that many people claim to, and actually act like they have "found God" but have not at all.

The actual biggest reason is that true recovery can not occur without one essential key ingredient.

That would be humility.

Sorry for such a long comment. You may think I I lack what I just stated above, but I say what I say in the spirit of the exchange of different ideas and not in pursuit of being right.

Pax to all- FranIam

Shaun Mullen said...

You make a very pertinent point, Fran, and I have appended my post to include it. Thank you.

Fran said...

Well, as usual, I hit saved (hah! religion snark moment) and ran off and spent the next few hours wondering about how big a jerk I sounded like.

You are a great man Shaun and I am honored by your gesture.

As ever, I am moved by your writing.

Thank You sir.

Anonymous said...

Shaun thanks for the post. I saw it on Moderate Voice and feel it should be discussed again and again.

This whole campaign's emphasis of moral or ethical superiority, correct reflections of "family values," the demonization of dissenting views, and the endless rants about being un-patriotic Democrats literally turned my mind and heart away from anything or anyone who might make some claim to know the will of the Almighty, (which incidentally I'm fairly certain doesn't exist, at least in any way imaginable by humankind or any particular creed.)

Yes you've used some harsh criticisms, but none more than I've seen coming from the neocons even while they had control of congress and the executive branch, and now apparently the judicial as well.

My hope is for people to see these Jesus-invoking political moves as false, harmful, and divisive.