Ktismatics

20 January 2007

Triple Digits!

Filed under: Reflections — ktismatics @ 8:06 am

Remember late last year when Ivan the atheist got caught in the Jesus Creed spamcatcher and the conversation got rerouted over here? Well that conversation has continued, until now there are more than 100 comments on that one post. It’s kind of become a free-ranging, civil discussion of Christianity and atheism — almost a blog within a blog. Here’s the link.

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147 Comments »

  1. Any ideas on spamcatcher escape?

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 26 January 2007 @ 7:43 am

  2. What, again? I thought your alter-ego was flying under the radar. Did you expose your flank to enemy fire?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 26 January 2007 @ 7:52 am

  3. Hey John,

    Your a well read kind of person. Had you ever read Peter Singers book The President of good and evil?

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 24 February 2007 @ 8:46 am

  4. Ivan –

    No I haven’t. I looked it up on amazon — sounds like Singer is taking Bush to task on his good-versus-evil style. It also sounds like he seems to embed Bush in a broader moralistic tone that characterizes America, or at least a large chunk of America. And Singer is Australian, no? The outsider’s perspective is something I value. But to tell you the truth, even as an American I feel very much like an outsider to Bush’s world, and find it difficult to engage in informative and civil discourse with his supporters. Kind of like atheists talking to evangelicals.

    So did Cheney offer any hope on David Hicks beyond the idea that specific charges will be filed soon? It sounds like Cheney wasn’t embraced to the Australian bosom during his visit.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 24 February 2007 @ 9:14 am

  5. Yes Singer is an Aussie. I only had a passing knowledge of him and heard an interview last week where he made mention of this book. I am about 3/4 into it. Its quite revealing particulary the detail Singer has picked up. I mentioned it to another Christian group and they almost had people comming after me with burning Tar. It wasn’t pretty.
    Cheney is here and the country is hoping he takes the Pm roo shooting. Hicks is getting a fair bit of press with me sending out 10 letters a week to various pollies. We now have a lot of legal people such as Law society and QC’s complaining so its getting harder to ignore.

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 24 February 2007 @ 10:55 am

  6. Incidently, Charges still have yet to be laid as he rockets towards six years in a very small cage.

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 24 February 2007 @ 10:56 am

  7. John,

    Just on a side issue, which I think is rather odd. You know many people picked up at camp six have undergone some stuff which we could call torture and many others were “rendered” and how I love this new language! rendered.. enemy combatant.. to this humble olde atheist it makes me a little ill yet its amazing how much support there is for this behavour of the US military by of all people, various Christian groups! I find this fascinating that of all groups willing to turn a blind eye its these people? You would have thought Jesus being tortured would have made them more senstive or something? You noticed this your end?

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 24 February 2007 @ 11:01 am

  8. There was a public opinion poll in America prior to the Abu Ghraib and Gitmo scandals: Would you torture a terrorist in order to get inforomation? I think it was something like 80% said yes. Maybe it works like this: we aren’t prepared to torture ordinary prisoners, but we will torture terrorists. The guards are torturing these particular prisoners; therefore, they must be terrorists. Maybe sytematic torture is actually part of the state propaganda machinery supporting the war, rather than unfortunate “collateral damage” imposed by a few sociopaths (like Rumsfeld).

    It’s a good question why the American religious right upholds this policy of torture. I think your friend Singer contends that Bush believes he’s fighting the war of Armageddon to bring on the return of Christ. First Iraq, then Israel, then the Rapture. Maybe whatever it takes to hasten the second coming is okay. I don’t know, though. I think labeling people as “evil” or “barbarian” or “terrorists” makes it easier to think of them as something less than human. I think I’ll send an email to Jonathan (Theos Project), who comments here often and who supports Bush, to see what he thinks…

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    Comment by ktismatics — 24 February 2007 @ 4:26 pm

  9. The email has been sent. Meanwhile, in other Australian religious news, there’s this.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 24 February 2007 @ 4:37 pm

  10. Ivan says…it makes me a little ill yet its amazing how much support there is for this behavour of the US military by of all people, various Christian groups! I find this fascinating that of all groups willing to turn a blind eye its these people? You would have thought Jesus being tortured would have made them more senstive or something? You noticed this your end?

    John says…It’s a good question why the American religious right upholds this policy of torture.

    I think at a very fundamental level the answer is simple: Dealing with evil people requires evil methods. These people who are being tortured belong to a wider network who threaten to destroy goodness and freedom in the world and replace it with radical Isalmic rule. They will bomb children and civilians and fly planes into towers – in short, they will do the most heinous things conceivable in order to destroy those who do not fall in line with their agenda. As such, these networks must be stopped at all costs, even if that means torturing prisoners to gain information that will help bring down these evil networks.

    I think, in a nutshell, that is the rationale for torture, and also for the wider war on terror. As you have probably observed these are recurring themes in Bush/Cheney speeches and interviews.

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 24 February 2007 @ 5:00 pm

  11. But John,

    As I understood it, Many of these people were not in fact connected to Terrorists. This fact was found out “by the torture” itself. If this is right, we are torturing the innocent to prove innocence or guilt. What do you say about it in this context?

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 24 February 2007 @ 9:21 pm

  12. John
    I heard this other story. The Catholics felt they lost control of funerals. They were getting very personal and moving in our country, apparently not solemn enough for the church.

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 24 February 2007 @ 9:23 pm

  13. Jonathan –

    Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21). Perhaps the evils you would not do as an individual you are prepared to have the state do on your behalf?

    The evidence does not support the idea that these prisoners are terrorists. Most prisoners are never tried; half have been sent back to their home countries, nearly all of whom are released within 48 hours. It’s casting a pretty wide net if the US military is prepared to capture, detain and torture 9 non-terrorists for every terrorist. Is this strategy supposed to instill respect in the Middle East for American might?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 25 February 2007 @ 5:41 am

  14. I couldn’t agree more with you on that last one.

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 25 February 2007 @ 10:35 am

  15. John,
    I have a real problem with both evil and notions of friendly fire. You maybe aware of a comedy movie called Austen Powers? A funny scene in this movie is when Austen makes a big James Bond escape and one of the henchmen die. In Powers, it cuts to the wife of henchman getting the telegram, it’s rather funny. When I watched the Iraqi war unfold, I was particularly taken by the random deaths of what we now know were just ordinary people. You might remember the convoys of cars crossing the desert at night and the military bombing them thinking it was Osama, lots of these people were families, in once case simple middle class people escaping the main war, Singer details one such family that two members were doctors.
    I watched this and the resulting FISH the initials that stand for fighting in someone’s house. If you caught any of it, you would have seen the doors being kicked in and people rounded up. Most made it to Abu and we know very well what happened there.
    My father was blind. He never actually saw me John. I value eyesight like you can’t believe! When one of these very ordinary men, gets rounded up and has his arms hand cuffed through a cell door, so he can’t move away, a Woman jailer walking past casually pokes both fingers in his eyes detaching his retinas. I heard him interviewed where he asked what manner of evil makes people do things like this. As it turns out very few people were ever and will ever be called to account.
    This decade disturbs me very much.

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 26 February 2007 @ 8:28 am

  16. During the Vietnam war it was possible to avoid being drafted by registering as a “conscientious objector.” But you had to believe that no war was justified, not just that Vietnam was bad policy. I can’t honestly say that I think all wars are unjustifiable. I think WWII was justified. I might even have been willing to entertain the possibility that ousting Saddam militarily would have been a justifiable act, maybe even an ethical one. Any war will result in civilian casualties, and to declare war is to acknowledge that you may be responsible for killing innocent people. I suspect also that soldiers have to come to grips with an innate capacity for cruelty that remains hidden even from yourself but that comes to the surface, and that may even give you a fighting edge, in wartime. If you’re going to let loose the beast within you’d better be damned sure your war is a just one.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 26 February 2007 @ 8:56 am

  17. I think your right John. I also think changing the Iraqi Government was a good idea. Its just pity that so many,many other despotic Governments in many countries were ignored. I kept hearing this saying The US Government making the world safer one regime at a time (or something like this) which you know is simply never going to happen unless there is a real “strategic” asset or resource etc. you just know don’t you.

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 26 February 2007 @ 9:27 am

  18. Ivan says….As I understood it, Many of these people were not in fact connected to Terrorists. This fact was found out “by the torture” itself. If this is right, we are torturing the innocent to prove innocence or guilt. What do you say about it in this context?

    ktismatics says…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21). Perhaps the evils you would not do as an individual you are prepared to have the state do on your behalf?

    I think this statement by K goes to the heart of most Conservatives in the States, and would probably include myself as well. I probably would not have the ability to slice up a terrorist in order to get information about other terrorists. Or worse yet, to slice up several non-terrorists with no information in order to finally get to the actual terrorist who actually does have useful information.

    I get the impression from both K and Ivan that we all three would acknowledge that there is real “evil” in the world. The question is this: How to address the evil. Conservatives like myself have a pragmatic and workable solution: Fight back and beat down the evil with force. With a superior military this will work, and evil will be extinguished. But it is costly. The innocent will suffer, and those of us who are “good” will find ourselves doing evil (like torturing the innocent) in order to fight evil. In this sense there will be some of us who actually have to become the evil thing that we hate in order to beat it. But perhaps all of us who condone this approach get our hands a bit bloody….We gain the good, but lose our souls, so to speak.

    The other side of the coin are those who believe you do not fight evil with evil. Yet it is difficult to discern a workable solution: How do we purge those bent on evil? How do we deal with terrorist networks or hell-bent dictators? So, in this case we save our souls, but the evil people rule the land.

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 26 February 2007 @ 2:24 pm

  19. It seems to me that most political positions are naive. No matter where you fall on this debate you have to sacrifice something. If you want to fight evil you must sacrifice your integrity. If you want to maintain your integrity you must sacrifice the ability to deal with evil in the world and evil ends up reigning. Most political positions simply sell the best of their philosophy to the masses. They do this to win votes and get into power.

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 26 February 2007 @ 2:37 pm

  20. Depressing isn’t it?

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 26 February 2007 @ 8:06 pm

  21. Does evil really end up winning?

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    Comment by Ivan — 27 February 2007 @ 11:20 am

  22. I guess it depends on what you mean by “winning.”

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 27 February 2007 @ 1:19 pm

  23. winning…triumping? does it always come out on top?

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    Comment by Ivan — 27 February 2007 @ 9:56 pm

  24. Jonathan advocates evil means to achieve good ends. Jesus explicitly rejects that sort of pragmatism. In the Old Testament God seems to regard holy war as a good thing. I suspect that in OT terms all warlike means, including torture, are good if you’re acting under God’s command. But Jesus came along and explicitly rejected holy war against Rome. Still, the eventual Christian alliance with Rome seemed to restore that sense of holy war to the Christian belief system, which became especially pronounced during the medieval Crusades and Inquisitions. Those guys were big fans of torture. Here’s a wikipedia link to the Crusade against the Catharists of southern France. Read especially about the town of Beziers, maybe halfway down the page.

    So the question remains: what is the explicit Christian rationale for
    war, torture, slaughter of the innocents, etc.? Is it that war in the name of God is good? Or is it fighting evil with evil in the name of good? Non-Christians have to answer the same questions too, of course, but they don’t necessarily have to reconcile their answer with Jesus’s teachings.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 28 February 2007 @ 6:28 am

  25. I would like to hear a few thinking Christians answers. I am about to look at that link now.

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 28 February 2007 @ 8:47 am

  26. I have been involved with some Christian groups that advocate pacifism. So, not all Christians are in favor of war. Some categorically reject it, though I would tend to think that the majority of Christians in the States are not pacifists.

    So the question remains: what is the explicit Christian rationale for
    war, torture, slaughter of the innocents, etc.? Is it that war in the name of God is good? Or is it fighting evil with evil in the name of good? Non-Christians have to answer the same questions too, of course, but they don’t necessarily have to reconcile their answer with Jesus’s teachings.

    Yes. I think that for the majority of non-Pacifist Christians the answer is that fighting evil with evil for the sake of preserving the good is good.

    Now, you mentioned Jesus’ teachings, and I’m not sure if I am on the same page with you. Could you flesh out in more detail your understanding of specific passages? I’m not being coy or evasive, it’s just that Jesus’ language took on various forms: hyperbole, parable, proverbial, narrative, doctrine, etc. So, it is important to deal with specific texts and contexts before making sweeping statements about “what Jesus taught.” Fair question?

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 28 February 2007 @ 4:26 pm

  27. Forgive me for jumping in to the middle of a very stimulating discussion and i do not think i qualify as a ‘thinking christian’, nonetheless here goes:
    The picture of God in the OT is one where I suspect that politics and expediency for the leaders of Israel play a very large part in many of the odd things that God supposedly asks His chisen people to do. In each such instance where I see God acting “out of character” I find myself taking a very good long hard look at the supposed commands of God. Spin is certainly not a new invention, it’s as ancient as politics itself.

    There is I think quite a good parallel in today’s American politics, though I am a bit at a loss to understand Howard’s and Blair’s unstinting support. There is no doubt that the American right at the very least sees themselves as God’s chosen. The respective politicians have found this to provide fertile ground for success not only in elections but also in subsequently maximising their earnings with the support of an unquestioning and religiously blinded electorate. One that cannot even ask questions as such questioning is unpatriotic and will put the troops “in harm’s way” etc.

    The ‘tough line’ and things like Guanatanamo, Abu Graib, lots of incidental collateral damage, a bit of torture, a few renderings, a few hundred thousand Iraqis less and just a few thousand troops sacrificed along the way, but the billions of dollars that have flowed in select directions and without any real account?…now that has to be the main point and so it was in OT times too!

    The neocon argument is that there is a greater purpose in their overall plan (and according to them this does not overtly involve pocketing some healthy sums along the way) as America’s future dominance of world resources must be ensured and this is the immediate goal as far as iraq is concerned.

    It’s worrying that tho the neocon think tanks have been quite transparent (from the 90s on) as to their grand plan, the electorate has remained largely ignorant of this.

    here I’m in the middle of a rant while it is essentially an issue that America will have to sort out for itself.

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    Comment by samlcarr — 28 February 2007 @ 6:16 pm

  28. Jonathan-

    Jesus rejected the idea of military rebellion against Rome. Was it purely a pragmatic rationale: they’ve got more soldiers than we do? Maybe. But Jesus seems consistently to resist Machiavellian tactics, personal violence, revenge at the individual and interpersonal level. The inheritors of the kingdom seem to have it handed to them from on high. So I doubt basically whether Jesus would support wars launched for expanding territory or forcing conversions or gaining access to natural resources or destabilizing regions. Righteous wars to overcome corruption? I dunno – maybe. Systematic torture to extract information? Rounding up prisoners without due cause and holding them without due process? Doubtful. But I guess if I thought Jesus was an emissary of the OT God I’d say all bets are off and anything goes if you’re convinced that God is on your side. I guess if Jesus rejects violence against people one-on-one, and if he rejected the conquering king job even though presumably he could have done it if he’d wanted to, I’d put him in the pacifist camp. But I haven’t messed with this stuff much. And then there’s that Romans 12 passage about not overcoming good with evil. And you?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 28 February 2007 @ 8:49 pm

  29. K,
    Why do you say that Jesus rejected the idea of a military rebellion against Rome? Or that Jesus resisted Machiavellian tactice? Or even that Jesus resisted revenge?

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 28 February 2007 @ 9:10 pm

  30. General impressions. Don’t you think there’s a motif that Jesus is suffering servant rather than conquering hero, that the zealots were disappointed in him as alleged messiah? That Jesus doesn’t go for the eye-for-an-eye theory of vengeance? Turn the other cheek. Blessed are the meek and the peacemakers. That sort of thing. Don’t you share that impression?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 28 February 2007 @ 9:43 pm

  31. Sure. I share the impression. And I understand the motif…..but we’re talking specific policy in this thread. Ivan and Sam and yourself want us to get out of Iraq based on Jesus. I’m just wondering how we go from a general impression of not slapping cheeks to the specific condemnation of Bush policy in Iraq.

    Or are we just saying that it is inconsistent for a Christ-follower to support a war and believe in the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus did have a violent side. He cleared the temple of merchants who were trying to cash in on sales for the sacrifices. One might call that a battle in the greater war against evil…..

    Finally, there is the whole notion of two gods: Jesus’ New Testament god of love and the Old Testament god of war. I’ll acknowledge a difference of emphasis. For example, I’ll agree with Sam that we see Yahweh tied to the nation of the Jews. We see holy wars take place. But even within a nationalistic time period there was still a redemptive movement: God-given laws to protect the alien from getting taken advantage of, laws to provide for the poor, Opportunities for certain nations to turn from their evil and be spared judgment. Also, Israel often suffered brutal judgment from God if they did the evil that the nations around them had done. So, I wouldn’t say that in the OT the primary theme was nationalistic as much as it was God trying to build a pure nation through which to bless all nations.

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 28 February 2007 @ 10:19 pm

  32. This might be a radical solution, but let me throw it out here for discussion.

    Is it possible that there is no, single so-called “biblical” position on war? Does the inherent brokenness and instability of our world prevent us from holding an absolute “yea” or “nay” to the war question?

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 28 February 2007 @ 10:21 pm

  33. I want us to get out of Iraq not for “Jesus” but because it serves no more point. Once Saddam was arrested. On an aside, did you guys read Time magazines story on Saddam lads? Did they summarily execute them? Honest to God I swear that’s what they did. Captured them and a bullet to each head just to be sure. Apparently saves time on having criminal trials.
    Hey and I am dang sure Jesus over turning the money changers tables was a bit different to dropping cluster munitions or Cruise missile ordinance on an Iraqi
    neighbor hood.
    I don’t know the Bible well enough to answer your question Jonathan but I think there might be a “yes” case. I need to get back to you.

    John I certainly do get that kind of impression from what I have read about Jesus. In my minds eye he is the original hippie.

    Ivan

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 1 March 2007 @ 5:02 am

  34. Jonathan, i’m sure the bible can be interpreted to mean whatever one wants it to mean, but seriously, where would you find any support in the NT for a just war?

    Jesus many sayings in the SOMT and parallels and moreover His teaching a kingdom ethic for this world that is not of this world would be two themes that come to my mind. His statements at or just before His trial may be considered suspect and so excluded but the core of His Q sayings all quite explicitly point the other way.

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    Comment by samlcarr — 1 March 2007 @ 12:42 pm

  35. Jonathan, i’m sure the bible can be interpreted to mean whatever one wants it to mean…

    Right. That’s sort of my point. I don’t think the point of Scripture was to dictate national foreign policy in the US regarding Middle East dealings.

    My reading of Jesus is that one should not act out of vengeance. Quite the contrary. Enemies are to be prayed for, and if one’s enemy uses their position of superiority to force you to carry their army gear one mile a Christ-follower should be of such a mind after that sweaty mile of lugging the gear to offer that pompous soldier to carry it another mile. Returning evil with good. That’s my reading.

    But I guess I don’t see how that translates into how a nation should go about foreign policy. Are you suggesting that we should tell the world (and perhaps the Chinese in particular) that if they invade our nation we are not going to fight back, but will let them take over? I guess I see that as a major stretch of the Sermon on the Mount.

    seriously, where would you find any support in the NT for a just war?

    Right. And that’s the other side. I don’t know that I see a lot of holy war talk, either.

    That’s why I am wondering if there is a so-called “Christian” view of war. Or if we are all just suppossed to hash these things out on a case by case basis.

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 1 March 2007 @ 1:49 pm

  36. Ivan says…I want us to get out of Iraq not for “Jesus” but because it serves no more point.

    How about to stabilize the region a bit? Don’t you think that is a good reason to stay for a little while longer?

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 1 March 2007 @ 1:52 pm

  37. This is a test: I posted it on theos project and it didn’t work right, so I’m trying to debug it. But it’s interesting in its own right so I’ll leave it here too…

    And in today’s news, a new report shows that the rate of terrorist attacks worldwide has jumped 4-fold since the Iraq war began. Terrrorist activity increased much faster after the war began than in the interval between 9/11 and the Iraq invasion. “America is safer and America is winning the War on Terror,” Bush continues to say — this quote is from 9/06. Lie or exaggeration? Or maybe he just didn’t have the data in hand yet. Biased study? The National Counterterrorism Center’s Worldwide Incidents Tracking System reached the same conclusions 2 months before the afore-cited quote from Bush.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 1 March 2007 @ 6:22 pm

  38. Your post at my blog worked. It actually posted it twice!

    Here was my response over there, I’ll repost it here:

    A comment from the “new report” site:
    It’s like the battered wife syndrome. Standing in front of the police with a broken arm and an eye swollen shut, she doesn’t press charges because it may make him mad.

    Don’t take the bees nest down from the front porch…..the bees will attack us. We’ll just sit here and sip our summer tea and take a sting once in awhile.

    There have been hundreds of terrorist attacks across the globe, well before Bush put one foot in the White House.

    So now everyone thinks the gates of hell have opened up, as if the gates before were only slightly ajar.

    I think that an escalation of terrorists attacks is not really surprising to me. I don’t think it discredits the war on terror or even the Iraq occupation. I think it just makes me think that if we leave right now then it would be a clear victory for terrorists cells.

    We tried to ignore worldwide terrorism and the result was 9/11. So, now we find the struggle heightened and intensified.

    Conflict. Sometimes it can be smooted over. Sometimes two parties can negotiate a settlement. Sometimes we can ignore it and it eventually goes away. Sometimes it reaches a point where direct confrontation is unavoidable and one party must win and the other must lose.

    In regard to Iraq and the war on terror I don’t think we can go back. We are locked into a win or lose scenario.

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 1 March 2007 @ 8:56 pm

  39. Jonathan,

    I do, if it could stabilise the region.I just don’t think it is, from what I hear and see down here its doing the exact opposite.

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    Comment by Ivan — 1 March 2007 @ 10:22 pm

  40. Nothing quite gives me the chills as win/lose scenarios.

    Hows the war on drugs going by the way?

    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 1 March 2007 @ 10:25 pm

  41. I don’t want to hijack this discussion into a critique of US foreign policy but the view from the rest of the world and increasingly from within America itself is quite different from what many American Christians are defending.

    The American right saddens me precisely because of the confusion on what the gospel says vs. what the nation has to do. Seems like both Paul and Jesus were quite clear about practical implications – let the political leadership do its job to the best of its ability. Our involvement with that is only through prayer and being law abiding citizens while we get on with doing what Jesus asked us to do.

    The application of a gospel based ethic will result in a quiet but very effective revolution as far as society at large goes. Simply standing for truthfulness, justice, and peace should be enough as we also practice what we preach.

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    Comment by samlcarr — 1 March 2007 @ 11:34 pm

  42. Sam,

    I don’t necessarily disagree with you on any of those points. I think what you are driving at is a matter of focus: Does the church (in whatever culture she finds herself) define herself by politcal involvement or by acts of goodness and an attitude that mirrors the Sermon on the Mount?

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 2 March 2007 @ 1:22 pm

  43. Hows the war on drugs going by the way?

    Actually, I heard it wasn’t going too bad….better than the war on poverty!

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 2 March 2007 @ 1:22 pm

  44. Jonathan –

    Suppose you believed your cause was just, that you were on the side of good against an evil enemy. In order to prevail you are prepared to use evil tactics: detention without due cause, torture, killing. Would you be prepared to use the evil tactics of terrorism and suicide bombing in pursuit of your higher good?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 2 March 2007 @ 4:22 pm

  45. I think the moral dilemma is much deeper than we pretend. Being tough on terrorists sounds fine but it ignores a couple of basic realities. First is the question of proof. Is it good enough that I suspect you to be a terrorist? Is it enough if someone points a finger at you? Do I start applying harsh methods to wring that deadly info from you before or after your guilt is proven?

    Then, suppose I ‘know’ x is a terrorist, and I know that he/she has been trained by al qaeda (or whatever) to withstand all my tortures. Time is short. Say I have the family in custody (parents, wife/hubby, kids). Aren’t I quite justified in torturing the family members in front of the terrorist to get that critical key bit of intelligence from him/her)? Let’s say that that too doesn’t work out. How bout threatening him/her with calling down an airstrike on his/her village? After all it’s in the greater interest, and he/she is a terrorist

    Could it be that a CIA operative asked to do this may refuse on the grounds of being a conscientious objector?

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    Comment by samlcarr — 2 March 2007 @ 7:57 pm

  46. Saml,

    Some of what you suggest were actual operational scenarios during the invasion of Iraq particularly in finding Saddam. I had been reading about it in Singers book, the president of good and evil. Singer points out the very many times the target was an ordinary looking truck that happened to be parked in a normal neighborhood, apparently each mission needed approval from Rumsfeld and there wasn’t a single mission stopped or objected to. The ratio of civilian deaths was very much out of any proportion to the potential target.
    From my perspective down here, the only people currently terrorized are the Iraqi’s themselves, both terrified now of the US as well as there own people up north.
    Right now I think Amin Saikal is the sanest man in the asylum. Its time to just get the hell out of there.
    Elvis needs to leave the building.

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    Comment by Ivan — 3 March 2007 @ 12:39 am

  47. Would you be prepared to use the evil tactics of terrorism and suicide bombing in pursuit of your higher good?

    I suppose such a question begs a question: How much greater is the “higher good”? If the “good” is high enough then we are generally willing to make a greater sacrifice. For example, I might consider stealing to be morally wrong, but if I’m starving I start to rethink my ethics…If I come from an economically depressed part of the world and I’m told it is the fault of the evil infidels like the United States and I have to watch my family die of starvation, etc. then I might be willing to sacrifice my life for the greater good and for the good of my society that I believe is a victim of oppression and suppression – and all this despite the fact that it is really the fault of thug dictators like Saddam who live in luxury off the backs of my fellow countrymen….

    If you are asking me, personally, I would answer your question with a “no.” However, if you transplant or recontextualize me to a place of personal desperation then my answer would probably change….

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 3 March 2007 @ 2:19 am

  48. Great point Jonathan.

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    Comment by Ivan — 3 March 2007 @ 6:10 am

  49. John,

    Did you see Hicks has finally been charged? five and half years in solitary, Rendered, Bashed, Assaulted sexually, starved, water boarded and we get.. drum roll please..

    Material support for Terrorism.

    Thats it.. all the other charges all dropped for lack of evidence. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    The Australian Government, thats “my” Government was busted earlier last year for paying Saddam several millions in bribes. This money would have no doubt purchased AK 47 ordinance no doubt fired at both yours and our troops.
    The Government “rigged” an investigation that stopped short of the actual ringleaders.

    And Hicks. gets half a decade of his life taken off him because he was a very stupid young man. Its expected he will make 6 years by the time he is “tried” by the military and then has to serve his time.

    What a wonderful world.

    Like

    Comment by Ray — 3 March 2007 @ 10:22 am

  50. Ivan –

    Well I’m glad they finally charged him. I suppose his best hope is that he gets tried, and probably convicted, by the end of the year, then they let him go home to serve the sentence under very lenient terms and he can resume some semblance of normal life. You’ve done a worthy thing by taking up his cause.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 3 March 2007 @ 7:34 pm

  51. I have huge arguments down here with people that think I am “siding” somehow with terrorism. The issue has always been one of justice and working within a normal legal framework. I felt so sorry for his father, he was a country fellow, never travelled overseas. It was the way this thing unfolded through his eyes that moved me a bit to action. They are talking now of a plea bargain I have heard this morning.

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 4 March 2007 @ 2:44 am

  52. Well, I hope that after all that, Hick fights it and wins rather than agreeing to plead guilty for some inane offense and ending up with more jail time. I don’t know the rules of the game, but it looks like the military tribunal thing is illegal by international judicial standards, just as illegal as incarcerating someone in no-law land indefinitely. ‘Time served’ would also be a poor deal, what if he’s found guilty but only given say a 2 year sentence, does that mean he gets compensation and an apology for the rest of his time being tortured and behind bars?

    At least Hick had the Australian allies fighting for his cause, but what about all the other poor sods who have been and are going thru that ‘process’ with no hope of reprieve, a fair hearing or anything like justice?

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 5 March 2007 @ 10:04 pm

  53. As I understand it, The Americans and the Brits pulled there citizens out feeling the trial process wouldn’t be fair. Its just us that didn’t. The Military are looking at a 20 year sentence with no allowance for time served. This was reported in our papers yesterday

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 5 March 2007 @ 10:26 pm

  54. I’m feeling a bit bad (not too much) for having made Jonathan the spokesperson for right wing thinking when his position seems to be much more equivocal than that.

    What is most puzzling to me now is that it’s obvious that the vast majority in the intelligence community were dead against going into Iraq on anything like a long-term basis. I have my doubts as to the administration’s views too for it’s hard to believe that they really thought that they could just walk in and take over. There’s no doubt that Bush, Blair & Co. knew that Iraq was a poverty stricken mess and had neither an effective military nor any WMD.

    So, my question is, what about truth? The neocon’s don’t mind making justice bend over a bit and this “in the greater interest” is considered acceptable to Christian ethics. Does the same apply to bending the truth?

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 6 March 2007 @ 1:15 pm

  55. Hey Sam,

    Please don’t feel bad. Although I may not be a spokesperson for the right wing my thinking is generally leaning right rather than left….so, I enjoy taking shots from people who lean left b/c it keeps me in line!

    In regards to your most recent query here is a quick thought: Did Bush, Blair $ Co. perhaps have the course of the Iraq war reversed? Did they think that there would be prolonged battles to “take over Iraq” and that once they conquered and defeated that it would be simply a matter of a rather straight-forward restoration process? But we basically walked right in to Iraq and “took over”. Ah, but Saddam, et al never had intentions of fighting a straight-forward war for the country. They would pick and choose their battles. So, perhaps at this point it would be more accurate to say that we are still fighting for Iraq and that we never really “conquered” or otherwise won.

    Perhaps both right and left are mistaken by thinking that the US has won anything yet….It may seem like an obvious point, but it goes back to your question about “truth.” Maybe for Bush/Blair/Co. it was less about truth and more a misunderstanding of the way this war would be waged. In defense of BBC (not the brit news network!) how could they have really anticipated the course of events in this war?

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 6 March 2007 @ 3:35 pm

  56. Jonathan,
    I guess I am a bit more sceptical as far as dealing with politicians goes. From a 3rd world perspective, we took Saddam quite a bit more seriously than Americans seem to. He ruled his country with an iron fist and with minority support. I guess we are a bit more pragmatic in our way of dealing with such situations and we realise that sometimes it’s a necessity to be ruthless in order to hold things together. But then, morally Sadam is no different than the kings os Saud or of any other neighboring states. The repressiveness is just a fact of life. These are knowns for the intelligence experts on areas like the middleeast, and their assessments are bread and butter for leaders of any nation that wants to have dealings with the ME.

    But getting back to the question of truth. From a specifically Christian standpoint, how could one justify selling the public a packet of lies in order to get on with taking over Iraq, or bringing about democracy there or regime change or whatever else one felt to be worthy goals? Is this too justified by the greater good? Seems to me that while some may feel that they have a bit of ‘wiggle room’ with questions of pacifism or even justice, as far as the gospel and truth goes, there simply is no room for compromise on truth.

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 6 March 2007 @ 8:22 pm

  57. Well, yea. I mean, I would agree with you that from a Christian standpoint you wouldn’t want to compromise truth. But the reason I went into that whole thing about the expectations of war is that I don’t work under the assumption that the American public was lied to. I mean, we may have been lied to. For example, I’m sure that even with the utmost amount of integrity a world leader cannot divulge all of his information, but that is completely different from saying that the leader is “lying.” Furthermore, there is a great deal of political capital to be gained by cashing in on the “Bush lied, people died” slogan. The Dems cashed this check in the November elections and are now finding that there may not be sufficient funds, i.e. it is easy to fire shots at leaders who are doing things, but it is another thing to be the one in power and to actually have to make touch decisions. Hence, we have “non-binding” resolutions and other such political hogwash, but no real plan of action for Iraq and the middle east as a whole is to be seen….

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 6 March 2007 @ 8:52 pm

  58. President Bush in the company of Kofi Annan, made this statement which is on the public record:

    ” We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in,and he wouldn’t let them in.And, therefore,after a reasonable request,we decided to remove him from power”

    President G. W. Bush.

    Whats going on fellas? Who is pulling the strings here?
    I am sure its not Bush lying, but somebody is telling him to say this stuff.
    Straussians at work?

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 6 March 2007 @ 11:29 pm

  59. Jonathan, I guess I am particularly irked at Bush & Co precisely because he claims to be a born again Christian. I suppose one could say that 1) he didn’t reveal what he knew for security reasons or 2) he may not have really known that there were no WMD… Somehow, it seems like if 1) were true then he lied about the WMD (for a ‘good’ cause). I frankly find 2) hard to believe given the amount of intelligence that was there – just look at your CIA budget! And the spooks are now out in force saying ‘we told you so’. So, I conclude that Bush &c knew the truth and deliberately went ahead anyway for their own reasons.

    That may or may not be good leadership but it is sad if that is argued to be the ‘Christian position’ as so many of the more conservative segments are still vociferously promoting.

    The fact that the Dems have even less of a clue has really got nothing to do with it. Where are the Bonhoeffers of the U.S. hiding?

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 7 March 2007 @ 7:16 pm

  60. Here’s a 10 point proposal for restoring the moral authority of the USA. It addresses human rights violations like habeas corpus and rendition. The ACLU and Amnesty International have signed it, among others. Some church groups too.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 8 March 2007 @ 5:24 am

  61. I understand your point, Sam, and I understand if you find it hard to believe that Bush & Co. really did believe there were WMDs. I don’t necessarily find it hard to believe, but that’s probably just going to be a difference between us. If Bush really did lie to the nation to get us into a war, then I would have a problem with that.

    On the flip side, I would disagree with you that the Dems not having a clue is not relevant. I think that there is potential for middle east stability if we can finish the job in Iraq and institute some form of government that does not oppress its people, impoverish the nation, and does not allow Iraq to become a breeding ground for terrorist cells and terror organizations. If we can accomplish that in the Middle East then I would imagine that history would judge the war as a monumental success. But time will tell…..

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 8 March 2007 @ 2:59 pm

  62. Sam and Jonathan –

    I personally believe that Bush lied about the WMDs and the Saddam-al Qaida link. But I also believe that the Democrats knew it was a lie and went along with it. The American people were understandably freaked out by 9/11, but even before that catastrophe 2 out of 3 Americans wanted to invade Iraq, take down Saddam, and “finish what we started” in Gulf War One. The neocons fanned the flame to full blaze, and the Democrats didn’t have the gumption to stand up and fight the firestorm of populist vengeance and the Administration’s demagoguery. In sum, I think the Democrats were mostly pro-war in the beginning too, and were perfectly willing for the CIA and company to cook up a half-baked justification that everybody knew was mostly hot air (I don’t know if that metaphor hangs together or not.) That’s why the Democrats have been perfectly willing to criticize Bush and Rumsfeld for mismanaging the war, but hesitant in denouncing the war on principle. They were all in on it.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 8 March 2007 @ 10:26 pm

  63. Johnathan,

    What conditions would need to be met in your view for everyone to pull out of Iraq? At what point would be too much? Right now the civilian death toll exceeds 60,000 men,woman and children. At what moment would you consider enough is enough?

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 8 March 2007 @ 10:46 pm

  64. Ivan,

    I think the question is misguided. But it does go to the heart of the disagreement between pro/anti war.

    I think the better question is: What are the ramifications of pulling out? In other words, what damage is done in the long term if we pull out and another government comes to power in Iraq that is as bad or worse than Saddam. If our primary question is, “How much is too much?” then we might miss the bigger picture about what happens in the Middle East if the Iraqi government falls under totalitarian regime.

    What is happening right now is not pretty, but neither is it entirely the fault of the U.S. – that’s what I think. I think that there are warring ethnic factions in Iraq and terrorist cells who also have an interest in disrupting Iraq….so, I think the U.S. presence is simply concentrating a diverse array of conflicts in one geographic location. One might say that the U.S. presence intensifies these conflicts and hightens them. I think it is just resolving fights that would have gone on, anyway, and would have gone on for hundreds of years in the future. But if we can bring some sort of sane democracy to a very important region of the middle east, then I can’t help but think that the long term benefits would outway the short term costs.

    But as I think about it this is not, necessarily a right vs. left issue. Barry Goldwater once said we ought to stay out of the middle east because, “there are a bunch of jack asses running around trying to kill each other and I don’t see why we should be there.” I know that Pat Buchanan has also been anti-war. Conservatives who are protectionists and more nationalistic sometimes lean towards isolationism and reject involvment in foreign conflicts, as a general rule.

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 9 March 2007 @ 5:41 pm

  65. Jonathan,
    it seems to me that the rammifications of going in were never addressed and this is a serious problem with US foreign policy going back to at least the cold war and onwards.

    Your assumption is that there is/was a real possibility that something good (by American standards) may be a possibility but is it and was it ever? You speak as though there was instability and the American aim was to either restore or perhaps initiate stability but where was this supposed instability? Iraq was a stable nation, repressive as many in that region, but ‘stability’ was not a problem under Saddam.

    Now there certainly are “warring ethnic factions” but while they have been together for hundreds of years the all out warring is just 2 years old.

    What would have happened after Saddam is an open question but then these ME nations seem to have a knack for finding able and ruthless rulers, so the probability is that it would have been more of the same – repressive but stable.

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 9 March 2007 @ 6:36 pm

  66. Sam,

    I’ll buy that….But then we are almost getting into a numbers game here: How many people died and would have died under the repression and genocide of Saddam and successor(s) versus how many people have died and will die as a result of the war…..Then there’s the whole “quality of life” thing….Is this turning into a heartless quantitative calculation that some guy in an ivory tower could figure up for us???

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 9 March 2007 @ 8:07 pm

  67. Jonathan,
    It may be that Iraq cannot be governed conventionally as we do in the West with democracy. Maybe its a country that needs a tough love approach and that’s why dictatorships work here?
    My guess is that the ramifications of the US pulling out would in fact be a down turning in civilian deaths and deaths in general.

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 9 March 2007 @ 10:49 pm

  68. Hypothetically, let’s say that you are correct about the country needing “tough love”. In this case the U.S. would be in perhaps the best position of anyone to just completely take over the country and run it. Seek out and destroy the terrorists, arrest the ethnic trouble makers and establish a U.S. dictatorship, of sorts.

    The above is just a hypothetical. If you are right about the hypothetical, though, then I think our next step would be obvious. It would also settle a long-standing disagreement that I have had with John about whether or not the guns-a-blazin’ muscle-flexing that the U.S. has been doing in the ME is gaining the respect of terrorist networks and other factions that only seem to respond to a display of strength and force.

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 10 March 2007 @ 12:14 am

  69. Well it certainly did work well with the Shock and Awe campaign! In the words of your Dr Phill “how’s it working for ya”? I don’t know what any of us are doing there Jonathan, truly I don’t. After invading a sovereign nation because the US felt it had weapons of mass destruction, which when you think is kind of insane, a preemptive attack on one country because it’s possibly developing weapons against your country. Is it any wonder Iran needs nuclear weapons? Is it any wonder North Korea needs nukes also? Anyone on earth could get “invaded” by your country preemptively.
    It’s just insane. Meanwhile, Iraq now completely destroyed, and make no mistake it’s gone. Now have in fighting on a civil war scale, I mean is any of this working for anyone? I have no doubt if we leave people will be butchered. I have no doubt if we stay people will get butchered. I have no doubts at all that an invading country isn’t going to be able to set up a government in this countries climate. Meanwhile its costing you guys particularly billions of dollars a day. And Jonathan, No one.. and I mean No one at all has any kind of a plan except, lets fire more bullets. Is this really working for you? I mean really?

    Regards
    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 10 March 2007 @ 2:51 am

  70. I don’t know your family situations but I have a daughter and I love her very much. I am a bit “anti” any situation that involves killing other peoples children for any reason but most specifically made up ones. You guys might had noticed that back when I was on the Jesus Creed as the token atheist, I got accused of moral bankruptcy and having Nietzsche as my prophet, yet oddly I seem often to be the only one in favour of keeping the commandments of the Christian God about not killing people and I don’t even believe he exists, how crazy is that? I have had a wonderful case on another page of denouncing “rendering” and oddly again the people opposing my argument and justifying torture were fundamentalist Christians. It’s an odd world.

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 10 March 2007 @ 3:12 am

  71. Jonathan,
    I’m not at all suggesting any numbers games. The ‘justifications’ to invade a sovereign nation simply were so much hot air. But that’s my opinion and not my main point at all. If one wanted to really worry about numbers, Darfur would have been a much better bet!

    What I was getting at is that American foreign policy has not had blinders on when dealing with the rest of the world and most particularly nations in the ME and bordering Russia. The real aims of the specific policies are not in the least understood by the American public. I don’t expect you to agree with me here, but let me just go back a bit on Osama, Musharraf and Saddam and then develop that a bit.

    All three were allies of the U.S. in the cold war. Particularly, their sphere of interest and their partnership with the U.S. was with regards to Afghanistan, the Russian occupation and getting the Russians to leave.

    Americans rarely pay attention to stuff like foreign policy as it is so far removed from their daily lives but it’s real. I think your average joe, in general knows very little of substance about your government’s alliances with various politicos around the world. the only things that occupy American attention are Israel and Cuba, deliberately so, if you ask me.

    Many of America’s alloies are autocratic, repressive, leaders. Even the current reaction in South America stems from the same history of selectively supporting right-wing dictators.

    Anyhow, the three in question, were never allies with each other, but were three seperately developed ‘special weapons’ doing different nasty things to the Russians in Afghanistan for over 20 years. During this entire time they were nurtured, equipped, trained and supported by America and through the CIA.

    Saddam starts a war with Iran with tacit U.S. support but it gets nowhere and after many years the U.S. loses interest and Saddam desists.

    After the Russians finally left, Afghanistan reverted to what it had always been, a feudal state with many warlords. America by prior agreement with Osama loses interest and shifts its focus to Chechnya and to strengthening NATO to capitalise on the breakup of the Soviet Union. Iran now takes an active interest and sponsors the Taliban. The vaccum in Afghanistan is quickly filled, the warlords are banished and Shia Sharia rule is instituted.

    In the meantime, the CIA tells Osama that his usefulness to them is over. Saddam at the other end gets into trouble with Kuwait and the first Gulf War ensues. At the end of this war, the CIA organises a Shia revolution, that will topple Saddam and put the Shias in power. They suddenly realise that this will be very dangerous with a huge Shia anti-American oil rich block sitting across the gulf, get cold feet and ditch the rebellion which turns into a bloodbath as Saddam wipes out those tribes.

    In the meantlme, realising what a threat Osama has turned into Clinton tries to take him out but fails.

    Then comes 9/11.

    The response from the Bush administration linking Saddam with 9/11 and Al Qaida and alleging WMD despite the UN inspectors failure to find any, shocks the rest of the world but is swallowed by the American public.

    America goes to war, supposedly to get Osama, but actually to get Iraq.

    Now after creating a mess, the danger of having a Shia dominated Iraq is neutralised, whatever be the result, and that’s the main point!

    Calling any of this Christian is a travesty – what it is is realpolitik at its worst.

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 10 March 2007 @ 10:53 am

  72. Sam,

    I agree with you in that I don’t want to be naive and call this a “Christian” war. I’m realistic enough to buy that. And I’ll even grant you, for sake of argument that everything you said was right on target. Especially that “America goes to war, supposedly to get Osama, but actually to get Iraq.” I start with the presupposition that most leaders (US or non-US) are empty suits and liars. I’m a little jade, I know….But I still believe in the Iraq war because I believe that regardless of bad motives and bad policy the pragmatic result is that there is a potential for some sort of less-oppressive regime to come out of the mess in Iraq.

    This would be my similar comment to you, Ivan. I also find it ironic that it is Christians who are giving you a hard time about advocating no killing! However, my personal position is that “there is a time for war and a time for peace.” Sometimes, as ugly as it is, it seems like blood has to be shed….

    This is the pragmatic side of me talking, I guess….

    This discussion reminds me of some comments I made a month or so back when I was blogging about a “just” or “unjust” war. (Please pardon the narcissist in me who quotes himself!):

    We can conceive of a just war. We can talk theoretically of the right reasons to fight. However, it seems to me that a realistic person will acknowledge that a just war is really only a theory. There may be some completely just wars throughout human history, and there may be some completely unjust wars. But most wars seem to be some sort of mixture of the two – some good motivations and some bad. Some just reasons and some unjust reasons. Most war seems to fall between the two extremes of “righteous” and “unrighteous.”
    [from War – What is it good for?]

    So, where does this war fit? I disagree with Conservatives who call it a just war, and I disagree with Liberals who call it an unjust war. It falls somewhere in between….I tend to think it does more good than bad, but obviously there are three folks on this thread who disagree…..

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 10 March 2007 @ 8:33 pm

  73. Dang those were two great posts from you and Saml.

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 10 March 2007 @ 11:01 pm

  74. Johnathan,

    If the main good thing is Saddam no longer in power, why not just one “smart bomb” and remove him from office, why a war? Why over 60,000 civilan deaths?

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 11 March 2007 @ 4:21 am

  75. Jonthan,

    Agreed, wars are never nice and most have various admixtures of good and bad both in the waging and in the results.

    But then, “more good than bad”? You must be having a crystal ball or something handier, otherwise how would one decide that a proposed outcome is possible, nay very probable and is worth x amount of sacrifice? Note, you are deciding on the lives of those who belong to another nation and over whom you have no conceivable right, and this too in the face of so many other possible outcomes that are all nastier in various ways!

    Specifically for this war, you feel that ‘stability’ and maybe some form f democracy or at least a less repressive government all would be good enough outcomes. How about if Iraq ends up as 3 states, would that be good or bad? What if the Shias, who have the most population and territory but no oil feel cheated and go to war with the Sunni state in the South or (less likely) with the Kurds up North?

    The Sumnnis have now become as implacable U.S. haters as the Shias have been all along. How would America react to being denied oil, perhaps even their allying with Chavez and setting off a big oil crisis?

    What if the Iranians and Iraqi Shias joined together against any of their neighbors or perhaps against Israel and set off a Middle East war of larger proportions, remembering that the Russians stand to gain from any instability and the resulting energy crisis for Europe.

    I’m just idly speculating here and even I can come up with so many frightening possibilities, some of which could surely trigger WW3, and just the vaguest possibility of that would be enough to stop me from thinking of any possible or even probable good.

    Finally, there are wars that are just about unavoidable (take ww2 as an e.g.) and there are wars that are engineered or made to happen quite deliberately. The Iraq war certainly falls into that latter category. I don’t think that anything, however rosy a possibility, can justify that – for a Christian!

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 11 March 2007 @ 4:33 pm

  76. Yea, Sam. I guess we will have to wait and see if some of those worst case scenarios unfold. Of course if a best case scenario unfolds then we would all be happy, right? I mean, we can’t expect to fix the whole ME thing in a few years or even in the course of a generation or two, but certainly we would have to say that progress is made if there were quasi-stable governments that were non-oppressive….But you talked about “deciding the lives of other nations” saying that we don’t have a right to do that, but to me this line of thinking is misguided. The Iraq people were losing their lives already under the Saddam regime. Genocide, etc. This, no doubt, would have continued. So, how are we really causing the loss of more lives? I don’t understand your thinking here. You seem to want to say that:
    Iraq before US = Good
    Iraq after US = Bad

    Isn’t that oversimplifying the issue? Or maybe I haven’t grasped the direction of your thought process…I tend to see the US as now trying to make the best of a situation that was already not good for Iraq and bad for its neighbors and bad for the ME and ultimately not good for the rest of the world.

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 11 March 2007 @ 7:44 pm

  77. Hey, could I ask you very learned people a question that constantly racks my old brain and it relates to the Middle East.

    I have wondered for the longest time why the US doesn’t approach this with a kind of “moon shot” whole country mindset.

    Firstly: Why wouldn’t you legalize Heroin? Why cant people go to a Doctor, are put on a register and are able to get a prescription for it similar to say, morphine. People would have to be registered addicts, you couldn’t just ‘rock up” and maybe there would be specialized counseling or some other that had the end goal of getting serious users off the stuff. The problems it would solve would be endless; the taxation could fund the prevention and counseling programs we would stop over doses and spreading health risk. But most of all, Afghanistan would have to grow food and crops not opium poppies. Wouldn’t this be the way to go?

    Second phase: A government led drive to have the public embrace either hybrid but maybe more realistically modern four cylinder car technology. Madison Ave could “sell” this new car concept as “The Patriot” By one and give the Middle East the finger, It would halve or more your dependence on that regions stability forever probably. Let the terrorist Iraqis try and eat sand for change. Why don’t you fight this war by changing your very culture to a smart and serious technological one, for once copy the dang Japanese.
    Why could this not be a better way to go if taken over a decade? Why would it not work, if we sold the concept as demonstratable patriotism?

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 12 March 2007 @ 3:19 am

  78. Jonathan, Iraq before the 2nd Gulf War was a mess but at least a fairly predictable one. The international sanctions had had their effect and the country was in poverty. Oil for Food with a little bit of bribery thrown in was what the country was barely living on. The reality, only one source of income, a single product economy (crude oil), take that income away and you have absolutely nothing left. Saddam was just barely getting by and he did not have anything extra even for mundane stuff like genocides.

    Of course we have now to hope and pray that the outcome will be good for Iraq. I really do wish that the U.S. strategy works and some sort of stability is brought in. Most important, I pray that Sunnis and Shias will regain something like a sense of brotherhood or at the very least stop killing each other off.

    Blaming the U.S. is hardly the point. We study history not to apportion blame, not to be proved right, but to have our feet on ground realities, to learn about our successes and failures. For a Christian there is a further incentive, to see how a kingdom perspective leads us to different choices and to see what impact the gospel can have on our world by making the gospel a reality for the larger world.

    All too often I am tempted to treat the two as separate i.e. the way of the world and the way of the kingdom of God. Somehow, I don’t think Jesus leaves me with that option.

    My question to myself now is, for Christians what should we be urging our governments to do? We have to raise our voices whether or not we are in agreement with the majority in our respective cultures. We should be able to get away from partisan and economic catregories for long enough to find our own ‘gospel conditioned’ voice.

    For you in the U.S. that means analysing without regard to Republican or Democrat, Capitalist or Socialist, Black, Red or White. For me in India it means taking my stand regardless of Congress or BJP, North or South, and more controversially here being willing to speak the truth about issues like Kashmir and Sri Lanka.

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 12 March 2007 @ 11:16 am

  79. Ivan,
    If only we would and could make our nations be sensible rather than purely money minded! The fact that the price of crude has doubled gives me a lot of hope.

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 12 March 2007 @ 11:20 am

  80. Saml,

    But isn’t this the actual real world problem? President Bush going for that walk on a sunny day with Billy Graham? Isn’t that the foundation for the whole Good Verses Evil thing that has you and us embroiled in destroying Iraq? Isn’t it time that we pulled the rug on the religious underpinning the whole thing?
    Can’t the Atheists have a go?

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 13 March 2007 @ 11:12 am

  81. Sam says….Blaming the U.S. is hardly the point. We study history not to apportion blame, not to be proved right, but to have our feet on ground realities, to learn about our successes and failures. For a Christian there is a further incentive, to see how a kingdom perspective leads us to different choices and to see what impact the gospel can have on our world by making the gospel a reality for the larger world.

    All too often I am tempted to treat the two as separate i.e. the way of the world and the way of the kingdom of God. Somehow, I don’t think Jesus leaves me with that option.

    I like your words here…..but that does raise the question, in my mind, that Ivan has asked: What is the relationship of church and state? If we say that the way of the world and the kingdom of God are not separate, then we have connected church and state. How much different, in this regard, are you from the religious right. The religious right believe that there is a connection between the church and state, it’s just that they have a very different idea of how this plays out.

    As the topic of this conversation turns to the church/state relationship I wonder if I might not have some common ground with Brother Ivan, in that I see a danger in connecting church goals (kingdom or otherwise) with the state. Maybe you could elaborate a bit.

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 13 March 2007 @ 12:52 pm

  82. It’s said that 97% (or close to this number) of Nobel Prize winners are Atheists. I have heard that (and please correct me here) that atheists form one of the top intellectual bands in any Country. If this is the case, and we have a Religious based government are we not excluding the very people that could be of most value to any society? Particularly when it comes to wars and stuff ? Another question: What differentiates a Military Campaign to a war? Is Iraq a War or Campaign?

    Ivan IQ really bad actually.

    Like

    Comment by Brother Ivan — 14 March 2007 @ 8:56 am

  83. Jonathan, I think the follower of Jesus has to do just that regardless of whatever dominates the environment. If the state’s policies go along with kingdom priorities then by all means support the state’s stand. When there has to be a parting of the ways, we follow Jesus.

    I don’t agree with C.F.H. Henry or Chuck Colson’s attempts to equate the kingdom with a state. I think their logic is flawed and the resulting ethic does no justice either to your constitution or to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    That’s simple but not simplistic.

    The problem for conservative Christians in the U.S. is the confusion that has arisen between the gospel itself and a state that claims to interpret for you what the gospel is. i think the church, especially the high profile leaders of the conservative movement, have played hookie.

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 14 March 2007 @ 1:01 pm

  84. But Sam, I think that the Conservative Christian Right (Jerry Fallwell & Friends) follows the same principal that you do: If the state’s policies go along with kingdom priorities then support the state, if not there has to be a parting of the ways. But they are aggressive in trying to regain the state so that they can implement what they believe are kingdom priorities. One of these priorities, as they see it, is to outlaw abortions. On this issue I agree with them.

    I think as a general philosophy you and the Right are in agreement. I think you and the Right just differ on what you think are “kingdom priorities.” Am I wrong here?

    And let me suggest this: Is the Religious Right more consistent with their position because they are going after state power? They are politically aggressive because they believe that the state should be doing more to advance kingdom priorities. (Again, they just disaggree with you on what the “kingdom priorities” are.)

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 14 March 2007 @ 5:16 pm

  85. Brother,
    I’m all for the smart people being in government….But I prefer they be smart people that agree with me!!

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 14 March 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  86. First, I don’t think that Jesus’s teachings fit into any of the world’s ideas about what good government means, i.e. left, right, monarchist, or libertarian. I also disagree with the idea that government should be Christianised. In this I know I’m on an unpopular track! The reason for my belief is that the principles of Jesus’s teachings are personal ethical commands that one follows because Jesus asks one to. There is a relationship involved that can not be translated into ‘rules’ for a community or a church or a state.

    Constantine was the first of the historical lessons that we should have learned but failed to.

    Secondly, for someone like a president of a country, when that person takes an oath to uphold the constitution, they do so before God and if there is a conflict along the way between what they have sworn to do and their loyalty to God, I would expect the president to explain their dilemma clearly to the people and resign. The same policy, i think, holds good for any Christian in any job. When they cannot reconcile the honest demands of the job with their Christian conscience, then they should quit.

    Having talked myself into an uncomfortable corner, I’ll stop for now with that!

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 14 March 2007 @ 8:20 pm

  87. Saml,

    Though its not my country, I think your position makes sense.

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 14 March 2007 @ 10:25 pm

  88. Johnathan,

    Is your Congress still going to fund the Iraq war? I understood that it was going to stop?

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 14 March 2007 @ 10:41 pm

  89. Not to jump over questions on the table, but here’s my question: Two Christians pray to God for guidance on, say, or which political candidate to support. These two Christians arrive at opposite answers to their prayers. Is it necessarily the case that at least one of these Christians heard the answer wrong? Or is it likely that God would tell different answers to different people? I’m thinking about the strong difference between evangelicals in the US versus those in the rest of the world regarding Iraq, as evidenced here by Jonathan and Sam. English theologian NT Wright says that it’s the evangelical community’s responsibility to push against US world domination, and he regards the results of the last election as a kind of judgment and humbling of American evangelicals for being pro-war. But in those same elections 70% of US evangelicals voted for Bush’s party in Congressional elections. Can they both be right if they claim to be following God’s instructions?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 15 March 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  90. This is my confusion too and I do a good job of contradicting myself every time I step into it! In some sense, wherever we are the gospel is there to challenge our pet understanding, status quos and cultural norms. So, as far as the U.S. is concerned, its American Christians who will have to think through how the gospel challenges them to change. So, I would thing Wright, great scholar tho he may be really has to let the Americans work things through and be convict4ed by the Holy Spirit a bit on their own. I also don’t like ‘interpreting’ the spiritual meanings of thing like elections either as blessing or curse…

    The questions remain tho, one gospel or many, one ethic or many, is it all a grey zone?

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 15 March 2007 @ 5:14 pm

  91. Umless of course its not God actually talking to them.

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 15 March 2007 @ 10:26 pm

  92. Ktismatics Kuestions…..Two Christians pray to God for guidance on, say, or which political candidate to support. These two Christians arrive at opposite answers to their prayers. Is it necessarily the case that at least one of these Christians heard the answer wrong? Or is it likely that God would tell different answers to different people?…Can they both be right if they claim to be following God’s instructions?

    I think this debate is similar to all debates. Sometimes there are two perspectives on the same issue that both retain elements of validity and elements of ignorance. Take this thread as an example. I like to think that I have made some nifty pro-war points that I hope have made people realize that the war may have a positive contribution to people and to the world if things turn out the way we (me and GW) hope. However, I would also acknowledge (with a bit less enthusiasm, of course) that those of the anti-war perspectives have raised some issues that have kept me from getting too comfortable with my position.

    This thread was started to comment on how another thread had reached triple digits in comments. And now we’ve gone back and forth on the war issue and this thread, itself, is reaching triple digits. Chances are we have all had our perspectives challenged, but that we all probably still lean towards our original positions of being either pro-war or anti-war.

    Is it possible that there are scenarios for which there is no “right answer”? That perhaps each side has elements of validity, but also problematic positions? Maybe in the end we have to just hold our nose, pick our poison, and have to live with the unpleasant aspects of our particular position, while feeling like the positive benefits of our viewpoint outweigh the bad. Maybe the complicated web of world affairs does not permit a “right” or “wrong” answer.

    As such, perhaps it is possible that Christians in different parts of the world would come to very different perspectives on the “right” answer to the war question. Of course, for all of my talk, I will always tend to think my answer to the question is just a little bit better than yours!

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 16 March 2007 @ 6:54 am

  93. Ivan,

    The politics are not quite in place yet for them to actually cut the funding of the war. To cut funding holds enormous political consequence. I don’t think that anyone in Congress will be able to do more than just grandstand and talk about “non-binding resolutions.” (Crf. the term “please-the-party-base-without-having-to-do-anything”)

    Both political parties right now lack backbone. They are each trying to win the coveted “independent” and “moderate” voters while still trying to appease the idealogical base of their parties. It strikes most of us as spineless!

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 16 March 2007 @ 6:58 am

  94. Jonathan said: Sometimes there are two perspectives on the same issue that both retain elements of validity and elements of ignorance… Is it possible that there are scenarios for which there is no “right answer”? That perhaps each side has elements of validity, but also problematic positions? I agree. The question is whether God adds anything to either position, or whether it’s just good old fallible human judgment at work.

    Not being an evangelical myself, I can’t say whether the US evangelical community tended to believe that Bush was God’s man, that Bush as anointed leader receives direct guidance from God on what to do, that therefore the invasion of Iraq was God’s will in the matter. But when I used to be an evangelical this sort of message did ripple through the community, sometimes explicitly from the pulpit, sometimes through informal conversation. I have asked some evangelical friends (and a Mormon I encountered on the street), and they believed that God does have a preference in political matters, and that preference is Bush.

    Let’s say it’s true that God wanted Bush to be president and wants to see his agenda implemented. It’s still the case that 30% of evangelicals didn’t vote Republican in 2006. Did some not get the memo, or read it wrong, or did God maybe send a different message to those 30% who voted Democratic? Or maybe it’s Ivan’s fourth option: it’s not actually God talking to them — God doesn’t really express a political opinion to his followers. So it’s a general question, not specific to the political argument at hand, not a critique of God’s politics if he has any.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 16 March 2007 @ 7:48 am

  95. You know what I thought was the best News Paper Headline that I saw on the War in Iraq, straight after President Bush gave that speech about giving the military a chance to work ?

    BUSH : GIVE WAR A CHANCE !

    as an old John Lennon fan.

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 17 March 2007 @ 1:48 pm

  96. A lot of the blame for what the “evangelical community” believes comes from an uncritical acceptance of whatever ‘the leadership’ chooses to say is God’s will. It would be a great good if one result of the Iraq mess would be a bit of healthy scepticism from this public.

    By and large many, if not most evangelicals are well enough educated and quite articulate but I wonder if the ‘propositional’ training has somehow stunted their ability to discuss with some openess?

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 18 March 2007 @ 5:19 pm

  97. My experience in evangelicalism 20+ years ago was that spiritual leadership lay claim to a more acute discernment of God’s will in all matters, including politics. But it’s like foreign perceptions of Bush; i.e, that he was deceiving the public from the top down. He is perceived as having God’s anointing by those who more or less agreed with him already. Evangelical churches have strong bottom-up leadership which tends to be conservative, moralistic, nationalistic — perhaps even more so than the clergy who serve them. A spiritual leader who resonates with and energizes the bottom-up conservative ethos of a church faces no countervailing visible/vocal force within the church, and the outside nay-sayers can be dismissed as irrelevant or contrarian. All that by way of saying the “moral majority” permeates American evangelicalism from bottom to top. Or at least it did 20 years ago.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 18 March 2007 @ 6:36 pm

  98. I think you are probably right. One thing I’ve noticed about how the results of scholarship is popularized tho is that this is a job that’s left to the ‘leaders’ mainly non-scholar preachers, to disseminate. It is done deliberately one sided, presenting a feeling of utter confidence that real scholarship underlies all one’s assertions and any contrary voices are just plain wrong!

    In the context of our discussion on the church and the world, here’s a quote from one of the more balanced conservatives, J.R.W. Stott:

    Of the Son’s ‘identification’ with the world into which He was sent, there can be no shadow of doubt. He did not remain in heaven; He came into the world. The word was not spoken from the sky; ‘the Word was made flesh’. And then He ‘dwelt among us’. He did not come on a fleeting visit and hurry back home again. He stayed in the world into which He came. He gave men a chance to behold His glory. Nor did He only let them gaze from a distance. He scandalized church leaders of His day by mixing with the riff-raff they avoided. ‘Friend of publicans and sinners’, they dubbed Him. To them it was a term of opprobrium; to us it is a title of honour. He touched the untouchable lepers. He did not recoil from the caresses of a prostitute. And then He, who at His birth had been ‘made flesh’, was in His death ‘made sin’ and ‘made a curse’ (John 1:14; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13). He had assumed our nature; He now assumed our transgressions, our doom, our death. His self-identification with man was utter and complete.

    Therefore when He says to us ‘go’, this is what He means. ‘As our Lord took on our flesh, so he calls His Church to take on the secular world’; otherwise we do not ‘take the Incarnation seriously’. We are to go as He went, to penetrate human society, to mix with unbelievers and fraternize with sinners. Does not one of the Church’s greatest failures lie here? We have disengaged too much. We have become a withdrawn community. We have been aloof, instead of alongside.

    [Note: duplication has been excised, thereby rendering the following 3 comments irrelevant. Should I have deleted them too? I no longer know how to wield my power wisely. — the management]

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 19 March 2007 @ 7:08 am

  99. sorry for the duplication! i have no idea how i did that.

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 19 March 2007 @ 9:12 am

  100. Thanks Sam.

    I needed to hear that two times, anyway!

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics/John/Jon/Jonathan/Erdman/Doyle — 19 March 2007 @ 8:45 pm

  101. I’ll go ahead and clear out the duplication. Now the question is this: mine is the 101th comment on this post, but this one and the prior 2 seem extraneous. So is the Triple Digits! post legitimately itself a triple-digit post, or have the numbers been padded for shock-and-awe effect, just so a new sensational headline can be printed at the top of the blog, making it seem as though weighty matters were being discussed whereas it’s all duplication and erasure, resulting in a net contribution of zero to the sum of human understanding?

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 19 March 2007 @ 10:54 pm

  102. Ktismatics,
    Thanks for doing the needful. I still see in Stott a bit of hesitancy to all-out commit the church to an incarnational mode, not just as ‘mission’ or modus operandi but in essence as a part of its very identity.

    How does one identify without losing one’s own identity?

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 20 March 2007 @ 6:28 am

  103. As far as being truly ‘triple squared’ goes, why not be truly scientific and apply a fudge factor so that there will be no doubt in anyones minds regarding the genuineness of miraculous nature of the phenomenon!

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 20 March 2007 @ 6:30 am

  104. Okay, I”ll wait until post 106 to declare triple digits. Oh wait, this too is an irrelevant post. Make it 107 then.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 20 March 2007 @ 10:47 am

  105. Ktismatics, the relevancy is relative to the subject of your original post! in any case the other post that justified this one seems to be quieting down a bit…lots of ontological confusion here to keep us going tho

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 20 March 2007 @ 4:48 pm

  106. You’re right again, Sam. It started as an overflow from another blog, then this post became a second-order post, a post about the other post. So discussing meta-blog issues like what counts as a legitimate comment is right on the mark. And here I thought I was being irrelevant. Silly me!

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 20 March 2007 @ 6:49 pm

  107. Anything is relevant if it is meaningful.

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 22 March 2007 @ 5:25 pm

  108. that’s profound

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 22 March 2007 @ 11:34 pm

  109. Anything is meaningful if it is relevant? We would be shifting from politics to hermeneutics if we were to begin exploring this topic. Though of course politics is a system of meanings populated by bits of relevant data and knowledge and opinion. Is every bit of meaningful stuff relevant to political reality? Hypothetically I suppose yes: to an infinitely expansive mind everything is political — just as everything is scientific and religious and artistic and ecological… But limited minds have to filter the input, deciding what to regard as relevant. Part of political discourse is agreeing on whether something is or is not relevant to the topic at hand. So: is the original rationale for America’s engagement in Iraq relevant to the exit strategy? There are differences of opinion.

    Oh, and by the way, I think American politicians should stop referring to what’s going on in Iraq as war. The war ended 5 days after it began with the victory of allied forces over the Iraqi army. Since then it’s been an exercise in nation-building rather than a continuation of the war. We’re no longer wanted in this project, and our efforts aren’t helping: let them build their own nation.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 23 March 2007 @ 5:00 am

  110. But the allies can’t leave! The immediate political cost will be too much to bear. The longterm goals will also have to be forsaken and then there’s the minor consideration that it might well result in a bloodbath.

    Te Japs were smart, saw the trend way off and quietly left, the Italians followed suite and now the Brits are trying to make an equally quiet getaway, but unfortunately Basra is anything but quiet.

    Some would call it nation building, others an occupation, and a few even annexation, but barring dumping the mess on the UN (Kofi was too smart for that but Moon may prove to be the stooge) there really is no sidestepping the issues.

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 23 March 2007 @ 6:11 am

  111. I’ve been in favor of immediate pullout since the beginning (or the end) of the war. In my opinion the allied presence is part of the problem rather than part of the solution. There may be no way to avert civil war; as far as I can tell the American presence isn’t preventing it, or even delaying it. Some sort of tripartite division seems inevitable, but the idea of Iraq as a single nation was imposed by Europeans anyway.

    Bush still has strong support from his core following; increasing numbers want immediate withdrawal. I think public opinion in the US is landing on some sort of middle course: declare an end date for American occupation somewhere around a year from now and gradually get out. Like most middle courses, it represents a pragmatic compromise rather than an ideologically justifiable position.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 23 March 2007 @ 6:24 am

  112. Look, this is going to end in tears regardless. The point is whose children would you prefer were lost? theres or yours?

    We all need to get the hell out of there.

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 23 March 2007 @ 11:10 am

  113. Oh, and by the way, I think American politicians should stop referring to what’s going on in Iraq as war. The war ended 5 days after it began with the victory of allied forces over the Iraqi army. Since then it’s been an exercise in nation-building rather than a continuation of the war. We’re no longer wanted in this project, and our efforts aren’t helping: let them build their own nation.

    Ok. So, the “war” stopped after 5 days…..but then we’ve been fighting an infinite number of battles….ok…so, that sounds like guerrilla warfare, eh? Is that any less of a war?

    Like

    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 23 March 2007 @ 6:25 pm

  114. Not really, but if it makes Americans feel better by saying they won the war, then maybe they can make themselves step away without feeling humiliated. It’s psychological guerrilla warfare on the home front.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 23 March 2007 @ 7:09 pm

  115. Ivan, welcome to Europe! Hope you have a good time and the weather isn’t too bad while you’re here.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 23 March 2007 @ 10:55 pm

  116. Hey John,

    I got through Germany without mentioning the war once John Cleese style; right now I am in Paris, with very different weather to Australia thats for sure!

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 25 March 2007 @ 4:07 pm

  117. Ivan, sad that Hicks had to plea bargain but one couldn’t imagine him sitting there indefinitely waiting for his government to cross Bush. Is that gag order going to be legally binding on him in Oz?

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 2 April 2007 @ 10:40 am

  118. How strange – a dangerous terrorist freed, but gagged
    Well, I have never seen such a bizarre outcome. A dangerous terrorist, the “worst of the worst”, friend to al-Qaeda, about to be set free but not allowed to speak to the media (“We didn’t gag Hicks: PM”, April 2). What are they really afraid of? Could it be what he might say rather than what he might do? Total political hypocrisy, exposed in its ludicrous contradictions.

    Kate Newton Charlestown

    Good question Saml,

    the above are just a small sample of the reactions down here. There is an election NOVEMBER here and you can only imagine how much the government needs to keep under wraps

    As part of the deal, David Hicks will give evidence against other alleged terrorists. As long as it supports the US version, the fact it’s from the mouth of supposedly “the worst of the worst” won’t be a problem. It’s a very sad day for our Western concepts of justice. We will need decades to rebuild our political, judicial and social frameworks after the Bush-Howard periods have passed.

    Howard Charles Annandale

    I believe John Howard when he says that neither he nor his Government had any influence in the sentencing of David Hicks. He didn’t need to. Hicks was a major subject of discussion during the visit by the US Vice-President, Dick Cheney. The US intelligence community in Australia would be well aware of the election due this year, and its interests in keeping Howard in government.

    The plea bargain was negotiated not by the prosecutors in the Hicks case, but by a representative from the US Department of Defence. The US has as much interest in keeping Hicks silent until after the Australian election as Howard does.

    Matthew Flattery O’Connor (ACT)

    “We didn’t gag Hicks,” says John Howard. Of course he didn’t. It was done for him by his obliging mate, George Bush.

    Alan Slatyer Carlton

    Damn those atheistic, lentil-mongering Howard-haters. Just because the Pentagon locked the prosecution out of the plea bargain, it doesn’t necessarily follow the Hicks fix is a political stunt.

    Stephen Saunders Dickson (ACT)

    After five years of inactivity, why did our Government lobby for a quick resolution to the matter of David Hicks this year? Why not five years ago? And if it can lobby for a quick resolution, surely it can object to a gag which would be unconstitutional (US constitution, that is) if applied to an American citizen.

    Jennie Morris Wollongong

    Despite my horror at anything George Bush does, I should advise that in the event that they give David Hicks a tickertape parade on his return, I will not be attending. Well, not unless he carries his bazooka all the way down George Street.

    Bruce N. Teague Gosford

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 2 April 2007 @ 4:10 pm

  119. The guilty plea is sure to be seen by administration supporters as an affirmation of its efforts to detain and try terrorism suspects here, although the government’s detention policies still face significant legal and political challenges. – New York Times

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 2 April 2007 @ 4:22 pm

  120. Advice from the past to GW Bush: Imitate that brave Roman who seeing his army flee and being unable to rally them, placed himself at their head, exclaiming, ” They do not flee, they follow their captain!” Did this dishonor him? Not so. By sacrificing his glory he increased it. – Rousseau, Emile

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 3 April 2007 @ 2:12 pm

  121. Am reading Michael Klares book Blood and Oil. Oh its one facinating little read!

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 3 April 2007 @ 2:18 pm

  122. I found the Brit sailors episode to be a very interesting one. What if the Iranians had set up something like gitmo and thrown the key away claiming they were potential terrorists?

    Luckily only the U.S.A. seems to think in those terms.

    But now what is fascinating is the tale of the two stories. While in custody in Iran they sang like larks and kept admitting their guilt.

    Now, it’s a different story and by all accounts nothing remotely resembling physical torture (as practiced at gitmo) was even threatened. Now what does that say about the value of such confessional evidence when prosecuting or even ioncarcerating ‘potential’ terrorists?

    I think Hicks could well argue on appeal that he was coerced into confessing and I do hope that he does and wins and thanks the Brits for showing the world what a bunch of hogwash these so-called trials really are – not that we didn’t already know it!

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 7 April 2007 @ 12:16 pm

  123. Yes, wasn,t that so very interesting? The AXIS of EVIL state, with not very democratic type of governence, actually humanely treats these guys, even returning them unchained and in dignified suits. Then we have the very model of democracy, The United States land of the free and the brave and they release Hicks in that manner, after 5 years of ongoing torture.

    Makes you wonder which side to be on, and makes you understand why Iran sees a very great need for a nuke.

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 11 April 2007 @ 10:05 am

  124. I live in India. While the sentiment here is on the surface against America and for the Iranians, there is also an underlying feeling that like it or not India will have to toe the line on the American side for we wnat so badly to get from being a developing nation, to being fully developed and the politicians realise that we need to have America as a godfather in this effort.

    Our culture is at its heart a very pragmatic one. We don’t really mind having to ditch Gandhi if we have to!

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 19 April 2007 @ 8:58 am

  125. With a couple of weeks of just about everyday hearing another 30 people deceased in Iraq, has anyone had an opinion change about getting the heck out of their?

    Just wondering..

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 19 April 2007 @ 10:29 am

  126. I don’t remember if I offered up this bit of punditry before or not. Bush is going to stay the course, but doing so will almost surely fail. If the Democratic majority in Congress cut off funding, then when the war fails the Republicans can blame the Democrats: “The tide had turned, we were just about to win, and then the Dems pulled the plug, turned their backs on our boys in uniform, blah blah blah.” The Democrats’ politically shrewd move is to express disapproval for Bush’s strategy, to force him to say he won’t change, but to avoid taking the blame themselves by axing the Pentagon budget. Then, a year and a half from now, the Dems can take the presidency and secure their tenuous hold on Congress. By then the voters will be so sick of Iraq that “cut and run” will be sounding like good policy.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 19 April 2007 @ 1:44 pm

  127. Just when you think your doing something to suppress Terrorism it comes right back at you from another angle.

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 19 April 2007 @ 11:16 pm

  128. Incredibly to me, a lot of Americans believe that the Iraq war serves as a kind of lightning rod for terrorists who otherwise would be attacking America. So keeping the action over in Asia someplace keeps America safe. The US soldiers are martyrs for homeland security.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 20 April 2007 @ 4:12 am

  129. I have heard this said a number of times now by American ground troops. Its quite obviously the story that they get fed by the people commanding them, Fight here or the war happens on American streets. Which I must say, I’m surprised that with the United States very liberal gun laws, that small scale acts of terror with small arms, (Think Virginia Tech) have not happened. But the “terrorism” I keep reading about is happening on all sides at present. A story in today’s paper, told of 3 army contractors, one was a bit GI Joe, and scheduled to return home the next day, hopped into an armoured Hummer with a “I wanna kill someone today attitude” went off trying to find people to shoot at, they did, a random Taxi windshield. I don’t think charges were laid. But I keep hearing this stuff, wondering how many times does it happen, and are the bombings by the “terrorists” just a reciprocation of these other events. http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/home-truths-about-bushs-iraq-war/2007/04/20/1176697087497.html

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 20 April 2007 @ 11:12 pm

  130. It’s surprising to me too that America hasn’t been successfully hit by small terrorism. With the one huge exception of 9/11, terrorism on American soil is extremely rare. I remember reading the government reports on this before, and something like the 4 years preceding 9/11 there had been only 1 death through terrorism in the US. Since then the rate has been about the same.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 21 April 2007 @ 10:32 am

  131. John,
    Do you remember the sniper guy who was getting people a few years back, and how it literally stopped everything? I have been amazed smaller acts like this have not been repeated. To my thinking, it reinforces the fact that in the main this is regional middle East problem rather than some kind of attack on the US

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 21 April 2007 @ 11:13 pm

  132. Iraqis are mostly killing each other now — hard to tell whether it’s religious or ethnic, but I don’t think al-Qaida versus USA has much to do with it. I do think the US occupation has strengthened al-Qaida’s numbers, and hence their threat to the US. Certainly the factors that piss off al-Qaida about America haven’t changed. So I do think the US is a target, but I definitely don’t believe that Iraq is lessening the threat worldwide or on American soil.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 21 April 2007 @ 11:45 pm

  133. They are building a wall now John. As mothers across the globe say “Its going to end in tears”. I think there was 50 people dead today.

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 23 April 2007 @ 9:16 am

  134. I read that they’ve stopped building the wall, at least for now. Baghdad is going to be the big challenge if and when Iraq splits into three countries. Multi-cultured, huge, dangerous. Also who gets control of the oil fields. I think the Sunnis don’t have any oil in their territories, but I’m not sure.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 23 April 2007 @ 11:20 am

  135. Here’s a longish excerpt from a book by Agamben documenting circumstances when democracies suspended individual rights like habeas corpus. Usually it’s an act of fiat by the head of state during wartime. About 2/3 through the article Agamben looks at the U.S. with Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt. Because the sovereign power of the president is essentially grounded in the emergency linked to a state of war, over the course of the twentieth century the metaphor of war becomes an integral part of the presidential political vocabulary whenever decisions considered to be of vital importance are being imposed. The last paragraph of this excerpt is about Bush: President Bush’s decision to refer to himself constantly as the “Commander in Chief of the Army” after September 11, 2001, must be considered in the context of this presidential claim to sovereign powers in emergency situations. If, as we have seen, the assumption of this title entails a direct reference to the state of exception, then Bush is attempting to produce a situation in which the emergency becomes the rule, and the very distinction between peace and war (and between foreign and civil war) becomes impossible.

    This is why I wish the Democrats would be explicit: the Iraq war ended a week after it began. But Bush has always explicitly embedded Iraq in a broader and perpetual “war on terror.” This whole war metaphor has to be exposed and dismantled.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 25 April 2007 @ 6:29 am

  136. John,

    That was very interesting reading. I see your point.

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 25 April 2007 @ 11:36 pm

  137. I think it will be interesting to see how the U.S. interacts with the rest of the world after the Iraq debacle. In a way it is probably a good thing that Bush overstepped because it does help to balance out the one and only superpower syndrome a bit, though I’m sure Iraqi’s will always regret having borne the brunt of it!

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 30 April 2007 @ 2:09 pm

  138. I am very keen to see what happens post the US elections also Saml.

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 1 May 2007 @ 9:37 am

  139. Ivan, what are your thoughts on Howard and what will happen in your own patch of the woods?

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 2 May 2007 @ 7:42 am

  140. I thought that almost certainly he was going to get voted out of office. The main contender in opposition, has really put on a good show, but an argument that was raised in the last few days about changes to industrial relations laws has removed some of the gloss. I still think at this stage he may score enough votes to scrape in. It might be a bit early to say right at this moment Saml.

    regards
    Ivan

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    Comment by Ivan — 2 May 2007 @ 11:20 pm

  141. John,

    An interesting report was released today that one third of combat troops in Iraq condone torture. There was a further report of one in ten admitting to mistreating civilians. Did you read this in your news?

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 5 May 2007 @ 11:23 am

  142. Ivan –

    Yes, I saw that too. Here’s some more: Only 47 percent of the soldiers and 38 percent of Marines said noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect. About a third of troops said they had insulted or cursed at civilians in their presence. And all this is from self-report. You know the rates are probably higher than that.

    Like

    Comment by ktismatics — 5 May 2007 @ 3:20 pm

  143. John,
    I had this feeling that it might be high. Just things you read from the military itself, particulary the ground troops. Its got to be time we got out of there?

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 6 May 2007 @ 1:50 am

  144. Interesting news here is about the Government trying to suppress the idea of David Hicks writing a book detailing his captivity. The Government is real antsy about this right now.

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 6 May 2007 @ 1:52 am

  145. John

    Hicks landed back in Australia today.

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 20 May 2007 @ 2:14 am

  146. I heard hicks may not be gagged under Australia’s constitution only he can’t profit in any way from telling his story, hope he goes ahead and roasts them. The US is just so smug that they got him to plead guilty

    Like

    Comment by samlcarr — 21 May 2007 @ 2:53 pm

  147. Saml,

    I have so many questions I want answers for over this. I have written to our Prime Minister now several times. I am waiting to hear his story. Should prove rather in tersting if he does, I understand he can’t profit from it but should not mean his father can’t .

    Ivan

    Like

    Comment by Ivan — 22 May 2007 @ 11:29 pm


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