Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lew Rockwell Responses

One thing I had not considered in getting an article published on LewRockwell.com was the amount of responses I would get. Within hours, I was getting e-mails from around the world. Most of them were really positive - coming from people from all walks of life - including many combat veterans. Contrary to radio talk show entertainers, not every veteran is pleased with the War in Iraq and the way it is being conducted.

I also received a fair share of those who disagreed with me. Some were intelligent and cogent, and others were, shall we say, a little on the edge. I didn't get any death threats, although a Roman Catholic lady warned me that we Lutherans (especially pastors) are headed for Hell unless we join the Roman Catholic Church. However, her own church doesn't say anything of the sort (in fact, according to Roman Catholic doctrine, we Lutherans are already Catholics, though in a state of "impaired communion"). She also had quite a slew of historical "facts" about Martin Luther. I suggested she check with some good Roman Catholic historians (perhaps even Pope Benedict himself, who has read more Luther than most Lutheran pastors).

Another fellow thought I was secretly a Muslim. I knew he was inclined to disagree with me right from the get-go from his salutation: "Dear Dummy." I think if I were a secret Muslim, my congregation would figure it out the first time I had to turn down a plate of barbecue and a beer!

I had a couple of nice exchanges with a Roman Catholic lady who is a doctor in South Africa. Although she did not entirely agree with me, our discourse was civil and Christian. In fact, I would like to ask you to pray for her and her countrymen. Doctor Brenda laments the ravage of AIDS on her country (reporting that many homes are headed by children eight years old or younger), as well as the government's push to remove religious instruction from the public schools in lieu of secular "life orientation" - at a time when public morality is a matter of life and death. There has also been a sharp increase in schoolyard murders.

I also received a nice note from a gentleman named Emmanuel in France who shared with me the inspirational story of a new abbey (Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux) that has been built in the South of France (in Provence). Father GĂ©rard Calvet, founder and former Abbot of the Abbey once wrote: "Mothers are essentially the ones who put up the ladders on which the generations go to heaven." Please keep these fathers and brothers in your prayers, warriors manning an outpost of the Christian faith deep in hostile territory. Check out their website at: www.barroux.org.

Please also pray for a man named Robert from South Carolina. In the course of our correspondence, he told me about his many serious health problems - even as he accepts his cross and continues to pray for others in his family who are struggling with other issues.


Anyway...

I found that a lot of hard-line conservatives agreed with my position that women ought not be involved in combat, but they bristled at the notion that our troops should not be running over children. Their ability to justify anything in wartime simply astounds me. Doctrinaire left-wingers (especially self-identified feminists) took the opposite tack: that running over children is wrong, but to allow men to do it, but not women, is unfair and discriminatory. The latter group objects vehemently to the notion that men and women are fundamentally different (i.e. that God is guilty of sexual discrimination), that women have been designed by God to be carriers and nurturers of life. I guess that just doesn't sound like An Important and Satisfying Job to them. Very sad.

One letter of disapproval was sent to me by a former seminary classmate. He recently served a year in Iraq driving trucks. The rest of this post will deal with his response - so if you want to bail out now, dear reader, I completely understand. But I do think a response is called for - though not a personal one under the circumstances.


My classmate makes the argument that the woman in question was not under any orders or policy to run over children, but rather that she was not permitted to stop following a tragic accident involving a child, since that would be dangerous for the soldiers in the convoy. He also informs me that American soldiers do study Augustine, and Aquinas to boot. He compared me to John Kerry, accused me of stupidly getting my news and opinion of soldiers as "heartless" from the "drive-by-media" (whatever that means), and said that it would be a "shame" if I didn't retract my article, apologize to the anonymous woman in questiom (if not all American soldiers) - since my "good name" might be "drug through the dirt" for my "unfounded opinion" and not having my facts straight.

First of all, threatening to drag a person's "good name" through the dirt isn't the most effective way to argue a point that could presumably be won by an appeal to reason. One resorts to such personal attacks when one's case is weak. Ditto with the John Kerry remark. And as far as the "drive-by-media," I haven't had cable TV for about ten years. I basically get one local broadcast channel (Fox), and watch the local news once in a while. I do watch "House" about twice a month (on those Tuesdays when I'm not at church late attending meetings). I like the writing, and find Hugh Laurie to be an unbelievably talented actor. I hope that doesn't make me a lackey of the media.

In general, I just don't like TV, and don't have time to watch it. Contrary to popular belief, we clergymen work more than one day a week. I don't watch FOX-News or CNN. I don't listen to talk radio blowhards from the left or right. I don't read "political commentary" by Howard Stern-style entertainers who pose as pundits or pundettes (I'm amazed at how many conservatives find such people to be "brilliant"). My views on this issue and other political matters have been shaped by years of studying classic works of history and constitutional and political philosophy - in addition to reading great political thinkers of the present day. Perhaps the term "drive-by-media" refers to Pat Buchanan, Thomas Fleming, Clyde Wilson, and Lew Rockwell.

I did not respond to my former classmate. Not every e-mail should be dignified with a personal response. Nor will I mention his name. I don't believe in dragging people's good names through the dirt just because they disagree with me.

But to deal with the substance (such as it is) of his note: the article to which I was responding is clear: the woman was not permitted to stop to avoid hitting the child. I don't believe American soldiers relish running over children. They are not heartless. But my former classmate admitted that this happens often enough (with children begging near the convoy lines) as to warrant a policy about it. In fact, he told me he witnessed such an incident in which a little girl was run over. The convoy was not allowed to stop to even say anything to the dead child's parents. That would have been too dangerous for the soldiers. It sure was dangerous for the Iraqi kid, wasn't it? Of course, in our own civilized country we have 20 mph speed limits near schools. Apparently, these convoys travel at 60 mph and the trucks are spaced 30 feet apart. Can you imagine the carnage if this were permitted stateside in school zones and residential areas? Given the results, should we be surprised at the lack of rose petals being tossed at the feet of the American soldiers in Iraq? How would we view the situation if the roles were reversed - if the children were Americans and the army convoys were Iraqi?

When soldiers volunteer to join the army, they assume a certain amount of risk. When they invaded another country and started shooting at the inhabitants, they entered a situation of danger. It doesn't give them carte blanch to kill civilians on the off-chance that the civilians are insurgents. Such a morality ultimately means "anything goes" - as every single civilian is a potential enemy. The only way to take away all the risk from our soldiers is to kill every civilian. There is another way to remove the risk, and we shall see if this comes to pass now that the people have made their opinions on the war known to the powers that be. Will Brer Rabbit ever learn his lesson?

The woman soldier - to her credit - still has enough humanity and femininity to be bothered by the incident. Had she simply shrugged it off amid macho bromides about "doing her job" and "spreading democracy" - that might be different. No, indeed, this woman is ultimately a mother, a wife, a woman. That's her true vocation, and God be praised for it. And shame on Christian pastors who downplay this "order of creation" issue of women soldiers by just shrugging it off. If LCMS pastors oppose women pastors, they ought to equally oppose women soldiers.

As far as how military personnel are educated, I admit my speculation about Augustine was just that - speculation. That's why I worded it as such in my article. The fact that American soldiers study Augustine is a mixed blessing. Of course, it's good that they read him, but there is something truly wrong that Augustine is studied even as we now wage wars in which civilians are routinely subjected to bombs, children are run over out of concern for the safety of soldiers (ponder that for a moment), and preemptive strikes and "waterboarding" of prisoners are now considered to be in accordance with Christian principles of warfare.

For all of our indignation that some (including President Bush) consider Islam a "religion of peace," we're sure doing out best to insure no-one confuses Christianity with a "religion of peace." If we object to Muslims trying to spead Islam by the sword, perhaps we should reconsider trying to spread "democracy" by M16s. Just a thoughht.

Contrary to the claim of my former classmate, I had my facts straight. I just disagree with him in matters of morality - not the facts of the case.

Of course, in times of war, disagreement with official policy is sometimes seen as aiding and abetting the enemy, treason, or a lack of support of the troops. But the reality is this: I really do support the troops. If I were the president, every American soldier would be eating Thanksgiving dinner at home where they belong. If they want work, we have plenty for them to do in the Gulf Coast region. If the American taxpayer really wants to continue spending money at the rate we are on this war (some $101 billion in 2006 so far) - we have a few levees and homes in New Orleans that could use some reconstruction. We could even use Halliburton right here at home! If we had the kind of money and manpower to rebuild New Orleans that is going into "rebuilding" Iraq, we'd have little to worry about next hurricane season.

And if women were once again respected by a child-friendly society where men are men and women are women, we would once again have young men learning about chivalry, how to properly use superior force - and young women would not pressured into looking, acting, and thinking like men - and being ashamed (if not in a state of irrational denial) of what God has made them to be.

I realize not everyone will agree, but that's the beauty of our God-given freedoms that governments are compelled (usually against their will) to respect and protect.

Dona nobis pacem.

21 comments:

Lawrence said...

"My classmate makes the argument that the woman in question was not under any orders or policy to run over children, but rather that she was not permitted to stop following a tragic accident involving a child, since that would be dangerous for the soldiers in the convoy."

This is no mere argument. This is pretty much a true statement.

Yes, the driver might be bothered by it, but convoys have a mission and you can't just stop for an accident. Sometimes you can stop, other times you just can't do it.

There is, however, an accident investigation protocol. Usually an Junior Officer or Senior NCO of some sort tasked specifically with the mission of dealing with these kinds of things.

The missunderstanding is that in these scenarios military mission and protocol are different than civilian-life responsibilities and rules.

Lawrence said...

And the local populace is warned to stay away from the roads and convoys. It's not like they're standing by the side of the road on accident. The families usually put their small children, especially girls, as close as possible for begging.

The blame, if there is one here, is on the parents for allowing their children into these dangerous places in the first place.

I'm not being callouse. I'm being realistic. I don't let my children play on the freeway, and Iraqi parents shouldn't let their children beg on military convoy routs.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Lawrence:

Great. I don't like those 20 mph school zones anyway. We'll just raise the limit to 60 mph and warn local parents to keep their kids out of the street. I don't let my kid play in the street. I'm not being callous, just realistic. I have important places to go, and parents need to keep the rugrats out of my way.

What could possibly go wrong?

The next time we're under military occupation, I somehow doubt that I'll hear the same argument from you and other Americans when soldiers run over American kids - because it will happen. Do you really mean to say that you'd *defend* the occupation army in such a case, blame the parents and just call it a "misunderstanding" that "military mission and protocol are different" than civilian life?

I suppose I'd be part of the insurgency. I'd be fighting to expel the occupation forces. Wouldn't you? At the very least, I wouldn't be defending the occupation forces. Would you?

Father Hollywood said...

Lawrence:

One more thing, you wrote:

"The blame, if there is one here, is on the parents for allowing their children into these dangerous places in the first place."

Indeed. Maybe villagers who live in "dangerous places" in Iraq should apply for a FEMA trailer and just move to a safer place.

Yes, let's blame the parents.

However, do you reckon there are a few orphans in Iraq right now? The Christians could have been looking after the orphans, but, oh I forgot, they've all been run off after the "liberation."

But I suppose we should blame the orphans' now-dead parents for not overthrowing Saddam Hussein - the same way we punish the disarmed populace of Cuba (with the embargo)for not charging into Havana with sticks and stones to overthrow Castro.

All I can say is that I'm glad my son is a citizen of Canada. He and his family may need to seek refuge one day. I hope and pray the Lord returns before a new empire displaces us from the top of the totem pole - because I think it will be ugly. Lord, have mercy!

Anonymous said...

We won't agree on this, but really--insurgency forces? C'mon Larry. You're saying that you would be part of the crowd that is sawing off the heads of foreign civilians? That's your insurgency in Iraq my friend. And foreign occupation? We are not there to rule Iraq. I am so sick of libs trying to equate us with an axis force like the Nazis. There is good and evil. The united States, for all of its imperfections, is on the side of freedom and peace. Terrorists are on the side of...terror and bondage. I'm not saying that Americans are inherently good and every who is not pro-American is evil. But there are people who are not pro-American who are not at the same time posing as "innocent civilians" with RPG launchers. Like the French, for instance. Or maybe they are!

Like I said, we won't agree on this. But I have to get my $.02 in anyways. You know me, I can't resist.

Pastor Beisel

Anonymous said...

Oh, one other thing--the "insurgents" are not just killing Americans, they're killing their own police and people. Maybe you wouldn't be helping the "occupation" forces, but would you be blowing up your fellow Americans and your American police? Or Canadians for that matter? This is all just ludicrous. I know that not every non-militant in Iraq is happy that we are there. But there are a lot who are.

Father Hollywood said...

Paul:

When did I say I would "saw off the heads of foreign civilians"? I said that if a foreign army were occupying my country, I would join the insurgency. I would target the soldiers and would try to kill them - just as I would if a thug were to break into my house.

This is what our ancestors did in the War of Independence. The loyalists were bolstered by the British regular army (one of the mightiest in the world), whereas the ill-equipped rebel troops were largely militia (insurgents). Of course, George Washington was considered a terrorist by the British government - perhaps even the most wanted man in the world. He and the entire insurgency would have been hanged had the French not saved the rebels.

What I'm saying is this: people don't like occupation. Our ancestors didn't, the Iraqis don't, and we would not. If foreign troops were marching down American streets (even with really good intentions), I guarantee you American men would rise to the occasion (they would not wring their hands and wave foreign flags and throw rose petals at the feet of the invaders). They would gather in basements and make molotov cocktails to throw at the enemy. They would use whatever weaponry they could find - even if it amounted to rocks.

Would some Americans take advantage of the instability to become brigands? Absolutely. Did American forces commit atrocities during the Revolution? Absolutely. But had the redcoats stayed in London, we would have had no civil war in America. For the most part, the militias acted honorably to force out an invading imperial occupation force that was intent on regime change. The British had more of a claim to invade the colonies than the U.S. had to invade Iraq. At least the Brits could say we were colonies - Iraq was a sovereign nation.

The Iraqi insurgency are not targeting "Iraqis" - they are targeting the American occupation forces, the American installed puppet government, and Iraqi collaborators with the occupation government. When the French Resistance insurgents attached the Vichy government, they were targeting Nazis - not "their own people."

Thanks to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the American toppling of their government, there is now a civil war going on pitting Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds against each other - and against the American puppet government. American soldiers (largely reservists and national guard troops) are now caught in the crossfire of a quagmire. How many more of our own people do we want to kill by sending them to this quagmire?

A lot of folks tried to warn the administration that this is where this was headed - a lot of conservatives (not every opponent of the war is a "lib" regardless of what you hear from comedians on the radio) warned against this policy. But the administration didn't listen. We now have some 3,000 American dead, some 100,000 American soldiers who are receiving disability checks, and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis.

President Bush admitted that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 (I was actually surprised by this admission), and the administration admits that there were no WMDs. The plan to invade Iraq was spawned many years earlier - and 9/11 provided a convenient excuse to invade.

And so today there is no stable government in Iraq. Nearly the entire world is arrayed against us (when in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, they were sympathetic to us - for example, hundreds of thousands of pro-American demonstrators marched in the streets of Tehran - all of that goodwill was squandered). We have spent billions upon billions of dollars - all funded by taxes (so much for the party of small government).

There is no exit strategy, and now we have future generations of very angry radical Muslims to look forward to.

This stupidity cost the GOP control of both houses. Conservatives in the U.S. have been betrayed by this arrogant wing of conservatism. I believe a lot of people held their noses and voted for those who promised to reverse the policy of stupidity instead of arrogantly "staying the course" of a failed policy that is ultimately anti-military and only beneficial to radical Islam. Too bad for conservatism.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think what caused the GOP to lose the Congress was that they haven't acted like the GOP in their policy making and legislation, but that's a different story.

I'm sorry, though. You are wrong about the Iraqi insurgents. They do not care who they kill. The Iraqi national forces are just as much targets as Americans. And so are the women and children of Iraq. When an "insurgent" straps a bomb to himself, and ignites it near an outpost of American or Iraqi forces, do you think that he cares if he takes a few of his own with him? I seriously doubt it.

Of course, this world and Iraq would be so much better if we would have just let Saddam and the Terrorists there alone. Whatever.

Father Hollywood said...

Paul:

I agree with you about why the GOP lost. They sell themselves as conservatives, but act like left-wingers. They defend sexual deviants for the sake of the party, they are involved in scandal after scandal, and they radically increase the size of government and the need for taxation. And now there are voices in the GOP calling for cutting the "Christian right" loose.

So, I agree with you. The GOP are not a whole lot different than the Democrats. The warfare-welfare state is the property of both major parties. They all ought to re-read the Constitution.

And indeed, the mark of a true conservative is that he minds his own business. He doesn't walk into another man's house and dictate to him how to run it. We have indeed made a bad situation in Iraq worse. We know how the proverbial way to hell is paved.

Maybe other countries don't want Disney, McDonald's, democracy, women soldiers, NFL football, internet porn, abortion on demand, Saturday Night Live, Thanksgiving Day, gay marriage, and July 4th celebrations. We ought to leave people alone and stop micromanaging every banana republic and shiekhdom in the world. We have enough on our plate at home.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you to a point on that. I'm not an ultra isolationist though. I was no fan of Pat Buchanan when he was running a while back. But we have to recognize, all of us, that terrorism is a threat to America's freedom and the safety of her people, i.e. us and our children. In general, I agree with the philosophy of taking the battle somewhere else besides our homeland. And I do not believe that they will all just "give us a break" if we "mind our own business." That's what we did throughout the decade of the 90s, and look where that got us. Three terrorist attacks, and then one on 9/11. The United States, at her best, stands for things that I think are good virtues: freedom, opportunity, order, etc. But, like some Synods we know, what is true on paper is not always true in reality. Catch my drift?

Father Hollywood said...

Paul:

But we haven't minded our own business. All throughout the 1990s we (Clinton) were dropping bombs on Iraq. It just didn't make the CBS news because there was no war on.

Our uncritical support of Israel hasn't made us a lot of friends either.

But the problem is deeper than what is happening right now. We have been intervening and overthrowing foreign governments since 1893 when we overthrew Hawaii. There were no terrorists there. Queen Liliukalani was simply not doing what the foreign sugar growers wanted her to. The American businessmen convinced (fooled) the White House into sending Marines to seize power.

Since Hawaii, the United States has overthrown 13 other governments (and that's actually a conservative number). So that's 14 regime changes in 113 years - in nearly every case these overthrows were for economic reasons.

We have a "track record" of not minding our own business and of seeking an advantage in the marketplace by eliminating competition through regime change. Now, after the fall of the Soviet Empire, there is no check and balance. During the Cold War, the USSR and the USA kept each other in check through "mutual assured destruction." But today, there is only one empire standing, one that doesn't mind its own business any more than did the Soviets - and really hasn't since 1861. We're the only country to ever drop nuclear weapons. We also provided our ally Saddam Hussein with all the chemical weapons he had - and encouraged their use against Iran.

We always have one finger in the pie, and another on the red button.

The world is afraid of us. They are intimidated by us, in the same way that we feared and distrusted the USSR. Ask your friends around the world. They'll tell you that we are greatly feared and distrusted.

I agree that the American ideal is freedom, constitutional republican government, the rule of law, a fair judiciary, etc. But we also represent a lot of other things as well - things we can't possibly be proud of - things that other cultures don't want poisoning their own cultures.

And when we're willing to excuse torture, secret prisons, hundreds of people being held without charge and without access to family members and lawyers, when our government routinely violates or ignores its own constitutional madates, when we bully weaker nations into doing our bidding, when we surrender liberty at home for "safety" (as Benjamin Franklin explicitly warned us not to do) - well, our image is just plain tarnished.

Old Glory just doesn't mean what it once did around the world, and that's a real shame. And no amount of "shock and awe" will restore it. Only a return to our constitution can do that.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for a return to the Constitution.

By the way, was just watching the news and saw that a mini bus was bombed in Iraq killing 20 people. I doubt those people were American troops.

Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot to mention that the bombing was by Iraqi "insurgents."

Father Hollywood said...

Paul:

Thanks for making my point.

This was not happening before the US overthrew the government. As a Lutheran, you know full well even a bad government is preferable to anarchy - and that's what the American occupation has wrought. Do you expect anything less than murder and mayhem when God's gift of government has been removed?

It's easy for us to sit in our lazyboys and watch the mayhem on our plasma TVs and shake our heads. Imagine what it would be like to be a widow or an orphan with chaos all around.

We got a small taste of what people will revert to when there is no law and order in the days after Katrina. Remember the peasant uprising during the Reformation? You just can't topple authority in a country and expect them to sip Earl Gray and eat petit-fours with each other. Without order, mankind becomes barbaric. Many people saw this coming, but our government knew better.

Terrorism in Iraq: your tax dollars at work! It's a Frankenstein monster we have created. It will eventually turn on us when they resolve their differences and decide to take revenge against us.

In addition to removing the national government, the invasion and occupation has destroyed the infrastructure of the country. The de-Baathization policy is a stupid repeat of de-Nazifiction post WW2. General Patton (who served briefly as the occupation governor of Bavaria) warned against such stupidity - but the politicians would not listen - and a lot of innocent Germans died as a result of this politically-motivated lunacy.

Now the country of Iraq (or should I say, the American colony of Iraq) is on the brink of a full-blown civil war with no end in sight. If I were an Iraqi, I'd be asking the U.S. to go away and "help" someone else.

Of course, we have short memories. National leaders in, for example, Israel and South Africa were themselves convicted terrorists who blew up civilians when they were the outsiders, but now they're considered "respectable" national leaders. They're now our "friends." In fact, most Americans think Mandela was wrongfully jailed!

Even in the States we have grade school kids taught to revere Nat Turner and John Brown - both of whom slashed the throats of entire families - including babies in the crib. And even in Columbia, SC (where I lived during vicarage year) has completely forgotten the unthinkable atrocities of Feb 17, 1865 (did you even hear about it, Paul?). The day comes and goes without so much as a flag lowered to half-staff. It has become politically incorrect to criticize any action done in the name of the United States - since the U.S. is by definition "good" - as you yourself have said.

I'm not endorsing blowing up civilians, but there is a gaping double standard here - and the rest of the world sees through our own self-worship right down to the bare bones of our hypocrisy. It sure is easy to hoodwink an entire nation of Americans when the majority of them get their history education from the Flintstones.

While we disagree about the righteousness of the Iraqi occupation, I hope we can agree to pray for peace and for the innocent civilians who find themselves caught in the crossfire.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe I'm even reading this. *We* created the monster in Iraq? I don't even know what to think of that statement. Sounds like something dreamed up in the liberal think-tanks by the likes of John Murtha or Nancy Pelosi. Maybe cars weren't being blown up in Iraq, but mass murders of dissidents sure seems suspect. I completely do not agree with anything that you have written there, but yes, I can agree that intercession for innocent civilians is needed.

Father Hollywood said...

Paul:

Throwing around labels doesn't make for a very good response. It makes for good radio comedy, but very poor intelligent political discourse.

Like I said, there's a whole world of conservatism out there beyond Rush and Ann. There's the Foundation for Ecomonic Education, the Rockford Institute, the Mises Institute, the Future of Freedom Foundation, just to name a few.

You'll never hear about these on EIB. These groups are armed with scholars, true conservative thinkers - not just shock jocks and entertainers selling Oreck vacuum cleaners.

There are great conservative minds like the aforementioned Clyde Wilson, Lew Rockwell, Pat Buchanan, and Thomas Fleming. There are also brilliant conservatives like like Jacob Hornberger, James Bovard, Sheldon Richman, Richard Ebeling, Srdja Trifkovic, Thomas Woods, and Thomas DiLorenzo that the vast majority of self-desribed conservatives have never heard of, let alone read.

Furthermore, Paul, do you know how Iraq came to be? The entire modern history of the middle east is one of western imperialism and intervention - largely for the sake of natural resources. That's not Nancy Pelosi, that's just historical fact. We can disagree about whether or not western involvement has been a good thing, but the nation of Iraq is an artificial creation of external "nation builders." You can't even begin to understand current politics without some historical perspective.

There is a cause and effect in geopolitical affairs. You can't arbitrarily draw a nation on a map that includes Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites and then expect them all to get along, eat apple pie and hot dogs, and watch the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

("Folks, I'm not making this up! Beane is attacking Thanksgiving Day! The hate-America liberals have sunk to a new low. And to disparage apple pie, a national symbol of America, shows the liberal contempt for free enterprise and God Himself...").

And the people say, "Megadittos."

Anonymous said...

We cannot change history, obviously. Iraq is what it is, and the U.S. and Hawaii are what they are today possibly because of underhanded reasons. We have to deal not with what something once was, but what it is now. I'm a realist, and that is probably why I don't make a very good intellectual.

The fact is there are two types of societies: fear societies and free societies. What distinguishes them is the ability of the common people to express dissent without fear of punishment or death. The United States is a free society by those standards. Every citizen, every commnon, ordinary, every day citizen regardless of rank or stature or income level has the right to express dissent. This was not the case in Iraq under the Saddam regime. Nor was it the case under the old Soviet Union. Nor is it the case in many other countries. Fear societies govern through fear. No one is allowed to express dissent against the government for fear of death. The very fact that we can criticize our government is part and parcel of what it means to be an American! But no one seems to want to admit that as a good thing.

I always have to laugh when I hear of reporters in Iraq asking people what they think of America or the war. Do they actually think they will receive an honest answer when there are people ready and waiting to murder them if they speak out against Al Qaeda, or Taliban?

I think we all take our freedoms for granted. If an Iraqi girl gets pregnant out of wedlock, she is not given any chance to have the baby or give it up for adoption. She and the baby are murdered. Now, I certainly think it is immoral that our government allows abortion of any kind. But at least the baby can be given up for adoption and the girl who messed up has the chance and opportunity to make a better life.

What in heaven's name is so wrong with wanting others to have the same blessings that we have? I see freedom as a blessing, not a curse or something to be ashamed of. Are there a lot of abuses of that freedom? Certainly. We would agree on a lot of those I'm sure.

We entered Iraq not to rule, but to free an oppressed people. I don't understand why the left wing guys are so disturbed. They are usually quite in favor of liberation and freeing oppressed people. Only when it makes them look good, I suppose.

I guess, if you're going to use the house analogy, normally I don't have the right to meddle in the affairs of my neighbor across town. But if the children are being abused by the parents, do I not have a duty to become involved, for the sake of the children? Of course. Do we who have the means and ability have the duty to help others and to protect them from evil? I would say so. Isn't that what is required in the 5th commandment: help and befriend him in every physical need.

Father Hollywood said...

Paul:

For being a "realist," your views are pretty unrealistic. It's naive to think the United States invades countries because we love those people so much that we want to free them.

In nearly every case, we invade to protect our economic interests - not for humanitarian reasons.

Great example: Saudi Arabia is a brutally oppressive regime. Christians are routinely executed there (it is illegal to display any symbol of Christianity in public, or to witness to the faith). There is no democracy there - they are an oligarchy of shiekhs. Women have very few rights there. So, where are the great American liberators? When's the invasion, the regime change, and purple dye on the fingers?

You see, Saudi provides lots of oil. They are a primary trade partner, an ally. So the Great Liberators are willing to overlook these oppressions. Oil covereth a multitude of sins.

Iraq, for all its oppression, was not as bad as Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. The deputy president was a Christian. Christian churches operated freely and in the open. Hussein's Sunni regime was not fundamentalist - in fact, it was a fairly moderate secular state. Women had considerably more rights than in Saudi Arabia or in Shiite dominated countries.

Besides, as the old joke goes, we know Hussein had WMDs, because we have the receipts - we provided all of those weapons to him when he was our ally. We propped him up. We didn't care about the Kurds as long as Hussein was fighting Iran for us. That's the reality, Paul.

There are billions of oppressed people in the world, the U.S. doesn't liberate people out of charity. We send in troops where our "national interests" are at stake. President Bush recently admitted (in an interview with Rush Limbaugh of all places, and it is on his website, BTW) that the fear was that Iraq could have hurt our economy by restricting oil supplies, thus causing prices to increase.

But it's their oil! If they want to sell it, hoard it, raise the price, lower the price, or put it on toast, that's their business. It's called the free market, and it would be nice if the GOP would learn something about it.

In wartime, there is propaganda. Every side of every war has propaganda. The problem is that Americans are so naive as to actually believe their own propaganda.

The War in Iraq was not about freedom and democracy - it was about safeguarding the American economy by subverting the free market if necessary. But it makes us feel more noble to explain it another way.

Sort of like the War Between the States. What it was: a power grab against the free-trade, exporting, agricultural South and a subversion of federalism and the Constitution. What it is described as in American propaganda: a crusade to free slaves.

It's an old adage, but true: wars are fought for economic reasons.

Democracy in Iraq is not even very good for the people. The majority of the country is Shiite. If they had a democratic system, women would be oppressed and Sharia law would be put into place. How do you think the Kurds would fare in a democratic Iraq? How about the Christians? That's the danger of democracy - the rule of the majority. The majority in Iraq is ugly. There's an old saying that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on dinner.

But once again, most Americans think democracy is wonderful. Obviously, they have never read the Federalist Papers or the deliberations of the Philadelphia convention that created the Constitution. The Founders were virulently opposed to democracy - but now, we talk about imposing it on Muslims half a world away.

Do you want freedom, or do you want democracy? You can't have both in Iraq at the same time.

They have a radically different religious make-up and cultural worldview than we do. Had we not intervened, they may have been able to work towards freedom over time in their own cultural paradigm. By intervening, we've altered that course, intensified the radicals, and spoiled a generation's attitude toward the US.

We have also taken great steps to curtail freedom, such as the Patriot Act, and holding people for years on end without charge, legal counsel, or communication with families. Even Hillary Clinton is on record of supporting torture in certain cases. We have become what we struggled against during the Cold War, complete with offshore Gulags where people simply disappear.

I love my country too much to look the other way and pretend this is what our Constitution stands for. I love freedom too much to believe we can increase freedom by taking away freedom. I love the truth too much to buy into a self-serving lie.

Anonymous said...

I am interested in freedom. Democracy has its downfalls, as you have pointed out. But so does just about every other form of government. Every human institution is flawed. Every government is made up of sinful people. I just think it is funny how democrats get all up in arms about helping the poor in our own country, but they could care less that a regime like Saddam's hoards all the wealth for themselves. Here in America, at least if someone has a little bit of ingenuity and will power, he can make a life for himself.

I suppose you could probably come up with a million reasons why we should not have been fighting in WWII as well.

Adieu, for now, on this topic. You're welcome to have the last word though. Catch you later on topics such as divine worship, the Holy Ministry, the Gospel, the Sacraments, etc. etc. etc. and all the other things that we are united on. :)

P.S. Good debate, by the way. I obviously don't have the historical background or the intellectual skills to match yours though. I recognize when I am in the presence of a greater mind. And I take my place amongst the commoners.

Father Hollywood said...

Paul:

I think I've exhausted all I have to say. I do think Srdja Trifkovic in his article "To Lose a War" (Chronicles, Nov 2006) makes a great point that is very easy for us Americans to forget:

"...[E]xporting institutions is not possible outside of the framework of ideas and culture that sustains them. Those ideas, in the case of the West, are rooted in the Hellenistic city-state, the Gospel, and the heresy of the Enlightenment; the notion of liberty, of individual responsibility resulting from the existence of individual free will, of collective creativity embodied in the rendering of Bach's cantatas and the launching of space shuttles. Those core ideas are anathema to Islam. Traditionally Christian societies have been able to develop democratic institutions, while traditionally Muslim ones have not, because Christians have a different concept of governmental authority - one that accepts the legitimacy of two realms, Caesar's and the Church's. In Islam, any attempt at making such a distinction is an act of rebellion against Allah's supremacy, an act of diabelief punishable by death. It is noteworthy that the term *democracy* did not have an equivalent in any Muslim language until a few decades ago. Its fundamental principle, equality, remains absent from the Muslim vocabulary."

Pax!

Father Hollywood said...

This is just now being reported - the outgoing commandant of the Marine Corps (no, this is not Nancy Pelosi) is stating that the Pentagon had no plan for governing Iraq after the overthrow of the previous government!

Maybe the plan is never to leave?

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/13/national/main2177031.shtml

A former Marine made the following comment in a thread of reader comments on this story...

To LTMousseman: even ignoring poor spelling, you don't make a lot of sense. "Anti-war fascist" borders on the oxymoronic. while I don't hate Bush, I think he's an abominable leader and genuinely stupid. UNLIKE ME, has never risked his life for this GREAT country. I spent a year in a line company in Vietnam. My MOS was 0311 (infantry to non-Marines). I have a purple heart and currently receive modest disability as a result of service to my country. I hope that satisfies you. Permit me to suggest that YOU may be the one who doesn't know what he is talking about. Bush wanted to invade Iraq long before 9-11. He cooked the intelligence and spun it his way. No one in the military could stand Rumsfeld's arrogance and incompetence. Colin Powell, was against going into Iraq for several reasons, not the least of which was Bush's plan clearly violated the Powell doctrine (have wide support before going in and have a plan to get out). No one who masterminded this fiasco and who was so hot to risk other people's lives in Iraq has any combat experience at all. Cheney pulled off 7 deferments to stay out of Nam. They are "chicken hawks." If Bush is so gung ho on Americans serving their country, why didn't he do it? Why didn't his daughters put on the uniform of our nation and serve in Iraq? I guess they were too busy getting drunk with fake id's. But don't take my word for it. Read what the Commandant of the Marine Corps said about Bush's brilliant exit strategy.
Semper Fi.