I am speechless.
In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France’s President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated.
In Genesis and Ezekiel Gog and Magog are forces of the Apocalypse who are prophesied to come out of the north and destroy Israel unless stopped. The Book of Revelation took up the Old Testament prophesy:
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
Bush believed the time had now come for that battle, telling Chirac:
“This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins”.
I look like a fool now to all those people I argued with who thought (wrongly, as I believed) that Bush was engaging in a Christian crusade war and that the whole thing was really for Israel’s benefit. I still believe Bush never equated Islam or muslims with the evil he refers to, however. In Bush’s mind the evil was Al Qaeda, not Islam.
There’s also not-inconsiderable irony in the thought that if Bush really was motivated by such biblical apocalyptic prophecy in deciding to go to war in Iraq, then he may well have been the instrument of that confrontation himself. Prophecies have a way of being self-fulfilling. In a bizarre twist, Magog was also Bush Sr.’s nickname at the secretive Skull and Bones society at Yale (to which GWB also belonged).
I suppose we have to wait for his memoirs. Let’s see if Bush disavows this statement above; it should be the number-one priority for any journalist interviewing the former president on any topic or for any other reason.