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God's Politics


Chuck Gutenson: Iran, Neocons, and Christianity

posted by gp_intern

There are some articles that one should not have to write. The thesis they defend should be so obvious that setting it forward should be unnecessary. However, there has been a remarkable degree of saber-rattling toward Iran over the last several months. Further, a founding document of so-called neoconservatism claimed that, “Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has” (and we all know how swimmingly our project in Iraq has gone!). So, unfortunately, it does seem necessary to make and defend the obvious claim: Christian faith is inconsistent with the central tenets of neoconservatism. Let me briefly summarize why this is so.

First, perhaps the central goal of neoconservatism is the use of U.S. military force to impose a “pax Americana” around the world. If one reads, for example, the Project for the New American Century, one finds something of an outline of how this it is to be accomplished. It specifically recognizes that we Americans are not likely to buy into such an ambitious foreign policy. Thus, the document indicates that a catalyzing event, “like a new Pearl Harbor,” would be needed to empower the administration to push forward with this agenda. The terrorists’ attack on Sept. 11 became that catalyzing event, and the war in Iraq was to be the initial step toward building the “pax Americana.” Even if things were not going so badly, it is hard to see how Christians could affirm this aspect of the neocon agenda.

Second, for Christians, there are really only two broad frameworks in which to assess the use of military force. Either one embraces Christian pacifism, or one embraces the Just War Theory. Since, as already noted, neoconservatism rests largely on a particular way of utilizing military force, we can see that neocons do not embrace Christian pacifism. So, for neoconservatism to be acceptable to Christian faith, its vision must conform to the Just War criteria. But does it? First, there simply is no basis in the Just War criteria for going to war in attempt to establish a “pax Americana,” nor for “regime change.” Neither of these constitutes a “just cause.” Second, there is no basis for pre-emptive war within the Just War tradition of the sort envisioned by the neo-cons (oh, if an enemy has amassed troops on the border, it hardly matters who shoots first, but we had nothing like that in Iraq nor Iran). Finally, it is likewise difficult to see how the U.S. could be considered as having “legitimate authority” for attempting to establish a “pax Americana.”

Third, while it might sound surprising, neoconservatism simply does not take the concept of human sin and evil seriously enough. It is surprising because it is often the neocons who point out that there is genuine evil in the world that must be confronted. At the end of the day, however, neoconservatives are simply too optimistic about our own goodness. In other words, too much of the neoconservative agenda rests on the belief that while “they” are bad, “we” are good. Note that the issue here is not “moral equivalence,” i.e., no one need think of “us” as bad as “them.” Rather, we only need recognize that no one should be entrusted with the sort of unilateral power implied by the neoconservative dream.

We, as followers of Jesus, should reflect on the differences between our calling to be imitators of Jesus and that to which the neocons would call us. And, most of all, we need to recognize the incommensurability of the two ways of being in the world.

Chuck Gutenson is a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary and blogs at
www.imitatiochristi.blogs.com



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butch

posted March 7, 2007 at 10:56 pm


Wow, this will bring out the Republi-Nazi apologist. If congress does proper oversite then we may stay out of another Iraq. I don’t hold my breath expecting the News to do its job. It is so dangerous I can hardly take a deep breath.



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Mark P

posted March 7, 2007 at 11:01 pm


I thought they said no “Nazi” talk. You tried to redefine the term to be acceptable, but it’s still calling kevin a Nazi, and that is incredibly offensive. — I pretty much agree with Chuck’s post, insofar as it goes (that is, I agree at the surface level [and at a whole-hearted level on point three] but there are some implications that will likely be drawn from his reasoning that I won’t agree with.



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Ron Shaw

posted March 7, 2007 at 11:19 pm


Professor Gutenson, I cannot argue with your assessment of the only options available to Christians when it comes to neocon philosophy. However, I wonder if Just War Theory requires rethinking and revision in light of the kind of conflicts we now face. It pains me to say something that agrees with neocons so I’ll offer this very carefully – it is possible to do a very great deal of destruction within a society without amassing troops on its borders. We saw that with September 11 and Israel sees it on a daily basis. This is not intended to justify the neocon position but I don’t know that Just War Theory is an adequate position either.



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butch

posted March 7, 2007 at 11:19 pm


I thought they said no “Nazi” talk. You tried to redefine the term to be acceptable, but it’s still calling kevin a Nazi, and that is incredibly offensive. — I didn’t call anyone a Republi-Nazi?



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butch

posted March 7, 2007 at 11:33 pm


We saw that with September 11 and Israel sees it on a daily basis. There were several Saudi’s involved in 9/11 can we justify a war with Saudi Arabia. I think it is simply a crime or a police matter after they are removed from Afghanistan There have been more Palestinians killed in that conflict than Israeli’s and it has been going on for 50-60 years. Do we want a “just war” that last for 50 years.



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butch

posted March 7, 2007 at 11:48 pm


Interesting, you say; “You tried to redefine the term”. I didn’t redefine the word, I coined the word and the definition hasn’t changed.



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Payshun

posted March 8, 2007 at 12:06 am


Well either way calling someone a nazi just aint right. I don’t see them posting images of the crematorium anywhere so can we please cut out the name calling? As for the article I could say duh. I have never bought into just war theory completely anyway. I understand that war is sometimes necessary but I also know that the martyrs were killed because they fought the war they were meant to fight. It was spiritual in nature and they won it in part from that.I think today’s Christians are too afraid of loss. They seek security over God and that’s the elephant in the room. I don’t mean to say that security is unimportant. It is but one cannot put faith in it to keep family and friends safe. One can do everything in one’s power to be as secure as possible and still understand that security is something that cant be trusted. p



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Esther

posted March 8, 2007 at 12:11 am


As children mature, they learn the art of negotiation, and if they are perceptive enough, they achieve their goals without making someone else a loser. A two year old is likely to hit or push a rival to get a coveted cookie, while a twelve year old is more likely to break the cookie in two and make friends. I recently read that a society’s maturity can be measured by the way it handles conflicts. A primative society resorts to violent to get what it wants. An advanced society will send diplomats to work out a solution that works for both parties. Jesus advocated peaceful solutions, but unfortunately, he didn’t get to see his many of his teachings come to fruition when he came to our planet because we were so primative then. The question is, how much have we matured since his first visit?



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Mark P

posted March 8, 2007 at 12:59 am


butch, “I coined the word and the definition hasn’t changed.” -Come on butch. You combined “Republican” and “Nazi.” Those words were around before you were, so let’s not pretend you can combine them and all-of-a-sudden they mean something different than “Republican Nazi.” —- Oh Esther. “A two year old is likely to hit or push a rival to get a coveted cookie, while a twelve year old is more likely to break the cookie in two and make friends.” -Having worked as a camp counselor, I can tell you that a twelve-year-old is more likely to hit the other kid with a bat and take the cookie. People are wicked. -I love snobbery of the contemporary… as if human nature will get so much better the longer we go along. It’s a facade, my friend. We’re just as fallen as we were 2000 years ago; we’ll be just as flawed in 2000 years. Only by the grace of God will peace ever come; only by the grace of God can we ever mature. It certainly won’t be by the advancement of society… and that grace, remember, is violent: Jesus came to bring the sword, after all… -Just remember that more people were martyred in the 20th century than in the 19 preceding it combined… Just remember how many victims Giant Ideology has caused in the last century. But we were so civilized… “As children mature, they learn the art of negotiation, and if they are perceptive enough, they achieve their goals without making someone else a loser.” -Would this make Neville Chamberlain a wise adult and Winston Churchhill a stupid little kid?



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carl copas

posted March 8, 2007 at 1:09 am


Mark P: “Would this make Neville Chamberlain a wise adult and Winston Churchhill a stupid little kid?” Ahh, the lessons of Munich. Used to justify all sorts of unjustifiable aggression, including American involvement in Vietnam. Harvard historian Ernest May (not a revisionist historian) has interesting things to say about the misuse of historical lessons. I don’t recall the exact title but “lessons of history” is part of it.



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Kris Weinschenker

posted March 8, 2007 at 1:29 am


While I’m certainly no neo-con, the thesis that Iran may be a bigger threat than Iraq to the US certainly has validity. Anyone that’s read the Bible should know that.



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Wolverine

posted March 8, 2007 at 1:38 am


Frankly, I would rather be called a “Republi-nazi” than have to read this sort of conspiracy mongering. At least with “Republi-nazi” there is little pretense of argument. It’s quite clear what’s going on: an ad hominem attack. By contrast, Chuck Gutenson’s little exercise in character assasination reads, on the surface, like a reasoned argument. It even cites an actual group with some real members. But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find paranoia and distortion. I cannot allow this to happen to people I respect and admire without a challenge and I certainly cannot allow an arm of the church to engage in this sort of idiocy without warning her of the fever swamps into which she is about to descend. I am not ashamed of who I am. I am a Christian. I am a neoconservative. There is no conflict between the two that cannot be reconciled. And if anyone is interested, I’d be happy to explain. Wolverine



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 1:55 am


Well either way calling someone a nazi just aint right. Payshun If you insist on separating nazi then it may lead to such thoughts. Now if you leave it hyphenated, Republi-Nazi, as I coined it you may see Iraqi children dying and some squeaking clean self-righteous person making excuses for the war.



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:04 am


“It’s a facade, my friend. We’re just as fallen as we were 2000 years ago; we’ll be just as flawed in 2000 years.” Completely and utterly true and it goes back further than 2000 years but through out time have been moments when man rose above it. Do we want to represent one of those times?



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Meddy

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:08 am


Chuck seems to be leavng out an important aspect of the just war argument. Justice. The scriptural purpose for Gods creating the nations, and His appointing of their leaders was necessary to the security of civilization as a whole and the preserving of mankind in specific. We live in a sinful world. When a rogue nation would arise among men, whether that nation threatened other nations or their own citizens, they could and would be disciplined. This ensured national sovereignty amongst neighbors and peaceful cohabitation among men. Nations cannot survive this side of the millenial kingdom without a police force to protect its citizens from civil disobedience within and a military to protect its citizens from national disobedience without. Or does Chuck think it is very manly to turn the other cheek; not when an injustice has been enacted upon him, but while his fellow man is being tortured and enslaved by megalomaniacal dictators? He does. How noble. He even assumes moral superiority in doing so. He is wrong. He has not read his bible aright. Jesus Christ taught us not to seek our own personal justice. We are to turn the other cheek upon any personal affront to the self. It is God Himself who will plead on our behalf. But we are expected, and in fact should defend anothers justice. To defend the rights of the weaker among us is our Christian duty. To stand idly by and watch when it is within ones power to make a difference is simply a sin of omission. And it is also quite cowardly indeed. It would be unjust in the eyes of the Lord and among men. SHAME.



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dlw

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:11 am


Well, I guess I’d have to disagree with their being only two categories, but those are the predominant ones. I am a Christian pragmaticist. I do not hold to the existence of Just War. I stand on the shoulders of Thorstein Veblen and his inquiry into the nature of peace. I simply want to change the institutions to reduce the likelihood of my country and others of going to war, though this may or may not ultimately be possible, but I do not find dogmatic opposition to all military conflict everywhere and in every case to be helpful in that regard and believe that tempered nationalism, vibrant democracy, and professionalism of service in the Armed forces as part of what helps to prevent and mitigate the use of state-based violence. dlw



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:20 am


all-of-a-sudden they mean something different than “Republican Nazi.” Mark P That is exactly how the language evolves; words or phrases come into and disappear form the language. Republican Nazi doesn t make sense to me. Rush Limbaugh called people Enviro-Nazi , they were environmentalist. He also called some Fema-Nazi , I think these were women who thought for themselves or otherwise were problems for conservative interest. You could be right he may have actually meant environmental nazi or female nazi but as I listened he didn t seem to say that. Maybe you could straighten him out.



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:30 am


-Would this make Neville Chamberlain a wise adult and Winston Churchill a stupid little kid? Mark P So, you find a poor negotiator, does that mean we should not attempt to negotiate. Reagan negotiated with the Russians very well. Clinton negotiated very well in the Bosnian situation, while the neo-cons wanted us to jump into that with a land army. I too love simple solutions to complex questions.



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kevin s.

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:30 am


Well, this article certainly has inflamed Butch’s passions, which is unsurprising. It is something he would write himself.The game Sojourners plays with the Just War theory is to define the theory such that whichever conflict to which they are opposed cannot meet the definitions of the theory. If the just war theory cannot accomodate a war against a nation that has threatened to annihilate an ally, and is actively pursuing the technology to make such annihilation a reality, then the just war theory needs to be adjusted.However, what we have here is an attempt to shoehorn an intellectually lazy version of pacifism into the constructs of just war theory. On a side note, I have never seen any site link so frequently to its own content. Does Sojourners really think that they have established the terms of this debate to the extent that they need only reference themselves? This is piffle, the long-winded equivalent of calling neoconservatives dummy-heads.



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Elmo

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:30 am


When Rush uses those terms he’s referring to people who want use the government to force others to abide by their beliefs. Enviro-Nazis wanting to use laws to force people buy smaller or hybrid vehicles, and Femi-Nazis wanting to force people to deny that there are differences between the sexes. I don’t think we should use the term Nazi to describe anything or anyone unless they are adhering to the same beliefs or practices as the originals.



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HASH(0x118cf630)

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:33 am


Let’s coin another term: butch-nazi noun 1. A God’s Politics commentor who is incapable of sticking to reasonable discourse and instead has to engage in ad hominem attacks. 2. A God’s Politics commentor who is incapable of treating people with whom he disagress with dignity and respect. 3. A pathetic person.



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justintime

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:41 am


Wolverine, I am not ashamed of who I am. I am a Christian. I am a neoconservative. There is no conflict between the two that cannot be reconciled. And if anyone is interested, I’d be happy to explain. I’m curious how you reconcile the two. .



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:48 am


“We live in a sinful world. When a rogue nation would arise among men, whether that nation threatened other nations or their own citizens, they could and would be disciplined.” Meddy When God reveals to you one of these “Rogue” nations that must be disciplined I assume he will also tell you who should discipline them then I’ll be there for you. You and me riding at the head of the column side-by-side shouting “bring it on”.



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:49 am


Elmo, come on. Rush is just using ad hominems. I wonder if he ever even spoke to an environmentalist or a feminist. justintime: I’m skeptical too. I don’t see how hegemonists can be Christians.



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:51 am


But I agree fully with your last sentence, Elmo.



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 3:17 am


I don’t think we should use the term Nazi to describe anything or anyone unless they are adhering to the same beliefs or practices as the originals. Elmo | Like wars of choice and torture, are those the types of things you are talking about? Or, propaganda where you repeat a lie often enough that about 70% of the population believes it, of course there is about 25% who believe it regardless of evidence to the contrary. Or, were you talking about something else?



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meddy

posted March 8, 2007 at 3:24 am


Butch…I’ll be glad to have you by my side. But first lets be clear about this. It is not like God has left us in the dark. He has left us his Word. It shines its light in the darkest of all corners. If Iraq and Iran are not evidently and clearly dark corners; evil epitomized….I mean, if the stuff that goes on there happened next door to you, would you have to wait for Gods voice to call the police? Your side kick Meddy



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Wolverine

posted March 8, 2007 at 3:37 am


Okay, time for the breakdown: Chuck Gutenson wrote: There are some articles that one should not have to write. The thesis they defend should be so obvious that setting it forward should be unnecessary. However, there has been a remarkable degree of saber-rattling toward Iran over the last several months. Further, a founding document of so-called neoconservatism claimed that, “Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has (and we all know how swimmingly our project in Iraq has gone!). So, unfortunately, it does seem necessary to make and defend the obvious claim: Christian faith is inconsistent with the central tenets of neoconservatism. Let me briefly summarize why this is so. Before introducing his thesis, Mr. Gutenson notes that neocons see Iran as potentially more of a threat than Iraq. He then snarks: and we all know how swimmingly our project in Iraq has gone! Droll, very droll. Hey, I’m not above a smart-ass remark myself, but sarcasm is not argument. What exactly does this prove about Iran? That it isn’t really a threat? That it’s an even greater threat than we thought? Which is it? First, perhaps the central goal of neoconservatism is the use of U.S. military force to impose a pax Americana around the world. If one reads, for example, the Project for the New American Century, one finds something of an outline of how this it is to be accomplished. It specifically recognizes that we Americans are not likely to buy into such an ambitious foreign policy. Thus, the document indicates that a catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor, would be needed to empower the administration to push forward with this agenda. The terrorists’ attack on Sept. 11 became that catalyzing event, and the war in Iraq was to be the initial step toward building the pax Americana. Even if things were not going so badly, it is hard to see how Christians could affirm this aspect of the neocon agenda. Ah, the good ‘ole PNAC. Here’s the thing about the links throughout this article: all but two are of the items linked to are articles written by the neocon imperialists at Sojourners. For those with the nerve to take their neoconservatism straight, there’s a link to the homepage of the Project for the New American Century, and a second link to a report issued by the PNAC about military reform. It is true that the report refers to a “Pax Americana”, but Gutenson misinterprets the phrase, presuming that this refers to an expansionist program of invasions. But a careful reading (i.e. paying attention to actual words in the report) reveals that the Pax America is mainly a defensive posture. The Iraq War was not the first step in building the Pax Americana; the Pax America was already in place in September 2000:”The American Peace has proven itself peaceful, stable, and durable…yet no moment in international politics can be frozen in time; even a global Pax Americana will not preserve itself. (p. 1) …the key to any longer-term hopes to extend the current Pax Americana is the drive to transform US military forces to meet new geopolitical and technological challenges. (p. 11) …And the failure to prepare for tomorrow’s challenges will ensure that the current Pax Americana comes to an early end. Gutenson sees the Pax Americana as a drive for expansion, but it’s quite clear that the outhor of this report is quite satisfied to merely defend the empire acquired under Bill Clinton. That leaves us with the politically useful, “Pearl Harbor” event, that we were supposedly hoping to use to trigger expansionism. The report does say that such an event would hasten the pace of change, but the report is not a laundry list of territories to conquer, but a precription for changes to military forces. Second, for Christians, there are really only two broad frameworks in which to assess the use of military force. Either one embraces Christian pacifism, or one embraces the Just War Theory. Since, as already noted, neoconservatism rests largely on a particular way of utilizing military force, we can see that neocons do not embrace Christian pacifism. So, for neoconservatism to be acceptable to Christian faith, its vision must conform to the Just War criteria. But does it? First, there simply is no basis in the Just War criteria for going to war in attempt to establish a pax Americana, nor for regime change. Neither of these constitutes a just cause. Second, there is no basis for pre-emptive war within the Just War tradition of the sort envisioned by the neo-cons (oh, if an enemy has amassed troops on the border, it hardly matters who shoots first, but we had nothing like that in Iraq nor Iran). Finally, it is likewise difficult to see how the U.S. could be considered as having legitimate authority for attempting to establish a pax Americana. Actually, Sojourners prefers to limit Christian to two slightly different ways of looking at the use of force: explicit pacifism and implicit pacifism. In the latter, the language of “just war” theory is manipulated so that a just war is possible in theory but never in practice. But the rest of this section is irrelevant: certainly it cannot be a violation of just war theory simply to re-equip or re-deploy armed forces. When this report was written we were not going to war to establish a Pax Americana as much as transforming the military to defend it. Third, while it might sound surprising, neoconservatism simply does not take the concept of human sin and evil seriously enough. It is surprising because it is often the neocons who point out that there is genuine evil in the world that must be confronted. At the end of the day, however, neoconservatives are simply too optimistic about our own goodness. In other words, too much of the neoconservative agenda rests on the belief that while they are bad, we are good. Note that the issue here is not moral equivalence, i.e., no one need think of us as bad as them. Rather, we only need recognize that no one should be entrusted with the sort of unilateral power implied by the neoconservative dream. And his source for this is … what exactly? Does he really mean to say that nobody should defend the world order that existed at the end of the Clinton administration? We, as followers of Jesus, should reflect on the differences between our calling to be imitators of Jesus and that to which the neocons would call us. And, most of all, we need to recognize the incommensurability of the two ways of being in the world. What exactly are the differences? The report he points us to is not a prescription for imperialism, but rather a plan to defend the world order that existed in September 2000. Gutenson’s screed against expansionist neoconservatism makes sense if one includes Bill Clinton among the neocons. I suppose that’s possible — Clinton did move right on a lot of issues over the course of his eight years in office, but on the whole this is an odd claim for Sojourners to make. Wolverine



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 3:57 am


if the stuff that goes on there happened next door to you” Meddy What is going on there?



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meddy

posted March 8, 2007 at 4:04 am


Do ou really have no idea?



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kevin s.

posted March 8, 2007 at 4:08 am


I also find curious the notion that a “founding” document of neoconservatism was created in 2000. Since Sojo is so interested in debates, perhaps we should have this dude debate, say, Bill Kristol. Mavs-Bobcats, anyone?



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meddy

posted March 8, 2007 at 4:10 am


Do You really have no idea Butch? Or are you pretending ignorance so your conscience remains clear? What is your point?



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Wolverine

posted March 8, 2007 at 4:33 am


Kevin S. wrote: I also find curious the notion that a “founding” document of neoconservatism was created in 2000. I didn’t have the heart to go into all the real neocon stuff: CCNY, Alcove One, Partisan Review, “mugged by reality”, Commentary, — All that intellectual history would probably make the poor guy’s head explode, and I’d hate to have that happen.



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Esther

posted March 8, 2007 at 4:40 am


Mark P. wrote: “Having worked as a camp counselor, I can tell you that a twelve-year-old is more likely to hit the other kid with a bat and take the cookie. People are wicked.” I’m a substitute teacher for two different school districts, K-12, and I get to see a lot of kids. I know that there are indeed a lot of troubled children in our society, but (apparently) you’d be surprised by how considerate most of them can be. I’ve seen young children share their cookies, but because their language abilities are limited, they are more likely to get frustrated when the world isn’t going the way they want it to. I’ve also seen teenagers who lack the skills to express what they need and act out in frustration. If Mark worked in a camp with a lot of “wicked” children, I suspect the population he worked with had special needs. God created us a notch above the animals, and we still bear the ‘mark of the beast’ -that is, the fight-or-fight instinct necessary for self-preservation, which in itself is not evil. We all need to take care of ourselves. However, since this is a Christian based forum, I expect that most of you know that God’s way is wholistic. He loves us all, without favoritism, and desires that we take care of our fellows the way we want to be taken care of. Group-interest transcends self-interest. Advanced societies will live according to that paradigm, and as our planet approaches God’s way, war will cease to be.War still exists because, like animals, humans are territorial and will fight to protect their interests. Humans still fight like jackels over the choice bones, which these days, are the choice oil fields. I’m not pessimistic about our world, though. I know a lot of people who are not only praying for peace, they are actively seeking to love their fellows and make the world a better place. Jesus told the woman who touched his hem, “your faith has healed you.” And that is just as possible today. Did any of you hear about the experiment they did in Washingto DC a while back? A group of Faithful prayed for the city for a given period of time (I wish I could remember the specific details), and the crime rates were compared with the ‘pre-prayer’ crime rates. As you’d probably expect, violence and robberies dropped significantly. What we need to do is pray for peace; pray for the protection of all the innocent people in Iraq who are threatened with violence every day. Let’s also pray for wisdom to be evident in our leaders.



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Esther

posted March 8, 2007 at 4:44 am


Correction: we still bear the fight-or flight instinct. (sorry- finger slipped) Anger or fear motivates a lot of our behavior, unless we become conscious of what we’re doing and actively turn to God for Guidance.



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Paul

posted March 8, 2007 at 4:45 am


Mr. Gutenson, Are you familair with C.S.Lewis’ “Fern-Seed and Elephants”? If not, you might find it instructive. cheers, Paul



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 4:47 am


Esther email me I have school idea with questions. Wilddog_202@yahoo.com



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Elmo

posted March 8, 2007 at 5:52 am


Don, I wasn’t supporting Rush, I was just clarifying. I don’t think he should use the term either, it diminishes its impact. butch, I was talking about the systematic marking and extermination of an entire race of people, and true imperialism. Not when we oust dangerous sociopaths and try to install a republic. And you’re propaganda line was pretty vague, a little clarification please?



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HASH(0x118e8f48)

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:10 am


The word Propaganda makes me think of Michael Moore.



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 11:49 am


Elmo: I know you weren’t defending Rush, and I agree that his use of “nazi” (among other terms) diminishes any effectiveness he might have. I quit listening to him a long time ago after I began realizing he never supports his arguments. He’s really a master at the ad hominem and the straw man, but he makes it all sound so well-reasoned. Other conservatives, I think, are out there who are more thoughtful and whose arguments are more reasoned than Rush’s. George Will, for example.



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 12:04 pm


Back on the main topic here: I re-read Chuck’s last paragraph, the one about their views of good and evil. If Chuck represents their views correctly, and I think he does from what I’ve read elsewhere, their thinking along these lines is not Christian at all, it’s Manichean. The Manicheans (or Manichees), to simplify things greatly, believed in a dualistic world controlled by a dualistic God. Part was all good, and part was all evil, and these two factions were constantly at war with each other. Christianity, by contrast, sees all humanity as tainted by evil as a result of the Fall. We are answerable to a God who is all good, and he has already won the decisive victory over evil. Chuck is absolutely correct when he says the neocons are too optimistic about their own goodness. Of course, Americans have bought into a lot of this philosophy as well; it’s part of our civil religion. We are unable to see ourselves as capable of evil, and anyone who tries to point our shortcomings out to us is accused by some of “hating America.” We also can see clear evidence of Manichean influence in the way the President has talked about good and evil. It has been a major theme of his since 9/11. He obviously buys into the “America is good” kind of thinking. Inability to be self-critical and to analyze one’s own weaknesses and vulnerabilities is a recipe for disaster. I think we have tastes some of this bitter fruit as a result of our invasion and occupation of Iraq. Augustine wrote much against Manichean thinking. He was very familiar with it, since he was involved with the Manichees before his conversion. One can read about that in his Confessions. Peace,



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chuck

posted March 8, 2007 at 1:05 pm


Thanks to all who took the time to read my piece and to those who commented on it. I won’t try to tie up the discussion with responses, but will likely take on some of the questions raised here on my blog over the next couple of weeks. Wolverine, you can get my email address at the website for the seminary where I teach. If you’d like to correspond with me about how one reads the Gospels of Jesus so as to show that they can be brought into alignment with neo-conservativism, it seems to me you’d have a tough job, but I’m up for it if you are:>) To those who propose revising the just war criteria, a central issue will be the basis upon which the criteria would be revised. For example, when I have had folks suggest they need to be revised, they usually seem to mean to make it easier for “us” to win. But, of course, that is not the goal of the just war criteria. To ask if a given war can be just is to presuppose that the answer can be no and that war may not be morally engaged. Just cause is not the only criteria. To those who suggest that Jesus would favor going to war to release the oppressed seem to overlook how Jesus actually lived. Certainly, there was grave injustice in the first century, many wanted to follow his lead in rebellion against Rome. But, as some many have noted, his “weapon” was rather different. And, to the claim suggestion that Iraq was about restoring justice, if so, we have failed pretty miserably. Thanks again, and blessings to all!



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moderatelad

posted March 8, 2007 at 1:29 pm


In other words, too much of the neoconservative agenda rests on the belief that while they are bad, we are good. Note that the issue here is not moral equivalence, i.e., no one need think of us as bad as them. DGIH – OK, let s reverse the roles. The Islamic people in the Middle East are the supper power of the world and we are a poor nation with a substandard military. They have the same resources that they currently have and so do we. We are discussing the idea of ‘just war’ and being nice people because we just want to live in peace and harmony with our fellow man. Like I say – they are Islamic and we for the most part are Christians with other religions represented. How long do you think it will take them to come over here and bomb the $%^*! out of us and take over our country and close our churches and temples? If the date was 10SEP01 – the planes are in the air and our cities will be attacked tomorrow. NOW – give that little nut in Iran nuclear bombs – our top ten cities are a memory.Life is perspective – sleep well tonight. .



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 1:41 pm


butch, I was talking about the systematic marking and extermination of an entire race of people, and true imperialism. Not when we oust dangerous sociopaths and try to install a republic. And you’re propaganda line was pretty vague, a little clarification please? Elmo | Homepage | 03.08.07Elmo that is what you are talking about but it is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about those who make excuses for everything Our President does or tries to move the subject if someone hits to close to home.



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 1:46 pm


Do You really have no idea Butch? Or are you pretending ignorance so your conscience remains clear? What is your point? meddy You talked about the “things” going on without anything specific to clarify? My point is specifically what is your point?



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 1:56 pm


How long do you think it will take them to come over here and bomb the $%^*! out of us and take over our country and close our churches and temples? Moderated Can I read this to say we need a preemptive war of defense? Or what do you suggest?



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Wolverine

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:10 pm


Don, Neoconservatism has never been tied to any particular religious outlook. The original neocons were secular Jews, but since then the school has embraced Catholics and an occasional Anglican, such as myself and Fred Barnes. You can argue that we take a too simplistic view of America’s proper role in foreign policy, but to categorize us as Manichean is only liable to confuse matters when in truth we don’t necessarily agree on the existence of God. Chuck, Having seen you mangle neoconservatism in a public forum, I believe the proper response has to be in public. Perhaps I misread your comments, but when you stated that it was “obvious” that “Christian faith is inconsistent with the central tenets of neoconservatism”, it seemed to me that you came pretty close to reading me out of the church. Your argument would carry more weight if you had shown any understanding of what neoconservatism is, but as Kevin pointed out, you seem to think that our school of thought sprung out of one report on military preparedness written in 2000. And then as far as I can tell you hardly bothered to read that. What you’ve written so far reeks of bad faith or hysteria or both. In light of that, I hope you can understand why I have little interest in being your friend right now. Wolverine



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moderatelad

posted March 8, 2007 at 2:54 pm


butch | 03.08.07 – 9:01 am | #They (the radical Islamics) would attack in a heart beat and take over any sovereign nation in the world with no thought of ‘collateral damage – killing innocence – etc’. For them to die in a war is a first class ticket to their heaven. We will not kill for our safety. Be well – .



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 3:11 pm


“We will not kill for our safety.” Moderated A preemptive war of choice will do just exactly that or do we use BS like Iraq. I know it is a hard question. When you feel as you do there is no limit to what must be done. I have limits to what I’ll support.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 8, 2007 at 3:18 pm


OK, let s reverse the roles. Why do we as Christians want to do that? We’re not supposed to think like everyone else — the moment we do we’re history.



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Mark P

posted March 8, 2007 at 3:21 pm


Carl: Ahh, the lessons of Munich. Used to justify all sorts of unjustifiable aggression, including American involvement in Vietnam. -My only assertion is that diplomacy has its limitations, and sometimes splitting the cookie doesn t work. I did not apply it specifically in any way, and I sure as hell don t think Vietnam qualifies. I am merely fighting her assumption that only immature civilizations engage in war. — butch: through out time have been moments when man rose above it. Do we want to represent one of those times? -I can *almost agree with you :). I think there have been times when men have risen above it, but not man as an entity. By the grace of God, men can rise above.That is exactly how the language evolves; words or phrases come into and disappear form the language. -In fifty years, when Republi-Nazi has become mainstream, we can talk about etymology. Until then, it s just a sly way to call someone a Nazi and get away with it. -Did you just use Limbaugh s behavior as a way to justify your own? Seems like a poor choice to defend the non-inflammatory nature of your choices. (or did you think I would actually stand up for Rush?)Reagan negotiated with the Russians very well. -Reagan called them an evil empire and famously said, The West will not contain Communism, it will transcend Communism. We will not bother to denounce it, we’ll dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written. Pretty diplomatic, eh? — Meddy: national sovereignty -Careful with the assertion that national sovereignty is a Biblical concept. It s not particularly supportable, especially considering that the concept of the modern sovereign state is less than five hundred years old. — Anonymous: -Way to sink to the ad hominem level, insult a person for doing so, and doing it anonymously. How courageous. — Esther: I’ve seen young children share their cookies, but because their language abilities are limited, they are more likely to get frustrated when the world isn’t going the way they want it to. I’ve also seen teenagers who lack the skills to express what they need and act out in frustration. If Mark worked in a camp with a lot of “wicked” children, I suspect the population he worked with had special needs. -I worked with both special needs and just regular ole kids. I had a kid with turrets, a mentally-retarded 22-year-old, and an American Diabetes Association week. Other than that, average kids. Look, I loved those kids. It was the best summer of my life, and I suspect that I don t have to tell you how incredible it is to get involved in a kids life and have an impact. -I ve also seen a ton of generosity, but I ve also seen the dark side of human nature expressed in the slightest of behavior. It s not a matter of troubled v good it s a matter of a fundamental flaw.He loves us all, without favoritism -You sure? Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated. I actually do agree with you because there is no partiality with God, but I don t apply to some progressive improvement in human society.War still exists because, like animals, humans are territorial and will fight to protect their interests. -No, war still exists because all have sinned and there is no one who does good and we all like sheep have gone astray.



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 3:43 pm


Wolverine: I didn’t say that the neocons are all self-identified Manicheans; I am arguing that their views on matters of good and evil are Manichean in their effects, and that these Manichean views are tied into popular views that Americans have about themselves. I read the book by Richard Pearle and David Frum, “An End To Evil” a few years ago. Aside from what I think is a very problematic title, I thought the book was downright scary. It advocates using American military power to “eliminate” all kinds of “evil” in the world. I honestly don’t see how this attitude can be squared with Christian thinking. For one thing, Frum and Pearle don’t even mention the possibility that such massive use of military might might unleash all kinds of new and unforseen evils (euphamistically called ‘uintended consequences’), such as we have seen in Iraq. BTW, Sojourners limited its discussion of the Christian options for warfare to two simply because there only have been two historically: just war theory and pacifisim. Anyone who wants to argue for a different or new “Christian” approach to warfare has a very big job to do, considering that the just war theory originated with Augustine and was reinforced by Aquinas–two of the biggest minds in Western history. Big shoes to fill, those. Peace,



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 3:48 pm


“Until then, it s just a sly way to call someone a Nazi and get away with it.” MarkYour opinion without evidence, I did in fact define how I use “my” term. “V(or did you think I would actually stand up for Rush?)” Or did I consider your position in any way? “-Reagan called them an evil empire and famously said,” Regardless of what or how he said it Reagan started no preemptive war of aggression with Russia, he did with others and I didn’t like any of it. “-No, war still exists because all have sinned and there is no one who does good and we all like sheep have gone astray.I understand but I still want to be part of times when we rose above if only for a short time.



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kevin s.

posted March 8, 2007 at 3:51 pm


This isn’t about cookies. If we were territorial, and simply wanted cookies, we would just take the cookies. That’s not what we are threatening with Iran. We’re not going to go in and steal all their oil. We are going to go in and prevent a nuclear attack.



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Sarasotakid

posted March 8, 2007 at 4:10 pm


Don: BTW, Sojourners limited its discussion of the Christian options for warfare to two simply because there only have been two historically: just war theory and pacifisim. Anyone who wants to argue for a different or new “Christian” approach to warfare has a very big job to do, considering that the just war theory originated with Augustine and was reinforced by Aquinas–two of the biggest minds in Western history. Big shoes to fill, those.” Well put, Don. Those who would berate the just war doctrine and simply dismiss it saying we need an alternative should set forth a viable alternative. This post was well thought out. Anyone who would dismiss it as being an intellectually lazy version of pacifism without providing cogent reasons as to why that is the case, can be said to be guilty of intellectual laziness themselves. I have seen people on this blog be dismissive and critical of “liberals” (going so far as to call them heretics) because they don’t take the scriptures literally. Should the “liberals” apply those same standards to their more conservative counterparts when these conservatives do not take literally the words of Jesus concerning peace?



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moderatelad

posted March 8, 2007 at 4:39 pm


butch | 03.08.07 – 10:16 am | #or do we use BS like Iraq. I do not see it that way and I have limits. I did not support Clinton going into the Balkins as they had never attacked us (US) and it was a Civil War. They had never allowed terrorists to use their country to hide in or train in so that they could attack other nations in the world. But Pelosi and Company hailed him as a great leader for doing that one.I will not support doing anything in Darfur as we will be fighting each other on that issue – it is also a Civil War. As much as I feel that we should be doing something with the Nut in Iran – no. Let them get the bomb and blow something up first – then – maybe we can come together and understand what ‘evil’ is in this world.Come to think of it – with the popular thinking of Wallis and Sojo – the blockade of Cuba was wrong as they had not attacked us. Even though Castro hated us (US) and said that he would attack us – we can not believe what other world leaders say. The Iranian Kook has stated that he would attack Israel and the US – but Murtha and Kennedy don’t believe him. So – no – I will not at this time support any further military action against another country in the world until they have attacked us – just like Teddy Kennedy believes. later – .



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 4:53 pm


We’re not going to go in and steal all their oil. We are going to go in and prevent a nuclear attack. kevin s. In the same way we prevented Pakistan and India and China and France and GB and Israel from a nuclear attack.More Republi-Nazi support for anything this crazy president does. Iran sees nuclear as in their self interest so either talk them out of it or shoot them out of it. I prefer the latter. What would you do with a nut bag like Bush threatening you.



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kevin s.

posted March 8, 2007 at 5:01 pm


“Well put, Don. Those who would berate the just war doctrine and simply dismiss it saying we need an alternative should set forth a viable alternative.” My point about discarding the just war theory was rhetorical. The prevention of a nuclear annihilation of an ally is a completely justifiable cause for war, and meets every tenet of the theory. “This post was well thought out. Anyone who would dismiss it as being an intellectually lazy version of pacifism without providing cogent reasons as to why that is the case, can be said to be guilty of intellectual laziness themselves.” I don’t see where this post is well thought out. it simply says that the neoconservative movement demands unilateral power, and the unilateral power is wrong. This is, at best, an exceedingly shallow and self-serving interpretation of the movement. To back up his claims, he primarily references this blog, which is weird. I have never seen a movement so taken with itself. To the question of intellectually lazy pacifism, Sojourners references the “just war” theory in an attempt to oppose literally any war. You could not justify World War II by the definition of just war theory insinuated by Wallis and others. And so, the just war theory becomes a bludgeon with which to oppose military actions conducted by politicians that Sojourners doesn’t like.



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Paul

posted March 8, 2007 at 5:10 pm


Don, Interesting thoughts. Have you read Jean Bethke Elshtain’s “Just War against Terror”, and if so, what did you think of it? As to the Manichean look of the document, I have been trying to figure out what a threat assessment would look like that would pass this level of theological scrutiny. I’m not sure it could be done. I’m not sure how fair it is to impose standards that are impossible to live up to. As always appreciate your insights. cheers, Paul



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 5:12 pm


“I don’t see where this post is well thought out. it simply says that the neoconservative movement demands unilateral power, and the unilateral power is wrong. This is, at best, an exceedingly shallow and self-serving interpretation of the movement.” Kevin What movement are we talking about?



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 5:29 pm


Thanks, Paul. I suppose I’m not really thinking of a theological threat assessment. I just think that if the Manichean worldview is wrong (which from a biblical standpoint I would have to say it is), then it isn’t a valid way to look at the problem of evil. To be sure, tremendous evil was done to the USA on 9/11, but that doesn’t justify our looking at the world and saying unequivocally that we’re “good,” which is the rhetoric we’ve been getting from Washington these last six years. The OT prophet Habakkuk is a good study of this problem. It’s pretty short, too. You might want to take the time to read it. Self-reflection is healthy; thinking one’s always in the right is not. If we had considered that while we need to take care of the one evil done to us, we need to watch that we do it in such a way that we don’t fall into evil ourselves, how would that have influenced decisions over the last six years? Think not only of invading Iraq, but think of the coinciding abandoning of the effort in Afghanastan and what has been happening there in recent months, think of abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, think of the curtailing of civil rights here at home–just for a few examples. I think there’s biblical precedent for this kind of circumspect thinking. Jesus talks about the speck and the beam in each others’ eyes, and Paul, in Galatians I believe, talks about correcting one found in sin but taking care while doing so lest we ourselves are tempted. This is not looking very coherent from my writing teacher point of view, but maybe my ramblings will make some sense to you. Peace,



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butch

posted March 8, 2007 at 5:45 pm


“Come to think of it – with the popular thinking of Wallis and Sojo – the blockade of Cuba was wrong as they had not attacked us. Even though Castro hated us (US) and said that he would attack us” Moderated Cuba was not a threat, Russia was, we blockaded the ships and negotiated with Russia. Amadedjad (sp) may hate us but he is not a threat he is mouth like Castro. Someone mentioned threat assessments, what threat would it create if we attacked Iran. We would not find a moderate muslim left in the world.



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Paul

posted March 8, 2007 at 5:46 pm


Don, Thanks for the reply. My point is an exegetical one. I am wondering if you are seeing a Manichean world view where there isn’t necessarily one, because you are applying standards inappropriate to the type of document being examined. Having had to write and implement documents dealing with conflicts on much smaller scales, I’m sure you could probably make the same claim based on the sorts of catagories you are imposing, but again, I am not convinced that those standards are appropriate to the subject in question. To give a crude but hopefully relevant example. The standards by which you judge poetry are significantly different then those you apply to prose. Hope this makes some sense… I would commend Jean’s book to your reading. Also just out on Gitmo, you might want to have a look at: http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009758 cheers, Paul



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kevin s.

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:03 pm


“Think not only of invading Iraq, but think of the coinciding abandoning of the effort in Afghanastan and what has been happening there in recent months, think of abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo,” Simply throwing a litany of instances out there doesn’t add any merit to the case against potential military conflict with Iran. I commend you to the WSJ article on Guantanamo, lest your personal reflection be infected by the PR strategies of our opponents.We needn’t achieve moral purity before we have the authority to relieve Iran of their nuclear technology. A nuclear Iran is, for many, many reasons, completely unacceptable.To suggest that we lack the moral authority to combat Iran is, in fact, moral equivalency. And it won’t work here.



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Sarasotakid

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:07 pm


Those who would berate the just war theory and then say that their point was merely rhetorical should mean what they say and say what they mean.



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Sarasotakid

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:10 pm


“Come to think of it – with the popular thinking of Wallis and Sojo – the blockade of Cuba was wrong as they had not attacked us. Even though Castro hated us (US) and said that he would attack us” Moderated First of all Wallis and Sojo have not weighed in on that. Second, most historians would agree that Castro wanted the missiles because he was afraid of another Bay of Pigs style invasion. Kind of like Iran would feel with large numbers of US troops in the adjacent country and a US leader who did not heed the UN opposition to his war with Iraq.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:15 pm


Sarasotakid — And according to Charles Colson, the U. S. also removed missiles in Turkey pointed at the Soviets.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:18 pm


Paul — The WSJ’s editorial page has deliberately lied so consistently over the past 20 years that I no longer believe anything I read in it.



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Paul

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:27 pm


Rick Nowlin, Proverbs 18:13 cheers, Paul



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:30 pm


Kevin, please re-read my posts. You are guilty of a big non sequitur. I haven’t been taking any position on attacking or not attacking Iran. I am only pointing out that the decision we make about what to do in any case (and that would include Iran) should be informed by the fact that we too are capable of evil. I also said that if we take that into consideration, some of the decisions we made in the past might have turned out differently. The examples I named happened, I believe, in part because we didn’t consider the possibility of our falling into evil. I was not making any kind of case for or against attacking Iran. And I’m not going to offer an opinion on it, either, at least not here. We are not saints. We are sinners too, just like our so-called enemies are. It’s way too easy for us (especially as Americans) to say they are bigger sinners than we because they want to destroy us, but that doesn’t wash biblically. In God’s eyes, we have all fallen far short. And isn’t that what the Pharisees did? Paul: again, yes I’m seeing Manicheism in the neocon rhetoric. That worldview has been popularized and widely disseminated (think of the Star Wars “Force” for example: it has a good side and an evil side, and they are in perpetual conflict). It’s not neccesarily something conscious on their part, but that doesn’t make its presence any less real. I’m not sure what standards I’m bringing to my examinations of neocon pronouncements that are not appropriate here or that I shouldn’t bring to my understanding of other pronouncements or documents.



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:35 pm


Also, Kevin, looking to ourselves lest we to be tempted is not a requirement for “moral purity.” If it were, we could never do anyting. Later,



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Paul

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:39 pm


Don, In my view, and I may be mistaken, again, to take this document without say an understanding of the UCMJ, may cause you to come to the conclusions you do, but it is yet another example of how a “text out of context becomes a pretext”. Please note I am not saying you are doing this deliberately, or with ill intent. I am suggesting that perhaps you have a grid, perhaps an unconcious one that may, and I do mean may, be skewing your assessment of the text. cheers, Paul



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Paul

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:43 pm


Rick Nowlin, One p.s. If I were to follow your reasoning, I could say the same thing about the New York Times, with, I would argue even more justification, but instead I try to read both as much as I can. cheer, Paul



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 6:46 pm


UCMJ?



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kevin s.

posted March 8, 2007 at 7:06 pm


“Those who would berate the just war theory and then say that their point was merely rhetorical should mean what they say and say what they mean.” Why am I being referred to as “those”? I didn’t berate the theory. I said that if it cannot account for the prevention of a nuclear assault, then it needs to be changed, which is a way of saying the just war theory CAN account for the prevention. I think that is pretty obvious from context.”We are not saints. We are sinners too, just like our so-called enemies are. It’s way too easy for us (especially as Americans) to say they are bigger sinners than we because they want to destroy us, but that doesn’t wash biblically.” Well, this is certainly a non-sequitor. The decision of whether to go to war with Iran will not be predicated upon their sin level. So examining the collective sin of our nation in comparison to Iran’s might be an intruiging intellectual exercise, it falls short in helping us determine the proper course of action here.



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Paul

posted March 8, 2007 at 7:09 pm


Don, Sorry, UCMJ = Uniform Code of Military Justice. A couple of further thoughts. I was wondering why I was having some of the reactions I am. Upon further reflection, part of it is my instinctive unease with lables. I understand that they can have their uses, but as often as not, I find them to be liabilities. Part of this comes from the fact that in my life, I have often been the odd man out. I was the only philosopher in my theological school, and the only theist in the philosophy department where I studied. I have often felt like the fellow during the Civil War who wore Confederate trousers, and a Union tunic… so both sides shot at him… well, enough of the autobiographical stuff.If, and I do mean IF I understand Jesus story of the “Good Samaritan” then I think it has some relevance here. I got myself into trouble once when I suggested on one group, that if Jesus were retelling that story today, it might be the parable of the “good homosexual” or to others of us the “good liberal” or to others of us the “good conservative” or even heaven forbid the “good neoconservative.”. . . I do want to thank you for how you comport yourself during these exchanges, would that others were attendant to your example. cheers, Paul



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 7:39 pm


Kevin, you still don’t get it. I’m NOT TALKING about Iran!!! I’m talking about looking to OURSELVES lest we fall into evil in our response to evil. It’s about US, not them.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 8, 2007 at 8:00 pm


If I were to follow your reasoning, I could say the same thing about the New York Times, with, I would argue even more justification, but instead I try to read both as much as I can. What I said about the mendacity of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page is fact and has nothing to do with the New York Times, which does not do that (and you have absolutely no basis to say that it does save that it doesn’t subscribe to your opinion). This is one reason many people in the know steer clear of the WSJ.



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carl copas

posted March 8, 2007 at 8:03 pm


Mark P: “No, war still exists because ‘all have sinned’ and ‘there is no one who does good and we all like sheep have gone astray.’” On that we can agree, my friend. Our common need for Christ’s redemption is what unites us all–con, lib, and prog–at the end of the day. Don: “I read the book by Richard Pearle and David Frum, “An End To Evil” a few years ago. Aside from what I think is a very problematic title, I thought the book was downright scary.” Pearle and Frum and their ilk should read some Reinhold Niebuhr. Niebuhr warned with eloquence of what happens when arrogant, self-righteous crusading swallows humility and a sense of a nation’s limitations. One reason why neo-conservatism scares me so much is that I fear it is every bit as as dismissive of human limitations and human institutions–including democratic ones–as 20th century communists were.



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carl copas

posted March 8, 2007 at 8:04 pm


that last post should read “as dismissive of the limitations of humans and human institutions–including democratic ones–as 20th century communists were.”



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 8:22 pm


Paul: Thanks for the clarification. I understand your concern about labels; actually I have shared that concern on other threads in this blog. Terms like ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ and how they have lost so much of their meaning. Carl: I hadn’t thought of Neibuhr, but you are right. The present Iraq situation clearly demonstrates exactly what he was talking about. Peace,



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Wolverine

posted March 8, 2007 at 8:32 pm


Don, Okay, I’m willing to stipulate: we’re imperfect. Now, what, practical effect should that have on our foreign policy? Does that mean we cannot act to prevent or contain greater evils? You’re doing theology, which is wonderful, but the rest of us are doing foreign policy. And all you have to connect them is a very quick summary of a book. I’ll admit said book has a very provocative title, but that’s still an awful thin thread to hang so much on. Got anything more? Wolverine



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 9:13 pm


Wolverine: It does not mean we cannot act to constrain evil. It means we need to examine ourselves, though. We can do evil ourselves. We have done evil. America is not the land of perfect people who are incapable of sinning, either individually or collectively. This observation is based on the Bible, not on that book with the provocative title. I’m not trying to do foreign policy. I’m just observing that our reckless and heedless move into Iraq has unleashed a lot of evil, some of it–by no means all–our responsibility (though the invasion gave those responsible for much of the evil the opening to act). When Paul talks about correcting the one in sin, he says to make sure we won’t be tempted as well. I think that may have an application beyond individuals. How does that apply to foreign policy? I don’t really know. Perhaps it means looking at all the facts, not just the convenient ones–something the Bush adminstration failed to do before invading. Perhaps it means not being so cocky-sure of ourselves that we don’t see our own vulnerabilities and are therefore blindsided by them. I simply see that our moving on the neocon agenda (i.e., invading Iraq) has done a lot of damage to our credibility, our foreign relationships, our military, and perhaps most importantly, our ability to constrain the evil of Islamist expansionism. A little humility, a little acknowledgement of our own limitations, could have prevented a lot of our current trouble, I think. We’ll be living with the ramifications of that trouble for a long time, I fear. Well, I’m rambling again, and I need to go. Peace,



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Paul

posted March 8, 2007 at 9:14 pm


Don, Have you ever seen the movie “the Mission”? If not I strongly recommend it. One reason it sticks with me is that the Huaorani people who are portrayed in the film, would centuries later be known also as the Auca, and would end up killing a friend of my fathers. I grew up the “Shadow of the Almighty”, “Through Gates of Splendor”, and “Savage My Kinsman”, but back to the movie. In the scene just before the climax Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro have a conversation on some of the issues raised here. Afterwards they both go out to face the enemy, each in their very different ways, and yet, rather than contradicting each other, it seems to me they compliment each other… One advantage they had is that they didn’t suffer from confusion as to who the enemy really was, in that case. . . I wish we had more discussions of that quality. Thanks again for your time and attention. cheers, Paul



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eileen fleming

posted March 8, 2007 at 9:28 pm


Bruce Laingen, the former charge de affaires for the U.S. Embassy in Iran and one of the Americans who was held hostage from 1979-1981 in Iran wrote: “The United States and Iran must talk. Not with the mutually negative public rhetoric that for the 27 years since the 1979 hostage crisis has eroded the trust needed for any diplomatic exchange; not indirectly, as we do now on the nuclear issue through our Security Council and European Union colleagues; but frontally and frankly as responsible powers with shared interests in a critically important part of the world.” “The absence of dialogue has made no sense on any count strategic, human, historic, political, cultural. It has complicated our relationships with every other country in the region. We alone among the powers have chosen to signal in this way our reservations about Iran’s conduct in the world arena.”-The New York Times, Jan. 13, 2007 letter to editor On Feb. 10, 2007, I attended a SABEEL [Arabic for THE WAY] Conference in Alabama , USA. Among the many truth tellers who spoke was Dr. Phyllis Bennis, a secular Jew, journalist, prolific author, Mid East analyst and Co-founder and Co-Chair of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation who said: “Iran has signed the NPT, which allows them the right to have nuclear power and to enrich uranium. The 185 non-nuclear states have agreed to give up the right to have nuclear weapons and the five nuclear powers that signed the NPT agreed to get rid of their nuclear weapons… Iran is not in violation of the NPT, but America is! The USA has been in violation ever since the day they signed it. The USA is acting like a rogue state.”On pg. 19, March 2007, WASHINGTON REPORT ON MID EAST AFFAIRS: Israel has been leading the attempts to characterize the Iranian regime…and its presumed ambitions for nuclear weapons…[because if they did] “it would kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button; for most Israelis would not come here with their familes and [would live abroad].”-Ephraim Sneh, Israeli General and Olmert’s Deputy Defense Minister. “Israel is encouraging the USA to attack-simply because a nuclear armed Iran would make Israel a less attractive place for Jews to live, lead to increased emigration and tip the demographic balance in the Palestinians favor.”-Jonathon Cook http://www.electronicintifada.net 12/14/06 There is NO WAY the Iranians would nuke Israel! Some of Islams HOLIEST sites are in Jerusalem. “It has been said the Israelis don’t love this land; they just want to possess it.”-Jeff Halper, American Israeli, Founder ICAHD and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Chapter 2: “Memoirs of a Nice Irish-American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory”e http://www.wearewideawake.org/



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kevin s.

posted March 8, 2007 at 10:01 pm


“There is NO WAY the Iranians would nuke Israel! Some of Islams HOLIEST sites are in Jerusalem.” They have threatened to destroy Israel, and are seeking the means to do it. You think they are simply lying? What exactly are they doing, then?”"It has been said the Israelis don’t love this land; they just want to possess it.”-Jeff Halper, American Israeli, Founder ICAHD and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee,” Who cares if they love the land? The land is meaningless. They care for their safety, which is entirely reasponable. Halper is unhinged with regard to his attitude toward Israel. He even went so far as to criticize Elie Wiesel on this blog for his lack of heroism. Sick.



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Don

posted March 8, 2007 at 10:15 pm


eileen: I think Kevin is right that some of what you report here is a little outre. But I fully agree with Bruce Laingen. We don’t have to like what the Iranian government is doing, or proposing to do, to talk to them. We disliked the Soviets but we kept talking to them–for over fifty years. Diplomacy doesn’t mean giving them what they want. Diplomacy means dialogue. Most recently, it seems to have worked in North Korea, at least for now. Let’s give it a chance in Iran. Peace,



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Wolverine

posted March 8, 2007 at 10:19 pm


Eileen, Large chunks of Israeli territory are not considered holy sites to Muslims, and therefore could be bombed without any concerns. This would include major cities such as Tel Aviv. Wolverine



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Mark P

posted March 8, 2007 at 10:54 pm


Butch: Your opinion without evidence, I did in fact define how I use “my” term. -So if I called you a Demo-f—-r and told you it meant, Lovely human being, you d be complimented, right? Because I defined my terms, right? And that s all that matters, right?I understand but I still want to be part of times when we rose above if only for a short time. -Agreed. — Don, My enemies are men like me after all -But that doesn t mean you have to be innocent or even morally superior to stop an injustice if some serial killer has an attack of conscience and chooses to defend some old man getting mugged, well done. He needn t sit back and say, Look, that old man s getting mugged, but I m a worse sinner, so I better not. (don t read any political implications into my statement; I m simply responding to the idea) -I do agree that we need to approach evil with an air of humility so as to not stumble into self-righteousness. With every believer, though, there needs to be a recognition of our worthlessness alone but incredible worth as a child of God. That is to say, rejoicing and boasting in weakness, as Paul does. — Paul I got myself into trouble once when I suggested on one group, that if Jesus were retelling that story today, it might be the parable of the good homosexual or to others of us the good liberal or to others of us the good conservative or even heaven forbid the good neoconservative. -I like this very much, though do remember that being a Samaritan is a trait absolutely determined genetically. — carl: On that we can agree, my friend. Our common need for Christ’s redemption is what unites us all–con, lib, and prog–at the end of the day. -Amen. I do very much enjoy these moments of ecumenicalism :) — Eileen: -Ignoring the idiotic good Iran, bad US quote Israel is encouraging the USA to attack-simply because a nuclear armed Iran would make Israel a less attractive place for Jews to live, lead to increased emigration and tip the demographic balance in the Palestinians favor. -Or maybe Israel is legitimately afraid of being wiped off the map. I m not advocating attack, but let s not be so presumptuous as to assume Israel is worried about emigration. When a nation which swears to destroy you gets nuclear arms, you d be nervous. And not because of emigration. Jonathan Cook s assumption here is borderline stupid.There is NO WAY the Iranians would nuke Israel! Some of Islams HOLIEST sites are in Jerusalem. -Maybe you re convinced, but I m not, and I doubt Israel is either. -Truth-telling? Come now



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Paul

posted March 8, 2007 at 11:08 pm


Mark P, Glad you liked, and yes, your point is well taken. cheers, Paul



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jeff

posted March 9, 2007 at 12:14 am


With regard to war, no two parties have ever entered a war with clean hands and certainly no one leaves them with hands which are cleaner. I am a veteran, and felt I served my country, not inherently served the Lord, by my choice to enter the armed forces. I am proud of my time in the service of my country. I know that my country has not always acted justly, but I still had nor have any moral trauma at being in the armed forces. I am now an educator for the past 20 years. A large factor in my choice to be an educator is the self actualization I receive in the belief that I am serving in the interests of my community. I also feel a sense of spiritual reward, which I also posit towards self-actualization, that I am following our Lord’s model of blessing children, even though I work in pubilc education and follow the statutorily, and justly so, limitations towards expressions of my faith in a secular environment. In my heart, I know that I love those I come into contact with, and pray that at some point they may associate that with the love of our Lord. We tend to make God in our own image, and give him the attributes we wish him to have. I guess the Almighty is flexible, and fortunately still loves us. Sorry for the rant if this is seen as off-topic.



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butch

posted March 9, 2007 at 12:53 am


Butch: Your opinion without evidence, I did in fact define how I use “my” term. -So if I called you a Demo-f—-r and told you it meant, Lovely human being, you d be complimented, right? Because I defined my terms, right? And that s all that matters, right? MarkP Thank you for this well reasoned explanation of how you feel but I don’t care how “you” feel about it. I’ve introduced a shorthand term to communicate efficiently.



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Joseph T

posted March 9, 2007 at 1:20 am


Excuse me Meddy, but how is killing half a million people an act of Christian heroism? Where is the “evidence” of a threat to the US? Wouldn’t there need to be an actual threat to make a legitimate comparison to Germany. Iraqis are now 58 times more likely to die by violence than under Saddam. Acts of terrorism have skyrocketed. Iraq is in a sectarian civil war. How are these things Pax ?Maybe Pax Neocana. Why Iraq again? Why not North Korea? Sudan? Saudi Arabia, where the terrorists came from? Pakistan where the Taliban train? China who mowed down peaceful demonstrators for democracy.Should we save the world all at once or start where the Oil is?Is the America who helped Pinochet murder Allende and set up a murderous dictatorship, or the America who dropped bombs on neutral villages in Cambodia, or who supported and trained death squads and dictators in Guatemala and El salvador, is that America a rogue state? Still ready to ride padner? Could you possibly be doing just a tad bit of moral oversimplification here, or have you eaten too many Limbaugh ditto pills? You claim to follow Jesus, but what I hear is the universal religion of war. Try reading the book of James.



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butch

posted March 9, 2007 at 1:40 am


You claim to follow Jesus, but what I hear is the universal religion of war. Try reading the book of James. Joseph T Suggest reading AND understanding James. You are talking to someone carrying a leather bound bible 3-6 color highlighted who can find justification for anything he feels. The type of person the Neo-Cons use everyday to prop up their failing support.



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butch

posted March 9, 2007 at 1:50 am


Don’t ever forget what Pat Robertson said, “the lord sent us George W and when he’s gone we need another one just like him”



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Wolverine

posted March 9, 2007 at 2:05 am


Butch wrote: Thank you for this well reasoned explanation of how you feel but I don’t care how “you” feel about it. I’ve introduced a shorthand term to communicate efficiently. Yes, Butch, and what your term “Republi-nazi” communicates is contempt. You can perfume it any way you want, but that’s all there is; no nuance, no reason, no wit, just revulsion. You’re allowed to fell that way, but I doubt it’s very persuasive to any undecideds who might be reading this. Wolverine



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Mark P

posted March 9, 2007 at 2:25 am


butch “I’ve introduced a shorthand term to communicate efficiently.” … So is that your way of saying you accept my particular compliment as a compliment with no meaning behind it?



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butch

posted March 9, 2007 at 3:10 am


Yes, Butch, and what your term “Republi-nazi” communicates is contempt. You can perfume it any way you want, but that’s all there is; no nuance, no reason, no wit, just revulsion. Wolv I tell you 2 + 2 = 4 you respond it feels like 3.5 to me. Regardless of your feelings, opinion, logic or how many you can marshall in support of those positions, I don’t care. I know what I’m doing, why and to what end. Mark P I had to reread to get the compliment, thank you so much you’re far kinder than I deserve.



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Donny

posted March 9, 2007 at 1:06 pm


The neo-Liberals are so dense and wicked, that we will all be speaking arabic and worshipping a black rock in Saudi Arabia because of their lack of guts and authenticity to the real religion of peace. Muslims care nothing about the Gospel (Injil), otherwise they too, would be followers of Jesus and not followers of a violent desert raider. Give me a neo-con that will keep America and the western world free over the sodomite actions of the neo-Liberal (we now call a Progressive), that are doomiing our world to a certain death.



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Paul

posted March 9, 2007 at 1:29 pm


Some very wise words here: http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110009761 Rick Nowlin, You probably shouldn’t read them as they might have an adverse impact on your preconcieved ideas. (John 9:41) cheers, Paul



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Don

posted March 9, 2007 at 1:36 pm


Hey, thanks, Paul for this article. I’m taking it to my composition class tonight. They love to discuss stuff like this.



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Don

posted March 9, 2007 at 1:50 pm


Yeah, Donny, why don’t we just nuke the Ka’aba and turn it into dust? Some have suggested we do just that. I can really see how that would enhance the cause of world peace (carefully removing tongue from cheek. I’ve got a book for you to read: “The Muslim Jesus,” by Tarif Khalidi. You might find it interesting. Later,



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Donny

posted March 9, 2007 at 2:21 pm


Don, How many people would still be un-murdered by the Islamic values taught in Saudi Arabia if there were no black rock in Mecca, or the Islamic teachings about it? Do you also realize that Mecca is Islamic because of a warring force of Muslims killing and subjugating Mecca’s pre-Islaimic populace? Islam means submission. Hello????? Take that fact, of how Muslims see “submission” to a lib-classroom some day. There are no lib classrooms in Islamic nations.



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Donny

posted March 9, 2007 at 2:25 pm

kevin s.

posted March 9, 2007 at 4:36 pm


“Diplomacy doesn’t mean giving them what they want. Diplomacy means dialogue.” Correct. It is the “Diplomacy, not war” model that I have a difficult time with. It takes the war option off the table completely, which weakens the diplomatic process. For our diplomacy to be successful, it must result in the end of the nuclear program. Reasonable sounding words from Ahmadinejad are meaningless, as he has demonstrated.



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Mark P

posted March 9, 2007 at 4:36 pm


Paul, great article! I do think there are times to be a bit shocking and edgy, but not simply for its own sake. And I do agree that our discourse has devolved, and will continue to do so as long as self-control, prudence, and discernment are seen as annoying hindrances in oratory.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 9, 2007 at 4:44 pm


Paul — I did read it, and the Journal is being downright hypocritical by publishing something like this. This was the very same crew that was frothing at the mouth to get rid of Bill Clinton back in the 1990s and publishing anything, true or false, to paint him in a bad light (including a piece by Bob Casey Sr. saying that he was denied a speaking slot at Democratic national conventions only because he wanted to address abortion when it knew full well Casey’s antipathy toward Clinton). But now that the “liberals” have begun to speak up forcefully the same way the conservatives have done since the 1980s, it’s time to turn the temperature down?



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Sarasotakid

posted March 9, 2007 at 4:51 pm


“Correct. It is the “Diplomacy, not war” model that I have a difficult time with. It takes the war option off the table completely, which weakens the diplomatic process.” “Blessed are the peacemakers…” Words of someone we all purport to follow.



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Paul

posted March 9, 2007 at 5:05 pm


Rick Nowlin, Did you see the movie “In search of Bobby Fisher”? In the final match there was a great quote: “You’ve lost, you just don’t know it yet.” Have a good day. cheers, Paul



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kevin s.

posted March 9, 2007 at 5:53 pm


“”Blessed are the peacemakers…” Words of someone we all purport to follow.” This is an example of the lazy pacifism to which I was referring. Unless you are an absolute pacifist, meaning that you disagree with ANY military action the United States has taken, then this sciptural nugget does not apply to my statement.



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Wolverine

posted March 9, 2007 at 6:07 pm


Kevin, Exactly right. Any idiot can call himself a peacemaker. Actually creating a lasting peace — that’s the tricky part. Wolverine



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Deno Reno

posted March 9, 2007 at 6:24 pm


Benjamin Franklin said that Those that place security above freedom deserve neither!



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butch

posted March 9, 2007 at 6:39 pm


As a christian if someone called me a peacemaker I would smack them directly in their sinful mouth. Call me a lazy pacifist and see how quick I come upside your head. I’ve got bombs and an aircraft carrier to land on, to put it simply I say “bring it on”. That’s right, I’m bad!



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Pacific231

posted March 9, 2007 at 6:42 pm


Personally, I prefer the term “Brownshirt Cowboy” over “Republi-Nazi” myself.



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butch

posted March 9, 2007 at 6:51 pm


Any idiot can call himself a peacemaker. Actually creating a lasting peace — that’s the tricky part. Wolverine It takes bombs and we have the most, we win.



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butch

posted March 9, 2007 at 6:56 pm


Personally, I prefer the term “Brownshirt Cowboy” over “Republi-Nazi” myself. Pacific231I do also but I use RN as defined on wikiapedia.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 9, 2007 at 7:14 pm


Did you see the movie “In Search of Bobby Fischer”? In the final match there was a great quote: “You’ve lost, you just don’t know it yet.” That’s basically what I told people back in the 1980s. And here’s another quote, this one from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, quoted by Jim Wallis in “God’s Politics” to South African security forces who threatened him with arrest: “Since you have already lost, I invite you to join the winning side!” Truth be told, modern conservatism is truly played out because it has been exposed for what it is.



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Sarasotakid

posted March 9, 2007 at 7:19 pm


“”Blessed are the peacemakers…” Words of someone we all purport to follow.” This is an example of the lazy pacifism to which I was referring. Unless you are an absolute pacifist, meaning that you disagree with ANY military action the United States has taken, then this sciptural nugget does not apply to my statement. kevinTake it up with Christ, not me.Please stop the ad hominem attacks by implying lazizness. [Go ahead and deny it, we know you will] Tell us why you’re rejecting the words. I am merely being a fundamentalist literalist when it comes to peace. By your calling it lazy pacifism, you’re berating a great Christian tradition- Mennonite, Amish and any number of other peace churches.



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kevin s.

posted March 9, 2007 at 7:22 pm


“Benjamin Franklin said that Those that place security above freedom deserve neither!” The 50th time he has been misquoted on this blog. “Truth be told, modern conservatism is truly played out because it has been exposed for what it is.” I think modern conservatism is in flux because the party that largely represents the ideology hasn’t done a great job of it. “As a christian if someone called me a peacemaker I would smack them directly in their sinful mouth. Call me a lazy pacifist and see how quick I come upside your head.” Or he’ll leave a similar comment anonymously on your blog. I was referring to an intellectually lazy pacifism, and on the merits of this comment you are certainly intellectually lazy.



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butch

posted March 9, 2007 at 7:36 pm


intellectually lazy pacifism Kevin calls butch intellectual war monger Butch calls Kevin Now the battle lines are clearly drawn!



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 9, 2007 at 7:43 pm


I think modern conservatism is in flux because the party that largely represents the ideology hasn’t done a great job of it. No, because it always basically focused on making people “in” or “out,” and eventually enough people would be “out” that it would have no one to rule. That’s what we’re seeing today.



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kevin s.

posted March 9, 2007 at 7:56 pm


“No, because it always basically focused on making people “in” or “out,” and eventually enough people would be “out” that it would have no one to rule. That’s what we’re seeing today.” I think you are vaguely touching upon ideas of prejudice, but I don’t think prejudice caused the recent downturn in conservative favor. In fact, many of the gains in the last election were by moderate Democrats, who were at least pretending to be fairly conservative. That said, I think there is a bit of a shift in party lines based upon foreign policy. There is no reason why the war on terror (loosely defined) should be a partisan issue, per se. America will move past Iraq, and I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of an ideological divide as to whether America should have a more aggressive foreign policy.



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Mark P

posted March 9, 2007 at 7:59 pm


butch, “I do also but I use RN as defined on wikiapedia.” -I thought you coined it.



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butch

posted March 9, 2007 at 8:23 pm


I did and now it’s on wikiapedia?



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Paul

posted March 9, 2007 at 8:40 pm


Rick Nowlin, I love Bishop Tutu, and it was a wonderful honor to meet him when he visited the the grad school I was attending in the 70′s. He has done many wonderful things, but the realities of present day South Africa are proof positive of the limitations of some of his views and the similar ones expressed by the Sojourners crowd. Hopefully those limitations will be recognized soon before things become worse. cheers, Paul



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 9, 2007 at 8:48 pm


Paul — What limitations?



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 9, 2007 at 8:53 pm


In fact, many of the gains in the last election were by moderate Democrats, who were at least pretending to be fairly conservative. Not quite — on abortion and gun control, maybe, but not on trade, health care or the minimum wage. That said, I think there is a bit of a shift in party lines based upon foreign policy. There is no reason why the war on terror (loosely defined) should be a partisan issue, per se. That terminology is part of the problem — you might as well have a “war on sin”! Besides, bin Laden would probably call 9/11 HIS version of the “war on terror” (not that I would agree with him, of course).



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Paul

posted March 9, 2007 at 9:09 pm

Rick Nowlin

posted March 9, 2007 at 9:42 pm


Paul — I don’t understand your point. Concerning the BBC report, it was well-known even before the end of apartheid that the black townships were hotbeds of crime. And referring to the other two books, given the context of this discussion, doesn’t make any sense either.



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Sarasotakid

posted March 9, 2007 at 9:52 pm


America will move past Iraq, and I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of an ideological divide as to whether America should have a more aggressive foreign policy.” kevinI would feel that way too if my faith compelled me to advocate the politics of empire instead of peace and reconciliation.



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Wolverine

posted March 9, 2007 at 9:54 pm


Sarasota Kid wrote: Please stop the ad hominem attacks by implying lazizness. [Go ahead and deny it, we know you will] Tell us why you’re rejecting the words. I am merely being a fundamentalist literalist when it comes to peace. By your calling it lazy pacifism, you’re berating a great Christian tradition- Mennonite, Amish and any number of other peace churches. Kid, I’m not rejecting the words, I’m rejecting your preferred methods. The Mennonites, Amish, and most of the other “Peace Churches” that you cite tend to take a low-key approach to politics if they are involved at all. This is an entirely honorable approach, and I’m not aware of anyone who has berated them for it. But I think you are misapplying their example. If one decides to be actively and openly involved in politics, then you have to deal with political realities. Among them: simply wanting peace really really bad by itself is not enough to secure peace. Wolverine



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Paul

posted March 9, 2007 at 10:07 pm


Rick Nowlin, If you will read them it should become clear. The issues are too important and too multifacited for me to risk you rejecting them out of hand because of my potentially poor representation of them. The fact of the matter is that as awful as apartheid was, South Africa is now a far more dangerous place for blacks and whites than it was before. The reasons for this should be readily apparent to anyone willing to examine them without too stark ideological blinders. cheers, Paul



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Paul

posted March 9, 2007 at 10:16 pm


For another data point on the problems: http://www.dna.gov/info/transcripts/oct_21_2002/102102_02/102102_03/ cheers, Paul



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 9, 2007 at 10:52 pm


The fact of the matter is that as awful as apartheid was, South Africa is now a far more dangerous place for blacks and whites than it was before. Yeah … because the heavy hand of government was removed with the abolition of apartheid. The country actually had gone into deficit spending to maintain its “securocracy,” to coin a word. But by the same token, the Soviet Union was also considerably safer then than Russia is today, for similar reasons. Yet another reason why justice, and not necessarily security, should prevail.



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Paul

posted March 9, 2007 at 11:02 pm


Rick Nowlin, “Education is the process of moving from unconscious ignorance to conscious ignorance.” I rest my case. cheers, Paul



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meddy

posted March 10, 2007 at 12:53 am


The problem with people who think such as Chuck thinks, eloquently displayed in his comments above on Jesus’ love, and justice, is he does not actually believe what he preaches; only he doesn’t know it. What has justice to do with love? Everything, for certainly tolerating sin is not loving the sinner, nor is enabling the sinner loving the sinner. No! Furthermore, the kind of man who turns the other cheek toward the unjust shows contempt and hate to both the unjust person and to the people to whom that person is unjust. The man who would turn his cheek in this situation is not actually loving his enemies. He is hating all men, God and His laws. Justice is an act of love. Chuck would have you believe that in turning the other cheek he displays the love of Jesus. I maintain however, there is quite a good deal of difference between turning the other cheek and turning ones back. The man is shirking. The mans love for his fellow mankind is altogether too shallow. Lets carry Chucks beliefs to their absurd ends. If Chuck really believed the kind of things he teaches; that dealing with tyrants and tyranny has nothing to do with force, he would be preaching to disolve all police and military institutions. But let him or his family be the object of suffering, let him or his own fall into the hands of rapists, torturers, and murderers and I think he might be inclined to call the police. He might even let them use force, colateral damage be hanged, that is if he loves his family. Let his neighbors fall into the hands of evil men however, and we may find a different story. If they are lucky we’ll find Chuck on his knees praying for them. He may even negotiate with the evil doers. But lets hope that works for his neighbors sake, for its God help them all if negotiations should break down. You see, Chuck needs a just cause before he’ll risk action, and Chuck insists he can find no just cause here….And without just cause force remains entirely out of the question. His neighbors plight is therefore, no longer Chucks concern….. Because as far as Chuck laying down his own life to defend anothers….well his love doesn’t go quite that far. While Chuck may love the enemies of humanity, even if ever so lightly, its his love for their victims that is a going concern….for it is even less than he suspects.



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John Mustol

posted March 10, 2007 at 1:16 am


Under its current leadership, the United States is one of the most dangerous nations in the world and the greatest threat to peace in the world today.



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butch

posted March 10, 2007 at 1:46 am


Meddy, all I can say is Chuck is not a nice person.



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meddy

posted March 10, 2007 at 2:12 am


Joseph T I’ve read the whole bible, including James. Thanks for the tip. Many people died during the Vietnam war fighting Godless communists. 2 or 3 million asians died at the hands of the communists after we pulled out of Vietnam.If its a matter of the number of lives lost, should we have remained in Vietnam then? More Americans died fighting in the civil war freeing slaves than all those who died in all Americas other wars together. Should we have never fought for freedom? You list several other countries that are as bad as Iraq is, or worse. Why not fight them you ask. So you agree with fighting those nations, just not the one we are currently fighting. This shows you recognize evil when you see it at the very least. 300,000 Iraqis were put to death before we went to Iraq. Where is your compassion for them and their families?



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esther

posted March 10, 2007 at 2:15 am


John some believe the US should have a more aggressive foreign policy.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 10, 2007 at 5:00 am


I rest my case. You never made a case to begin with.



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Paul

posted March 10, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Rick Nowlin

posted March 10, 2007 at 9:20 pm


Psul — From another source, please.



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Don

posted March 11, 2007 at 1:06 am


Rick: Here’s a good counterpoint to the WSJ article above: “American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion,” by Paul Barrett. The book is a profile of seven Muslims. It displays just how diverse, in both negative and positive ways, Islamic thinking is. It also discusses what a threat the radical Islamists and their way of thinking are to many Muslims, something we don’t read or hear much about. Later,



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Bill

posted March 11, 2007 at 1:47 am


butch “Wow, this will bring out the Republi-Nazi apologist.” Wow, this brought out a conspiracy nut kook right away. This wingnut theory that “neocons” (usually refering to Jews) caused 9/11 is so prevelant among the wingnut antisemite facists.



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Paul

posted March 11, 2007 at 4:25 am


Don, Great reference. The WSJ post was only intended to illustrate one facit of a very large complex problem. Having lived in Kabul during the coup that deposed the King, I have a pretty intense appreciation for the complexity of the problem. Rick Nowlin, When I was in Munich in 1972, a friend of mine and I went into a Hari Krishna temple to talk with some of the devotees there. We were there on an outreach, and had some apologetics background, and from a philosophical point of view were holding our own well in the conversation, but at one point one fellow said “you are not here to understand, you are here to argue.” He was absolutely right, and I thank God for giving me this gift through the Hari Krishna devotee. It showed me how intellectual integrity DEMANDED that I be willing to recognize and acknowledge truth wherever I found it, and from whomever I heard it. To do otherwise was to defame the One I was claiming to serve. cheers, Paul



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 11, 2007 at 5:21 am


Paul — I understand that. The problem is that the Journal’s editorial page is by definition activist and rejecting of other views, and most people in journalism, as I am, understand that (I can’t remember the last time I saw a “liberal” view there). Because of that, and the fact that it has told what I now know to be bald-faced lies in print to promote its agenda, it simply is not a trustworthy source of information — and, in fact, the same can be said for most conservative media.



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Don

posted March 11, 2007 at 1:23 pm


FWIW, Paul Barrett, who wrote the book I referenced above, was a reporter for the WSJ for about 18 years. Most of the profiles in the book were originally printed there. I found the book to be very balanced, though. And back to our discussion of good and evil earlier. I should have mentioned this. A good reference that discusses some of the themes I was trying to describe is an essay by Martin Luther, “On War Against the Turk.” He wrote it when the Turks under Suleiman were threatening the Holy Roman Empire. Definitely worth reading. (And when Luther says ‘Turk,’ we could very well substitute ‘Muslim.’) You can find the essay in the multi-volume complete works of Luther. Later,



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meddy

posted March 16, 2007 at 2:05 am


Paul I don’t understand what truth you learned from the Hari Krishna? He accused you of arguing and not trying to understand. What was their to understand? His faith is a lie. He is not living in the real world. Was he trying to understand you?



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