God's Politics

God's Politics


Chuck Gutenson: Taking Radical Islam Seriously

posted by gp_intern

I was recently engaged in conversation with a friend who recounted an interesting dialog. He was being asked a number of questions about Islam. Since it was unclear where the questioner was heading, my friend asked. The response went something like this: “Well, I want to know if you take radical Islam seriously, which means you would have to favor U.S. military action in Iran.” My friend found this a shocking conclusion to draw. I must say that I find myself with my friend. Let’s explore why this is so.

First, one has to wonder how one reads the overarching biblical narrative in such a way as to support this way of thinking. The tradition has consistently held that Jesus both provides the unsurpassable revelation of God and the concrete manifestation of the life that pleases God. How does one read the Incarnation so as to allow us to think of others (even enemies!) in this way? Or, how does one respond to the call to imitate the life of Christ and conclude that “taking radical Islam seriously” requires “military action in Iran”? Some try to separate “public” and “private” life in such a way as to negate the significance of the incarnation for “public life.” It is hard to see, though, why one would think that we can so easily avoid the call to imitate Jesus.

Second, from a purely pragmatic stand point, the war in Iraq has hardly demonstrated that military action is the path one should follow in this struggle. If anything, the vast majority of studies have shown that the ability for the likes of Osama bin Laden to recruit supporters has grown as a consequence of the war. One definition of insanity is to continue to try the same techniques while expecting different results. Notwithstanding the natural human tendency to respond to perceived threats with violence, there is no reason to think there is a military solution in this case.

Third, the example of Christ coupled with the quagmire in Iraq should be compelling evidence of the imperative of peacemaking and the futility of war to make peace. However, for Christians unable to embrace pacifism, any proposal for military action must, at the very least, be based in the just war theory. Would the just war criteria be met? Well, going back to the questioner’s claim, it is hard to see how the perceived threat of radical Islam could constitute a just cause for war against Iran. This movement is hardly a problem that is resolvable by attacking Iran. Even if this were otherwise, given the resistance to talks with Iran, it is very hard to see how the criteria that war only be undertaken as a last resort has been satisfied. Finally, as suggested above, the consequences of the war in Iraq make it clear that it would be very hard to make an argument for reasonable likelihood of success. If anything, experts have pointed out that war with Iran would be an significant increase in difficulty over that faced in Iraq.

Finally, we Christians have to ask ourselves the extent to which willingness to embrace a military response to “radical Islam” is little more than a failure of confidence in the gospel. We seem far more willing to put confidence in our own cleverness and in our economic and military might than in the power of the Spirit. Is it remarkable how little we trust in the power of the gospel to transform the hearts and lives of those who are “other” to us. The point here is not that all will be converted to Christianity, but rather that the ability of truly evil men to recruit others can be substantially reduced. In fact, to put more trust in the power of the gospel than in our own cleverness would be to recognize that nothing has more potential for success than interacting with “others” in ways that imitates the life of Jesus. This is the longer term promise of the gospel, a thing we Christians have lost sight of and have become increasingly unwilling to even try.


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



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moderatelad

posted March 29, 2007 at 9:09 pm


taking radical Islam seriously requires military action in Iran No, it does not require military action, but it should not exclude it either. If diplomacy is going to work – the other side needs to understand that there is a downside to their unwillingness to come to terms. Some try to separate public and private life in such a way as to negate the significance of the incarnation for public life. Separate public and private life…this is a bad thing? (dare I say Clinton) there is no reason to think there is a military solution in this case. This was a popular way of thinking during WWII – did we prove them wrong? Would the Just War criteria be met? Sure it would – but if you are talking about the Just War of Sojo. First Iran would have to be allowed to develop their nuclear abilities. Then they would have to put it in a missile that they have already tested to make sure they can launch it off a merchant ship. Then the ship would have to be off the coast of the US. Finally they would have to dispatch the missile to hit NYC or W-DC or some other city. Then and only then will the ‘Just War’ criteria be fulfilled. With how many citizens dead? If the Intel showed that the ship was a day off our coast and we could eliminate the threat – I do not see that Sojo would endorse bombing one ship and the loss of life of 30 to 50. We would have to loose 100,000 or a million lives before the Just War criteria has been fulfilled. Is it remarkable how little we trust in the power of the Gospel to transform the hearts and lives of those who are other to us. I totally believe in the power of the Gospel. But it has been established that the Radicals of Islam have rejected the Gospel. They have called for the demise of many in the world that they know are mostly ‘Christian or Jews’. They are very informed and focused – so what are we going to do. I know – Stay Home with Sojo Later – .



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Wolverine

posted March 29, 2007 at 9:24 pm


Chuck Gutenson is skipping over a lot of stuff here. 1. The rationale for a strike on Iran is not simply a matter of Islamic radicalism, but of the likelihood that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. Yet Gutenson simply doesn’t mention the nuclear possibility. It would be one thing if he were to argue that the Iranian nuclear threat were exaggerated, but he does not do this. As it is, it appears to me that Gutenson believes that the nuclear risk is credible, but has decided that maintaining his pacifistic outlook is more important than dealing with all the facts. 2. It’s not enough to observe that Iraq is a “quagmire”, the specifics of Iraq must be applied to the situation in Iran. In Iraq, our goal was to replace a dictator with a functioning democratic government. In my opinion this was an overambitious goal, but to the extent there has been a quagmire, it was not on account of the initial invasion but the subsequent occupation. In Iran, as far as I have heard, our goal would not be to occupy the country or even necessarily to remove its leaders, but simply to destroy its nuclear capability. This much more limited aim means that the Iraq example does not apply. Doing the same thing expecting different results is one form of insanity, but that’s not necessarily what’s being contemplated here. The goals are very different, and so are the tactics. 3. Once again a Sojourners writer is playing the semantic game of turning just war theory into practical pacifism. Just war does not demand endless talks or the pursuit of unrealistic diplomatic initiatives, or the making of unreasonable concessions. All indications are that the Iranians are pursuing nuclear weapons. This is an unacceptable risk, not just for the US but the entire world. The US is required to take all reasonable steps to avoid war, but if the Iranians cannot be reasoned with then military strikes should not be ruled out. 4. As for the argument that supporting a strike against Iran represents a failure in confidence in the gospel: this argument applies equally in nearly any situation where military action is considered. It’s an admirable sentiment, but Gutenson is being a bit disingenuous when he limits it’s application to Iran. Wolverine



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moderatelad

posted March 29, 2007 at 9:29 pm


Wolverine | 03.29.07 – 3:29 pm | #Well said Later – .



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 29, 2007 at 9:57 pm


The rationale for a strike on Iran is not simply a matter of Islamic radicalism, but of the likelihood that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. Yet Gutenson simply doesn’t mention the nuclear possibility. Because, for this purpose, it’s irrelevant. Pre-emptive strikes regardless of reason will have only the opposite effect, making the Iranians angrier; they’re not going to give up just because we don’t want them to have the bomb. As for the argument that supporting a strike against Iran represents a failure in confidence in the gospel: this argument applies equally in nearly any situation where military action is considered. It’s an admirable sentiment, but Gutenson is being a bit disingenuous when he limits it’s application to Iran. Except that George W. Bush has openly proclaimed himself a follower of Christ and insists that his policies reflect that commitment; thus, he opens them up to scrutiny.



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splinterlog

posted March 29, 2007 at 11:19 pm


Wolverine – given your administration’s great success with pre-emptive-military-strike- democratization in Iraq, it’s going to take most of us a little more than “OMG they’ve got NUKEs, won’t someone think of the children” to be convinced of the need for military action against Iran…. although there is some intelligence from the neo-conservatives that Iranians have been secretly stocking up on sweets and flowers to welcome us with.



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neuro_nurse

posted March 30, 2007 at 12:07 am


There seems to be some confusion about the definition of the just war doctrine. This is the one with which I am most familiar: The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time: The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; There must be serious prospects of success; The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2309. http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt3sect2chpt2art5.htm (I m interested to see other definitions but please cite your source) This is not to be confused in anyway with the bush doctrine of preventative war.See: O Connell, M. E. (2002). The myth of preemptive self-defense. Washington DC: American Society of International Law. http://www.asil.org/taskforce/oconnell.pdf



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Wolverine

posted March 30, 2007 at 12:43 am


Rick Nowlin wrote: (regarding Gutenson’s failure to mention the Iranian nuclear program) Because, for this purpose, it’s irrelevant. Pre-emptive strikes regardless of reason will have only the opposite effect, making the Iranians angrier; they’re not going to give up just because we don’t want them to have the bomb. The bomb is a big thing, and where it is present it usually changes a lot of calculations. Unlike Iraq, in Iran taking out the nuclear threat really is the primary concern for the “warmongers” out there. Gutenson’s failure to even mention the nuclear question — even to dismiss it as irrelevant — just sticks out like a sore thumb. (regarding military responses as a “failure of confidence in the gospel”) Except that George W. Bush has openly proclaimed himself a follower of Christ and insists that his policies reflect that commitment; thus, he opens them up to scrutiny. Look, I’m not saying you can’t try to apply this to the administration, but this argument has implications that go way beyond anything this administration has done and Gutenson should be up front about this. As it is, it looks to me like Gutenson is chewing Bush out for being unwilling to leave national security entirely in God’s hands. That’s an awful lot of faith to demand from a President who is responsible for the security of a nation of 300 million. And we’re supposed to be disappointed that the President’s faith has its limits? Let him who has never struggled with doubts throw the first stone. Wolverine



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PhilipH

posted March 30, 2007 at 1:21 am


Chuck, I grew up loving police officers; and then moved to an urban community where atttitudes and actions of real police in real situations made respect real hard. But we need good policing. I wish the police, and the young men who blew away three family members in their home last week, would live out the peace of Jesus. Until then, do I support the government responding to a 911 call by sending a police officer with a badge and gun? With all my heart I desire our nation would do all sorts of things in our nation and globally that would eliminate 90% of the reasons we go to war. I would be willing to sacrifice and suffer pain in the short run to establish a better course.The 537 elected officials in Washington cannot even manage their bank account; let alone agree on sane long-term global strategies. We lack the political maturity to justly steward a military able to obliterate humanity; or adequately regulate technological advances; or govern human impacts on the global environment.I support captial punishment but do not believe the government is a trustworthy steward in practice. But Chuck, what do you want? Do you want the US Military to cease and desist until the nation is Jesus Incarnate? Who do you want to steward the nuclear missiles in submarines around the world? The reality is, George Bush is the ‘Big Stick’ in the world. So was Bill Clinton.Does there need to be a “Big Stick. ?” Who should wield it? OK, you don’t deem the US an adequate steward of real military power. Should the military be abandoned? If the US has not been a Godly steward of nuclear power, does that mean we should not respond to the groups who wish to develop and use nuclear weapons? I’m not saying there are always obvious answers. But I think some of us get deeply discouraged by voices that at the end of the day argue that the exercise of US military power is unjust and thereby our world would be better without it; and we apparently are too slow to understand how this translates to a more just world. OK, the way of the cross is counterintuitive. So you want our elected officials to say, “The way of the cross is counterintuitive. We will eliminate the military and disarm police officers; and our political parties will live out the Love of Jesus.” Help me out.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 1:22 am


The bomb is a big thing, and where it is present it usually changes a lot of calculations. Unlike Iraq, in Iran taking out the nuclear threat really is the primary concern for the “warmongers” out there. That was the same justification for the Cold War, only the Soviets were afraid to fight us. The Islamists aren’t, and that’s the difference. Look, I’m not saying you can’t try to apply this to the administration, but this argument has implications that go way beyond anything this administration has done and Gutenson should be up front about this. Darn right it does, and I think that’s Gutenson’s point. Although the current administration does seem to have a “shoot first, ask questions later” policy, it’s hardly alone in that. The real threat is not so much to American security but American hegemony, which many mistakenly think are one and the same.



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Austin

posted March 30, 2007 at 1:23 am


Wolverine, you have doubts that leaving the nation’s defense up to God is a bad idea, and myself and others have (just as legitimate doubts) President Bush will execute any military action in Iran with anything but a disaster. Both of these doubts are legitimate. I believe that God cares about the United States just as much as he does any other nation (including Iran). Bush is a civil servant who’s job is to protect this nation and it’s interests, it is foolish to ask him to leave the well being of a nation in the hands of a God who does not necessarily want this nation to succeed more than any other nation. But, it is equally as absurd to believe that the Bush administration will do better with Iran than with Iraq. Both of these doubts are legitimate, not just one or the other.



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anonymous

posted March 30, 2007 at 1:29 am


Policy Position of the anti-US Middle East Policy: Every strategy is bad. Therefore no strategy is better. This is our strategy.



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Mike

posted March 30, 2007 at 1:33 am


Wolverine wrote, “As it is, it looks to me like Gutenson is chewing Bush out for being unwilling to leave national security entirely in God’s hands.” Yes, that is the crux of the entire “If Bush were a REAL Christian …” argument of the Left. Curiously though, I never see the regular contributors to this blog propose that we scrap our government’s wasteful and inefficient supplemental income programs — which have failed every goal they were intended to accomplish — and simply leave the plight of the poor “in God’s hands.” We humans are curious creatures. Regardless of the depth of our “faith,” we will seek our own solutions to problems when we think that they aren’t being solved properly or quick enough. Wolverine is also correct in pointing out that our stragegy vis-a-vis Iran most likely would not involve invasion, forced regime change, and occupation. Rather it would be a series of surgical air strikes designed to cripple Iran’s military forces and perhaps severely damage their oil production industry, thus forcing Iran to capitulate by rendering them relatively helpless and destroying the most significant source of capital for their economy.



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 30, 2007 at 1:53 am


I agree with the original post and say, let s extend the same though process to Darfur. moderatelad, Who should Iran come to terms with and why? If they define borders differently than the UK does and the UK does not want to provoke, whose definition should be accepted? The military solution in WWII created three socialist superpowers which imposed higher taxes around the world. One of these superpowers went totalitarian and murdered millions of its own citizens. The others choked out innovation and progress. Just War theory is peculiar, and not necessarily safe. Some people are more concerned with safety than others. Security is always paid for with liberty, however, and eventually leads to the elimination of both. Pre-emptive action is altogether unethical. What should we do? Bring all the boys and weapons home making it utterly insane to attempt an attack on the homeland while increasing productivity and quality of life for everyone in the world creating pressure on other governments to do the same. I don t think the nuclear aspect ought to enter into the calculation for Christians at all. The pagans will do what they will, and react out of their fears, but we are responsible to a higher ethic which does not respond to fear, but does the right thing no matter what. When attempting to hash out moral imperatives compromise needs to be swept away. Compromise occurs in actual implementation amidst a pluralistic set of individuals. What is necessary is to articulate a clearly consistent ethic from the Christian point of view. That narrative will not include compromise. Nathanael Snow



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Wolverine

posted March 30, 2007 at 2:33 am


Rick Nowlin wrote: That was the same justification for the Cold War, only the Soviets were afraid to fight us. The Islamists aren’t, and that’s the difference. Yes, that’s a key difference: we could let the Russians hold their nukes because we knew that they feared retaliation as much as we did. The balance of terror can be a nerve-wracking thing but during the cold war it worked long enough for the Soviet Union to collapse under the weight of its own ideological flaws. This does not necessarily apply to Islamic radicals. They do not necessarily fear a counterstrike the way that the Soviets did, and are more likely to use the bomb if they get it. This is why we must seriously consider using the military to prevent them from having one in the first place. Darn right it does, and I think that’s Gutenson’s point. So why doesn’t he come out and say that? Because I don’t think that really is Gutenson’s point. I think Gutenson’s point is to bash the President by holding him to a standard that few Christians reach. Gutenson doesn’t dare apply that same standard to anyone else, because then he’d have to condemn Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and even Clinton. All of these Presidents ordered attacks in other countries, demonstrating their lack of trust in God. And Mike asks a fair question: why not leave the poor in God’s hands as well? In fact, since Gutenson can’t be bothered to even hint at any boundaries to the application of his “Let Go Let God” politics, we have to ask why any of us are interested in politics at all. Doesn’t God rule over creation? Shouldn’t we all be off singing hymns somewhere? Wolverine



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 30, 2007 at 2:50 am


Wolverine, You acutely demonstrate the inconsistencies in Sojourner’s message. Well done. Now, is it important to you to develop a consistent Christian ethic? Nathanael Snow



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:20 am


They do not necessarily fear a counterstrike the way that the Soviets did, and are more likely to use the bomb if they get it. You forget — assuming they get a bomb, they would consider it self-defense, using it to destroy others before they themselves are destroyed. The Iranians have believed for years that the U. S. fully intends to invade — do you think Bush’s including Iran in the “axis of evil” made them melt? All of these Presidents ordered attacks in other countries, demonstrating their lack of trust in God. None of them to my knowledge launched pre-emptive strikes or otherwise started wars — they got involved in conflicts that already existed.



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Wolverine

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:21 am


jurisnaturalist, Here’s the thing: I have serious doubts that there is a simple, consistent Christian ethic, at least not in the political realm. Public policy may look simple from God’s perspective — maybe, but not from that of man. And I disagree with you when you argue that government is a pagan thing. That’s not to say that the state isn’t dangerous, or that governments aren’t prone to make a mess of things when they try to do too much. But I doubt that God would allow himself to be referred to as a “King” unless there were some valid purpose — some genuine good — in governing. Wolverine



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Wolverine

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:24 am


Rick, Ever heard of the Bay of Pigs? Wolverine



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Payshun

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:54 am


Well to be fair we do leave the poor in God’s hands every day whether those hands be the government, ours… We as human being don’t go out of our way to love the poor as much as possible. Oh I agree. I don’t think any president trust’s God half as much as they claim to. I liked Clinton, hell I liked Reagan for the first part of his disatrous term as president. I guess the real problem is how can we trust God to defend our nations when we know that our leaders (no matter how well intentioned they may be) can’t.I guess this brings up a deeper matter of faith and something we all need to examine. Are we focused on the kingdom of heaven or this world? I think you can do both but that’s only because of my contemplative/mystical views. What about the rest of you? This is coming from the only green party hippy on the board. We (Christians) lack the faith to really let God do what he does either that or we are too shortsighted to be aware of our role in his plans or schemes.The truth is God uses nations to punish other nations. God uses nations to build and restore. so the question is what’s our nation doing? Which one are we? If we are more of the former how long can we stand before God raises another nation to discipline us? If we are more of the former can we afford to be isolationist? p



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Payshun

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:55 am


correction: If we are more of the latter can we afford to be isolationist? p



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kevin s.

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:58 am


I recently engaged in a conversation with a friend who recounted a conversation with a straw man. The straw man proposed an argument that was very easy for me to characterize and oppose, so I will simply pretend that this argument is indicative of the broader argument for the policy action I oppose.Of course, this is just changing the subject. The author wasn’t talking about straw, right Butch?



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jesse

posted March 30, 2007 at 7:19 am


Honestly, guys, Sometimes I feel like skipping the article to go straight to the comments section. It is often far more thoughtful and entertaining. Good stuff.



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Ms. Cynthia

posted March 30, 2007 at 10:36 am


Please tell George Bush that he is no Ike Eisenhower and Iraq is never going to be WWII. Needless to say this kind of comparison will not solve Bush’s problems with accountability. I really doubt that Eisenhower would have shipped 13 billion dollars in $100 bills to untested Ministers in this Iraqi Government which George created with outsiders, even if there was sufficient record keeping. And finally, does George Bush really take radical Islam seriously or is he busy playing nintendo War Games on his PC? If he really took radical Islam seriously he would have started this venture with a lot more diplomacy. Right now diplomacy is still the trump card that he keeps waisting away in his pocket while he looses his shirt. Will Iran get his pants before he finally decides to play that card?



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Donny

posted March 30, 2007 at 1:22 pm


Chuck, Go debate the “incarnation” with an Islamist. I’ll bet you are a card carrying member if Islam long before the intolerant Muslim Jihadist puts a knife to your neck for your beheading. ALSO, there is not a Liberal/Progressive I have ever met or debated on the WWW, that cares one instant, to preach the Gospel the way the Christians wrote it down. Chuck, you can write as many little blogs blogs as you want to, but nothing is going to stop the spread of “Radical” Islam, without a weapon of some kind being either used or close by and threatened to be used There is a reason why Jesus told His disciples to get some swords as they went to and fro. DEFENDING Onesself is not a crime. Using weapons to spread the Gospel though is not supported in the New Testament writings though. There is more to claiming you are a Christian than just protesting war in comfy Weatern city streets.Try marching in Mecca for Jesus!!!! You’ll never see a Progressive doing that. Heck, you can’t even get them to support the Gospel being preached in an American school . . . AND THAT WILL save lives too!!! The fascinating thing about Liberal/Progressives is their utter lack of guts when it comes to keeping the whole council of anything related to Christianity. Loving our enemies does not mean letting them behead us, to subjugate us or parade women around in Muslim shrouds, or to become a Muslim. If we allow Progressive-apathy and cowardice, and ignorance of the New Testament lead anyone in anything, there will be far less Christians on earth. But then again, that is what it appears Progressives are doing. Eliminating as many Christians as they can. The only difference between Islamic methods and Progressive techniques, is the speed at which they desire that to happen, And of course, one does it by encouraging debauchery and the other decapitation.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 2:47 pm


Ever heard of the Bay of Pigs? Yeah — it happened on the day I was born. That said, however, I rest my case.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 2:50 pm


I’ll bet you are a card carrying member if Islam long before the intolerant Muslim Jihadist puts a knife to your neck for your beheading. Donny — even Muslims believe that “the tree of faith is watered by the blood of martyrs.” Maybe a few of us do need to die for the sake of Christ for the faith to be strengthened. He also said, “For he who seeks to save his life shall lose it.”



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jurisnaturalist

posted March 30, 2007 at 4:09 pm


Again: security or liberty? You can’t have both except in measure.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 5:10 pm


jurisnaturalist — Without justice, neither matters. The Scripture speaks directly of neither security nor liberty as priorities.



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Donny

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:10 pm


Rick, A martyr is not a person that kills other people during the act of martyrdom. There are no Muslim Polycarp’s. No Perpetua’s in Islam. yet we have plenty of homicide bombers hailing from Mohammad’s teachings. Enough Christians are dying by Muslim hands already.YET, the Progressives only b-t-h at Evangelicals and outlaw them from every public place they can.I do not believe that Progressive activism is misplaced. I think it is cold, calculated and derives its goals from powers and principalities in high places. The same high places prompting Muslims to do what they do. If I was wrong, there would be Liberals in large crowds ranting and raving about “peace” where the most violence is being commited. But I note with great interest that Progresives will send the hordes of Humanists out against American and Western Christians, while staying far, far away from Muslim’s and Islamic horror. Why doesn’t Cindy Sheehan and Jim Wallis ever bring their Marxist road show to Mecca? Progressives are busy silencing the Salvation Army, Baptists, Catholics and other Christians, and saying and doing not against the Army of Allah that is killing people worldwide. There is a reason why. Jesus, Paul, James, Peter, Jude and John addressed it.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:31 pm


Donny — Your last post is so ridiculously inflammatory, not to mention totally ignorant of reality, that I’m not going to waste time writing anything more than what I am here. It’s people like you that give Christian faith a bad name. You’re the kind of so-called Christian that Muslims want to eliminate.



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Doug7504

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:42 pm


In life, you can be led by your fears, or follow your values… Peace.



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Wolverine

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:59 pm


Rick Nowlin wrote: Donny — Your last post is so ridiculously inflammatory, not to mention totally ignorant of reality, that I’m not going to waste time writing anything more than what I am here. It’s people like you that give Christian faith a bad name. You’re the kind of so-called Christian that Muslims want to eliminate. Well. I find myself in the odd position of rising in defense of Donny. Just to be clear: Donny doesn’t speak for me. He goes way further than I would on a lot of things, and draws a lot of conclusions that I wouldn’t. But Rick’s rebuke, especially that last sentence, strikes me as, well, “ridiculously inflammatory, not to mention totally ignorant of reality”. Look, if the muslim radicals really were so angry at the Donnys of the world, that’s who they’d go after. But they aren’t. I don’t recall the terrorists declaring Jihad against Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. I don’t recall any terrorist strikes against Bob Jones University or any other center of protestant fundamentalism. (Or Catholic fundamentalism, for that matter) In fact, most terror target have been decidedly secular: beaches, nightclubs, pizza parlors, mass transit systems, and office buildings. You may find Donny’s worldview distasteful. I’m not a huge fan of his myself. But for you to indicate that his philosophy is in any sense a root cause of Islamic terrorism — let alone any sort of justification for it — is simply absurd. Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 7:17 pm


You may find Donny’s worldview distasteful. I’m not a huge fan of his myself. But for you to indicate that his philosophy is in any sense a root cause of Islamic terrorism — let alone any sort of justification for it — is simply absurd. I then say you don’t understand Middle Eastern history over the past couple hundred years; Muslims there have long felt victimized by the West politically, culturally and economically, especially by the British in the early part of the last century. Arab contempt for Israel, for example, is a direct result of the British formation of the Jewish state after “selling out” the Arabs during World War I. At some point, with all that abuse, people’s anger would start to boil over. I’m not trying to justify any of it, but to say terrorism comes out of nowhere — such as in Northern Ireland — is itself absurd.



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Wolverine

posted March 30, 2007 at 7:39 pm


Rick, Would you please make up your mind? Is it “the West” that the terrorists are angry at, or “so-called Christians” like Donny? Believe it or not, the two are not interchangeable. Wolverine



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Alicia

posted March 30, 2007 at 8:04 pm


Speaking to Chuck Gutenson’s original post, and to what some said above about his “setting up a straw man” to knock down, I think I agree that he was, in a sense, taking cheap shots.I believe that it is absolutely crucial to take Radical Islam or Islamism seriously, which in no way leads me to conclude that the U.S. ought to invade Iran (or conduct airstrikes).There is no ecumenical spirit in radical Islam. There is no tolerance. There is no belief in separation of church and state, or sense that religion is a matter of private or individual conscience.Islamism, as advanced by Islam’s modern revolutionary theorists like Sayyid Qutb, believes there should be no division between sacred and secular.All the world should be under the rule of Allah or his representatives on earth. As such, radical Islam is in direct conflict with liberalism. Radical Islam is the worst enemy liberalism has: unfortunately, liberals haven’t figured this out yet. For those who haven’t yet read him, I highly recommend Paul Berman’s book, “Terror and Liberalism” which is an analysis of the threat of Islamic totalitarianism from a “man of the Left.” His is truly a prophetic voice.



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moderatelad

posted March 30, 2007 at 8:07 pm


There are as many reasons why the “Radicals” of Islam want to cause war – terror – trouble all around the world as I have hairs on my head. Yes – let’s talk about ’53 and Iran and the Shaw. Let’s talk about them being pushed out of Spain. Let’s talk about them being stopped at the gates of Vennia. DGIH do we in the 21st century have to pay for all the ‘sins’ of the past centuries? SO – because of the above mentioned they had the right to bring down the WTC towers and the London Tube etc? Excuse me – so Radical Islamic Parents that are willing to use their children to get through check points and the leave the car and blow it up with the children still in the car. We are to tuck-tail and run so that these people can be emboldened to do even more hainus acts around the world?If I am to follow what Gutenson is advocating. If a person comes into my little church and starts to decatitate members of our congregation in the name of Allah. All I am allowed to do is pray and plead for them to stop.Sorry folks – that ain’t happening! Wish there was a way to go back and see what Wallis and Sojo wrote about Clinton going into the Balkins – I bet it was not even mentioned on this site. Later – oh and another 3 to 5 hundred have died in Darfur. Stay Home with Sojo! Gutenson



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 9:09 pm


Would you please make up your mind? Is it “the West” that the terrorists are angry at, or “so-called Christians” like Donny? Believe it or not, the two are not interchangeable. In many minds, they are — remember, we’re not talking about reality, primarily perception. Donny’s attitude represents the “imperialist West” in their view, and the unqualified support for Israel by any number of right-wing Christian leaders doesn’t help at all.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 9:11 pm


If I am to follow what Gutenson is advocating. If a person comes into my little church and starts to decatitate members of our congregation in the name of Allah. All I am allowed to do is pray and plead for them to stop. That’s ridiculous — no one in his right mind would sanction that. But the idea that we’ll “get them before they get us” is part of the problem, especially because the “radical Muslims” have the very same notion.



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moderatelad

posted March 30, 2007 at 9:34 pm


Rick Nowlin | 03.30.07 – 3:16 pm | #That’s ridiculous – I know it is but of all the articles that I have read on this site – there is no one that advocates anything premptive. We have to be attacked first before we can do anything. Even then we may just take it because ‘we deserved it’ for any number of reasons. Leaders of other countries can go on the record calling for the demise of Israel and the US and Sojo and Company will just blow it off as nonscense.If in fact we knew that the 19 were meeting in a small house on the border of Afganistan one month prior to 9-11. They were meeting with the leadership of a number of Radical groups that were funding them and one missile would dispatch them to their reward. I don’t think that Wallis or any of the writers on Sojo would be able to give the order to send the missile. I believe that there are about 3000 families would be able to given the chance. So – Stay Home with Sojo! Later – .



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Deno Reno

posted March 30, 2007 at 9:38 pm


Has any else noticed that the best way for the Bush Administration to avoid the troop pullout of Iraq / Afghanistan is to invade Iran! evangelical does not equal republican as has been protrayed in the Media.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 9:49 pm


There is no ecumenical spirit in radical Islam. There is no tolerance. There is no belief in separation of church and state, or sense that religion is a matter of private or individual conscience. The same can be said for some Christians, a few of whom I know personally. I’ve seen their literature. Radical Islam is the worst enemy liberalism has: unfortunately, liberals haven’t figured this out yet. If that’s the case, and I’m not sure it is, that’s because they’re busy fighting conservatives, who themselves have been trying (but failed) to put them out of business since the 1980s … :-) We are to tuck-tail and run so that these people can be emboldened to do even more heinous acts around the world? And what in the world makes you think that simply taking pre-emptive military action will make them stop? Do you know whom we’re dealing with here? Do you understand that, on a PR level, that’s EXACTLY what they want, to pick a fight they don’t think they can lose? They don’t think the way we do, and our not getting that is why we’re stuck in Iraq in the first place.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 10:23 pm


If in fact we knew that the 19 were meeting in a small house on the border of Afganistan one month prior to 9-11. They were meeting with the leadership of a number of Radical groups that were funding them and one missile would dispatch them to their reward. I don’t think that Wallis or any of the writers on Sojo would be able to give the order to send the missile. I believe that there are about 3000 families would be able to given the chance. That’s exactly the folly I’m talking about — don’t you think that if even that cell was broken up that another one simply wouldn’t take its place, given time? Do you know how busy Clinton was in trying to destroy al-Qaeda? (Probably not.)



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Wolverine

posted March 30, 2007 at 10:28 pm


moderatelad wrote: If I am to follow what Gutenson is advocating. If a person comes into my little church and starts to decatitate members of our congregation in the name of Allah. All I am allowed to do is pray and plead for them to stop. to which Rick Nowlin responded: That’s ridiculous — no one in his right mind would sanction that. Actually, I think that’s the position that the Quakers and maybe the Amish — honest and staunch pacifists — would take. It’s not crazy, it’s actually admirable in a way, but it is definitely a minority position even among Christians and trying to apply it to Bush and Bush alone, as Gutenson appears to do, is cheap. Rick Nowlin also wrote: And what in the world makes you think that simply taking pre-emptive military action will make them stop? Do you know whom we’re dealing with here? Do you understand that, on a PR level, that’s EXACTLY what they want, to pick a fight they don’t think they can lose? This isn’t about PR, this is about nuclear weapons. And nobody that I know of, not even Donny, is arguing that a single strike on Iran is going to stop terrorism. But it might prevent them from getting a nuclear weapons for the next several years. And as long as they don’t get nukes we can probably shake off anything else the terrorists are liable to throw at us. Now, as to my defense of Donny, I’m not going to waste any time with a blow-by-blow account, I’ll just observe that when you were challenged on what you wrote about him, you changed the subject. All of a sudden, this isn’t about anything Donny or those philosophically close to him said, it’s about the inability of radical muslims to distinguish between Donny’s brand of Christianity and the whole of western civilization. Now Donny has his faults, but I don’t see how he can be blamed for the ignorance of radical Islam. You owe him an apology. Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 30, 2007 at 10:58 pm


And nobody that I know of, not even Donny, is arguing that a single strike on Iran is going to stop terrorism. But it might prevent them from getting a nuclear weapons for the next several years. And as long as they don’t get nukes we can probably shake off anything else the terrorists are liable to throw at us. That comment basically shows your ignorance of the situation, frankly. From what I know of the Middle Eastern mind, those suspected terrorists will wait. And wait. And wait. And wait some more, until the right time, which by then we will all likely be dead anyway. All this talk of pre-emptive strikes only pushes back the time that it happens — it stops nothing and deals with nothing. I’ll just observe that when you were challenged on what you wrote about him, you changed the subject. I didn’t at all change the subject; I simply tried to put things into an appropriate context — the “bigger picture,” if you will. Donny has alway wanted to focus like a laser beam on just one aspect; it’s too complicated to do just that. No, I won’t issue an apology because I still believe that his attitude contributes to the problem.



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Hali

posted March 30, 2007 at 11:56 pm


Wolverine: the only difference between Donny and radical Islamists is the name of the religion they are abusing.



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Hali

posted March 31, 2007 at 12:00 am


Alicia: It was liberals who were raising concerns about radical Islamism while Bush was still ignoring it and giving the Taliban funds to destroy poppy fields. It was that usual gang of femi-Nazi, anti-death-penalty-wusses :P



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Alicia

posted March 31, 2007 at 12:22 am


Rick, With all due respect, I don’t think you quite got the point I was trying to make, however imperfectly.I was raised as a liberal and moved to the Left in my 20’s. Now, in my 50’s, I am a politically moderate, but liberal Christian.I’m not an Evangelical Christian, because I believe the Bible was written by human beings, and is not inerrant.I believe figuring out what it means to be a Christian is a journey that will take my entire life, and I don’t have the slightest interest in converting anyone to Christianity. I believe that the religious beliefs of others are between them and God or them and their conscience, as long as their actions don’t harm others. However, I don’t know a single liberal who is in favor of theocracy, or against separation of Church and State and freedom of religion.I accept that there may be liberals who are pro-theocracy and against Church/State separation and freedom of religion. However, I’ve never met any.Isn’t it clear how this characteristic of liberals puts them on a collision course with radical Islamists?



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Alicia

posted March 31, 2007 at 12:28 am


To add to my previous post, I think that liberals today need to take the example of the “Cold War liberals” like Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kenneth Galbraith, Hubert Humphrey, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and others who fought against the Communist infiltration of democratic institutions. I think we need to have the courage and common sense to oppose radical Islamists who wish to force an equally undemocratic and totalitarian agenda on others. If we are called names for doing so, that’s a small price to pay for doing the right thing. Read Paul Berman’s book, “Terror and Liberalism.”I especially recommend the sections on Sayyid Qutb, and his example of what happened to the anti-war French Socialists during WWII. (I’ll give you a hint — they ended up supporting the Vichy regime, and betraying their socialist comrades to the Nazis.) At some point, we need to learn from history.



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Alicia

posted March 31, 2007 at 12:30 am


“I especially recommend the sections on Sayyid Qutb, and Berman’s example of what happened to the anti-war French Socialists during WWII.”



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Alicia

posted March 31, 2007 at 12:58 am


Sorry to post at such length above, and then run, but I need to turn my computer off and go home. Have a nice weekend, all.



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 31, 2007 at 2:17 am


Isn’t it clear how this characteristic of liberals puts them on a collision course with radical Islamists? No. The “radicals” don’t have much beef with the liberals, truth be told — their targets are much more clear than we often believe. Let’s go back to the Iran hostage crisis in 1979 — the students who held them let go all the blacks and women and held only the white men for the duration, and I think that’s significant. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are to this day probably widely respected, if not loved, in the Middle East for bringing all sides to the table and attempting to broker an honest peace. Bush, on the other hand, was probably never serious about negotiating with the Muslims/Arabs, likely because of a faulty Israel-uber-alles eschatology subscribed to by many evangelical Christians. It is that theology which causes conservatives to look down upon the Arab/Muslim population and infuriates them even further. (Granted, some of the radicals didn’t care who was in office; Clinton foiled about a dozen terrorist attacks, including a planned bombing of the Los Angeles Airport at midnight Dec. 31, 1999, when he was in office and was virtuallly obsessed with Osama bin Laden.) That said, it is very likely (and I have heard this from some Muslim scholars and others, including a man I interviewed in the aftermath of 9/11) that the radicals actually pervert the Qur’an to support their agenda, not much different from Christians misrepresenting the Bible for similar purposes. Since I have not studied the Qur’an I have no first-hand knowledge of that.



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chuck

posted March 31, 2007 at 12:03 pm


As always, I appreciate all the comments you folks offer to my post. As I cannot respond to all, let me offer a few summary responses. First to Rick, Yoder and Shablach and others have done work on “just policing,” and I’d recommend some research into that to get at some of your initial questions. It is noteworthy that the three great voices for pacifism of the 20th century (Yoder, King, and Ghandi) all thought there was a place for a police force. However, policing and warring are far from the same thing. Second, Wolverine, you and I have such radically different concepts of what it means to be a follower of Jesus that it is unlikely we could ever get on the same page given the sound bite nature of blogging. Perhaps we could sit down face to face someday and see if we might have more luck. At least one of us has a far too anemic vision of discipleship:>) By the way, given the courage of your convictions, I wonder why you don’t use your real name? Third, cute commentary on the “just war of Sojo”:>) A few comments. 1) We should note that many see Just War and Pacifism as opposite ends of the spectrum on the question of the use of military force. However, the two positions actually both oppose “crusading” or “war is hell” notions by arguing for limits on the use of violence. So, to ask the question whether a given war is just is to presuppose that the answer could be “no,” in which case war could not be engaged morally. 2) Those who are disappointed that some seem never to find a war that meets the JW criteria should realize that others of us are equally disappointed that some never seem to be able to find a war that they cannot get to fit them. Too often, the JW theory has functioned more like the justification of war theory. And, it should at least cause pause that, as best we can tell, the JW theory has never actually prevented a war. 3) I only hit on the most basic of the ad bellum JW criteria. Once you consider both ad bellum and in bello criteria, it is even more difficult to see how war with Iran would pass them. Finally, my apologies to all that the nature of blog posts do not allow the space to address every question you have raised. If any would like, email me and I can provide a long list of books on JW and Pacifism to provide more details to those various questions. Blessings to all, and see you again soon! chuck



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Paul

posted March 31, 2007 at 2:31 pm


chuck, Appreciate the tone, but I find it hard to take your pacafism seriously when you continue to hide behind the protection of those whose actions/attitudes you abhore. Do you believe ala Ghandi that the US’s response to her enemies should be mass suicide?cheers, Paul



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Wolverine

posted March 31, 2007 at 6:02 pm


Chuck, I appreciate the graceful tone of your last comment. Looking back over the earlier posts, there’s one thing I was a bit sloppy on: I accused you of singling out the President and that isn’t exactly right: what you have been doing is criticizing supporters of a strike on Iran. I think the larger point still stands: you are applying a very high standard, not only of ethics but of sprituality, and done so in a rather selective fashion. But I should have been more precise myself. As to why I maintain my anonymity, please accept that I have my reasons. You will also note among the commentators the vast majority go by either what is clearly a handle (neuronurse, splinterlog, moderatelad, and myself) or they basically just give a first name (Kevin S., Doug7504, Alicia, and I believe Payshun too) and this goes for both lefties and righties. Rick Nowlin’s the only commentor that I can think of who fully identifies himself, so I’m hardly an exception. Anyway, I’m not so sure that we have such a different notion of discipleship, where we differ is in our expectation of what the state will or will not do. Governing is ultimately about the use of force. Now as a Christian I should be loathe to use force, but the awkward fact remains that government still exists, and in order to be effective it must still be able to use force judiciously. I don’t see pacificism and just war as two opposite extremes as much as I see them as two different responses to this conundrum: pacifism seeks to keep the Christian ethic of non-violence as pure as possible, while just war seeks to contain the mayhem by working within government. But these are two very different approaches, and I don’t think many of the pacifists at Sojourners (and I would consider nearly all of Sojo’s staff pacifists in any practiacl sense) appreciate how different these approaches are. As a consequence, you may get the letter of Just War right but you don’t understand the spirit behind it. There are a lot of assumptions behind Just War Theory that I don’t think you fully get: we see church and state as very different institutions with radically different responsibilities and prerogatives. And we do not believe that violence cannot be abolished though our efforts alone. (Or at least, the day when we can is a long way off yet.) And that leads us to the terrible paradox where we may need to unleash mayhem (for instance, a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities) in order to avoid greater mayhem in the future (an Iranian nuclear strike). This is the bloody arithmetic that we wind up doing and if you find it disturbing, well, I do too. But the alternative to doing it ourselves is to have it done by others who may not share our appreciation of the value of human life. Now I think there’s an honest argument to be made that pacifism is closer to the teachings of Jesus, and the church as a whole should reject Just War theory. I’m willing to concede up front that the pacifists have the better proof texts, at least out of the New Testament. I would rather read that argument than another attempt by a pacifist to apply a theory he may not fully understand and certainly doesn’t really believe in. But if you must, you should at least try to understand the assumptions behind just war theory, of which the most important is: there’s probably going to be another war eventually, it’s just a matter of when, where, and how big. Wolverine



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jesse

posted March 31, 2007 at 6:09 pm


Rick wrote: You’re the kind of so-called Christian that Muslims want to eliminate. –Rick, you’re generally pretty cordial on these comment threads, but I think this was way out of line.



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jesse

posted March 31, 2007 at 6:14 pm


Chuck, re: your comments on Wolverine, I wonder why you think you both have “such radically different concepts of what it means to be a follower of Jesus” when all you’ve been doing here is discussing politics. It seems to me that being a follower of Christ involves a lot of things far more important than political opinions or who you vote for. Like, I dunno…loving God, loving others, and telling people about Jesus.It’s a shame that you see such a gulf between the two of you. Some on Sojo have been accused of putting politics before Christ and the Church. Would you not agree that there are much more important things to being a Christian than the political opinions you hold? Also, that comment about his using a pseudonym was pretty catty. Very few people use their full name on these threads (so almost everyone, myself included, is anonymous). For you to single out Wolverine was pretty childish.



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kevin s.

posted March 31, 2007 at 6:56 pm


“Second, Wolverine, you and I have such radically different concepts of what it means to be a follower of Jesus that it is unlikely we could ever get on the same page given the sound bite nature of blogging.” This reveals something interesting. You come from an approach that equates one’s philosophy toward war with how one follows Christ. Regardless of how you interpret Christ’s command to love and forgive w/r/t public policy, I do not see scriptural support for the notion that this idea is fundamental to how you pursue faith.Near as I can tell, neither you nor Wolverine has personally incitied violence. In your every day lives, I presume you adhere to a demeanor of love and forgiveness. “At least one of us has a far too anemic vision of discipleship:>)” The dichotomy between the profound implications of what you say and your use of smiley-bracket is interesting. You made an incendiary remark, then immediately backed off. At any rate, if you have conflated public policy with the manner in which we experience discipleship, I would argue that has exhibited an anemic understanding.”By the way, given the courage of your convictions, I wonder why you don’t use your real name?” That is his real name. Don’t even get him started on Hugh Jackman.



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Wolverine

posted March 31, 2007 at 7:35 pm


Just spotted a typo: I wrote: And we do not believe that violence cannot be abolished though our efforts alone. (Or at least, the day when we can is a long way off yet.) I should have written: And we do not believe that violence can be completely abolished though our efforts alone. (Or at least, the day when we can is a long way off yet.) Sorry ’bout that. Wolverine



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Carl Copas

posted March 31, 2007 at 8:10 pm


“That is his real name. Don’t even get him started on Hugh Jackman.” LOL



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 31, 2007 at 9:40 pm


Rick, you’re generally pretty cordial on these comment threads, but I think this was way out of line. I beg to differ. Many people do not realize the impact of their words, but, as one who makes his living with words, I do. Donny is actually compromising the Gospel with his arrogant and unenlightened pronouncements, which must be addressed tout de suite if we are to be recognized as followers of Christ. Yes, I may sound harsh, but it would be sin to remain silent and let his kind trash His Name. And because this is a public forum it has to be done publicly. To give you an example, some years ago I was attending a men’s small group and the leader, who subscribes to “dominion theology,” basically slandered Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action (not simply misrepresented his views because he has not changed his stance to my knowledge). Well, as a long-time ESA member, I knew what he was saying was false, so I told him right then and there he was wrong because I didn’t want the other guys to take him at his word.



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Deno Reno

posted March 31, 2007 at 9:46 pm


Thanks Chuck for the follow-up discussion as always SOJO cordially provides a forum for Christians to agree to disagree, Amen & Amen God Bless You All !



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Rick Nowlin

posted March 31, 2007 at 10:02 pm


Responding to two comments: Some on Sojo have been accused of putting politics before Christ and the Church. Would you not agree that there are much more important things to being a Christian than the political opinions you hold? Like, I dunno…loving God, loving others, and telling people about Jesus. Excuse me, but this is a political blog, if you haven’t noticed. And as for the “just war” philosophy, which I do subscribe to: The one reason to go to war is as a last resort when all else has failed. From what I see, however, modern conservatism has war as a first resort, not only (or even primarily) overseas but also in the way it has always attacked and denigrated its opponents domestically, basically for the sake of authority; I said on another thread that these folks live to fight and fight to live. (After all, folks like James Dobson have made a mint by doing just that.) On the other hand, anyone who has fought in war (I admit I have not) will tell you that’s it’s not nearly as glamorous as they make it sound. The problem with winning war, of course, is that, because your head gets too big, eventually you end up in a fight that you can’t win, and we’re seeing just that scenario in Iraq. That said, let me redirect the conversation to another real war that I have referred to elsewhere: the Civil Rights Movement. Now, anyone who lived through that will tell you it was a war — but was it about defeating enemies? Ultimately, no — it was about establishing justice in places where it didn’t exist and reconciling formerly-separated peoples. Martin Luther King Jr., wrongly labeled as a pacifist, nevertheless opposed the Vietnam War on similar grounds (you’ll notice that if you read his remarks carefully) and warned that going to war would itself never defeat Communism. That said, we should have the same attitude toward “Islamism” — if we focus on military victory they’ve got us right where they want us. The Gospel requires us to take a different — I would say more subversive — approach.



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Wolverine

posted April 1, 2007 at 12:12 am


The one thing that most of the liberals on this site, especially on this particular thread, do seem to share is that they seem unable to deal with the reality of the Iranian nuclear program. Chuck Gutenson can write a long post about Iran, and a follow-up about just war, without mentioning it. And now Rick writes about just war and the civil rights movement. He calls for us to take a “subversive” approach to radical Islam. But again, the possibility that the Iranians might develop a nuclear bomb just does not seem to enter into the discussion. So forgive me for being blunt, but there are two questions that one of you, or preferably both, should answer: 1. Do you believe that the Iran government is developing a nuclear weapon? 2. What impact, if any, does this have on your thinking about Islamic terrorism? Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 1, 2007 at 12:34 am


Wolverine — You almost know my answers. 1) It doesn’t really matter in the long run, which is all that matters. 2) None whatsoever. They will do what they will do no matter what we do as long as we continue to demonize them.



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butch

posted April 1, 2007 at 12:53 am


None of them to my knowledge launched pre-emptive strikes or otherwise started wars” Neither N Korea or Iran or even India and Pakistan have any real ability to deliver a nuclear weapon. That is not the real danger from the Middle East is making more people angry. It doesn’t take very many to cause a big problem and we angering more every day.



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Paul

posted April 1, 2007 at 1:35 am


Rick Nowlin, Do you really mean to say that reality has no impact on your thinking? cheers, Paul



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squeaky

posted April 1, 2007 at 2:15 am


“1. Do you believe that the Iran government is developing a nuclear weapon?” This sounds very familiar. I am reminded of the cold war. I am reminded of the fear mongering related to that cold war. Many would say this war is different than the cold war. Maybe it is. I think a very valid argument could be made that we didn’t need to worry about the Russians if they loved their children, too (ala Sting), but the extremists we face today, although they love their children, are willing to sacrifice themselves and/or their children for their ideals. The argument can be made that the Russians never launched a missile attack because they knew it would result in nuclear armageddon. The argument can be made that radical Islamists don’t see that connection and are so focused on destroying the infidels that it doesn’t matter how many are sacrificed in the process. But maybe Nowlin’s reminder of MLK’s view of communism can serve as a starting point for the direction we should go. “[he] warned that going to war would itself never defeat Communism.” True–ultimately, it wasn’t a war that defeated Communism, was it? So far, we have had the idea that war will defeat terrorism. Clearly, it won’t. So now we are left with the bleak image that we will be locked in this battle against terrorism for decades, if not longer, because all that war with terrorism means is keeping it “under control” to whatever extent that is possible. Extending Nowlin’s point, then: “going to war would itself never defeat radical Islam.” Any objections? If so, explain how going to war is going to defeat radical Islam. I think what we have seen is just the opposite–going to war has fueled radical Islam. Some would say war was the correct response to 9-11. What if war was actually the ultimate goal of the terrorists? What if they anticipated that war with the west would elevate their status as “martyrs” and serve as a recruitment tool, especially when the battle started claiming civilian lives? And how might things be different if we had taken Christ at His Word, and loved our enemies? What would that have looked like? One of the very tragic things that came out of 9-11 is that many people scratched their heads and said “why do they hate us?” We were fed the standard “they hate us for our freedoms” rhetoric. So, instead of learning about what mentality is ACTUALLY behind the 9-11 attacks, instead of trying to understand what life is like in the shoes of these young men who get sucked into radical Islam, we were given an oversimplification, a black and white picture, an us vs. them mentality. And those of us who call for taking the time to understand our enemy are labeled “sympathisers” or are said to be “unpatriotic” or are said to be “undermining the American way.” We dare not put a human face on these people. But…if we took the time to understand our enemy…maybe we would find another way to defeat radical Islam. Afterall, 30 years ago, we never dreamed that could be possible with the Soviets…Maybe Rocky VI will have Rocky defeating a huge Islamic terrorist in Baghdada and calling for world peace in his victory speech…



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 1, 2007 at 3:19 am


Do you really mean to say that reality has no impact on your thinking? Well, let’s look at the Scripture. When the Israelites were going into the Promised Land they sent a dozen spies, which itself showed a lack of faith in God. You may remember the story — 10 came back and said, “The giants may be too strong for us,” while two said, “No sweat — let’s do it.” You know the rest. My point is that we Christians have removed our focus on Christ and placed it on the enemy. But here’s something that Butch was leading up to. Iran developing nuclear weapons is roughly akin to a kid taking a gun to school to deal with bullies who were tormenting him. But, true to form, everyone’s focusing on the kid with the gun.



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Paul

posted April 1, 2007 at 5:25 am


Rick Nowlin, Thanks for the clarification. Problem is that in this case you and your’s aren’t going, but are staying in camp and telling the Israelites that they are immoral for going in. I do appreciate the example of your style of exegesis. cheers, Paul



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kevin s.

posted April 1, 2007 at 10:53 am


“True–ultimately, it wasn’t a war that defeated Communism, was it?” No, but rather the threat of war, which is meaningless absent the possibility that such a war would be carried out. “So far, we have had the idea that war will defeat terrorism. Clearly, it won’t.” This is hardly a settled question. I do think we have to redefine our view of war.”So now we are left with the bleak image that we will be locked in this battle against terrorism for decades, if not longer, because all that war with terrorism means is keeping it “under control” to whatever extent that is possible.” The quotes around “under control” are inappropriate, insofar as nobody has used this term, or ceded this argument. “Any objections? If so, explain how going to war is going to defeat radical Islam.” One method, which is particularly relevant in this scenario, is to prevent them from acquiring the tools that would allow them to destory large numbers of people simultaneously. Further, we can send a message by standing up to the appointed political figureheads of radical Islam that we are more than willing to destroy them. Ultimately, I do think that will defeat radical Islam.”Some would say war was the correct response to 9-11. What if war was actually the ultimate goal of the terrorists?” I don’t think it was, so why am I required to answer this question? It is irrelevant to the question of whether we should continue this war.”What if they anticipated that war with the west would elevate their status as “martyrs” and serve as a recruitment tool, especially when the battle started claiming civilian lives? ” Their status as martyrs was solidified as soon as the planes hit the buildings. Is there any evidence that this line of thinking has any merit? “And how might things be different if we had taken Christ at His Word, and loved our enemies? What would that have looked like?” Christians praying for healing and safety while their elected officials forged policy, which is what happened.”One of the very tragic things that came out of 9-11 is that many people scratched their heads and said “why do they hate us?” We were fed the standard “they hate us for our freedoms” rhetoric. ” Huh? I heard quite a bit of “they hate us because of our support for Israel” rhetoric. I also heard quite a bit of rhetoric around the idea that radical Islam cannot thrive in free environments (and I agree). “And those of us who call for taking the time to understand our enemy are labeled “sympathisers” or are said to be “unpatriotic” or are said to be “undermining the American way.” We dare not put a human face on these people. ” When someone writes in the (very) passive voice, it is a good indication that they are attacking a strawman or evoking a useless generality. By my observation, your side uses the “we were called ‘unpatriotic'” card far more often than my side has used the “you are unpatriotic” card.”But…if we took the time to understand our enemy…maybe we would find another way to defeat radical Islam. Afterall, 30 years ago, we never dreamed that could be possible with the Soviets..” Here’s the problem with your theme. The communists did not represent their people. All we had to do was threaten annihilation, and combine that with the promise of a better way of life, and the people led the revolt.With radical Islam, we have a different problem. We have a set of people who are willing to do anything for (enter whatever it is you think they are doing this for). They find themselves represented in the leadership of certain nations.Thus, it is insufficient to simply say that we can forge an intentional stalemate, augered by cultural understanding, and hope that we can replicate our cold war success.



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Wolverine

posted April 1, 2007 at 7:11 pm


Rick Nowlin wrote: Iran developing nuclear weapons is roughly akin to a kid taking a gun to school to deal with bullies who were tormenting him. But, true to form, everyone’s focusing on the kid with the gun. In the words of the great Keith Jackson: Whoa, Nellie! I’d really like to understand the way you’re using this analogy, but I must say that at first blush your reasoning strikes me as bizarre. Before we even get to how this applies to Iran, there’s a whole lot of questions about how you see this “Columbine Scenario” playing out. This reads to me like what you’re saying is that the first reaction to a situation like at Columbine is to round up the bullies and find the source of the attackers pain rather than deal with the gunmen directly. Now maybe you think we need to intervene earlier and think ahead, which is frequently wise counsel. But in this scenario, even if we were able to get to the youths with the guns before they started shooting, you don’t seriously think it wouldn’t be a good idea to disarm them, do you? Look, I don’t mean to discourage lateral thinking or looking for root causes of things, but what really strikes me here is the sense of disdain I’m picking up for those of us whose first reaction would be to deal with the shooters first. Wolverine



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Erik Bloom

posted April 1, 2007 at 7:27 pm


I find your statement, admirable in itself, but extremely naive on the enormous role of propaganda in regards to even the so called facts in regards to Iran. US imperial ambitions are broad and deep, and anyone who takes at face value anything that comes out the White House, Pentagon or 10 Downing St. has been negligent in their exercise of critical citizenship. The “innocence” or “guilt” of the Iranian regime is a red herring to draw attention away from a realistic assessment of the larger context in which this drama unfolds. Just for starters, most people forget that Blowback, as the CIA calls it, is not retaliation for any official US action abroad, but precisely for covert actions, those UNKNOWN to the public and typically to Congress as well. One such black operation involved the overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian regime in 1953 in order to install a US friendly dictator, leading finally to the Islamic revolution in 1979. And there is credible evidence that the US is once again engaged in supporting anti-government terrorist activity inside Iran. You have to take Seriously the possibility that the current crisis is largely a result of direct provocation by the US Administration (and Israel) for unstated or deliberately obscured strategic goals. This only scratches the surface, and we’re talking strictly about Publically Available info, some leaks, some investigation, and a lot from documents our own government has put out. As one brilliant teacher, both a monk and a priest, once told me, Jesus is sad when you don’t ask questions. Erik Bloom Baltimore



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squeaky

posted April 1, 2007 at 8:17 pm


Erik–well said. Iran is actually a pretty easy target, since the animosity many Americans feel towards them is carried over from the Hostage Crisis. You actually bring up an even deeper question. I was about to write something like “Iran had the right to respond to U.S. covert actions, but taking Americans hostage was an extreme and inexcusable act.” However, if the United States has the right to defend itself, then our response to aggression is justified, right? Looking at it from the Iranian perspective–if a democratically elected regime is overthrown with the help of a foreign force, does Iran have the right to respond to that foreign force in the interest of self-preservation?



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Paul

posted April 1, 2007 at 9:30 pm


squeaky, An interesting example of the power of myth. The situation in Iran was far more complicated then the propaganda would have you believe. If you are interested in some insight into the situation, see: http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=ft6c6006wp&chunk.id=0&doc.view=print cheers, Paul



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Carl Copas

posted April 2, 2007 at 12:23 am


Am I the only person on this thread who believes that Iran would be very unlikely to launch nuclear missiles at Israel? The consequence of such an action would be national suicide for Iran.



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Paul

posted April 2, 2007 at 3:22 am


Carl Copas, At one time, I would have agreed with you, but now I honestly am not sure of that at all. I really hope you are right, but I am not optimistic. I have lived in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and traveled through Iran when the Shaw was still in power. The level of suicidal psycopathy we are seeing is something that was not evident when I was there. cheers, Paul



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kevin s.

posted April 2, 2007 at 3:40 am


“”Jesus is sad when you don’t ask questions.” Then surely you will not mind if I ask them of you. “US imperial ambitions are broad and deep, ” How so? Whose ambitions? If we have “broad” and “deep” imperialistic ambitions, they are certainly unsuccessful, insofar as we don’t seem to run very many countries.”anyone who takes at face value anything that comes out the White House, Pentagon or 10 Downing St. has been negligent in their exercise of critical citizenship” Iran has conceded that they are pursuing nuclear technologies, so I don’t see where propganda is even necessary in this scenario. “The “innocence” or “guilt” of the Iranian regime is a red herring to draw attention away from a realistic assessment of the larger context in which this drama unfolds.” It is a red herring you seem all to happy to employ here. I am unconcerned with innocence or guilt, per se, other than to note that I am gravely concerned about what a nation that wished an ally wiped off the map might do with a nuclear weapon. “One such black operation involved the overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian regime in 1953 in order to install a US friendly dictator, leading finally to the Islamic revolution in 1979.” This question has been discussed at length. In the end, I don’t see how our actions in the 1950s indicate that we must allow Iran to strike Israel with a nuclear bomb.” And there is credible evidence that the US is once again engaged in supporting anti-government terrorist activity inside Iran.” Such as? I would hope that we are inciting the people to overthrow their government, and even Sojo is in support of this idea. I guess it depends on how you define terrorism.”You have to take Seriously the possibility that the current crisis is largely a result of direct provocation by the US Administration (and Israel) for unstated or deliberately obscured strategic goals. ” Direct provocation by way of unstated goals? That is an oxymoron. At any rate, what are the “unstated” goals?”This only scratches the surface,” Of what? “about Publically Available info” Such as? “some leaks,” Which ones? “some investigation,” Which investigation?”and a lot from documents our own government has put out.” For example?



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kevin s.

posted April 2, 2007 at 3:44 am


“Am I the only person on this thread who believes that Iran would be very unlikely to launch nuclear missiles at Israel? The consequence of such an action would be national suicide for Iran.” It would be national suicide by virtue of the fact that Israel and the U.S. (and Britain et al…) woud will it so. That said, Iran has illustrated a penchant for conducting hostilities obliquely. This presents a unique problem, insofar as a policy of mutually assured destruction can be rendered moot by having a nuclear attack come from an unknown source.For this reason, it is all the more vital that we prevent Iran from having a nuclear bomb.



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squeaky

posted April 2, 2007 at 4:13 am


“How so? Whose ambitions? If we have “broad” and “deep” imperialistic ambitions, they are certainly unsuccessful, insofar as we don’t seem to run very many countries. ” I have to wonder what your view of the US actions in other nations is. The U.S. has certainly interfered in the affairs of enough nations in South and Central America and in the Middle East that the label of “imperialism” is not unwarranted. Are you aware of the stated goals of the neoconservative agenda? Maybe imperialism is in the eye of the beholder…



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 2, 2007 at 5:09 am


I’d really like to understand the way you’re using this analogy, but I must say that at first blush your reasoning strikes me as bizarre. Iran wants nukes, really, to “even things out” a little bit. I made that clear in a previous post. Now maybe you think we need to intervene earlier and think ahead, which is frequently wise counsel. But in this scenario, even if we were able to get to the youths with the guns before they started shooting, you don’t seriously think it wouldn’t be a good idea to disarm them, do you? Then why don’t we deal with the proportionally far bigger threat of North Korea in the same way? I mean, that country has even tested a nuke (it failed miserably, of course) but we haven’t gone after Kim Jong Il the way we’re talking about Iran.



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Wolverine

posted April 2, 2007 at 3:13 pm


Rick Nowlin asks: Then why don’t we deal with the proportionally far bigger threat of North Korea in the same way? I mean, that country has even tested a nuke (it failed miserably, of course) but we haven’t gone after Kim Jong Il the way we’re talking about Iran. Because Korea isn’t an Islamic state, it’s a Communist one and more likely to respond like the goold ‘ole Soviet Union did: keep it’s missiles on the launcing pad. Going back to the school shooting analogy… Iran wants nukes, really, to “even things out” a little bit. I made that clear in a previous post. Let’s unpack this: the prototypical school shooting incident was Columbine. Now at Columbine, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went well beyond simply “even[ing] things out a little bit. I have yet to hear that the bullies that tormented Harris and Klebold ever packed heat, let along bringing multiple firearms and bombs. This wasn’t proportionate, this was pure overkill. Plus, once the shooting started, they didn’t hunt down the bullies and settle scores, they fired indiscriminately. And finally they ended it all by committing suicide, an ending that, by all accounts, they probably intended from the beginning. This actually touches on something that Carl Copas asked about: people do sometimes go on violent rampages expecting to die. It’s called “suicide by cop” and it’s rare but it does happen. Now it’s difficult to imagine an entire nation in this frame of mind, but the Islamic radicals have one thing that Harris and Klebold did not: an ideology that promises eternal bliss with a distinctly erotic element to it. Basically, once you look at these things dispassionately, your analogy blows up: in the schoolyard shooting you aren’t dealing with a person who is reacting rationally to a threat, you are dealing with a suicidal maniac with no sense of proportion. If anything, comparing Iran to Columbine leaves me more convinced than ever that Iran should never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon. Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 2, 2007 at 4:08 pm


Wolverine — Columbine is not an analogy I would use in this case, for the simple reason that the United States and many of its allies (have you forgotten this?) actually have nuclear weapons. On top of that, Israel reportedly has some too, although it has never admitted this publicly.



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Wolverine

posted April 2, 2007 at 4:52 pm


Rick, Fair enough: you didn’t mention Columbine by name. However: 1. You have yet to show me an example of a situation where letting a kid take a gun to school led to a positive outcome. And there’s definitely cases where gun-wielding victims of bullying did some decidely negative things. 2. If I’m a school administrator, Columbine is in the back of my mind. If I see a kid wandering around school with a firearm, Columbine will be very much at the front of my mind. Since you didn’t provide a whole lot of details yourself, you shouldn’t be surprised if Columbine wasn’t the first thing to pop into my mind. 3. Now maybe you’re thinking more of a tough urban school (as opposed to the middle-class suburb like Columbine) where security has broken down and some students actually do bring firearms to class. But in that situation the root cause is less likely to be regular bullying and more likely to be gangs. 4. Even then, I don’t think there’s a serious question that a kid bringing a gun to school should not be disarmed post-haste, but you sneer (“true to form”) at those who would do just that. 5. All of which adds up to one thing: this is a wierd analogy, even before you try to apply any of this to Iran. Wolverine



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kevin s.

posted April 2, 2007 at 4:53 pm


“Columbine is not an analogy I would use in this case, ” Which school did you have in mind? It was your analogy.If they want to “even things out”, they can quit threatening to destroy Israel (and capturing British sailors, and supporting Hezbollah). They are under no threat of nuclear attack, so they ought not need to even things out. I am not interested in an evening out between Israel and Iran. That is moral equivalency, at it’s worse.



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moderatelad

posted April 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm


Interesting revelation this weekend. There was a program on PBS that talked about the Mideast and the documentary stated that the Teliban and Al Queida had rec’d training at camps based in Iraq.Guess there was a ‘connection’ after all… Stay Home with Sojo Later – .



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kevin s.

posted April 2, 2007 at 4:56 pm


“Are you aware of the stated goals of the neoconservative agenda? Maybe imperialism is in the eye of the beholder…” Or maybe we throw the term around without giving a thought to what it actually means. There is a difference between an aggressive foreign policy stance and imperialism.If, in your eyes, there is not a difference, then the term has lost its meaning, and has certainly lost its value as a debating trump card.



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 2, 2007 at 5:56 pm


Which school did you have in mind? It was your analogy. There was a local case where this actually happened; the boy wanted to deal with two specific bullies. The incident at Columbine, on the other hand, as Wolverine said, was indiscriminate. When it comes to Iran, the former analogy is more apropos in this case. Interesting revelation this weekend. There was a program on PBS that talked about the Mideast and the documentary stated that the Teliban and Al Qaida had rec’d training at camps based in Iraq. That’s old news — the untold story is that those likely took place in northern Iraq, which Saddam Hussein never controlled. Also remember that bin Laden despised Saddam himself and rejoiced with the Americans got him.



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squeaky

posted April 2, 2007 at 6:14 pm


Kevin S–what are the stated goals of the neocons? If it isn’t to establish and maintain U.S. dominance in the world, then what is it? In order to establish and maintain world dominance, you desperately need resources, particularly energy resources. But, I suppose you think all our deals and workings to obtain those energy resources, or any resource, for that matter, is entirely beyond reproach.



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Wolverine

posted April 2, 2007 at 6:28 pm


Rick Nowlin wrote: There was a local case where this actually happened; the boy wanted to deal with two specific bullies. And what happened next? Did they take the gun away from him? Did he “deal with” the bullies? (I love the understatement there by the way.) Did he and the bullies have a long chat at gunpoint and end up best friends? Look, Columbine may or may not be relevant to Iran, but at least it’s well documented and well known. So now there’s some other incident where some kid brought a gun to some school and something happened but right now of all the participants on this thread only you know who was involved and where and when this took place and what happened next. And I’m supposed to take it on faith that this mysterious incident not only is applicable to Iran but that it illustrates why the US should not prevent the Iranians from developing an atomic weapon? Is it just me, or does anyone else find this mystery incident on the whole less than totally persuasive? Wolverine



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Paul

posted April 2, 2007 at 6:36 pm


Wolverine, As I probably don’t need to tell you, no you are not alone. From my experiences with the media, I could say a lot more about this, but will continue to bite my tongue… cheers, Paul



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squeaky

posted April 2, 2007 at 6:50 pm


Seems to me the best way to deal with the argument is to acknowledge school violence wasn’t the best analogy for what is going on in Iran and move on.



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kevin s.

posted April 2, 2007 at 7:33 pm


“Kevin S–what are the stated goals of the neocons?” To exercise a strong foreign policy at the service of protecting our nations. “If it isn’t to establish and maintain U.S. dominance in the world, then what is it? ” Dominance in what manner? Taking over leadership? Stealing resources? Destorying militaries? If that is the definition, the no. If dominance means using our power to prevent attacks against us and our allies, then it is reasonable to use the term. But, then, you have a long way to go from your definition of dominance to anything that would constitute imperialism.



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kevin s.

posted April 2, 2007 at 7:53 pm


“But, I suppose you think all our deals and workings to obtain those energy resources, or any resource, for that matter, is entirely beyond reproach.” It is not necessary to believe this in order to think that we are not imperialistic.



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 2, 2007 at 7:54 pm


Wolverine — Chill, please. You were the one who decided to analogize the situation with Iran to Colombine High School when it really wasn’t appropriate. You can easily find the story I was referring to yourself if you looked up http://www.post-gazette.com — that’s where it was published, and it was no mystery. Besides, I’m sure this goes on all the time in other cities. Seems to me the best way to deal with the argument is to acknowledge school violence wasn’t the best analogy for what is going on in Iran and move on. It was the best one I could find. My point is and was that we’re supposed to get all bent out of shape over Iran potentially having nukes when we’ve had them for decades (and know how to use them and have actually done so) — there’s something disproportionate about that.



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squeaky

posted April 2, 2007 at 8:00 pm


“To exercise a strong foreign policy at the service of protecting our nations. ” I take it you didn’t mean to pluralize that… So I take it you don’t think we have done anything in our history to wrest power from any leader of any foreign nation…we’ve been doing it since our forefathers set foot on this land. “If dominance means using our power to prevent attacks against us and our allies, then it is reasonable to use the term.” If this were all we used our power for, I would be in agreement with you. Even the current Iraq war doesn’t fit this description. I know you really believe that the only reason we are in Iraq is to protect us from attack, but the Neoconservative agenda has always been to obtain more power over the energy resources in the Middle East, and particularly to lessen OPEC’s dominance of the oil trade. Iraq is an important piece to that puzzle. This is documented in their own writings, and I’m sorry, but the coincidence is much too strong to ignore. Even the Vice President’s former company Haliburton being involved in the “rebuilding” should raise your eyebrows. How can you say our intentions are only good and not at all driven by greed?



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neuro_nurse

posted April 2, 2007 at 8:44 pm


“There was a program on PBS that talked about the Mideast and the documentary stated that the Teliban and Al Queida had rec’d training at camps based in Iraq.” When? Bin Laden’s, CIA roots. How We Created Our Own Terror. Aug. 24, 1998, Michael Moran, MSNBC. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1245.htm



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Carl Copas

posted April 2, 2007 at 8:46 pm


kevin s: “Iran has illustrated a penchant for conducting hostilities obliquely.” Such as? Iraq started the war in the 1980s. Wolverine: “people do sometimes go on violent rampages expecting to die. It’s called “suicide by cop” and it’s rare but it does happen. Now it’s difficult to imagine an entire nation in this frame of mind, but the Islamic radicals have one thing that Harris and Klebold did not: an ideology that promises eternal bliss with a distinctly erotic element to it.” Wolverine, I just don’t see the evidence that Iran would act in this manner. Iran is not Al-Quaida, it’s a nation-state (and a nasty one to be sure) not a movement.



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Wolverine

posted April 2, 2007 at 8:47 pm


Okay, I’ll chill. Rick Nowlin says that some kid in the Pittsburgh area took a gun to school so he could “deal with” bullies but it all worked out in the end, somehow. Therefore we have nothing to worry about if the Radical Islamists running Iran manage to build a working nuclear weapon. Whatever… Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 2, 2007 at 9:27 pm


Therefore we have nothing to worry about if the Radical Islamists running Iran manage to build a working nuclear weapon. That’s a great big if, BTW. Israal will probably get to it first. Seriously. And remember, we’ve got a bunch ourselves.



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moderatelad

posted April 2, 2007 at 10:01 pm


neuro_nurse | 04.02.07 – 2:49 pm | #It was when Saddam was in power. So why would Saddam allow both the Taliban and Al Qaeda be allow on Iraqi soil to be trained? Seems to be a ‘connection’ that Nancy Pelosi can not see. So – it is an Ideology not a Religion that we are at war with.Darfur – since I last posted on Friday – another 900 to 1500 innocent people have died, collateral damage for the UN’s inaction and our weakness. Stay Home with Sojo! Later – .



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HASH(0x116bf610)

posted April 2, 2007 at 10:19 pm


“If this were all we used our power for, I would be in agreement with you. Even the current Iraq war doesn’t fit this description” We disagree on this point. We are working to extricate ourselves from Iraq, not lead it. “I know you really believe that the only reason we are in Iraq is to protect us from attack, but the Neoconservative agenda has always been to obtain more power over the energy resources in the Middle East,” This simply isn’t true about the Neoconservative agenda, though I would argue that protection from attack and oil resources are interconnected. Isn’t that the same argument espoused by those who want to decrease our dependence on foreign oil? “Even the Vice President’s former company Haliburton being involved in the “rebuilding” should raise your eyebrows. How can you say our intentions are only good and not at all driven by greed?” Well, Cheney and Bush have a tremendous amount of money, and the capacity to earn more. I do not buy into the idea that they are sacrificing our national interest simply to provide profits for former employers. To the extent that money is the key to power, to place money ahead of power doesn’t make sense.



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 2, 2007 at 11:04 pm


It was when Saddam was in power. So why would Saddam allow both the Taliban and Al Qaeda be allow on Iraqi soil to be trained? Seems to be a ‘connection’ that Nancy Pelosi can not see. So – it is an Ideology not a Religion that we are at war with. Again — where the Taliban and al-Qaeda were training Saddam didn’t control, even though it was within the borders of Iraq. That has already been well-established almost from the beginning.



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squeaky

posted April 2, 2007 at 11:46 pm


“This simply isn’t true about the Neoconservative agenda, though I would argue that protection from attack and oil resources are interconnected. Isn’t that the same argument espoused by those who want to decrease our dependence on foreign oil?” Come again? I’m not sure what you mean here…



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moderatelad

posted April 3, 2007 at 3:31 pm


Anonymous | Homepage | 04.02.07 – 4:24 pm | #Haliburton being involved in the “rebuilding” Haliburton for somethings is the only campany in the US that puts a bid in for the work to be done. Clinton used Haliburton a lot during his time in office because they were the only company that submitted a bid. Later – .



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moderatelad

posted April 3, 2007 at 3:38 pm


Rick Nowlin | 04.02.07 – 5:09 pm | #Again — where the Taliban and al-Qaeda were training Saddam didn’t control, even though it was within the borders of Iraq. That has already been well-established almost from the beginning. Again – this is the same area where he had no problem gassing the people (his own Iraqis’) for whatever reason. If there were people within his boundries that he did not like – you do not think that he would do something about it?I believe that a Muslim can hate another Muslim but could coordinate efforts if it was to attack the US or any of the Allies. They may hate each other – but they are focused on our demise. Stay Home with Sojo Later – .



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squeaky

posted April 3, 2007 at 3:54 pm


So focused all they can think about is civil war, then?



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Wolverine

posted April 3, 2007 at 3:57 pm


Squeaky, I’ve argued earlier that much of the problem with Islamic radicalism stems from the influence of the extremely strict Wahabbi Islamic sect in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the subsidies that Wahabbis receive from the Saudi government. The Kingdom can afford to be particularly generous to the Wahabbis because of oil revenues. This has allowed the Wahabbis to build mosques and spread their teachings throughout the Muslim world, supplanting or coopting local varieties of Islam that are usually less militant. There’s a peaceful means to minimize the radical Islamic threat, by cutting off the oil finding, but taking full advantage of this will require making better use of domestic oil sources, in particular ANWR, and the Greenies are dead set against that. Any clever, free-thinking pacifists out there might want to consider starting up a new group dedicated to opening up domestic oil production as a peaceful means of dealing with Radical Islam. You could call it Polluters for Peace. Wolverine



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 3, 2007 at 4:33 pm


If there were people within his boundries that he did not like – you do not think that he would do something about it? Huh? There’s a peaceful means to minimize the radical Islamic threat, by cutting off the oil finding, but taking full advantage of this will require making better use of domestic oil sources, in particular ANWR, and the Greenies are dead set against that. Most geological surveys have indicated that the ANWR has enough oil for only a generation or so, which is one reason the “Greenies” are against it — they don’t consider it worth the destruction. What’s needed is better conservation.



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Wolverine

posted April 3, 2007 at 5:33 pm


Rick, “A generation or so” would put a serious dent in the Saudi economy to put it mildly. It would also give our engineers plenty of time to develop alternative energy sources and develop usable, economically viable engines, transportation, power plants, and industrial facilities to make the most of them. Not that any of that would make a difference. Wolverine



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squeaky

posted April 3, 2007 at 5:37 pm


I happen to be a geologist, so I know a wee bit about oil, and Rick Nowlin’s correct. We also don’t really know what is there because only very preliminary surveys have been performed. Not only that, but the best case scenarios are hardly a drop in the bucket of our oil situation, and cannot be a long term solution. In the end, the Saudis will always control that resource. So, I’ve said a lot of this on previous threads, and I apologize for the repetition…but I’m climbing back on my soapbox… Wolverine, you make an excellent point about the proceeds of oil being used to fund terrorism. Many Americans don’t realize this, otherwise they would make the connection that fueling their gas guzzlers is actually funding terrorism. Think what might happen if we understood this! The current Administration’s solution to our energy needs is to take a supply side approach. They have moved into greener sources for that supply, including biofuels, but are still looking for a solution related to supply. A better solution would be one starting from conservation, which is an untapped resource. Historically, conservation has stymied OPEC, and they had to deal with very negative repercussions after the 1973 Embargo. If we really want to fight terrorism, we will hit them where it hurts, and start conserving, raise the price of oil to reflect its true cost (war and health issues are not factored in), which will stimulate alternative energy development, and become self sufficient with our energy resources. This provides a market solution, which is necessary because most people simply aren’t altruistic enough to do it out of the goodness of their hearts, unfortunately. When I think about it in these terms–would we have had to go to war at all? Think about it–violence will not shut down terrorism, but only slow it down. If we had immediately responded to 9-11 by adapting strategies of conservation, we would have been far more successful at shutting down the terrorist machine. Goes to show you that if we take Jesus at His word, we find more creative solutions to our national security issues that don’t have to be violence and war.



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 3, 2007 at 5:38 pm


“A generation or so” would put a serious dent in the Saudi economy to put it mildly. It would also give our engineers plenty of time to develop alternative energy sources and develop usable, economically viable engines, transportation, power plants, and industrial facilities to make the most of them. An excuse, and a poor one at that — those technologies could and should have been developed already. Besides, other countries use Saudi oil, so if the Saudis lose us as customers they will easily find other markets, especially China.



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squeaky

posted April 3, 2007 at 5:42 pm


Let China have their “blood oil”–if we leave that part of the world, the terrorists will have no reason to attack us. They want us out, and our best answer to those desires is to leave. We can do it–it’s not even that hard. And since China is not even close to the energy use and development we are, the Saudis will definitely miss us in the short run.



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kevin s.

posted April 3, 2007 at 5:57 pm


If a generation of oil would only be a drop in the bucket, then it is hard to make a case that conservation efforts are going to make that big of a splash. One of the reasons that the environmental movement is treated with such suspicion is that they fall on their sword over symbolic battles like this in which they are completely in the wrong.



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squeaky

posted April 3, 2007 at 6:01 pm


“”A generation or so” would put a serious dent in the Saudi economy to put it mildly. It would also give our engineers plenty of time to develop alternative energy sources and develop usable, economically viable engines, transportation, power plants, and industrial facilities to make the most of them.” Actually, the more likely scenario is it would continue to keep Americans complacent about oil. Many Americans already look at ANWR as the solution to our oil problems, and so we would continue to think we’re OK if we open up that region. So, most Americans will think we’re fine, we’ll continue using oil like it will always be there, and as long as we do that, there will be no market stimulus to encourage alternative energy. We don’t want to face up to our energy problems, and the longer we refuse to see it, the more likely the switch to the next energy economy will have disastrous effects on our economy.



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Wolverine

posted April 3, 2007 at 7:43 pm


Regarding alternative energy, Rick Nowlin wrote: An excuse, and a poor one at that — those technologies could and should have been developed already. Besides, other countries use Saudi oil, so if the Saudis lose us as customers they will easily find other markets, especially China. That’s assuming the technology won’t be licensed outside of the US. It’s much more likely that Europe and Asia will either buy our technology or develop their own versions. If — and I’ll admit this is an important if — but if we can develop good alternative energy sources in the next decade or so, we will be in a position to reduce the value of oil dramatically. Opening up ANWR won’t solve all our problems all at once, but it will reduce the need for oil in general, and because oil is largely fungible that will include middle-eastern oil. I really don’t see why we can’t pursue both, and use ANWR to knock the Saudis down a peg while buying ourselves time to develop alternative energy sources and transition to them. Wolverine



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moderatelad

posted April 3, 2007 at 8:00 pm


Just a reminder as we talk about Sojo’s favorite subject – another 500+ to 800+ people have died in Darfur – talking really works well – but who does it bennefit? Not the people in Darfur. Sleep tight tonight. Stay Home with Sojo! Later –



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squeaky

posted April 3, 2007 at 8:10 pm


Moderatelad–what are you doing about it?



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Rick Nowlin

posted April 3, 2007 at 9:01 pm


Opening up ANWR won’t solve all our problems all at once, but it will reduce the need for oil in general, and because oil is largely fungible that will include middle-eastern oil. Not necessarily, because we don’t import all that much oil from the Middle East in the first place. Our primary foreign oil supplier is Canada and we also get a lot from (I believe) Venezuela and Nigeria; Saudi Arabia is down the list. (In fact, as recently as last year there was a PR campaign to buy Citgo gasoline, which is of course Venezuelan, to avoid Middle Eastern oil.)



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moderatelad

posted April 3, 2007 at 9:12 pm


squeaky | 04.03.07 – 2:15 pm | #Personally – praying about it. About ready to seek out a fringe group that could use a little money to they can go in there and take out the corrupt leadership so that we destabilize the situation. Then maybe we can get in there and help those at risk with medical and food supplies. But that is not something that Sojo and Wallis would support because it does not fit their paradigm. They decry the collateral damage that is happening (less and less I might add) in Iraq because we (the US and Allies) are there. I am just counting the collateral damage that is going on in Darfur because of the lack of action on the part of the UN. This is why I say Stay Home with Sojo! Have a great day Later – .



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squeaky

posted April 3, 2007 at 9:41 pm


“It’s much more likely that Europe and Asia will either buy our technology or develop their own versions.” Eurpope is already developing their own alternative energy technology. They are not waiting for us to take the lead (so we are falling behind in this). In fact, many European countries are supplying the U.S. with new technology, particularly in wind. Europe has been taking the lead on alternative energy for quite some time now, and with significant success. Japan is also leading in this area because they are completely dependent on other nations for oil. “If — and I’ll admit this is an important if — but if we can develop good alternative energy sources in the next decade or so, we will be in a position to reduce the value of oil dramatically.” It would happen VERY quickly if the economic stimulus were there. Look at what has been done with computer technology in just this year’s time. The brand new computer on my desk is already obsolete. Energy technology would take off in the same way. We have the ability–our engines and appliances are far more efficient than they used to be, but we lose the energy savings by building larger cars (losing the fuel efficiency) and houses to heat and cool.”Opening up ANWR won’t solve all our problems all at once, but it will reduce the need for oil in general, and because oil is largely fungible that will include middle-eastern oil.” Actually, it would never reduce the need for oil. Maybe the need for foreign oil, but we probably wouldn’t even notice it. You have to remember it will take at least 10 years for the first oil well to produce there, IF the oil is there in the first place. We don’t have ten years. I am not willing to sacrifice a pristine wilderness area with an indeginous population to fuel our wasteful lifestyles. In short, all it would do is continue to keep us in this stupor of energy complacency. No one will use less oil because ANWR is open. Unless and until we start using less oil, we will always be under OPEC’s, and by extension, the terrorist’s control.



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squeaky

posted April 3, 2007 at 9:49 pm


“Not necessarily, because we don’t import all that much oil from the Middle East in the first place. Our primary foreign oil supplier is Canada and we also get a lot from (I believe) Venezuela and Nigeria; Saudi Arabia is down the list. (In fact, as recently as last year there was a PR campaign to buy Citgo gasoline, which is of course Venezuelan, to avoid Middle Eastern oil.)” Rick, this isn’t actually true. http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html Over half of our oil comes from OPEC. And Venezuela is an OPEC nation, as is Nigeria. Saudi Arabia is our second biggest supplier. And of all the oil rich nations in the world, they are the richest. That’s why they control much of what OPEC does. They will control that resource long after everyone else has depleted their supply.



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squeaky

posted April 3, 2007 at 9:50 pm


Moderatelad,Again, what would the reaction of China be if we went in to take out the leadership in Darfur? Think about it…



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erik bloom

posted April 4, 2007 at 1:31 am


I have not looked at this post since Sunday. And I want to apologize for entering a conversation I could not sustain. You were quite right to ask for the exact sources that were the basis for much of what I asserted. And it was wrong to open so many cans of worms w/o the intent of backing up the details. That said, I stand by what I wrote, and was deeply disturbed by the Columbine analogy to say the least. You might want to look at how you’re dehumanizing an entire population – an unrighteous tendency of spirit by any measure. Not to mention, to many around world our President looks just as bad off as far as psychological health is concerned. Perhaps we should pray that the will of both peoples are respected – which is NOT to go to war. And if the two regimes want to fight, let them do it themselves (I hear Cheney is handy with a 12-gage.) Besides they have enough of other people’s blood on their hands. If you want a couple of good places to start where you can track down sources and find out for yourself, I recommend antiwar.com (whose bent is conservative libertarian rather than liberal) and the works of Chalmers Johnson (former US intelligence officer and now teacher and writer) either in print or through the American Empire Project online. Large numbers of links and footnotes are available in both cases. I hope I’m wrong in thinking you would dismiss evidence that would undermine American exceptionalism as it’s called, which among other things claims the moral superiority of the US (and therefore its policies) in regards to all international affairs. And I’m not being flippant when I say, it’s no easy thing to face the possibility that you’re country (or at least it’s government) is not what you believed or hoped it to be. Good luck and God bless. Erik Bloom



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squeaky

posted April 4, 2007 at 2:11 am


Well–Erik, I already have sensed that. I hope the more right-leaning folk check out the many resources you have provided. No government is perfect. What I’ve noticed is that many people make excuses for their favorite party, even when the corruption of that party is clear and plain to see, and it isn’t just Democrats, but Republicans. Our ideologies of our parties aren’t at fault–certainly there are good and bad on both sides. But the danger is when we let those ideologies blind us to what is actually going on in the world, and what our government is actually doing out there. And when we find ourselves making excuses and denying what is plain to see, we actually have made our ideologue and the party our God. Strive to see as many sides to an issue as possible, and don’t be blinded by might. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, whatever the party.



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moderatelad

posted April 4, 2007 at 3:11 pm


squeaky | 04.03.07 – 3:55 pm | #What connection is there between Darfur and China? Maybe you are referring to the idea that we went into Iraq and Libya opens their doors to US and became less of a terrorist state and more moderate? China annexed Tibet and the world community demanded that they leave. China flipped the world off and stayed in Tibet. Can you imagine what Sojo would have said if the US had gone into Tibet to kick China out?Where was the UN in all of this? So – I guess we will stay home and do nothing but talk – pass resolutions at the UN that are meaningless because there are no consequences if the country that they are directed at does not comply. The collateral damage of our inaction for Darfur grows at a rate of 300 to 500 souls a day. Stay Home with Sojo! Later – .



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squeaky

posted April 4, 2007 at 6:33 pm


You have made my point for me, Moderatelad. If you don’t know the connection that China has with Darfur, you are not well enough informed on the issue to anticipate what the possible repercussions of anyone going in and toppling their government would be. China has oil interests in Darfur. China isn’t lifting a finger to stop anything that is going on because of these oil interests. They need the “stability” however unstable it currently is. What would happen if we threaten those oil interests? You need to answer that question before you rush into a nation without understanding what is really going on and who has interests there and how they might react. So please address this issue…



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moderatelad

posted April 5, 2007 at 12:51 am


squeaky | 04.04.07 – 12:38 pm | #So please address this issue… So how many souls dying from what is happening there will it take before we don’t care about China vested interest in their Oil?No War for Oil is the Sojo cry. Souls for Oil is what is going on in Darfur. What happens to China if we do go in – maybe they will be better on human rights so that they can get the oil they need? This is why I am becoming a believer in the Sojo pacivity. Stay Home with Sojo! Another 300 to 500 have died in Darfur – but China still gets their oil and all in fine in the world of Sojo. Later – .



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