Yet do we really trust in God? Do our actions give credence to the phrase indelibly stamped on our currency? Not of late, I am very sad to say. Ever since the attacks of September 11th, our country has waged the so-called "war on terror" in a manner that is not only unbecoming of what started as a "Christian nation," but unbecoming of a nation that now claims to believe and trust in a God worshipped by multiple faiths.
Consider the sequence of events after 9/11: As the Washington Post reported early on, the CIA set up secret jails across the world immediately after 9/11 to detain terror suspects. But this presented the CIA with a dilemma. What was it supposed to do with these suspects? What if they knew something about the next al Qaeda attack and decided not reveal anything? Should interrogators then torture them? Wouldn't this violate both U.S. and international law?
Have no fear. In August 2002 Justice Department lawyers (in collaboration with our now attorney general) drafted a memorandum stating that laws prohibiting torture do "not apply to the President's detention and interrogation of enemy combatants." In addition the memo tightened the definition of torture to mean pain caused by an interrogation that must include "injury such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions."
Meanwhile more and more suspects were brought to Guantanamo Bay to be housed there in perpetuity -- without charge, access to legal counsel, or due process of law. The government even declared some of its own citizens "enemy combatants" and did the same to them here on American soil. At the same time, administration officials continued to make their case for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq by (falsely) claiming that Iraq was teeming with weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, statements made by Vice President Dick Cheney and others hinted at a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
Then the invasion came, and no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. After an easy conquest the insurgency kicked into high gear, and Iraqi detainees were physically abused and sexually humiliated with photos for all the world to see. Next were allegations that the Qur'an was being desecrated at Guantanamo Bay, along with more accounts of physical torture and sexual abuse. And to this day none of the leaders and top defense department commanders has ever had to answer for the abuse that obviously was carried out following orders from above.
Does might make right?
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But does this mean we stoop to the level of our enemy? Does this mean that our golden rule becomes "he that is the most brutal wins? Does this mean that should act by the principle of might makes right? Absolutely not. Not for a people who have "In God We Trust" as its motto.
If we truly trust in God, we would never torture and abuse suspects in our custody, no matter how much American blood they have on their hands. If we truly trust in God, we would never ceaselessly detain other human beings simply because they are "enemy combatants." If we truly trust in God, we never would have invaded another country -- costing the lives of thousands of Iraqi civilians and American soldiers -- based on faulty intelligence, if not outright lies. If we truly trust in God, our actions would always follow the principle of right makes might, meaning that we are most powerful and effective when we do what is right and morally acceptable. God would have it no other way.
Most experts agree that America is losing the war on terror, precisely because of the actions its politicians have taken thus far in waging this war. Furthermore, I believe our actions have caused the Lord to lift His helping hand from this fight. But if we just stick to our principles, if we refuse to become like our enemy, if we stand on the side of justice and truth, then I believe the Lord will give us back His helping hand. And this "Christian nation" of ours -- now a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and numerous other faiths -- and the world around will benefit. What better ally could America ever want?