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March 11, 2003

Muddy Thinking

I am amazed at the muddy thinking on the issue of war with Iraq. Some of it is indeed politically motivated. The Democrats have to find some place to stand and oppose the president or they will be plowed under in the 2004 elections. But opposing the President on the issue of the war is a very sticky matter.

Take the contrast with Korea for instance. Some talking heads opine that the administration should be paying more attention to Korea. Korea already has nukes, they observe, while Iraq only possibly may acquire them. Apparently they think the administration should say, "oops," and redeploy to Korea. It should be obvious to anyone that the better part of wisdom is to fight one enemy at a time if you have a choice. Be sure and catch William Safireís piece from yesterday in the New York Times, "The Asian Front."

What seems obvious to me is that President Bush sees the war on terror as the defining issue of his presidency. Afghanistan and the Taliban were phase one. Iraq is phase two. Forget about the WMD issue. That is for United Nations consumption. The real reason is that Iraq is a terrorist state and is the next logical step in the war on terror. Bush wants regime change in Iraq. Those who want to deal with Korea may have their chance to step up to the plate in phase three.


March 12, 2003

The Bush Doctrine

"Iraq is the first instance when the Bush doctrine is being applied and it is provoking an allergic reaction. The Bush doctrine is built on two pillars: (1) The United States will do everything in its power to maintain its unquestioned military supremacy; and (2) the United States arrogates the right to preemptive action." So says George Soros writing in the Korea Herald.

Maybe I wasnít paying attention, but that wasnít the way I understood the "Bush Doctrine." There is nothing new or "Bushian" about the United Statesí commitment to military supremacy. Americans have been working on that since the end of World War II. In the main, the world would rather have it that way. The United Nations lacks the divisions to enforce its will in the world and has to depend on the United States to be the enforcer.

A simple look at the time line of events connected with Iraq will reveal that if the United States had not declared its intent to do something about Iraq, Saddam would never have allowed the UN inspectors back. He made up his mind on that thorny issue only days after the United States Congress authorized President Bush to use force to disarm Saddam if necessary. It has been the constant, increasing pressure of American and British military presence that has led Saddam to cooperate to whatever meager degree he has.

The ordinary defense of the United States requires that we not allow ourselves to become inferior militarily to any other nation on the globe. Add to that burden the requirement that we be the United Nations enforcer, and we can see that the United States must do everything in its power to "maintain its unquestioned military supremacy."

As to point (2), the word "arrogate" means: "to claim or seize without justification." But I thought Bush laid out the justification when he expounded the doctrine of preemption. The cost of waiting for terrorists to strike first is simply more than the American people are willing to pay.

Soros concludes that: "The U.N. could accede to chief weapons inspector Hans Blix's request for several months to complete his inspections. America's military presence in the region could be reduced, but it could be beefed up again if Iraq balks." Oh really? I have three questions that must be asked at this point. (1)What guarantee is there that Saddam, seeing the draw down in United States troops, will not question our resolve and once again balk at the inspectorís demands? Havenít we been down this road before? (2)Who is going to guarantee the safety of United States citizens and interests while Saddam and the inspectors dance? The United Nations? (3) Who is going to pay for the draw down in troops and then moving them back later? The United Nations?

The answers to these questions and the implications of them are too obvious to belabor. It seems to me that if one is genuinely antiwar, one should adopt the position of bringing the troops home and fighting the war on terror on our own shores. We have fought wars before with one hand tied behind our back. It means that more Americans die.

The Buckley Doctrine

Another important comment on this question comes from William F. Buckley: "The New World Immediately Ahead." He underlines what many have been saying. We are sitting on the cusp of history and may be about to see a change as big as the fall of the Berlin wall: The end of NATO and, in Buckley's phrase, "The castration of the Security Council."

By the way, can you define the primary difference between Bush and Clinton on foreign policy. I thought I could until I read Andrew Sullivan today.


March 14, 2003

Running a Bluff

It is next to impossible to run a bluff in a democratic system. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and every other kind of freedom will conspire against you. And that is why, when congress passed a resolution last October giving the president the authority to use force against Saddam Hussein, the President did not consider it a bluff. There may be reason to believe some members of congress were bluffing, but the president knew well enough that it would be fatal for him to consider the congressional resolution a head fake to bluff Saddam into disclosing and disarming willingly. If the President didnít move ships, troops and planes into position to carry out the resolution, it would be worthless. And if, in the face of Iraqi intransigence, he wasnít willing to act, no one would ever believe him (or congress) again.

The problem is, Saddam Hussein has been led to believe that it is a bluff. He has been led to believe it by speeches from presidential contenders, congressmen, and foreign diplomats at the United Nations. He has been led to believe that UN resolutions are a bluff because no one is willing to authorize the use of force. He is persuaded to resist by "the American street." Just as many Americans are intimidated by the Arab street, so Saddam is encouraged by the American street.

Just this morning, I ran across this paragraph in Winston Churchillís monumental "The Gathering Storm."

In 1933 the students of the Oxford Union...passed their ever shameful resolution, "That this house will in no circumstances fight for its king and country." It was easy to laugh off such an episode in England, but in Germany, in Russia, in Italy, in Japan, the idea of a decadent, degenerate Britain took deep root and swayed many calculations. Little did the foolish boys who passed the resolution dream that they were destined quite soon to conquer or fall gloriously in the ensuing war, and prove themselves the finest generation ever bred in Britain.

One can understand the dismay of Hollywood liberals at the prospect of the loss of innocent lives in Iraq in the coming war. But I canít help wondering if it ever enters their calculations that by undermining the United Nationsí bluff they may be ensuring the war to come. It was only days after the October congressional resolution authorizing war that Saddam admitted the UN inspectors. One can only wonder how the inspections might have proceeded if Saddam, looking out at the world had seen everywhere stern resolution, if there had been no threatened French veto. For the French, resolution 1441 was a bluff. For Bush, it was not.

A word of advice to congress: Donít bluff with foreign policy. Donít authorize force if you donít intend for it to be carried out. In the end you will cost lives, not save them. If you want to bluff, stick to poker.

Truman Biography

Reading the excellent biography of Harry Truman by David McCullough, I was struck by this short item about the young Harryís teachers:

The women were spinsters, as required by the school system. Known by everybody, they comprised a kind of town institution unto themselves as upholders of standards. They were the salt of the earth Harry would say. They gave us our high ideals and they hardly ever received more than $40 a month. They taught the old rooted values, loyalty, love of home, unquestioning patriotism, no less than Latin, history or Shakespeare. The influence of his teachers on his life Harry later said was second only to that of his mother.

I canít help thinking that we have lost something along the way. I have no idea why the school system required spinsters, but the teaching of the old rooted values alongside traditional education is gone now. Perhaps because the roots were cut off. Where can teachers go now for any authority behind the teaching of values like these?


March 13, 2003

Power and Weakness

I just finished reading a remarkable treatise on the current tensions between the United States and Europe. It is a rather long read, but it goes further in explaining the current impasse at the UN than any of the other (comparative facile) explanations I have read. The essence is that the difference in our approach to the situation is governed, not so much by administrative style, as by the comparative strength and weakness of the United States and Europe respectively. Most Americans are blissfully ignorant of Europe--even those who style themselves "watchers." The article can be read on the Policy Review web site: "Power and Weakness" by Robert Kagan. Highly recommended to serious readers. It will vastly deepen your perspective of what is going on.

March 19, 2003

Opposing Evil

There is every likelihood that by tonight, the United States will be at war in Iraq. It is an unsettling prospect. War is a very nasty business, and there is no reason to think this one will be otherwise. A moral, Christian thinking people are apt to find themselves a little confused.

I read somewhere that it is natural for a sane mind to become confused in the face of a lie. It would seem that the human mind is designed to accept information on the face of it, and we arenít comfortable with the idea that someone would lie to us with no conscience at all. And if you want a good example of how this works in world affairs, just look at what happened to the United Nations. The leaders of the world have been thrown into confusion by the lies of a truly evil man.

Post modern man has a very hard time with the idea of evil. Reagan was ridiculed for calling the Soviet Union an evil empire. But it was. President Bush has been ridiculed for calling our enemies in this war evil. But they are. Men like Saddam and Osama and are extremely dangerous. The younger generation may not understand how dangerous. They should listen to a generation that remembers Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler.

These men are not insane in any clinical sense. They are evil and the more power they get their hands on, the more dangerous they are. If they are not opposed, they will keep coming until they immerse us all in their evil. Hitler was not opposed until it was too late. And some 50 million people died as a result. In the end, when he could no longer destroy his enemies, he tried to destroy Germany at the very end.

Men like this are very charismatic. You can feel it when you are with them. And there are more of them than you can possibly imagine. Mercifully, not many of them ever acquire the kind of power Saddam Hussein has. But they are all after power. Something inside them demands that they acquire power over others. They are like snakes who hypnotize their prey before they devour them.

The good news is that There are people who are not confused in the presence of evil. They are willing to call it evil and to oppose it. While Hitler was hypnotizing Europe and devouring it, Winston Churchill recognized him as an evil that must be opposed. No one listened until it was almost too late.

All this runs counter to the mind set that today is called Liberal. I think it is fair to say that there are some people who believe that evil can be cured. Or perhaps, they donít even believe that evil exists. These are the people who are confused in the presence of real evil, because it shouldnít be there if their world view is correct.

There are other people who believe that evil can only be destroyed. I suspect they are wrong too. Evil can be disarmed, contained, opposed, but it probably canít be destroyed because it is spiritual.

So how can we avoid being confused in the presence of Evil? Name it. When faced with a lie. Call it a lie. When faced with evil, call it evil. And oppose it. What we are seeing happen right now is a rare event in the history of the world. The leadership of our country has identified evil and has set out to neuter it. Usually, men wait until the evil has all but devoured them before they take up arms against it.

As an exercise in understanding evil, how should we think about this war? One of the first things we have to get straight is the difference between a persons responsibility as an individual, and the responsibility of government and its agents. As private citizens, we must not pursue vengeance on our own. But Governments are obligated to pursue vengeance on the part of private citizens. If Government does not, anarchy will result as people pursue each his own brand of justice.

Is War always Wrong?

When Israel was opposed by Amalek when coming out of Egypt, they fought. God fought with them and they won. When it was all over, God had this to say about war:

And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven...For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation (Exodus 17:15-16).

The first objection to this will be, "Yes, God will make war, but we should not." As private citizens, that is true. But as soldiers, it is not. The instrument of Godís war with Amalek was to be Israel. Here is what God himself had to say about it:

Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it (Deuteronomy 25:17-19).

Is Preemptive War Wrong?

The answer to this comes, of all places, in a Psalm. David put his trust in God, and he knew it was not necessary to wait for the enemy to strike before defenses could be raised.

Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them. Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men. For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform. Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them (Psalms 21:7-13).

The Psalmist speaks of a pre-emptive war. He doesnít wait for the enemy to act, but acts on their intentions.


March 17, 2003

Get Out of Dodge!

Since everyone thinks the president is a cowboy, maybe we should go along with it. Remember Gary Cooper in "High Noon"? At least President Bush has some deputies as he lays down his ultimatum tonight. And the old custom sheriffs used to practice of posting the bad guys out of town will come to mind tonight as the President gives Saddam so many hours to leave for exile or stay and die.

Most Americans are ready. We are getting a little fed up with the mediaís attempts to scare the daylights out of us. We know they have a vested interest in maintaining a high level of tension: higher ratings, more advertising revenues. But it gets a little old hearing how many people will die and what will happen to the economy when they set off a suitcase nuke in Manhattan. No one knows what will happen in a war. And this one is as dangerous as any we ever fought, not so much because we canít win but because the enemy is trapped, crazy, and has weapons that can kill hundreds of thousands of people if he uses them.

But I think we are going to have our worst fears unrealized in the days to come. They scared us to death before the Gulf War and it was a turkey shoot. This one is different, but not in the essentials.

We are also on the edge of great change. George Will writing today speaks truth to power. He says that the UN is nonsensical. I am not one of those down through the years who argued that the UN should be abolished. Nor do I today believe the US should simply withdraw from the UN. But it is as good a time as any to face up to the nonsense that parades itself as diplomacy in the halls of the UN.

Mr. Will says, "The U.N. is premodern because it is unaccountable and irresponsible: It claims power not legitimized by the recurring consent of periodically consulted constituencies of the governed." It is obvious but usually ignored. The UN is accountable to no one. It is responsible to no one. And when it comes to enforcing its will in the world, it utterly lacks the power to do so.

Donít miss George Willís piece. You can read it here.

A President's Faith

Just how real is the faith of President Bush? Read a relatively impartial description by Howard Fineman, "Bush and God."

March 18, 2003

Looking for Justice

An item is beginning to be mailed around the Internet, so we might as well deal with it here. Ann Clwyd, Labor member of Parliament from the Cynon Valley (which judging by her name is in Wales), has a piece in the Times today that must not be overlooked. Normally, I shy away from sensationalism and gruesome tales of the evils done by evil regimes. The reason I am taking this one seriously is that Ann Clwyd chairs Interdict, an organization working to provide evidence against specific Iraqi individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. She said this about the information they are gathering.

The accounts Indict has heard over the past six years are disgusting and horrifying. Our task is not merely passively to record what we are told but to challenge it as well, so that the evidence we produce is of the highest quality. All witnesses swear that their statements are true and sign them

One witness had this to say:

"There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food . . . on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Husseinís youngest son] personally supervise these murders."

I am profoundly encouraged that someone is pursuing justice. Someone has to tell these stories to the world. It is probably just as well that Saddam and his sons are not fleeing the country to exile and safety. The truth is, as vile as their crimes have been, there may be no place safe enough for them.

Read Ann Clwydís article here.


March 21, 2003

Irony Award

With bombs falling on Baghdad, it is a little soon to imagine what the post war world will look like. Whether the UN will matter any longer is a very large question, made larger by the French saying "Non" to a proposal to make the United States and Great Britain the governors of post war Iraq for the reconstruction period. I donít know why anyone is asking the UN, but it is unlikely the Americans and the British are going to pull up and leave, turning the future of the Iraqi people over to the United Nations.

The Irony Award today goes to Paul Greenberg for an open letter to a lady chiding him for his remarks criticizing the France and the French in these troubled times. Speaking of his Grandmother Rosa who moved from Poland to Paris in the 1930s, he wrote: "And when it came to French civilization, she was a fast learner. After only a few years in Paris, she absorbed its essential lesson in 1939: Leave. I congratulate you on making the same decision, if later. And I hasten to assure you that, contrary to your deeply offended letter, I would never ever accuse the great French nation of cowardice. How could we? For the French fought not just on one side during the Second World War but both."

Greenbergís excellent letter can be read here.

Thinking about Church Unity

When you read the New Testament, you really want to see a group of people united in purpose, thoroughly converted, working together for the great purpose of converting the world to Christ. It is a measure of the honesty of the NT writers that you see them for what they were. Thoroughly human. Torn by dissension. Disagreeing on the very fundamental doctrines of the faith. Struggling for the very soul of the infant church.

None of this should surprise us at all, if we just look around us at the dynamics of society at large, or even at the church. There are only two ways that human beings can be truly united. One is under outside threat, as in a war. The other is by external coercion. Parts of the church have often been united by persecution. And parts of the church have sometimes been united by coercion.

It never seems to occur to people that the kind of unity Jesus wanted in the church was a voluntary "unity of the Spirit." And you have to learn that. Mainly, you have to learn to overcome the spirit of division. It falls strangely on the ears to hear of the real human attitudes that existed in Paul and others in the New Testament.

Why did God allow this kind of petty bickering to split up the first missionary team? Well, from Godís point of view, it was just as well. Now he has two missionary teams on the road, each led by an experienced individual.

But this must have had some pain for PaulĖespecially for Barnabas who had been Paulís sponsor when no one else would talk to him in Jerusalem. Paul was a bit of a pain in the neck. When you read the accounts of his work in Damascus after his conversion, and then later in Jerusalem, you can see plainly that he is a pot stirrer. The Jews were ready to kill him in both places, and the church only got peace when they sent him away to Tarsus. He needed to chill out for a while.

Everyone who came into the church brought his nature along with him. The Pharisees brought their belief system with them. Paul brought his hostility with him. Remember that Paul was the self-appointed chief persecutor of the fledgling church. He was not content to beat up on the Christians in Jerusalem. He heard there were some in Damascus and went after them.

The term Luke uses for Paul is that he was "Breathing threatenings and slaughter against the saints." Paul is a very intense man. I do not think I would have enjoyed him personally. It required someone with the patience of a Barnabas, and even Barnabas finally wore down. Paul was a man driven. Men like Paul do not make good fishing buddies.

So when you hear people speak of "Saint Paul," do not imagine a sweet, patient, nice man. Paul was hard to get along with early on. He mellowed late in life.

March 24, 2003

A Bloody Man

King David of Israel was a remarkable man to say the very least. He was a fighter who could command the respect of a collection of fighting men without parallel. There were few men more brave or more bloody, for that matter. One night, when God had given him a respite from war, he was sitting by the fire with Nathan who was both prophet and good friend.

"Here I sit in a palace," he told Nathan, "while the Ark of God sits in a tent." Plainly David thought something should be done about that. It is a fascinating story, and you can read it in 2 Samuel 7. But in reply, God told David he could not build the temple because he was a bloody man.

At first blush, this sounds like a rejection of David and what he had done. But that can hardly have been the case. The truth is that most of the blood David shed was because God sent him to do it. Consider this:

Now then do it: for the LORD hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.(2 Samuel 3:18)

Surely God expected David to shed blood when he did this. He was a warrior king, and God sent him out to shed the blood of his enemies. One of Godís permanent enemies was Amelek:

And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. {15} And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi: {16} For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.(Exodus 17:14-16)

David inherited the job of destroying Amalek and a simple Bible search looking for David and Amalek or the Amalekites will make that plain. So it seems strange at first glance that God would not let David build the temple. But if you think that is strange, look at what God said later about David:

 Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel, {8} And rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes;(1 Kings 14:7-8)


Surely an amazing statement given that David was a bloody man. What I think this all means is that it was necessary for someone to fight the war and David was elected. He did his duty--a God given duty if you will. But doing that duty disqualified himself from building a Temple for God.

Not everyone called of God is called for every duty. Some are priests and some are warriors. Some are called to get their hands dirty and some are called to keep them clean.

March 26, 2003

The Biggest Bomb

I had just told my wife that I thought the biggest bomb of all had been dropped on Iraq today and it was confirmed by a one of the military advisors on television. It's the food bomb. 

Those pictured today of the people of Umm Qasr getting fresh water and food today were riveting. And it is important in ways we can't imagine. Someone pointed out that the uprising in Bozra was spread over the country faster than any official network was revealing. People talk. Word spreads. Every food bomb that hits southern Iraq will send shock waves all the way to Baghdad.

Where now, UN?

I am not one of those who is radically anti-United Nations. I have long felt that those who call repeatedly for an end of the UN are going too far. But we may well be facing a major change in International alliances, not only at the UN but with NATO as well. These organizations grew out of the Second World War and may have served the world reasonably well during the cold war. But the constitution of the UN is hopelessly out of date and it seems unlikely that it will be changed, even though it means the end of the UN.

There are those who expect a major move at the UN demand a cease fire in Iraq soon, that Saddam thinks the French and Russians will ride to the rescue at the UN and save his life. The French may have made that impossible. If they had gone along with a second resolution authorizing war, they might have had some leverage in calling for a cease fire. As it is, everyone should remember that the United States also has a veto at the UN.

I donít look for the Coalition to stop before Saddam is in custody or dead. But I do look for some nasty fights at the UN.

New studies are now available on Acts 16 and 17. View them at "Reflections."



March 28, 2003

Agree with the war?

I got a letter today taking me to task for "agreeing with this war." Like most Christian anti-war comments I hear, the letter made no distinction between our obligations as individual Christians and the obligations of civil government. This is a consistent hole in every Christian objection to this war, at least of those directed to me.

My correspondent observed, "As Christians, we should be taking the gospel to other nations, not bombs." The logic of this statement is unassailable. As a Christian, I have no intention of bombing anyone. But if I were a member of the government, I would have responsibilities for the protection of individuals who cannot protect themselves. Writing to the Roman Christians, Paul was a some pains to warn them to be subject to civil authority, calling them "Godís ministers" who attend to the task of avenging of the individual, to whom revenge is prohibited (Romans 12:19-13:7).

Vengeance is the central value of Justice (See "Capital Punishment"), and the crimes committed by the Iraqi regime call out for vengeance. It is not the job of the individual Christian to avenge, nor that of the church. But the church is warned not to stand in the way of legitimate government while it carries out its duties.

Ken Joseph today writes a stunning piece describing his recent visit to Iraq. He is a Christian minister who lives in Tokyo and directs Assyrianchristians.com. It is a heartrending read and is a must for all who protest this war. Read it here.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, RIP

What a fine old gentleman he was. George Will has an a fine tribute to this great American Senator who passed away this week.

Ann Coulter Strikes again

While the coalition bombs Baghdad, Ann bombs the New York Times. And it is not a stealthy attack:

March 29, 2003

A Marineís Memorial

Whatever one may think about embedded journalists with fighting forces, something very good was broadcast back to the American people this morning. During a pause in the fighting, a group of marines held a memorial service for two fallen comrades. If I live to be a hundred, I will never forget the very large black sergeant who started the singing of "Amazing Grace." He was slightly off key, but no one cared. The marines gathered around sang with him and displayed something not well understood by people who have never shared combat. These men are brothers in a way two guys working on an assembly line could never be.

I may be wrong, but I think this short battlefield memorial service by the comrades of these men will mean more to the families than a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. The men who fought alongside them took a moment to tell what kind of men they were. To see tears in the eyes of a battle hardened marine when he speaks of the courage of your son, that must be a truly wonderful experience.

One of the fallen was a medical corpsman. Heís the guy you see come running when they yell "Medic!" in the movies. He serves on the battlefield, unarmed amidst shot and shell. The other was a major, the executive officer of the battalion who the reporter described as "a marineís marine." It is a high accolade. I hope that film is saved for the families. I know it will mean so much to them in years to come.

And while I am talking about marines, donít miss Mona Charenís piece today about the marines who took Tarawa. Compare what happened there with what journalists seem to expect today. She included a note from James Bradleyís "Flags of Our Fathers" that someone chiseled the followed message on the gate of the cemetery:

When you go home
tell them for us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today.

And then there is the UN

Sometimes you wonder what people are thinking. Of all people, the Secretary General of the United Nations should be even handed. Charles Krauthammer, who is becoming increasingly anti-UN is outraged by remarks of Kofi Anan. Most recently:

If indeed the market explosion was caused by a U.S. missile, Annan knows that this was both entirely unintentional and a rare exception in a campaign of astonishing discrimination and accuracy. Annan's statement is doubly disgusting because he said nothing about Iraq's use of human shields, of fake surrenders, of placing a tank in a hospital compound in Nasiriyah. He says not a word about these flagrant Iraqi violations of the laws of war. Nor does he denounce the parading of POWs on television and the apparent execution of other American POWs. He is instead moved to speak out in response to what is at most an accident.

With all the outrage against American policy around the world, when will someone begin to recognize the evil that America policy is addressing?


Unconditional Surrender

As brutal as it may sound, William Safire lays out the real world solution to the problem at hand. Follow the example of Roosevelt and Churchill and say unequivocally that the only acceptable outcome for this war is unconditional surrender. No negotiated peace. Watch for attempts at a cease fire to negotiate a settlement and the response of Bush and Blair. I hope they get a call from Maggie Thatcher  reminding them not to go wobbly on us.

March 30, 2003

What about after the war?

Not many in the west are aware of the strong tradition of hospitality in the Arab world. This is a fascinating story not yet widely told. 

CENTRAL IRAQ (AFP) - Iraqi civilians fleeing heavy fighting have stunned and delighted hungry US marines in central Iraq by giving them food, as guerrilla attacks continue to disrupt coalition supply lines to the rear.

Read the whole story here.

The Gathering Storm

The comparisons between Hitler and Saddam are too pointed to ignore.

The years of underground burrowings, of secret or disguised preparations, were now over, and Hitler at length felt himself strong enough to make his first open challenge. On March 9, 1935, the official constitution of the German Air Force was announced, and on the 16th it was declared that the German Army should henceforth be based on national compulsory service. The laws to implement these decisions were soon promulgated , and actions had already begun in anticipation. The French Government , who were well informed of what was coming, and actually declared the consequential extension of their own military service to two years a few hours earlier on the same momentous day. The German action was an open formal affront to the treaties of peace upon which the League of nations was founded. As long as the breaches had taken the form of evasions or calling things by other names, it was easy for the responsible victorious powers , obsessed by pacifism and preoccupied with domestic politics to avoid the responsibility of declaring that the Peace Treaty was being broken or repudiated. Now the issue came with blunt and brutal force. --Winston Churchill, "The Gathering Storm."

The Russian Connection

Through the fog of war, some facts are emerging with surprising clarity. We have heard for a long time about the crazy attempts of the Soviet Union to develop both biological and chemical warfare. We have also heard of their incredible carelessness with nuclear materials. People have warned of the possibility of Soviet made "suitcase bombs" making their way into terrorist hands.

Now, as the war in Iraq progresses, facts are emerging that show Russian, French and German companies routinely supplying war materiel to Iraq contrary to specific UN resolutions. It isnít clear that this was done with the connivance of their governments, but it is clear that it is happening. The burning question is why? The answer appears to be money.

Cash starved Russian and greedy French businesses can make hard cash by selling contraband to Iraq. Iraq has oil, which can generate all the cash needed to finance weapons acquisitions. Cheating on the oil embargo, Iraq has been able find whatever it needs and wants on the world marketĖincluding what it needs to develop the nuclear materials it now holds into usable weapons.

Now all this would be serious enough if Iraq was merely trying to develop its own self defense and war making capability. But Iraq is clearly a nexus between these weapons and the various terrorist networks around the world. Iraq has the money, the weapons and the connections that the terrorists need. The terrorist connection in Iraq is already becoming clearer. It will soon be starkly obvious to the whole world. Witness the hundreds of terrorists flowing into Iraq to help fight the war.

It is becoming clear what the Bush administration is after in Iraq. They want to destroy the nexus between Russian, Chinese, French and German arms and the Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda terrorists. It is one thing to keep cutting off the fingers and toes of the body of terrorism. The Bush administration wants to cut its throat.


March 31, 2003

Snap Judgements

William Safire gives us a sample of his snap judgments on the war so far. A Sample:

3. Best evidence of Saddam's weakness: his reliance on suicide bombers for media "victories." Individual self-destruction may or may not terrorize a civilian population but is not a weapon capable of inflicting decisive casualties on, or striking fear into, a powerful army. (It does vividly demonstrate the Baghdad-terrorist nexus.)

Good point. The Japanese didn't resort to Kamikaze attacks until they had nothing left to throw. Car bombs aren't even that effective against soft civilian targets. Forget about battle hardened troops. (If they weren't battle hardened a month ago, they are now.)  They will, however, give the media something to hyperventilate about. It is so sad for those uselessly killed, Iraqis as well as marines.

"He Needed Killing"

Someone asked if the United States deserved God's blessing in connection with this war. The answer is, probably not, but I am not sure how relevant that question is. Far too often we mistake the God of our imagination for the real thing. The real God you encounter in the pages of the Bible is something quite different from what we might expect. Take these two passages for example:

(Exodus 17:15-16) And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi: {16} For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

(Deuteronomy 25:17-19) Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; {18} How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. {19} Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.

What I take from this is that God's use of one people to punish another has nothing whatever to do with the righteousness of the nation doing the punishing. The question is, did Amalek deserve destruction? The answer seems to be yes. That being so, then Israel's righteousness or blessing had nothing to do with it. They had a responsibility to destroy Amalek. Israel had a responsibility to be a blessing to the nations round about. If that included punishing and evil regime, then so be it.

I make no special claim for the righteousness of the American cause here. But it seems there is a legitimate claim that the Iraqi regime has been allowed to fester long enough and that destroying it will bring a net good to the world. If the world doesn't know what to do with that good, that's too bad for the world.

In the old frontier days in Texas, when one man killed another, it was considered a legitimate defense to say that "he needed killing." Mind you, they used to say that "There is no law west of the Brazos, and no God west of the Pecos." While vigilantism is a great evil in a civil society, every man had to be his own law on the frontier. We don't do that in Texas any longer, because we have a sheriff.

It has always been a problem that when legitimate authority breaks down and evil doers begin to prevail, that vigilantes are left to deal with the situation. That's why the Bible prohibits personal vengeance in a civil society. There are no checks and balances on it.

The problem with the world is that there is no sheriff. Yet some men's evil can become so noxious that someone has to deal with them.

The United Nations simply cannot be a Sheriff in this world. The United States should not become the world's sheriff. But with the English speaking peoples, we have formed a vigilance committee to protect our communities. It is risky, but sometimes risk is justified. History will judge if this one was.

The Market Missile

There's new intelligence about that missile that fell in the Baghdad market.

The head of Baghdad's air defences has been sacked by Saddam Hussein over last week's explosions in two market places in the city, according to intelligence reports given to Tony Blair yesterday.





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