Washington Post: Staying the Course, Without Choice
I supported the war against Iraq, reluctantly. I considered Saddam Hussein a clear and future danger to American interests, based on books like Pollack's The Threatening Storm. Hussein was a dictator midwifed by abhorrent American foreign policy, but that didn't set aside the need to deal with him decisively. I had wished that an international, peaceful solution could have been found, but Bush was set on war and he followed that path doggedly.
Of course he was lying to us about the reasons - to not even acknowledge the American interests in the continuing flow of oil, the current lifeblood of the global economy, was the height of sophistry. We've now seen the full extent of the false information flowing out of Bush's White House, and it's shocking, and it damns them in history forever.
But the anarchy and destruction we would unleash on the world if we pull out of Iraq now will eclipse that judgment. Hussein could still be alive, and would certainly be a player in Iraqi politics if we left. There's already a rival Shi'ite government forming in Iraq that would ally itself instantly with Iran should we leave. We would deserve the bleak future that is ours if we desert Iraq now.
I don't agree with the assessment of this article, though. It presents these options: stay the course, more American troops, more international support, cut and run. The last is not an option for rational people. Staying the course, the current favorite of the Bush administration, is clearly not working. The military and Americans rightly oppose more American troops, and the international community has spoken clearly on the third and best option.
But have they said no to us, or to Bush and Co.? Is it the action America has taken, or the accompanying actions of the Bush business partners and former employers that stick in the global craw? I firmly believe the international community has rejected the Bush Administration and friends, and not America itself. We should find a way to convince the international community that we are serious about doing the right thing in Iraq. The best thing we could do is elect a compentent leader who wants an international solution that benefits the free world equally. Somebody besides George Bush.
PS: There is a true solution to the problem with Iraq. If we found an alternate source of energy that provides the same flexibility and benefits as oil (cleaner and easily renewable should also be benchmarks), the growing problem of oil supply would disappear. Until then, we must keep the remaining flow of accessible oil open for the free world (assuming there is such a thing), until this energy source can be developed. This is the Eisenhower project of the 21st century for America, and it's the only human solution available. In a perfect world, the new technology would be owned by the American government and shared freely with the nation's governments - an open source energy resource.
It would be the Christian thing to do.
Washington Post: Staying the Course, Without Choice
I apologize for the delay in continuing this blog. Life can be wild.
Okay, so last time Paul took a cheap shot at homosexuals and argued with Jews inappropriately. He wouldn't be Paul if he hadn't. The cheap shot is the twisted midrash on a particular sex act - who wouldn't feel that twinge of regret at having their sexual acts revealed? Paul continues to take the Jews down a notch in this next section of Romans, but his only redemption here is that he's placing all humanity on the same level - all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Paul's diatribe on Jewish hypocrisy in judgment could easily be applied to the second audience I mentioned at the beginning of this blogging: the Gentile judges who would try Paul, or expel Jews themselves. The names of the divinities must have been cursed by Gentiles a few times because of their actions.
But Paul quickly moves on to clearly Jewish matters: the value of circumcision. The Jew is the favored one of God, and Paul never abandons this notion. But playing off Deutronomy 10:16, he transfers the notion of God's favor to an internal state - setting up the role of faith in salvation.
Coming from the Churches of Christ as I do, I find it very instructive to insert the word "baptism" in place of "circumcision". Both are physical acts, both are seen as the moment when God's favor is bestowed. But Paul will soon be pointing out that Abraham received praise from God before his circumcision. Indeed, there's a definite theme of God weaning his people away from the idea of a holy place - such sacralization comes from the idolatrous impulse, the original confusion. God gave the Israelites plans for a tabernacle, a tent that travelled with them, shattering the concept of a holy place and instilling the idea of the holy heart, the sacredness of a community wherever they may travel.
Yet people must have their mysteries. The Catholics transform the bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ, scholars ponder the conundrum of the Trinity, and the church of Christ sees the forgiveness of sins bound irretrivably in the waters of baptism. The Red Queen could believe six impossible things before breakfast, so devout was her faith. To be sure, I always understood that baptism saved because "God said it did." There's nothing present in the water or the baptizer that had anything to do with it. It was a faithful heart responding to how it perceived the commandments of God.
So much for the tangent. At the beginning of Chapter 3, Paul claims that there are some advantages to being a Jew, but in the matter of justification, no human being has an advantage. Both Jew and Greeks are under the power of sin. God gave them up to the power of sin - the debased mind, the confused thoughts. This is the mind of the flesh, the worship of the created, not the Creator.
Some look to their special relationship with God, thinking it gives them an advantage with God's wrath. It does not. Some think that they might as well do evil so that good can come to God's glory, and this also is no advantage. Neither path is better off - all are condemned. "Let us do evil so that good may come!" That's a terrible doctrine and a terrible lifestyle. Good isn't at the mercy of evil for its existance. "If we weren't sinning, you couldn't come down here and show us how good you are!" That's nonsense. Good can demonstrate itself in far more ways than in wrath over evil acts. (The translation Are we any better off? is the preferred one: it refers to the we that is saying, Let us do evil so good may come. Paul inserts another parenthetical Their condemnation is deserved! before getting back on track with What then? It's a confusing little passage, but it's being dictated, so we should expect some rough segueways).
Paul finally gets to his laundry list of Old Testament passages: Humans hold no advantage over each other when they stand before the wrath of God. The whole world may be held accountable to God. All of us participate in the entropy of the world - we have all acted badly. Paul's statement of a universal felt need is quite adroit, if culturally bound. What shall be his solution?
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/28/2003 04:21:00 PM
On the one hand, something had to be done about Hussein. On the other hand, it could have been done differently.
This latest series of attacks makes it clear the kind of people who were supporting him. I don't think Al Qaeda would attack the Red Cross - there's nothing in it for them. This is the work of people trying to drive the international community out of Iraq, so that they can regain power. It's imperative to remain in Iraq, if only to keep the monster we created there at bay.
On the one hand, being in Iraq sucks. On the other, there's not much else we can do at this point. God, Bush is an idiot.
Posted by Joseph Nobles at 10/27/2003 09:04:00 AM