Friday, November 24, 2006

Counting the Cost of the "War On Terror"

"For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace." Luke 14:28-32.

Gene Redlin at Northern Gleaner posted a short piece that links to a lengthy, detailed defense (by Orson Scott Card) of Bush's noble "war on terror", and asks opponents of the war to read the article and consider how Christians can sincerely support it. Then, if we still disagree, he wants to hear opinions as to why. I've read the article several times and, contra Gene, am more convinced of the wrongness of the war as a result of reading the article. Here's why.

I'm not going to deal with the morality of a generic war on terror, or even other potential wars or types of wars against it in Iraq and Afghanistan, but of the Bush war specifically. The above passage from the bible is one that Jesus used in reference to counting the cost of being one of His disciples. But since He used obvious earthly principles as applications to spiritual realities, they are valid here as well. Much is made in this article of necessary support of the war from both Congress and the American people. The lack of or withdrawal of support will doom the whole effort, and the end result will be worse than what we started with. I don't disagree with that at all. It also points to our kicking ass in Germany and Japan in WWII because of an unwavering commitment, and the result is two free, economic superpowers that benefit the world. It also points to our wavering in Vietnam and the first Gulf war and the eventual withdrawals resulted not only in defeat, but of defeat of our allies:

As happened in South Vietnam. The negotiated peace was more or less holding after American withdrawal. But then a Democratic Congress refused to authorize any further support for the South Vietnamese government. No more armaments. No more budget.

In other words, we forcibly disarmed our allies, while their enemies continued to be supplied by the great Communist powers. The message was clear: Those who rely on America are fools. We didn't even have the decency to arrange for the evacuation of the people who had trusted us and risked the most in supporting what they thought was our mutual cause.

We did it again, this time in the Muslim world, in 1991, when Bush Senior encouraged a revolt against Saddam. He meant for the senior military officers to get rid of him in a coup; instead, the common people in the Shiite south rose up against Saddam.

Bush Senior did nothing as Saddam moved in and slaughtered them. [Emphasis mine]

With a Democratic takeover of both houses, and a promise to do what it takes to withdraw our troops, and severely waning support from the American people, we stand just two years away from also a possible Democrat as president. Also, as the article points out, a war on terror could last for decades and in many more countries than just Iraq and Afghanistan. Now for the rub. Wasn't all this part of the Bush administration's counting of the cost of the war on terror? If not, why not? Conservatives are as of this election year criticizing the Democrats as a party that would purposely sabotage this war effort, severely compromise America's future and leave it ripe for future attacks from terrorists. Would Democrats do this just to gain a political twisting of the knife in the Elephant's side? Of course they would. They're Democrats. And Republicans have not only known this for decades, but they remind us every chance they get.

Yet the Bush administration counted them in as supporters in the war on terror. Every last Republican on Capitol Hill and every Democrat save one supported this initially. So did about 90% of the American people. But was his memory so short as to what happened to his father? One simple broken promise on taxes brought about a monumental crash of support for Bush the First. If he had only kept this one simple promise, the world may never have heard about Bill - or Hillary - Clinton.

If the Democrats are so untrustworthy and the American people are so fickle and have such an instant gratification, video game mentality, then how could they be counted on for continued support in such a war? If this current war strategy is going to be successful, it will need full-blown, unwavering, committed bipartisan and popular support for several decades. I can't think of a single thing in American political history that has enjoyed such support, so why would anybody think something would suddenly attain to this lofty necessity? Yet Bush pledged this support - no, he promised this support - but in reality, because of our political system, he had only a maximum of two years political support from both houses, only six years of his own oversight, and only enough popular support to last until tomorrow's headlines. In short, Bush relied on America in counting the long term cost of such a war. And as I highlighted from the article, (notice the irony here), "those who rely on America are fools." He promised something that was impossible to deliver.

This brings me to address the foolishness of a military solution to terrorism. We kicked ass in WWII because Hitler and Japan were engaged in a military conquest of the world. We also had a stake in it as a nation because both countries declared war against us first. Fire could be fought with fire. Vietnam, Korea and the Gulf are somewhat different because we had no direct defensive reason to win a military war, even though it could still be possible. But this current "war" waged by the "terrorists" isn't the same kind of war. It needs to be fought in a completely different way. It's funny how conservative supporters of this war continually warn of a misunderstanding of what radical Islam and terrorism are about and how they operate, but fall back on a military solution.

Another puzzling thing about conservative support for this war is how they fail to see it as just another form of a government welfare program. The people are coercively taxed to help some underprivileged group of people somewhere else. Instead of the poor living in inner city ghettos or trailer parks, they're in some other country. Soldiers are the equivalent of social workers. And the "exporting of freedom" is merely a transfer of freedom. The freedom of Iraqis increases while ours decreases through draconian "der Homelander Sekkurity" nonsense. We have enough problems with freedom in our own country. Concentrating on freedom in the Middle East is the political equivalent of removing the dust speck from somebody else's eye while ignoring the national forest in our own.

Even if all the principles behind such a war on terror were morally right, the guaranteed folly in carrying it out the way that it is currently is morally wrong. And all the backlash against American citizens abroad and increased hostility, etc, will be the responsibility of the one who really didn't count the cost as he should have in the first place.


  1. Steve,
    I read your comments. I also read much of your blog. I don't think you and I are far apart. That's the frustration with the war.

    It contains a spritual component that is missed by many Christians. I had this same debate with Ron MacKinzie of Blessed Economist who I know you read as well.

    This is not a war that is/can be fought simply with weapons. But it must be fought as well with weapons. There is a physical as well as spiritual component. If you don't see it I can't help you. Reason is not going to do it. The Orson Scott Card article lays it out pretty well.

    So, even if you hate the war, think it was wrong, pray.

    Losing this means 100 times more than Vietnam ever did. This is the end of the age stuff. This is rise of antichrist.

    Reason fails here. God never calls us to reason. Oh I know the verse, come let us.... But the the reason of God seem unreasonable to man.

    Gideon found that out. 30,000-300
    Joshua and Jericho, not reasonable.
    Sampson and the Philistines (Jawbone)

    Most of the time when God is in it, reason fails.

    So, pray. I know you love God and you love your Country. This is that.

    Bush did and is doing the right thing. He was called to this supernaturally.

  2. If Bush had a supernatural calling in this debacle, it was from Satan. There are no fruits of the Spirit in it. There is nothing in it like the Kingdom of Heaven.

    States may win, lose or draw in war, but the people always lose. Jesus had no truck with states.

  3. Intersting that in the past few weeks since the election, I have had the thought that the US ought not to have gone into Iraq because the national will was not there to see the thing through to the end. I fear Bush did miscalculate on that point, and it is his and our un-doing.

    Even if I thought there was good moral reason to go into Iraq, it would not be to our strategic interest to do so when such a national will is so transitory and vaporous.

    It is even to the point where I think we need to carefully consider pulling our troops out of middle Europe at the least, if not all of Europe. It also explains why the US is not capable of decisive action on the Darfur disaster...

    Thank God He is still in control...

    Peace, ~ The Billy Goat ~