Monday, January 29, 2007

The Manufacture and Packaging of the Looming War with Iran

The scriptures warn of being lulled into a false sense of "carnal security", saying "All is well." We are admonished to be alert and thoughtful, to gain as much education as possible, and to make wise decisions. While we believe in being law-abiding citizens, we are also counseled to be aware and involved in the issues so that we don't find ourselves expected to uphold immoral decision-making.

There seems a popular and unfounded assumption that competent, moral people are driving foreign policy decisions in America today. Unfortunately, there is much evidence to the contrary in the specific conduct of the Iraqi war over the last four years. Ignoring such evidence, I think, is in direct conflict with every law God has given on how to govern ourselves.

And before we can even figure out a clear-headed direction to take amidst Civil War in Iraq, the same advocates that helped push us into that conflict are ramping up the PR to hasten a show-down with Iran.

I believe that there is clear evidence that America has been on the road to war with Iran for a number of years now. I believe that if you step back and investigate cooly, it becomes chillingly evident that this road has nothing to do with current events but rather that current news is being manipulated, shaped, and re-packaged as propaganda by the pro-war interests in America and furthermore, that in the present administration, these voices easily drown out any other thoughts or considerations that could be used prevent the carnage, death, and destruction of opening yet another theatre of war.

Just this last week, there has been a wealth of information released that warrants some discussion:
  • the original language from the Bush administration asking Congress to authorize military action in Iraq asked not for authorization to attack Iraq but blanket pre-authorization to pursue any and all targets in the entire Middle-Eastern theatre (in direct contradiction to publicly stated aims and means). This is significant if you're aware of the preponderance of PNAC [see below] members in this Administration.
  • amidst the revelations in the 'Scooter' Libby trial, are many more evidences of this administration twisting intel, requiring certain spin on reports, with-holding any information that could damage their pre-packaged Iraqi tale, etc. Just the way in which Colin Powell was prepped to testify to the UN about the "mobile WMD labs" is a study in a how certain elements in this administration conduct themselves.

  • there seems to be general agreement amongst analysts that using military force to stop the Iranian nuclear program would be anything but the "small surgical strike" that is being promoted by many neo-conservative pundits. The invasion of Iran would be bloodier, costlier, and far more complicated even than our current experiment in Iraq.

But none of that was headline news. CNN, NPR, FOX, all the mainstream news outlets, parroted the "new" story that Iran is about to be a loose cannon with nukes. I was disappointed and surprised. But there it was – only days after lukewarm success from the state of the union address to shore up flagging support for the Iraqi war plan – there was this ubiquitous tour de force of publicity about:

  • the "winnable", "good" war in Iraq (these claims, at least, had balanced counter-claims from other sources)
  • the evil Ahmadinejad and his allegedly urgent plans for a second holocaust
  • the "new" revelations that there were at least two fighters of apparently Iranian ethnicity discovered in Iraq last year and that furthermore, the Iranians have the boldness to run an embassy in Baghdad . . . this was spun into the necessity of an act of congress to specifically authorize our military to engage Iranians in the Iraqi war.

Before I get too far here, let me point out that it is silly to proclaim that any pro-war interests have a 'stranglehold' on the big media conglomerates.

What I do believe, however, is that well-funded pro-war interests do what any other group in this nation is free to do: they field promoters, public speakers, lobbyists, spin doctors, etc. You don't have to dictate a story to a stuffy newsroom of cigar-chomping editors. You just need to promote somebody writing a book or directing a play or running a "think tank" and when they get their interview, they can talk up whatever they want. If they spin things right, then everybody else will pick it up off Drudge or whatever and run with it.

Against the right backdrop, the war protest staged in D.C. seemed misguided at best and irresponsible to many. Perhaps predictably, the majority of the anti-war demonstration coverage was more focused on the re-appearance of "Hanoi Jane" than anything actually said by any speakers (especially the many congressmen and women who participated). For this last weekend, I would have to say that the tally was clearly "War Support Propaganda Machine:1 Peace Propaganda Machine:0"

Who are these pro-war interests in the Bush Administration? There is no cloak and dagger. This is no shadowy conspiracy theory, but it is nonetheless surprisingly under-the-radar for most Americans.

Anybody trying to understand current American foreign policy should check out the "statement of principles" at Bill Kristol's "Project for the New American Century" (PNAC). Look at the signers of this letter: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Jeb Bush (not George who I don't think was ever much interested in this stuff . . . I think he just trusts the smart guys above who were in H.W.'s administration to explain it to him and advise him), etc.

That "think tank" alone can give you a clearer picture of what is taking place now. The PNAC was comprised of influential people who felt strongly that the U.S. needed to bolster its flagging military and get more directly involved in helping affect 'regime changes' in the entire middle eastern region. They suggested the benefit to America would be overwhelming. They lamented that short of another Pearl Harbor, America would never find itself belligerent enough to get involved over there like we should have been.

After 9/11, these were the guys that George W. relied on to help him make sense of the changed world. These same men still advocate greater U.S. military "leadership" in that entire region of the world in order to secure strategic and economic interests of the United States.

There are a variety of pro-war and anti-war propaganda machines in full swing in our nation today. Each of these has their own philosophies, funding sources, and agendas. But PNAC represents a window into what many of the actual policy makers and advisors in the Bush White House really think before it gets spun into propaganda.

As best as I can tell, Iran is still the same Iran it has been for a quarter-century: with a leader that is basically required to churn out Anti-American and Anti-Semitic screed on a regular basis. As best as I can tell, there have been press-releases for the last 20 years predicting that Iran would have nuclear arms "within 1 - 3 years". If Iran does finally develop nuclear warheads, then, as best as I can tell, they will have done the same thing that we ourselves are still doing and that we cynically just allowed Pakistan to do.

The Pakistani situation is an important counterpoint to the lies about trying to contain weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Iran. Pakistan is a militant islamist nation that we just allowed to go nuclear. We aren't exactly promoting democracy in Pakistan either . . . Musharraf staged a military coup of the nation's democratically elected president in 1999. But Musharaff doesn't have lots of oil, and lately he proclaims unity with the Americans on the "War on Terror", so I'm sure the nuclear arsenal we've chosen to wink at in his region is in good hands . . . there's the pesky fact that he seems unable or unwilling to sway the men beneath him [who are openly sympathetic to Bin Laden and Al Quaeda] to co-operate more fully with their American "allies" but, oh well, I guess you can't have everything.

Nothing actually changed this last week except the level of propaganda. Iran did not suddenly, auto-magically, and instantaneously become the biggest threat to world peace and American security on the globe. Their weapons arsenal did not change. Their allies did not change. Not even Iranian rhetoric has changed.

The same inexplicable media blitz, however, happened with Iraq in the lead up to that war. In the case of Iraq, the cool-headed citizens of our nation were understandably thrown off by the still-very-recent events of 9/11 and the enterprising connections to that event fabricated by those who wanted to depose Saddam. We now have evidence that those connections were tenuous at best and completely untrue in many cases. Hopefully we have learned something and will be a little more skeptical with the propaganda about Iran.

Check it out for yourself. Pay attention, ask questions, and think things through. See if it seems like the world has actually changed with regard to Iran in the last few days or if it is simply the marketing and messages that have changed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

War and Peace

Today's post was supposed to be called "Where are our Huebners?" (I write these at lunch). The one after that I am already planning might be called "What is the Plan for a New American Century?". But in writing the Huebner post I found myself reviewing statements in recent conference talks and the scriptures and I realized that there was no posting here about what our Prophet and other Church leaders have commented. So that seems like all I'll have time for today.

We are not without commentary from our modern Prophet on the war. At the outset of the Iraqi intervention, President Hinckley gave his talk "War and Peace" to close the Sunday morning spring Conference session of 2003. It was not just a passing notice. With very specific references to the current American conflicts, he talked about actual people involved on the conflict (on both sides), discussed living by principles, recounted messages of the scriptures, and then admonished us to look to the Savior as we make our decisions.

It's a tough talk to try to quote from without taking things out of context. You really, really should read the entire thing thoughtfully. It is easy to find nuggets that are outright gems for either the "pro-war" or "anti-war" camps. I don't think that was his intention, however. I think President Hinckley gave us as clear and careful 'straight shooting' as he could of his thoughts and inspirations on the situation as it stood in April of 2003.

He also didn't shy away from sharing his personal feeling. It goes without saying that real Prophets are real people that have to apply real doctrines in both their personal and public lives.

I think the entire talk is very relevant to any discussion that might take place here and it would be silly for somebody to try and discuss the meaning of any particular phrase without having read the whole thing (it is very short as well!) so here it is:

War and Peace

President Gordon B. Hinckley

I hope that the Lord’s people may be at peace one with another during times of trouble, regardless of what loyalties they may have to different governments or parties.

My brethren and sisters, last Sunday as I sat in my study thinking of what I might say on this occasion, I received a phone call telling me that Staff Sergeant James W. Cawley of the U.S. Marines had been killed somewhere in Iraq. He was 41 years of age, leaving behind a wife and two small children.

Twenty years ago Elder Cawley was a missionary of the Church in Japan. Like so many others, he had grown up in the Church, had played as a schoolboy, had passed the sacrament as a deacon, and had been found worthy to serve a mission, to teach the gospel of peace to the people of Japan. He returned home, served in the Marines, married, became a policeman, and was then recalled to active military duty, to which he responded without hesitation.

His life, his mission, his military service, his death seem to represent the contradictions of the peace of the gospel and the tides of war.

And so I venture to say something about the war and the gospel we teach. I spoke of this somewhat in our October conference of 2001. When I came to this pulpit at that time, the war against terrorism had just begun. The present war is really an outgrowth and continuation of that conflict. Hopefully it is now drawing to a conclusion.

As I discuss the matter, I seek the direction of the Holy Spirit. I have prayed and pondered much concerning this. I recognize it is a very sensitive subject for an international congregation, including those not of our religious faith.

The nations of the earth have been divided over the present situation. Feelings have run strong. There have been demonstrations for and against. We are now a world Church with members in most of the nations which have argued this matter. Our people have had feelings. They have had concerns.

War, of course, is not new. The weapons change. The ability to kill and destroy is constantly refined. But there has been conflict throughout the ages over essentially the same issues.

The book of Revelation speaks briefly of what must have been a terrible conflict for the minds and loyalties of God’s children. The account is worth repeating:

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

“And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7–9).

Isaiah speaks further concerning that great conflict (see Isaiah 14:12–20). Modern revelation gives additional light (see D&C 76:25–29), as does the book of Moses (see Moses 4:1–4), which tells of Satan’s plan to destroy the agency of man.

We sometimes are prone to glorify the great empires of the past, such as the Ottoman Empire, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and in more recent times, the vast British Empire. But there is a darker side to every one of them. There is a grim and tragic overlay of brutal conquest, of subjugation, of repression, and an astronomical cost in life and treasure.

The great English essayist Thomas Carlyle once ironically shared the observation, God must needs laugh outright, could such a thing be, to see his wondrous mannikins here below” (quoted in Sartor Resartus [1836], 182). I think our Father in Heaven must have wept as He has looked down upon His children through the centuries as they have squandered their divine birthright in ruthlessly destroying one another.

In the course of history tyrants have arisen from time to time who have oppressed heir own people and threatened the world. Such is adjudged to be the case presently, and consequently great and terrifying forces with sophisticated and fearsome armaments have been engaged in battle.

Many of our own Church members have been involved in this conflict. We have seen on television and in the press tearful children clinging to their fathers in uniform, going to the battlefront.

In a touching letter I received just this week, a mother wrote of her Marine son who is serving for the second time in a Middle Eastern war. She says that at the time of his first deployment, “he came home on leave and asked me to go for a walk. . . . He had his arm around me and he told me about going to war. He . . . said, ‘Mom, I have to go so you and the family can be free, free to worship as you please. . . . And if it costs me my life . . . then giving my life is worth it.’ ” He is now there again and has written to his family recently, saying, “I am proud to be here serving my nation and our way of life. . . . I feel a lot safer knowing our Heavenly Father is with me.”

There are other mothers, innocent civilians, who cling to their children with fear and look heavenward with desperate pleadings as the earth shakes beneath their feet and deadly rockets scream through the dark sky.

There have been casualties in this terrible conflict, and there likely will be more. Public protests will likely continue. Leaders of other nations have, in no uncertain terms, condemned the coalition strategy.

The question arises, “Where does the Church stand in all of this?”

First, let it be understood that we have no quarrel with the Muslim people or with those of any other faith. We recognize and teach that all the people of the earth are of the family of God. And as He is our Father, so are we brothers and sisters with family obligations one to another.

But as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally. Those in the armed services are under obligation to their respective governments to execute the will of the sovereign. When they joined the military service, they entered into a contract by which they are presently bound and to which they have dutifully responded.

One of our Articles of Faith, which represent an expression of our doctrine, states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Articles of Faith 1:12).

But modern revelation states that we are to “renounce war and proclaim peace” (D&C 98:16).

In a democracy we can renounce war and proclaim peace. There is opportunity for dissent. Many have been speaking out and doing so emphatically. That is their privilege. That is their right, so long as they do so legally. However, we all must also be mindful of another overriding responsibility, which I may add, governs my personal feelings and dictates my personal loyalties in the present situation.

When war raged between the Nephites and the Lamanites, the record states that “the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting or . . . power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.

“And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God” (Alma 43:45–46).

The Lord counseled them, “Defend your families even unto bloodshed” (Alma 43:47).

And Moroni “rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.

“And he fastened on his headplate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren” (Alma 46:12–13).

It is clear from these and other writings that there are times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression.

When all is said and done, we of this Church are people of peace. We are followers of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the Prince of Peace. But even He said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).

This places us in the position of those who long for peace, who teach peace, who work for peace, but who also are citizens of nations and are subject to the laws of our governments. Furthermore, we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy. I believe that God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do. It may even be that He will hold us responsible if we try to impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression.

Now, there is much that we can and must do in these perilous times. We can give our opinions on the merits of the situation as we see it, but never let us become a party to words or works of evil concerning our brothers and sisters in various nations on one side or the other. Political differences never justify hatred or ill will. I hope that the Lord’s people may be at peace one with another during times of trouble, regardless of what loyalties they may have to different governments or parties.

Let us pray for those who are called upon to bear arms by their respective governments and plead for the protection of heaven upon them that they may return to their loved ones in safety.

To our brothers and sisters in harm’s way, we say that we pray for you. We pray that the Lord will watch over you and preserve you from injury and that you may return home and pick up your lives again. We know that you are not in that land of blowing sand and brutal heat because you enjoy the games of war. The strength of your commitment is measured by your willingness to give your very lives for that in which you believe.

We know that some have died, and others may yet die in this hot and deadly contest. We can do all in our power to comfort and bless those who lose loved ones. May those who mourn be comforted with that comfort which comes alone from Christ the Redeemer. It was He who said to His beloved disciples:

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, . . . that where I am, there ye may be also.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:1–3, 27).

We call upon the Lord, whose strength is mighty and whose powers are infinite, to bring an end to the conflict, an end that will result in a better life for all concerned. The Lord has declared, “For I, the Lord, rule in the heavens above, and among the armies of the earth” (D&C 60:4).

We can hope and pray for that glorious day foretold by the prophet Isaiah when men “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4).

Even in an evil world we can so live our lives as to merit the protecting care of our Father in Heaven. We can be as the righteous living among the evils of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleaded that these cities might be spared for the sake of the righteous. (See Genesis 18:20–32.)

And, above all, we can cultivate in our own hearts, and proclaim to the world, the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through His atoning sacrifice we are certain life will continue beyond the veil of death. We can teach that gospel which will lead to the exaltation of the obedient.

Even when the armaments of war ring out in deathly serenade and darkness and hatred reign in the hearts of some, there stands immovable, reassuring, comforting, and with great outreaching love the quiet figure of the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. We can proclaim with Paul:

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39).

This life is but a chapter in the eternal plan of our Father. It is full of conflict and seeming incongruities. Some die young. Some live to old age. We cannot explain it. But we accept it with the certain knowledge that through the atoning sacrifice of our Lord we shall all go on living, and this with the comforting assurance of His immeasurable love.

He has said, “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me” (D&C 19:23).

And there, my brothers and sisters, we rest our faith. Regardless of the circumstances, we have the comfort and peace of Christ our Savior, our Redeemer, the living Son of the living God. I so testify in His holy name, even the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

So, there you have it. President Hinckley laid out the ways in which a true follower of Christ should think and act when faced with a 'just war'.

He doesn't say "Thus saith the Lord, this is indeed a just war" but rather he points out that
tyrants have arisen from time to time who have oppressed their own people and threatened the world. Such is adjudged to be the case presently
In other words, after warning against glorifying war and being warlike, he says that there do exist just causes for war (even for a Christian). And according to our "respective national leaders" who "have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally" such was adjudged to be the case at the time.

On that authority, President Hinckley's "personal feelings" and "personal loyalties" were given to the causes of freedom, liberty, peace, and security.

In the intervening years, however, I think it is crystal clear that our "respective national leaders" were given much information that was inaccurate. There are many in trustworthy positions of "access to greater political and military intelligence" than the rest of us who now adjudge the reasons provided both for our initial intervention and our continued fighting as being inaccurate, underestimated, misleading, and in a number of cases completely fabricated.

There are a growing number of voices: former administration officials, intelligence community employees, military generals, and others who tell a very different story from the one that Dick Cheney tells and George Bush appears to believe. [Only yesterday McCain (who knows something of military intelligence) went on record as saying that one of the biggest failings of the Bush presidency is his over-reliance on his vice president.] Why there is a such a divergence of belief on what the military intelligence means is a subject for another day, but what remains clear is that the picture painted for both the American people and even our leaders back in April of 2003 was not accurate.

Getting a more accurate picture of what the situation is in Iraq now, why we are still there, what our goals are now, and whether it is moral to pursue a miltary solution to accomplish those goals, I think is a civic duty that every American shares. In the meantime, I certainly agree with President Hinckley that those men and women who are in the theatre of war in good faith trying to do the right thing will be blessed for trying to do the right thing.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why is Mitt Romney such a Warmonger?

Here's one that baffles me: Willard Mitt Romney.

The guy is bright, confident, and by all accounts he's a faithful Latter Day Saint. He's got this great sense of humor, a beautiful and charming wife, five successful boys and perfectly coiffed hair. The guy looks like he is already President. The kind of President America needs.

I wanted to vote for him. I heard how as a fiscally-conservative-genius-leader-superman he turned around both the ailing 2002 Olympics and the Massachusetts state budget. I heard how as a 'compassionate conservative' leader he had made Massachusetts the first state with universal health care. I started thinking he was like some kind of zionistic ("and there was no poor among them" LINK) wunderkind. I started thinking that he was, perhaps, the kind of Mormon every Mormon should be.

And yet he's not just soft on peace, he's the warhawk's hawk. He wants everyone to know he REALLY supports our military action in Iraq. He doesn't just support our troops (most good people would) but everything military we are doing there – regardless of consequence. And he wants to do more of it.

Romney was in Israel just yesterday promoting his nascent presidential campaign with promises of being a hardliner on Iran. He made a special point to focus on some Iranian fighters that the Bush administration claims have been discovered in Iraq. He wanted to distinguish that – unlike the "folly" of certain members of the U.S. congress – he has no qualms about engaging Iran militarily. LINK

Mitt isn't just a warhawk in the Middle East, either. He supports militant actions here at home. In the debate on how far we curtail American freedoms 'in this time of war', Romney has let it be known loud and clear where he stands on the issue. He wants more federal funding of domestic wiretapping, secret surveillance, and investigations. He wants more equipment and personnel watching our own.

I don't understand the guy at all. Demonizing people abroad ("Iranians in Iraq" . . . where do you think hatemongering about Iranians is leading us?), demonizing people at home (he was pleading for more wiretapping funds for Massachusetts – not during the 9/11 hysteria, but four years later – seemingly out of the blue – at the end of his governorship
LINK) . . . really, who is this guy and why does he think he is presidential timber? And how can he call himself a "Latter-Day Saint"?

As a conservative Republican Mormon, I thought Romney's electable weakness might have been his very liberal public stances on abortion and homosexual rights. But that was 13 years ago in a campaign against Ted Kennedy (Kennedy's closest race ever). I figured his recently reformed and more conservative tilts on these issues might suffice. But this bloodthirsty scaremongering? . . . Where is he going with this and what strategist is advising him that it's the way to go?

The conventional wisdom might indicate that the religious right has been more readily accepting of national causes for war, but I think even the Bible belt is starting to question what we are accomplishing in Iraq – and perhaps even why we went there in the first place. Romney is anxious to overcome his 'strange cult member' status there, but pandering to their base, warlike passions doesn't seem like the most Christian decison. It may not even be the shrewdest. I was particularly impressed with Senator Webb's speech after the state of the Union last night. He is a southerner with a miltary background and a kid in Iraq . . . he wasn't pushing the kind of bloodthirsty, blindsided agenda Romney is pushing and just months ago he managed to get himself elected in a very close campaign against the 'more hardline' incumbent. LINK

Finally, I have to say that I am hugely disappointed in Mitt's Machiavellian strategies because of what he could and should have learned from his father's campaign. George Romney's mounting presidential campaign imploded when he innocently, honestly, and admirably admitted that he was upset by the 'brainwashing' he had received from Generals taking him on a VIP tour of Vietnam. It had caused him to be unduly supportive and unquestioning of our military actions in that country and when he admitted his mistake in buying into it too far his opponents squashed his campaign (what kind of leader is weak enough to be brainwashed? they taunted). Here's what Mitt himself had to say about it last year in an AP news interview:

Romney speaks heavily of his father during national TV interview

By GLEN JOHNSON , Associated Press writer

BOSTON — As he contemplates his own run for the presidency, Gov. Mitt Romney agrees his father's 1968 campaign may have been doomed when he said he had been subjected to a "brainwashing" by Vietnam War supporters.

Time later proved George Romney right.

"His point was that (Defense Secretary Robert) McNamara and (President Lyndon) Johnson had been lying to the American people, and ... in the past he had swallowed hook, line and sinker,
what he had been told by military generals," the Massachusetts governor said in an interview with C-SPAN that will air Sunday night.

"I remember that when McNamara came out with his book about 'The Fog of War,' and admitted that he had lied to the American people, my dad took a certain degree of satisfaction in the fact that the people now knew that what he said was true," Romney added. "And he used to say that in politics being right too early is not a good thing. But he was right, and it was too early."

So there it is: Mitt Romney has a father who is duped by his own Republican party, his own Presidential administration, and his own military leaders into believing lies so that he will help people keep supporting a war effort. Mitt's father finds out the truth and bravely speaks out about it. Mitt's father loses his chance to be President. So what does Mitt do? He goes out and proclaims to the American people that this kind of thing never happens. He claims that the warmakers never lie. He admonishes that if we are at war we gotta back it 100% and ask no questions.

Mitt promises to be extra warmongery when faced with 'the fog of war'. None of this pansy thoughtfulness and question asking. What on earth are we supposed to conclude from this?

I fear that, in Mitt's zeal to not be perceived as "being right too early", he is willing to let the 'collateral damage' fall where it may. He seems willing to sacrifice what is right entirely – as long as his presidential ambition isn't among the casualties.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Why "Mormons for Peace"

Perhaps there are already some other organizations out there that actually call themselves "Mormons for Peace." I was dismayed that I couldn't find any on the internet so I started this simple site.

It seems to many these days that being Mormon and being 'four-square' behind waging war in the Mideast is synonomous. I know for a fact that I'm not the only 'Latter Day Saint' who believes there is nothing unpatriotic or heretical about skepticism for the war. This website is an attempt to voice that.

Skimming news articles, I see now and then that some brave soul decides to create a banner that reads "Mormons for Peace". Bravo! I wish there were more like that.

Red State / Blue State should not define what a Mormon (or any Christian) feels about the men, women, and children dying in the war we are waging in the Middle East or even how waging that war affects our freedoms here at home.

[In citing Christianity I do not mean to disaffect any other religious people that would like to participate here; rather Christianity is the religious tradition that I know best: it defines much of who I am and also why I favor peace over war.]

I live in Utah and have voted primarily Republican since I turned 18 (down in Mesa, Arizona). I am also a practicing, observant, lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ['a Mormon'].

The first Iraqi war affected my college roomate and I as we seemed the only two people in our dorm that questioned the "Bring a bat to kill an Arab" night ("and get $1 off!") at our local dance club in Provo. I also attended part of a nearly ignored peace-in by a group of professors at Brigham Young University that year.

The most memorable speech I heard was by a professor who recounted running counter-intelligence missions as a young soldier in WWII. He explained that – even during "the Good War" – it was only possible to achieve success by lying to the American public in spades. His unit was often assigned to minimize bad PR by covering up the accidental bombing of an innocent German village family for instance. He said his point was not to disparage WWII (in which he seemed to feel that US involvement had been important and just) but rather to point out that you can't just blindly trust your government in a time of war.

"War is Hell," he said, and "both sides lie, cheat, and sin". Of the many wars recounted in the scriptures, he pointed out, you could count on one hand the number that actually seemed to be directed by God. Most were the result of forgetting God and being steeped in sin. He called for cool heads and rational discussion. He worried that it took no convincing to lure the average Latter Day Saint at our University into the evils of war.

Now, years later, I fear that is still very much true. Perhaps more so than back then. Even with my background, I am ashamed to say that I watched with a kind of fascinated – even excited – anxiety for the bombs to drop on Baghdad [live! on CNN]. The events of 9/11 had shaken me and I whole-heartedly supported the mission to rid the Afghans of the Taliban and even, at first, the mission to rid the world of Saddam and his 'WMD'.

Subsequent reflection and investigation have caused me to step off of the militant bandwagon and start questioning the intentions, goals, and accomplishments of current U.S. foreign policy. If you'd like to help me then you've come to the right place.