Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Finishing the Job and Fighting to Win

I am tired of the worn out and misguided meme about "finishing the job" in Iraq.

Two wrongs do not make a right.

First of all – let's get this out of the way – the Iraqi invasion had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks of 9/11. Yes, it was sold that way. Yes, I initially supported it on those grounds since I was still in 'shock and awe' from the horrific attacks of 9/11 and so believed all the tenuous connections that the Bush administration was avowing. But in the years since they have disavowed every single one of those connections. Many government leaders have come forward and admitted that many in the administration knew that most or even all of them were untrue from the beginning (but that the ends justified the means). Now the war is justified based on other reasons – some still push 'WMD' claims for instance, Sadaam's evils are enumerated, etc. But none of the reasons put forth by any government official have to do with the actual attack on U.S. soil by the [mostly Saudi Arabian] thugs associated with Osama bin Laden and motivated – according to our official Intelligence reports – by decades of U.S. interference and warmaking in the MidEast.

So what are we doing in Iraq?

1) We are building an unprecedented network of American military and intelligence bases set to be our permanent bastion in the Middle East and from which we can conduct all further "national security operations" in the Mideastern Theatre into the conceivable future.

2) We are securing American [and other promised Western] Oil contracts -- again, in the interest of "national energy security".

3) We are employing slave labor to build a high walled city-within-a-city (larger than the Vatican) in Baghdad in order that Iraq (and their neighbors) never, ever forget who is really in charge over there.

4) In addition to the slave labor [conveniently contracted out to firms in Dubai, Kuwait, etc.] we are employing nearly as many U.S. based contractors as military personnel to do various and sundry (often fiscally irresponsible, even criminal) jobs around the country. Not the least of which are the security operations ("too . . . 'messy' for 'official' US forces to be involved in" as one returned soldier described to me recently) in which corporations like BlackWater USA send trigger happer thugs to secure safety for diplomatic vehicles, etc. often by simply machine gunning innocent citizens who get too near their charges. In a shining example of liberty, freedom, and 'justice for all' these security contractors are carefully held innocent of both Iraqi and US laws.

5) We are completely failing to promote peace, democracy, religious harmony, prosperity, or even – five years later – basic living standards of clean water, power, health, and education that used to exist before our violent invasion.

Tell me again why we should "finish" that job.

Or, even worse, I often hear the idea that regardless of how the fight started we should now "fight to win!" In what sphere of morality is this "good"? So now that we have destroyed the infrastructure of a nation, set various factions to fighting, and are still struggling to carve out our initial unwise, un-Constitutional, selfish, and illicit goals: it "behooves" us to "fight to win"?

I simply do not subscribe to that perverted idea of fervent nationalism. The USA is a great nation because our carefully preserved ideals -- as enshrined in the Constitution and [more or less] exhibited through over two centuries of action preclude us from doing what this administration has taken us over to Iraq to do. I am tired of the inconsiderate dismissals of any honest discussion of our foreign policy as simply being "Blame America First".

I love America because of what we stand for, what I truly believe God intended us to be and do. I am patriotic because I believe in the ideals our Founding Fathers lived and died for. I do not for a second believe that America will receive and deserve God's blessings regardless of her actions in the world simply by virtue of 'being America'. God's promises do not work that way.

Between the broadcasts of our last General Conference, there was a special presentation on President J. Reuben Clark. President Clark was a counselor in the First Presidency of Presidents Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, and David O. McKay. Previous to that time he had practiced law, and served in the U.S. State Department, eventually becoming the Undersecretary of State for President Coolidge. He also held other various government positions such as being the American ambassador to Mexico.

I've quoted him before on this site, but it bears repeating:
"For America has a destiny – a destiny to conquer the world – not by force of arms, not by purchase and favor, for these conquests wash away, but by high purpose, by unselfish effort, by uplifting achievement, by a course of Christian living; a conquest that shall leave every nation free to move out to its own destiny; a conquest that shall bring, through the workings of our own example, the blessings of freedom and liberty to every people, without restraint or imposition or compulsion from us; a conquest that shall weld the whole earth together in one great brotherhood in a reign of mutual patience, forbearance, and charity, in a reign of peace to which we shall lead all others by the persuasion of our own righteous example."
I also think it is relevant to recall once again what President Kimball said in the First Presidency Message of June, 1976:
"We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel – ships, planes, missiles, fortifications – and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan's counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior's teaching:

"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

"That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45). "

That may seem a bit extreme, but I think it puts our aggression in an appropriate context. For instance, my strongest objection as an American citizen is that the people we are attacking and punishing – ostensibly for the events of 9/11 – are not even our enemies. They are certainly not the ones who actually attacked us. But, even if amongst their nations there were those who were indeed 'our enemies' in some respect (through historical Anti-American rhetoric or trade negotiations or in some other way) it would not justify the hatred, dehumanizing, inaccuracies, and literal murder of innocents ('collateral damage' it is politely termed) that so many Americans are willing to close their eyes to.

I write on this blog because I love America and everything it stands for. When our mission and purpose become perverted by powerful people who do not share these ideals, it behooves me to speak out. And, quite frankly, though much of my concern is for the larger human family of God's children [and I believe He loves all of us equally], when we allow our nation to behave like an Imperial Conquistador it also affects our specific freedoms at home in adverse ways. Not just "blowback" which clearly makes our nation less safe (setting the fallacious arguments of the warmongers on their heads), but also – as holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt presciently described it: "Empire abroad entails tyranny at home." Our behaviors in regards to these issues of national security – both at home and abroad – send the wrong messages to any that would look to us as the example of "the" nation most blessed with liberty and freedoms "for all".

8 comments:

Papasilas said...

Doug,

Can you give a link to what you are referring to in item 3?
3) We are employing slave labor to build a high walled city-within-a-city (larger than the Vatican) in Baghdad in order that Iraq (and their neighbors) never, ever forget who is really in charge over there.

I'm generally pretty aware of the news, but the slave labor angle is new to me. Thanks,
Silas

Doug said...

Here's a link from Corpwatch:

http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=14173

As is typical, despite the heavy documentation by independent investigative reporters, there was almost no coverage of this story by the big corporate networks. By the time the State Department had prepared their denials and mitigations nearly a year later, one or two of the corporate outlets like CNN (but not FOXNews for instance, lol) mentioned it in passing – billing it as potential scandal ("by no means over") but really just giving it a cursory blurb and closing with the official government line "nothing to see here folks. move on."

Here's an example:

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0707/26/sitroom.03.html

I'm not jaded. :)

Doug said...

Also, if you skim that article you'll note that in that particular case it would appear that at least most workers were being paid ($10-$30 a day) so I suppose someone could argue that is hardly rampant "slave labor" in that part of the world. But the allegations (which check out by the way, a number of independent organizations followed up on them and forced some changes at least in hiring practices by the military contractors there) . . . anyways the allegations were really more about lying to people that they were going to Kuwait or someplace safe and then taking them to warzone Baghdad. They'd be stranded there and unable to earn enough to get passage out -- not to mention being locked in the metal shacks at night, etc. So although a defense could be made (c'mon it was good money!) until complaints were filed, our official US Embassy builder "First Kuwaiti" was raking in megabucks using grossly underpaid captives abducted under false pretenses.

Papasilas said...

Chilling and unfortunately all too believable. Thanks for the link Doug. You have succeeded in making me even more jaded. Well, if we're going to stay in Iraq for 100 years, I can look at the bright side and say that we've made it through 5 years, only 95 more to go. Maybe by the time my great-grandkids are getting married, we'll be leaving Iraq.

Stephen said...

Doug,

I couldnt find your email address but I love what you are doing with your sight.

We would love to have you as part of our cooperative at www.ldscooperative.com

We are coming on in a week or two and are looking for like minded individuals to discuss peace, environmental issues, fiscal responsibility etc.

Please do send me an email at stephenwellington@hotmail.com

We have some great people on board and it would be great to have you as a part of it.
Cheers,
Steve

Sea_Gal said...

Wow, this post was moving and beautiful. Thank you for being a brave and kind-hearted speaker of truth. My heart aches over what our nation has done. I hope for a day when we as a nation, live up to who we were intended to be. In your own way, here on your blog, I believe you are helping with that. Thank you.

Toadicus Rex said...

Oh, the company we attract.

Doug, as always, I am your friend. I have neglected posting on here because I haven't known what to say. You may think me brainwashed if you like, as I'm sure Stephen Wellington would suggest...

I can't for the life of me figure out how someone can consider socialism to be moral in any sense of the word. Socialism is NEVER moral; it is an anti-moral atheology that depends on cooperative punishment, etc. but always results in tyranny... always has, always will. It is the very plan of the adversary; to appear right, and lead even the elect astray. This comment isn't really for you though, it's for the attracted ones. I just can't bring myself to post on his website. I read a few of the articles on it, and was stunned to find socialism promoted. I started hearing that old song from "My Turn On Earth"... the one that goes "I have a plan that will save every man. I will force them to live righteously..."

That said, I still can't and don't agree with your argument on the war.

Doug said...

Oh hey, I never came back and responded to comments here.

Stephen and SeaGal, thank you for your kind words of encouragement.

Todd -- I'm not exactly convinced that all co-operative movements devolve into the worst kind of socialism . . . but I am super encouraged to see that you finally came out against our wars ( hooray! ) -- even if only some of your arguments are now the same as my own. :)