Monday, June 26, 2006

Religion and War

I was recently asked a very simple question about the present conflict in Iraq. It was asked by a person I respect and honor because she is a true patriot, viscerally opposed to war in any guise, but unfortunately, blinded by faith. She asked me where are the churches?

Where are the churches is a provocative question based on the assumption that churches actually care about people. Unfortunately, they have given up that particular niche a long time ago, sometime between the Albigensian Crusades and the wholesale slaughter of innocent opponents of the tribes of Israel as described in the Old Testament. A more cogent question that should be addressed to all participants in any war should be: What are you thinking?

The question can be asked of our leaders and our followers, it should be repeated daily and matched to atrocities. The question should be mandatory to any parent encouraging their child to bear arms, and it should be writ large across prisons, army bases, churches and temples, high schools and military academies.

It should adorn polling places and political rallies. It should be translated into any language spoken by killers and victims. It should be personal and require an honest answer at the time of death and injury. It may be the last question on anyone's mind, because inflicting atrocities is mindless and dying, in the heat of our present conflicts, is rarely a time for reflection.

It should be non sectarian, and not tied to any mythology, either Christian, Jewish or Muslim. It should be the universal cry of the oppressor and the oppressed as they plunge the knife, pull the trigger, let off the bomb or send others into harms way.

Where are the churches indeed? They are lined up on either side of any conflict, encouraging mayhem, promoting violence and destroying hope and pity.

Peter W. Brown

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Another Corner Turned.

With the death of Al Zarkawi our administration will announce that once again we have turned a corner in the war on terror. Another day, another turn, a turn for the better or just a bend in the road, one good turn deserves another, to everything turn turn turn. As you can see, our language is full of metaphorical turns.

In the case of the war on terror, and its corollary, the battle for Iraq, the word turn should be used more in the context of the milk has turned, or they have turned on us or even turnabout is fair play, especially in this witless war. These twists and turns of fate are leading us deeper into the quagmire that we all, every American that survived the Vietnam era, had predicted. And yet we should not despair, because according to some pundits, we have now made just enough turns to be right back where we started. You see if you stay the course, and only turn right, as this administration has done, you end up repeating yourself and going over your own tracks.

Now there is one great reason for going over your own tracks, and that’s to cover them up while laying new ones. If ever there was a group of people that needed to cover their tracks it’s the Bush administration. Since we are right back where we started from, we can expect a vociferous and enthusiastic search for weapons of mass destruction. So we can expect announcements that Iraq is the breeding ground for terrorist activities. This time, because the invasion was so well planned, and because of our incredible stupidity in allowing George to lead, they will be right.

After all these turns, they forgot to look back, and by gummy, the terrorist that were not there during the first few turns, have now arrived en masse. Vindication has come at last for all those sleepless nights waiting for the good news.

There is only one miscalculation in this whole war on terror corner turning equation, what George and his crew, in their simplistic way, thought was a flat earth, has now shifted in time and space and become an infinite loop. No matter how many twists and turns you take on the Iraq war Mobius strip, you still never arrive anywhere and are pointed towards an eternity of pain and suffering for all concerned.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Whacking Civilians, an American tradition.

I have no idea why we are all so upset because a few marines went on a rampage and killed innocent civilians including small children and unarmed women. It's an American tradition, and it carries little or no penalty. It happened at My Lai during the last war, it happened in Panama and it will happen when we invade Iran. There is never any punishment above a certain military or civilian rank, and those that are blamed will only receive a slap on the wrist.

It is also very understandable because our soldiers know that we have no reason for being there, because right from the start of this mess they were lied to about our justification for killing Iraqis and finally because the beauty of our opening salvos in the "Shock and Awe"(TM) period was guaranteed to kill civilians in industrial numbers.

Finally, killing civilians has become the national sport of Iraq, the insurgents do it, the Iraqi militia do it and we do it. It seems like everybody is up for a round of civvie hunting these days. Even our Vice President is gunning for bystanders, although he did try to export the sport to Texas, and even he got away without a penalty.

On the eve of the World Cup opening, can this new sport attract additional sponsors beyond the Carlyle Group, Halliburton, the Army and Marines and various revolting insurgent groups? Only time will tell.