What Will It Take?

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As
day by day America's shame blazes across the television sets of
the world, and we craft a multi-generational bloodbath to bequeath
our children, I have a question for my evangelical Christian brothers
and sisters: What will it take for us to come to our senses regarding
our long gruesome trail of wreckage in Iraq?

First,
however, I must confess that despite my conviction from the beginning
of the folly of our attacking Iraq, other than having written a
couple of articles and expressed my views among a few friends, I
have played the coward. I have worried about my own popularity,
respect, career, and peace. I have feared men and not God. Now I
ask Him to forgive me for my faithlessness and my lack of love for
Him and my neighbor. I ask Him to empower me to disregard the fear
of man and to speak the truth with boldness to my generation.

What
I need to know is what it will take for conservative Christians
to cease enabling "our man in the White House," George
W. Bush, to carry on his disastrous war against Iraq. The effects
of the sanctions our nation placed on Iraq after the first Gulf
War and kept on it for twelve years did not do it. That is, our
forcing the withholding of water purification chemicals and many
other supplies crucial to the health of the people, especially old
folks and children. The 227,000–350,000 children on-site United
Nations officials estimate the sanctions killed did not do it. Nor
did the bombs U.S. airmen dropped on the civilian Iraqi infrastructure
that contaminated water and prevented hospitals from functioning
due to lack of electricity and running water. No, we Christians
prefer to call such men heroes and award them medals.

Paul
Craig Roberts, former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal
and assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury, writes that for a
period in 2001, the administration of our Christian President "even
embargoed infant vaccines and medical equipment from being sent
to Iraq."

A
colossal militaristic empire's storming into a small country less
than one-tenth its own population and forcing its will and culture
on that country did not do it, either. Not the thousands of civilian
Iraqi men, women, and children we have slaughtered in our "liberation"
of their country, nor the many more killed by anti-American factions
for cooperating with us. Professional organizations such as Global
Policy Forum, Amnesty International, and the Future of Freedom Foundation
report that at least three thousand Iraqi civilians died during
the initial Spring 2003 American onslaught, and many thousands more
since then.

The
nearly eight hundred U.S. soldiers that have died in Iraq, and the
thousands of wounded have not brought Christians to our senses.
Rather, we support the President as he continues to send – and keep – troops
there.

No,
the reported treatment by American soldiers of Iraqi civilians,
inside prison and out – some beaten to pulp with rifle butts, others
shot in the back, others sexually abused, and still others tortured
to death – have failed to do it. So, too, the wedding party we gunned
down "by mistake." Likewise, our Marines shooting up ambulances
bringing food, water, and medical aid to hungry and injured civilians,
as well as the containers of food and water intended for them. And
Fallujah, too, and the other towns, where the soccer fields are
now cemeteries for the people.

The
American sharpshooter blasting away from atop a tank did not do
it, either, as he shot down various Iraqis, resisters and civilians
alike, then shrugged and told a disturbed English journalist that
the woman he had just blown apart was "just some chick"
who got in the way.

Neither
did the exposure of a cavalcade of Bush Administration claims for
the falsehoods they were: claiming Iraq had “drones of death,” mobile
germ laboratories, a stash of Scud missiles, a pipeline to al-Qaida
and “poison camps,” chemical munitions bunkers, smallpox or anthrax
to unleash on America, that it attempted to purchase uranium from
Niger in order to develop its secret nuclear program, that it "continues
to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised,"
including nuclear weapons.

The
tens of thousands of cluster bombs and the brightly-colored bomblets
they spawn that we and the English dropped on Iraq did not do it.
Nor have the thousands of bomblets which remain undetonated on the
ground at this writing, waiting for yet more arms and legs of Iraqi
children and adults – and American soldiers – to blow off. Rather,
we prefer to put those airmen on the covers of our own Christian
magazines, interview them on our syndicated Christian radio programs,
and honor them in our church services.

Perhaps
it will take the forcible government conscription of our own children
so that they too might gain the opportunity to be separated from
their families for months or even years, shot, burned alive in their
humvees, or cluster-bombed. Or maybe have half their face blown
off by a suicide bomber like my old college buddy did as he worked
to help our government pump oil out of Iraq. He calls himself Mr.
Pumpkin Head now and says one time when he blew his nose, the air
came out his forehead.

We
do know, don't we, that some of those Republican Congressional leaders
to whom we conservative Christians offer so much moral and monetary
support are now calling for consideration of a national draft of
our children? This, despite the United States Constitution's prohibition
both of standing armies and "involuntary servitude." (Last
time I checked, not one Congressman, nor Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity
or Ann Coulter is "serving their country" in Iraq, even
as they champion the herding of hundreds of thousands of other people's
children to do so.)

Or
will it take other things, things we wish not to speak or think
of, even more heart wrenching than our already-gathering tragedies?
Will it take having our own beloved sons – or daughters – drafted and
placed in situations neither they nor we would ever have intended
for them, as they attempt to uphold the honor of their country and
protect their loved ones? Situations that result perhaps in their
beating unarmed prisoners to death, shooting mothers in the head,
or blowing up buildings with children in them, as others of our
young people have already done in Iraq. Situations they will carry
around with them the remainder of their scarred lives. Will that
finally do it?

“When
you see a child five years old with no head what can you say?” asks
one doctor in Fallujah. “When you see a child with no brain, just
an open cavity, what can you say? When you see a mother just hold
her infant with no head and the shells are all over her body.”

What
will it take, fellow Christian?

May
10, 2004

John
J. Dwyer (send him mail) is
chairman of history at Coram Deo Academy near Dallas, Texas. He
is author of the historical novels Stonewall
and Robert
E. Lee
, and the upcoming historical narrative The War
Between the States, America's Uncivil War. He also is the former
editor and publisher of The Dallas/Fort Worth Heritage newspaper.

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