Rev. Pat Robertson has created quite a commotion with his modest proposal to bestow the blessings of the Bush doctrine on the people of Venezuela by assassinating their president for them. Best of all, his proposed exercise in regime change could be carried out a bargain-basement cost to us ("It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.") and no charge at all to the Venezuelans. (FREE! Tyrant removal service! Call 1-800-Bump Off) It might even be considered a form of almsgiving on the part of the U.S. government, with bullets substituting for dollars and the body of President Hugo Chavez pinch-hitting for the collection plate. We may be able, thereby, to have our way with Venezuela and its vast supply of oil without, as Mr. Robertson put it, "another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator."
I’ve not seen the full context of Robertson’s remarks, so I’ll refrain from speculating on whether it is the monetary cost of our current war in Iraq, rather than the loss of so many lives and limbs, that most troubles him. Wars, after all, are terribly costly. Someone should be concerned about those hundreds of billions, even if President Bush is not. Nor, apparently, is the Congress, most of whom voted to give the commander in chief carte blanche for war. Now they are paying the bloody piper (with your money, of course), while Mr. Bush still calls the tunes.
So Mr. Robertson would give his blessing to a "covert operation" that would "take out" the leader of Venezuela. He may even find some Christian virtue in that sort of thing. Many of our government’s covert (and not a few of its overt) operations seem to follow closely the Gospel imperative to "let not thy left hand know what they right hand is doing." And it is admirable, in a way, that Rev. Robertson wants to deliver the Venezuelans from the oppression of "a strong-arm dictator," even one they elected themselves. It may yet be, as another religious leader once observed, "expedient for us, that it is better that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not." (John 11:50, KJV) That those words were spoken by an enemy of Jesus, plotting his death, may not matter at this point. That was then, this is now. Close enough for government work.
It may be hard to measure the collateral damage from Robertson’s remarks, coming as they have from an ordained minister of the Gospel and a televangelist identified worldwide as a "man of God." For one thing, it’s bad publicity for God, who has trouble enough with a hostile press. And some missionary organizations fear it will make their work more difficult in nations where many already suspect American clerics of being involved in plots to overthrow or "destabilize" governments. And it will no doubt aid the recruiting efforts of terrorist organizations that are already committed to fighting a superpower attempting to impose its will on people’s and nations around the world.
But it could have been worse, I guess. I first heard the news in a radio report that began something like this: "Televangelist Pat Robertson, who opposed removing the Ten Commandments from an Alabama courthouse, is apparently willing to make an exception to the Sixth Commandment in the case of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez." Now my sense of shock arose from the fact that Protestants and Catholics number the Ten Commandments differently. So I thought for a moment Robertson wanted to break the commandment forbidding adultery — and with Hugo Chavez yet!
But as I listened further, I realized he merely wanted to kill the man. Or rather, he wants our government, using your tax dollars and mine, to hire someone to have him killed. If it would save us a couple hundred billion in the long run, it may look like a real bargain. But the devil’s in a bargain’s details and we have been warned: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." It’s possible the president of The 700 Club has forgotten that. But you’d think the nation would have learned it by now.
Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny [send him mail] is a freelance writer.