The leaders of the U.S. sinned in invading Iraq, and they sinned in unleashing a devastating war in that earthly hell. They bore false witness to the American people, they coveted Iraqi oil, and they murdered. Americans at large must and will bear the consequences of these sins for applauding the mayhem, funding the war, and retaining the American perpetual motion war making political system. Americans and their leaders both stand indicted and convicted.
Opportunities to repent abound. The last election provided an encouraging sign, but only superficially. Key Democrats have signaled for months and years that they support the war. Where it counts, in the pocketbook, they have voted to fund the war. Now, they will not lift a financial finger to de-fund it. Instead, they will pass toothless resolutions and play for petty political advantage.
What more could Democrats ask for than to hang the war completely around Republican necks? If escalation succeeds, which it won’t, they cannot be accused of not supporting the U.S. at a critical wartime moment. If escalation fails, as it will, they can accelerate their attacks on Republican foreign folly. Foreign policy has supposedly been a Republican strong point over many decades. What better opportunity for Democrats to seize some high political ground?
President Bush is unilaterally escalating the Iraq folly. He now escalates the sin. He has the power to do so, a power provided constitutionally by the framers and reaffirmed continually throughout American history. So far, Americans have not seen fit to rein in the imperial war making power of their presidency. The sin of our failures to rein in the military-industrial axis of evil lie upon us all. It has widened to become a foundation-lobbying axis of evil. We cannot hope to mitigate the consequences except by changing our evil ways.
The handwriting on the wall grows clearer. America will follow Iraq’s descent into a living hell unless it reverses course not only in Iraq but in its grasping, fearful, bullying, and paranoid heart. Only just reactions to the crimes of terrorists can rescue America from its sins. Only intelligent, measured, and just exercises of force can hope to change the war making atmosphere. Only just behavior of the U.S. in all its foreign affairs can hope to defuse the threats of terrorism.
Is it too late? It is never too late to repent. But right now, America is doing the opposite. America has declared war on terrorism, a grisly blank check for endless escalations of sin throughout the world. It must undeclare this war in order even to begin to reverse course. Otherwise, the U.S. will continue, as in Somalia, to destabilize the politics of more and more foreign nations, inflicting and unleashing more and more unwarranted death and destruction. The consequences for America will be equally devastating.
Our modern Neroes do not fiddle while Rome burns. They ignite the fires in every suburb surrounding the city. These fires were set to smolder over a hundred years ago by U.S. leaders, especially signified by the Spanish-American War. Our leaders set more fires in many lands as the decades marched by. Sometimes the fires broke out into vast conflagrations that were doused but never entirely extinguished. There they smolder, ready to be fanned into flames, in far-flung lands like Lebanon, Egypt, Thailand, Pakistan, Korea, Israel, the Philippines, and Iran. Bin Laden has been clever enough to pull America’s chain, causing our leaders once again to release pure oxygen onto the slow-burning fires and ignite them into fiery blazes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.
We are not the only arsonists in this world, but we are the ones responsible for what we do. The fruitless election is past. Escalation in Iraq is what we are choosing, and it is destined for utter failure. Even if Baghdad is stabilized, which it won’t be, the civil war in Iraq will simply move onto other grounds in space and time, extending to other regions and extending temporally.
The U.S. involvement with Middle Eastern oil began a long time ago. A key event was Franklin Roosevelt’s meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz on February 14, 1945. One thing has led to another, as they often do when commitments and agreements are struck.
American entanglement and ambitions in the Middle East have now flowered beyond anything that FDR or Truman could have imagined as they laid the foundation for American woes. American leaders now dream of controlling the Middle East and its oil. They dream of controlling Iran. They dream of establishing stable democracies in countries that have their own timetables and cultures of political expression.
Although it is possible for Americans to interact with all the peoples of the earth in just and peaceful ways, we choose not to when it comes to our national state. This is how it must be with states. Our leaders have chosen unjust and violent ways. Such ways escalate the reactions against America and Americans. They recruit jihadists against America. They destabilize the lands we intervene in.
The ways our leaders are choosing are sinful ways, and sinful ways bring retribution. We will experience that retribution. The more we escalate the sin, the more retribution we will experience.
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.