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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Connecticut in Iraq

Posting's been light lately, as our crack staff has been on vacation. We'll be picking up again soon, so thanks for your continued support!

If you've been reading a while, you know that we try to keep it non-political around here, but I've been reading The Charlie Company blog written by First Sergeant Ben Grainger of C Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, which is based here in Connecticut. First Sergeant Grainger and his men have had some amazing experiences and he's put up some really great posts.

Why is any of this political? Because the First Sergeant has a lot to say about how war is conducted in the current political climate. Read this:

We had a Marine get hit square in the chest by a sniper shot the other day, but he was able to get up and run for cover. Yes, they knock you down for some reason, but the ballistic protection does its job. Stopped it cold. Of course the Marine has a big bruise in the middle of his chest, but he is great shape. The sniper, you ask? He ran into a mosque to hide because he knows we don’t go into them. Why don’t we go into them, you ask? Because we would be insensitive -- there’s that word again -- to them if we did. Why are we sensitive to them, even after a known shooter ran into it? Because there are a few people back home, who are not getting shot by snipers, who are upset and are throwing tantrums about us being insensitive. Why are they not here, you ask? Well, I guess they are too busy burning our flag. We did call the local police, so we could be sensitive, who had six guys search the entire place in about, umm, 30 seconds and came out and said they found nothing. Now how do you suppose he got out when we had the place surrounded?

Then there's this jewel, which no doubt implicates some of our fellow Connecticut residents:

The packages and mail continue to raise morale and make the job at hand that much easier. Which leads me to one more topic: a few people have said they can’t send the Marines a package because they don’t support the president. Then don’t put the president's name on the box -- put one of my Marine's names on the box. I have supported every president since 1984 and have not cared who was in office, he was the President of the United States! The president doesn’t live here and I promise not to give him any of your junk food if he shows up, if that will make you happy.

Can't we support these men and women who are in harm's way?

If that's political, so be it.

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Steve said...

Ok, finally, I can ask. From one New Englander to another. How can a Christian be pro-war. I'm not talking about resistance to armed aggression, I'm talking about supporting an elective war. How do you "square that support" with the Gospels?

I'm not trying to bait you, it's a sincere question.

Nick said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks for popping in. Sorry about Nomar.

I hope no Christian is "pro-war," per se, but I'll assume you mean the war in Iraq when you say "pro-war."

From your opening, it almost sounds like you've been waiting to ask me this question for a while. If so, that's good because it means I'm keeping it relatively apolitical, which is my goal. I do blog about some issues here that can be off the radar of Evangelicals sometimes. Anyway, what drove me to say what I said was that I got agitated when I read the Marine sergeant's comment: "...a few people have said they can't send the Marines a package because they don't support the President." To think that way is a person's right; to take the trouble to express that to the Marines in question is cruel and serves no point whatsoever other than just to stick it to them.

I think reasonable people can differ about whether the Iraq war meets the definition of a "just war" as that term has traditionally been understood. Maybe part of the problem is that the Administration seems to have done a terrible job (before and after) at articulating its rationale for war. This played into the straw man later created by anti-war folks who focused on the WMD issue as if that had been the only reason that had ever been given for going into Iraq. For its own part, the Administration gave in to political correctness and failed to identify the true enemy as radical Islam which seeks to create a global caliphate. Only recently Zawahiri stated the avowed goal of al-Qaeda to, at a minimum, re-establish the caliphate from Iraq to Spain. The mainstream press is only now (in 2006!) looking at this and many other similar statements, such as Nasrallah's reprehensible utterances about Jews. And I emphasize the term Jews, not Israel.

Perhaps more to your point, an Iraq "just war analysis" very much depends on whether you accept the premise that preemptive war has become more necessary in the modern environment because of WMDs and the threat of radical Islam. If a person accepts this premise, he could be willing to give Mr. Bush more leeway.

I have other thoughts, but I would defer them until I hear how you would define an "elective war."


Steve said...

Simply put, WMD was the issue. Period.

Neither the Congress, nor the American people would have gone to war had they not been convinced of an existential threat posed by the alleged WMD.

That was the consistent talking point of the administration. It was the president's argument, not a straw man created by the anti-war camp. Saddam had WMD, he used them in the past. He used them against his own people. He was a threat.

As far as the threat of radical Islam is concerned, it was never an issue in Iraq. Iraq was, arguably, the most secular country in the Middle East. (I say arguably because Syria may have right to the title) There were no Jihadis issuing forth from Iraq to attack Des Moines. Now, unfotunately, thanks to the war Mr. Bush precipitated, there is a Jihadi threat. (Not to mention, the creation of another pro-Iranaian state with the world's second largest oil reserves.)

Ok, that said, back to the question of Christian support for war. In this case I'm not using Chistian generically. Certainly there are many Catholics, Orthodox, and mainline Protestants who are very much against the war. I'm referring to the so-called Christian Right. (Or Evangelicals, fundamentalists, born-agains, etc)

It seems that everytime I see a Falwell, Robertson, or Hagee on Fox News they're encouraging attacks on enemies of "Israel and the United States"

It's with the above in mind that I asked the original question. When did Jesus ever say "get the other guy before he gets you"? Jesus spent several days among the Samaritans (He accepted their hospitality at a time when the Jews and Samaritans were sworn enemies) His country was threatened and later crushed by the Roma Emprie. He didn't say, "Hey, you guys better get up an army and wack Rome before they plunder Jerusalem".

I don't doubt that the politics of right wing Christians necessisate support for the Bush war(s) but I think you'd be hard pressed to justify that support by invoking Christ.

Thanks for the Nomar sympathy. I'll never get over it but I'm glad he's playing so well in LA this year. As long as he goes into the Hall of Fame with a B on his cap, I'll die a happy man ;)

Nick said...

Here is a portion of a speech by the President on October 7, 2002 (the "Cincinnati speech").

Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles -- far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations -- in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work. We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States. And, of course, sophisticated delivery systems aren't required for a chemical or biological attack; all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist or Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it.

And that is the source of our urgent concern about Saddam Hussein's links to international terrorist groups. Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans. Iraq has also provided safe haven to Abu Abbas, who was responsible for seizing the Achille Lauro and killing an American passenger. And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace.

We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.

Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.

Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary; confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror. When I spoke to Congress more than a year ago, I said that those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction. And he cannot be trusted. The risk is simply too great that he will use them, or provide them to a terror network.

Sure, WMDs was probably the major component but the concern was not limited to Hussein's direct use of them. He was too smart to use them directly against us in a direct way.

People also ignore the credible reports that the WMDs Hussein did have were spirited into Syria.

I'd like to hear what you think about the type of just war analysis we should do in the modern age - or whether there can ever be a just war.

And, of course Jesus did not tell people to whack the Romans. But taking the thoughts from your original comment to the absurd extreme, where does Jesus even say that we should resist armed aggression?

That's what's rattling around in my head tonight.