Only a sober defense of our nation in the face of a violent aggressor merits this kind of sacrifice. “Promoting” democracy, “peacekeeping” missions, overthrowing dictators, suppressing insurrections, nation-building, occupying other nations without a plan, preemptive strikes and preemptive invasions are not worth the price paid by the volunteers who risk life and limb everyday in the field. America’s heroes are wasted on the pet projects of our politicians. Don’t you think its time to bring our troops home?
“To harbor no envy, no anger, no resentment against an offender is still not to have charity for him. It is possible, without any charity, to avoid rendering evil for evil. But to render, spontaneously, good for evil – such belongs to a perfect spiritual love.” – St. Maximus the Confessor
Today, our nation continues to return only more evil for the evil wrought unto us: we are still in Afghanistan even though we have no clear mission there, Guantanamo Bay is still open, we impose sanctions that serve only to strengthen the very national regimes we oppose while weakening private industry and uniting the people against us, we use lethal drone strikes indiscriminately to kill and terrorize our enemies, we avoid the guilt of killing civilians by defining any military age male killed by a drone strike as a combatant unless categorically proven otherwise postmortem or by making unsubstantiated claims refuted by our own military intelligence that Iranian scientists are making nuclear bombs to kill us, with overwhelming bipartisan support our congress granted the executive branch the power to indefinitely detain anyone, including American citizens, without trial based on nothing more than “suspicion,” and our president unilaterally decides who we kill and who gets to live.
If are to truly honor the victims of 9/11 then we can do so by eliminating the draconian foreign policies that caused that tragedy in the first place. We can start by bringing our troops home out of the Middle East and by establishing policies that respect human dignity and ensure due process to everyone. Revenge and hate does not honor their memories even when we phrase it nicely by saying we want to “bring democracy to the rest of the world” and that we will “not apologize for who we are and what we stand for.” Charity and forgiveness, however, do honor their memories and perhaps the honorable thing to do is indeed to apologize for what we have stood for when we stand here with blood on our hands. Because many of our actions over the last couple of decades don’t stand for “liberty and justice for all” in the least. Continuing to stubbornly refuse to apologize for the wrongs we have committed and to refuse to change undermines the good that we have also done. We do violence to the ideals of liberty and justice when we shout them at the top of our lungs and then blatantly contradict them with our actions, and we also do violence to the memories of everyone who lost their lives in this bitter war against terror.
For ourselves, for our fellow man around the world and for the loved ones we have lost it is imperative that we terminate once and for all our vengeful tactics of rendering evil for evil and instead start rendering some good in the world.
American Catholics are up in arms over the infringement of our religious liberty due to the HHS mandate forcing us to buy services we find morally reprehensible. The Obama administration has offered, not just Catholics, but anyone morally opposed to contraception, abortifacients or sterilization, an ultimatum: abandon your faith or abandon your business. With more than 68.5 million registered members, the Catholic church is the largest single religious denomination in the United States, comprising about 22 percent of the population so how did it come to this? Well, targeting groups based on religious affiliation in the United States did not start with a group as large and ingrained into our society as the Catholic church. Before Catholics our government’s target was, and still is, Muslims. The War on Terror was, and ever will be, a war against Muslims. This isn’t because most terrorists are Muslims (it would probably be better stated that most terrorists are Arabs, and most Muslims are not Arab) but because the War on Terror is really a war of revenge. After 9/11 our country was hurting – and we overreacted. The result was a nearly decade-long war in Iraq, condemned as unjust by the Pope, in which we killed anywhere from 400,000 to 1.2 million civilians in a war of no strategic value. The mantra of the never-ending War on Terror seems to have become “hate thy enemies” as our politicians embrace the use of vindictive and useless means like torture and literally demonizing our enemies by likening the Iraq War to fighting Mordor.
I remember watching a “documentary” called The Third Jihad which warned of Muslims trying to impose Sharia Law on Americans through an apparently evil scheme to “vote for” and “elect” Muslim extremists to places of political power in the United States. This “documentary” implied that it was the patriotic duty of true Americans to block these Muslims from participating in our democratic process, all in the name of “protecting our liberties” from the fascist Muslims.
The Third Jihad expresses fear at the thought of “non-violent” muslims within the United States who are further labeled “radical” despite admittance to their non-violence. What the movie blatantly ignores is that the United States is a democracy and if muslims want to engage in US politics through non-violent means that is their constitutional right as US citizens. US citizenship is not, and never has been, dependent on a person’s religious status – after all, freedom of religion is one of the central tenets of American democracy.
Furthermore, this movie demonizes muslims for answering to a power higher than government, condemning British muslims for wanting their government to reflect their values – which is absurd. The video cites that 81% of British muslims consider themselves muslims first and British second. I consider myself Catholic first and American second and all Christians should consider their loyalty first to their faith and not their country. Both Catholicism and Islam predate British and American government, and faith in God supersedes loyalty to government. We live in a country in which our constitution recognizes that our rights are granted to us not by the government but by God and thus it is to God to whom our first loyalty should lie. Can we really blame Muslims for doing the same? These are not the radical Islamists that promote terror, these are men and women trying to be faithful to their religion and there is nothing wrong with that. To undermine their faith serves only to push them towards radicalism.
Additionally, there has been expansive political pressure opposing the construction of muslim schools and mosques in the United States for fear of the muslim practice to “Aslim” the land, which means to buy up land to make it muslim ground. However, I will never protest muslims buying land in America no matter what their intent. To oppose that would be to oppose their property rights. I may refuse to sell my land to muslims and I will certainly oppose any kind of special treatment from our government to muslims (as I oppose special treatment of any group by the law) but I will recognize and respect them for what they are: human beings and therefore our brothers and sisters in Christ. They have the same exact rights as you and I and when I defend those rights I sure as hell will defend them for everyone, muslims included. There are muslim fascists, even here in the US, but the threat they pose is small compared to the threat that we pose to ourselves. By rationalizing away the religious liberty of muslims we open up the door for our government to take away everyone’s freedoms. We are already far down that road. We see it today as Catholic “extremists” are forced to pay for other people’s birth control; this is rationalized by labeling us right-wing fascists who hate women just for practicing our freedoms. Ironically it is the same label given to the very muslims that the propaganda machine has declared that we as Christians must oppose with violence and draconian measures. Now we are beginning to feel the sting of those very same abuses.
In response to efforts by Christians to work with muslims instead of against them in order to stop abortion, Big Peace writer Diana West stated the following (Bigpeace.com seems to have removed the original article but a response article on Big Peace can still be found here):
Making “common cause” with muslim states to vote down pro-abortion law at the UN becomes dangerous if and when it means constructing a Trojan Horse by which proponents of sharia make their stealthy advance into regions of respectability in the West that would otherwise be closed to them as sworn enemies of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Apparently, maintaining ethnic purity within the United States is more important than the lives of 52 million children. Its no wonder that in a recent statement Pope Benedict XVI said that America is “increasingly hostile to Christianity.” Opposing muslims and maintaining our “respectability” is more important than re-establishing Christian values in society.
The Islamophobic attitude of the War on Terror has saturated our culture to the point that we’re afraid of what preposterous evil muslims might be up to in the voting booth, or when they buy land. The fruit of the war on terror is that we’re now more terrified than ever – and our terror has bred nothing but hate. But to target them for their faith and to oppose their right to vote or buy land or build a school is to destroy religious liberty, not just their own, but everyone’s. A truly free society can only be free if everyone’s rights are protected. To merely defend some people’s rights some of the time is to tread the road to tyranny.
That’s why, in response to America’s epidemic of mosque burnings we must protest, not in defense of Islam, but in defense of our fellow Americans who happen to be muslim and, also, in defense of ourselves. We cannot deny the religious freedom of others, even through seemingly benign inaction, and still expect our own religious freedom to be protected. Because, as America becomes increasingly hostile towards Christians it becomes ever more plausible that, next time, it won’t be a mosque but a church that gets burned to the ground. We must not accept the unacceptable; we must not let such abnormal acts becomes normalized in our society; and we cannot give credibility to such wicked acts of religious persecution. Instead, we must defend the rights of all human beings and find solidarity with our brothers and sisters of all creeds now before it is too late. This is a fight that do not want to fight alone.
So far, these cuts have amounted to 2% of the defense budget if we adjust for inflation and, not adjusting for inflation, the defense budget has increased every year of Obama’s term. Additionally, under Obama’s proposals spending would have increased in real terms but only through spending freezes enacted by Congress has the negligible 2% cuts taken place. Obama does intend to decrease military spending in the future by 8% over ten years. However, this is still a small cut over a decade-long time period in which Obama won’t even be president for most of that span.
So what’s Romney’s plan? Create a defense spending floor of 4% of the GDP. This constitutes a massive increase in military spending. Keep in mind that Romney wants to cap all federal spending at 20% GDP, meaning that, at the bare minimum, military “defense” spending is obligated to constitute 20% of all federal spending no matter what. Spending amounted to 24.3% of GDP last year. Romney’s plan seems to be to cut “spending” without touching any of our biggest expenditures: Social Security, Welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid. In fact, Romney’s biggest cut would be Obamacare, about 95 billion. Romney’s plan to increases military spending dwarfs Obamacare – to say nothing of the 2010 $700 billion Wall Street bailout which Romney thought was the “right thing to do”.
Romney’s promises to reduce our escalating debt and return us to fiscal responsibility are empty. He will do no such thing. So when Romney states, “Getting our fiscal house in order has become more than just an economic issue; it’s a moral imperative. Every dollar of deficit spending must be borrowed, with the bill sent to our children to pay back. As president, Mitt Romney will ask a simple question about every federal program: is it so important, so critical, that it is worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?” That’s just rhetoric. That should really come as no surprise since Romney believes that cutting spending, paying off our debt and returning that money to the American people causes depressions.
What we can expect from Mitt Romney is an eternal warfare state with a bloated military budget that the Pentagon will have to perpetually justify if they want to keep their funding. We already have 700 – 1000 military bases around the world, we have been in a constant state of war in the Middle East for well over a decade and, prior to Romney’s spending increase, nearly half of worldwide military spending comes from the US with second place going to China with a budget only 1/6 the size of ours.
With the incentive of even more money thrown at the problem we can expect even more aggressive military interventionism, sinking us into greater debt, with more war, more US casualties and the propagation of anti-America sentiments as we get even more involved and use even more force around the world in places where we’re not wanted.
We’re not fighting Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia any more. We’re fighting ragtag terrorists with no nation and no center of command. We cannot win with tanks or nuclear submarines or fighter jets that can land vertically. Bloated budgets and aggressive interventionist foreign policy are terrorists’ greatest ally: millions of otherwise ordinary Arabs hate us because of what we’ve done in the Middle East making us the best recruitment campaign the terrorists ever had.
If we want to beat the terrorists we will do so through discretion and cunning. If we want to help our friends in the military-industrial complex we can do so by making sure we have a constant supply of enemies to fight – and we can do that by increasing out “defense” capabilities so as to constantly meddle with the affairs of every country in the Middle East from now until Hell freezes over.
Republicans talk endlessly about how we need to have an active presence in the world. They are right, but that presence should not be defined by how many people we kill or by how many countries we occupy. Instead of responding to every whim with deadly force or the threat of deadly force, we need to bring our military home to defend our own borders and in its place open up free trade and diplomacy. That’s how you make allies. That’s how you foster peace. That’s how you change hearts and minds. Because no military can kill hate; guns and killing only perpetuate it. You kill hate by finding solidarity.
Associated Press reports: Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year – the fastest pace in the nation’s decade of war.
This is just one of the tragic costs of the perpetual war on terror in which we repeatedly recycle soldiers, sending them on tour after tour in the same unnecessary wars extending over a decade, and then cut their veteran benefits while at the same time insisting that we cannot cut spending abroad because we must “support our troops” by perpetuating the warfare state indefinitely.
If we are really interested in supporting our troops then we must diligently work to ensure that we are putting them in harm’s way only when the liberties they are meant to protect are genuinely in jeopardy – not because we want to make the Middle East “safe” for democracy, not because Afghanistan supposedly needs us to build their nation in our image and not because Iran has issued bellicose statements and has a less-than-transparent nuclear program. None of these pet-projects of America’s political elite are worth the costs paid by the foot soldiers on the ground. America’s leaders chalk up our troops suffering to the fact that “war is hell.” My response, then, is that we must stop so eagerly pursuing Hell.
Reposted from Mark Shea’s Catholic and Enjoying It!
1. President orders somebody killed, based on God knows what.
2. By their mystic arts, people operating drones decide they have found the person the President wants dead.
3. Drone blows up that person and whoever else happens to be around, like this kid:
4. All victims (funeral goers, teenagers, etc.) are labeled “combatants” for the crime of happening to be in the area of the guy the drone operators are pretty sure was the guy the President wanted dead.
5. Kids are labeled “collateral damage”.
6. Administration labels strike a success.
7. If somebody asks, “What about that kid?” court prophets say, “War is hell. Better the innocent should perish than the guilty escape.”
8. If somebody asks, “How do we even know if the target was guilty of anything? How do we even know the target was the guy on the President’s kill list?”, Administration “Everywhere is the Battlefield in the War on Terror” and ponders adding subversive questioner’s name to secret kill list. Return to step 1.
Feel safe, or you you may be a Enemy of the State.
A New York Times article published on Tuesday unearths a lot of information about the White House’s largely secretive drone program: despite being a hallmark of the presidency of Barack Obama, authorities working under the commander-in-chief — as well as Obama himself — are for the most part mum when questions arise about the administration’s ongoing air strikes by way of unmanned robotic aircraft. In particular, the question of civilian casualties and the death toll of innocent Afghans and Pakistanis who have lost their life at the hands of Washington’s war machine are often left unanswered or, even worse, addressed differently. According to the Times’ latest write-up, though, the Obama administration has some scandalous opinions on who can and can’t be killed by its murder program.
The White House convinces itself that the Obama-ordered air strikes overseas have not killed many civilians because, according to the president, any and all men near a drone target are considered enemies of America and can be executed without being added to the count of civilian casualties.
“It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent,” is how the Times report it. “Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.”
The Times article goes on to explain that President Obama is incredibly instrumental when it comes to targeted drone strikes and oversees counterterrorism operations involving the unmanned aerial aircraft so much so that he says who can and can’t be killed. To Newshour, Shane said, “Instead of wanting deniability and wanting to keep at a distance from this lethal program, he actually wanted to be very much part of it.” According to that Times’ report, it now makes a lot of sense why the commander-in-chief has never condemned the continuing strikes.
Speaking to an international audience during a virtual townhall earlier this year, President Obama said that drones had “not caused a huge number of civilian casualties” and he added that it’s “important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash.” But when the Bureau of Investigative Journalism released the findings of a drone strike stud last year, the UK-based agency said , that the number of civilians killed in US drone strikes were probably 40 percent higher than what the American authorities were actually reporting: between 2004 and 2011, they put the estimate of civilian deaths at a figure of 385, but added in the research that the toll could actually come close to tallying 775 casualties.
Realize that the drone program is being expanded to American soil. Feel safe Americans or you are an enemy of the state: