God of Small Things, Meet the God of War

Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit, posts the following video:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hpwM4Jjyrs[/youtube]

and comments:

PRAYING FOR THE TROOPS, AND THE WORLD. Are we fighting a Holy War?

Devastating.

JammieWearingFool posts the same video, and comments:

Magnificent.

Confederate Yankee posts the same video, titling it with the Charlie Gibson quote that is repeated over and over in the video, “Are we fighting a holy war?”

The video comes from Newt Gingrich’s website, Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract on with America.

That’s the old story. Call it, “The Military-Industrial Complex and the Religious Right Harness the God of War and Descend into the Valley to Liberate the Unwashed Multitudes (and Make a Few Bucks on the Side).”

Ron Suskind, The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism, closing paragraphs:

Those two great genies of wish fulfillment — messianic fervor and technological power — have spotted each other. If they come together, the world, as it is now known, will no longer exist.
[…]
In its report about the September 11 attacks, the 9/11 Commission blamed U.S. leaders, and especially the intelligence community, for a “failure of imagination.” That failure involved not imagining the enemy’s malevolence and ingenuity.

Now it’s a lack of imagination again that is America’s greatest vulnerability — a lack of imagination about what the nation might yet become. Bin Laden and Zawahiri have their story — an old one of the prince walking from the peak into the valley. It’s an ancient story, where those of noble standing show the unwashed multitude that, yes, everyone understands, deep down, how such distinctions of caste and class are hollow, and wrongly define one’s place in the world. Nothing changes, though, generation after generation. It’s all about the luck of birth, about the hand you’re dealt.

But the American story is much greater. It’s the one that replaced that old story. It’s not about the privileged defending what they have with mighty armies or earnest self-regard.

It’s about common people coming to the shores of a vast, challenging place, discovering their truest potential, and re-creating, over and over, a new world.

That’s why people across the erupting planet want us to tell that story and help them tell it, too.

It’s about the valley rising.

Last word goes to Silly Lizzie, in the Comments section to my post about Larry Kudlow. Lizzie cautions us against “turning the justification of evil into an art form: ‘Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.’ “

The tricky part, of course, is to figure out which is which.

6 Responses to “God of Small Things, Meet the God of War”

  1. Kathy, I think she actually said “Woe” rather than “Wow”.

    Though, the quote is FAR more interesting with the latter than the former.

  2. Kathy says:

    LOLOLOL! I do hate it when I don’t catch my typos right away and someone else has to point them out. This one did make me laugh, though!

  3. crazyworld2046 says:

    “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil” by M. Scott Peck (author of “The Road Less Traveled”) is a must read for thoughtful people who are concerned about evil and yet find the way the word “evil” is used most often to be cartoonish and self-serving. For one thing, it’s the only place I’ve ever found a good working definition of the word “evil.” One very good point that Peck makes is that evil people tend to be the quickest to label someone or something else “evil.”

  4. gcotharn says:

    Suskind says:

    the 9/11 Commission blamed U.S. leaders, and especially the intelligence community, for a “failure of imagination.” That failure involved not imagining the enemy’s malevolence and ingenuity.

    It seems to me, in your Palin/Iran post above, you are failing to imagine Iran’s malevolence.

    As for this post, I am not smart enough to figure out what the heck it is about. I suspect you do not understand your own Suskind quote.

    If this post is about being humble and careful and precise when trying to determine what is right and what is wrong, then Palin and you are talking about the same thing. Palin says: “we must pray that our mission is from God”, i.e. we must pray that we have not misled ourselves into undertaking an unwise mission. In other words: we must pray that we make wise choices. Palin’s statement is humble. Her statement is the opposite of arrogant and cocksure.

    If this post is about something like: war is evil, know that Jews and Christians both believe in the right to self defense.

  5. Kathy says:

    There are so many errors of logic and understanding in your post, gcotharn, that it’s hard to know where to start. I guess I’ll go line by line.

    Yes, there was a failure of imagination in underestimating what the enemy was capable of doing and what the enemy would actually do. That failure of imagination came out of a larger failure of imagination which led the U.S. to believe it was invulnerable to events in the world — immune from them, even as we helped shape them. There was a failure in imagination in believing that the U.S. could act in the world and yet live isolated from the world. There was a failure of imagination in believing that oceans would or could protect us from our own foreign policies.

    Suskind writes that paragraph you quoted because it’s true, but also because he is making a point that he gets to in the next paragraph (which I also quoted, but you ignore). I won’t repeat it; you can read it above, but what it means (in the context of the entire book, this meaning becomes more clear) is that America’s first failure of imagination, in not being able to foresee 9/11 or something very similar, is matched now by a second failure of imagination, in that America (the Bush administration specifically) was not able or not willing to seize the opportunity we were given by the world’s initial outpouring of sympathy and more than that, the sense of identification and oneness with America in this horrendous atrocity and tragedy that most of the world felt, and use our policies and decisions to build on that global response in a way that would take all of us in a more positive direction. Instead, the world got the Bush Doctrine that announced the U.S. gave itself the right to invade any country at will if we thought it might be a threat someday, regardless of how imminent or real that threat was in the present. Instead, the world got “You’re either with us or you’re against us, and you show that you’re for us by agreeing with and supporting our way, always.” Instead, the world got hundreds of thousands of dead civilians in Iraq, military occupation, mercenaries to do the dirty work of enforcing the Bush admin’s philosophy that one American life was worth dozens of Iraqi lives. We convinced the entire Arab and Muslim world that the U.S. is fighting a religious war against Islam, and we created a world of heightened hate, heightened fear, heightened terror. That moment after 9/11 was very fleeting, and we squandered it. That’s the failure of imagination Suskind is referring to there — the failure to imagine any response to terrorism other than military force, arbitrary detention (and torture) with no legal rights, and sharply curtailed civil liberties here in the U.S. We cannot now get back, at least not easily, to that time when the world was with us, ready to stand with us and give us the benefit of the doubt. The irony of our “with us or against us” mantra is that the world *was* with us, but our actions turned them against us.

    Your statement that I am now seized by a failure of imagination in not recognizing Iran’s malevolence gets the problem exactly the reverse of what it is. The failure of imagination is in not recognizing what a catastrophic mistake it was to invade Iraq — how it’s made everything worse, including the influence and power Iran has in the region — and in advocating that we respond to the Iranian threat we created with our war-and-invasion-is-the-answer-to-everything approach by responding in exactly the same way now.

    As for this post, I am not smart enough to figure out what the heck it is about. I suspect you do not understand your own Suskind quote.

    I think you were right with your first guess. In addition to which, how can you possibly have the basis to suspect anything about my understanding of the Suskind quote w/o having read the book it comes from?

    If this post is about being humble and careful and precise when trying to determine what is right and what is wrong, then Palin and you are talking about the same thing.

    Palin is not being humble and careful and precise. She is being arrogant and inaccurate and irresponsible. Words are important. Words have consequences. Palin uses words and language recklessly and with no thought to their potential effect. To say in public, to the entire world, that Iran (or, rather, Ahmadinejad, because apparently he is the only high-ranking Iranian official with the power to decide foreign policy and has unlimited authority to do whatever he wishes) is planning to use nuclear weapons to engage in a second Holocaust, without considering what those words actually mean or whether there is any objective, demonstrable truth to them, is not just imprecise and presumptuous, but breathtakingly irresponsible, and imo, wicked as well. No sane and sensible person would deliberately accuse a country that already is hostile toward us of actually being in the active stages of preparing for a repeat of the worst atrocity the world has ever known in the absence of concrete, confirmed evidence that they are.

    Palin says: “we must pray that our mission is from God”, i.e. we must pray that we have not misled ourselves into undertaking an unwise mission. In other words: we must pray that we make wise choices. Palin’s statement is humble. Her statement is the opposite of arrogant and cocksure.

    Unfortunately, gcotharn, people tend to confuse what God wants with what they want. When it comes to national domestic and foreign policies that affect hundreds of millions if not billions of people, I do not want those decisions made on the basis of Sarah Palin’s or John McCain’s, or anyone’s prayers that our actions meet with God’s approval. I want them made on the basis of objective, verifiable, tangible reality, facts, understanding and knowledge of the possible real-life consequences of the policy or action, risk assessments, and contingency planning. In case you hadn’t noticed, many people don’t believe in the concept of God. I happen to believe God exists, and I try to be receptive to God’s guidance in my own personal affairs, but I am not willing to justify government policies and actions that affect lots and lots of people besides myself on the basis of what I think God wants me to do. The United States was not set up as a theocracy. We don’t ask the public to pray that the ways in which we choose to conduct the affairs of state reflect the will of God. And in her ill-considered and un-thinking assumption that all Americans share her religious beliefs, Palin most surely is being arrogant, presumptuous, cocksure, and offensive.

    If this post is about something like: war is evil, know that Jews and Christians both believe in the right to self defense.

    Problem is that invading and occupying Iraq was an act of aggression, not self-defense; and invading or launching an air war against Iran would also be an act of aggression, not self-defense. There is no legitimate self-defense argument for using military force against Iran given present-day facts.

    As a means of addressing or resolving human conflict, war is quite ineffective. It always has been, and it always will be. What makes this truth more compelling now, is that the existential consequences of war for human life on earth are so much more horrific than they were in centuries past.

  6. gcotharn says:

    Thanks for explaining the post in a way I can understand.

    I read everything, and I disagree with every single opinion you shared! LOL I always am on the lookout for somewhere we can agree. There are very few places we can.

    I only mention that Governor Palin was speaking to students who had just completed a program of religious study. However, even if Gov. Palin had been speaking at a public rally, I’ve no problem with her asking Americans to pray. Many American Presidents have asked Americans to pray.

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