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Camouflage on the Home Front

The great threat to America’s security is United States’ foreign policy.  Why?  Because it commits the very “brutalities” attributed to the so-called “terrorists” it purports to be fighting.  How can this be in “the land of the free?”  It is about camouflage on the home front.

It is about cloaking American imperialism in “spreading democracy.”  A glaring example is the Bush administration’s falsely based, illegal, UN-condemned, pre-emptive invasion and occupation of Iraq, masked as “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”  This monstrous war-mongering masquerade, of bringing “democracy to Iraq,” was on full display, as the last of American combat troops, aboard heavily armored Stryker fighting vehicles, paraded out of Iraq two weeks before President Obama’s promise to end their combat mission by August 31.  The final combat brigade’s exit was self-congratulatory: “This is a historic mission!,” a Lt. Colonel “bellowed . . . ‘A truly historic end to seven years of war.’”  Another Colonel reportedly said about the troops, “They are leaving as heroes.” (“Operation Iraqi Freedom ends as last combat soldiers leave Baghdad,” By Ernesto Londono, The Washington Post, August 19, 2010)  They snuck away under cover of darkness, with no Iraqis waving goodby and throwing flowers in appreciation of the “gift” of “freedom.”

“They are leaving” behind a plundered and fractured and decimated country, with continuing intense American-triggered sectarian violence in their wake.  And with American war-profiteering industries richer.  And with former president George W. Bush gaining re-election, and the Republican Party staying in power, for a second term.  And also, as reported, with foreign companies, such as British Petroleum being awarded a lucrative Iraq oil contract, and Halliburton receiving a letter of intent to be the project manager for developing “the mammoth” Majnoon oil field in southern Iraq. (“BP ‘Awarded’ MASSIVE Iraq Oil Contracts in Gordon Brown’s ‘New World Order,’” by Eric Blair, Activist Post, July 21, 2010; “Halliburton gets letter of intent for Iraq oil,” Aug. 18, 2010, Associated Press, Poten & Partners) And with the tragic sacrifice of precious American lives and the waste of our country’s resources, on the altars of corporate greed and power-pursuing politicians.  And with 50,000 US troops still in Iraq.

President Obama demonstrated his role as the current “Camouflager-in-Chief,” in recently telling the Disabled American Veterans  that “he was bringing the war in Iraq ‘to a responsible end.’” (“Obama Reaffirms Pullout From Iraq Is on Schedule,” By Peter Baker, The New York Times, August 3, 2010)  How can Obama bring the Iraq war to “a responsible end” when he refuses to hold responsible those who committed this globally condemned war crime against the Iraqi people?  His moral equivocation is seen in his refusal to prosecute former President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and others in their administration, for their war crimes in our name.

Camouflage on the home front is about using foolproof ethnocentric fabric to robe evil in good.  Like former president George W. Bush diverting the attention of Americans from how US foreign policy contributed to the horrible 9/11 attacks by repeatedly saying, “America is the greatest nation in the world.”  His ethnocentric heraldings of America’s greatness  encouraged many Americans to remain oblivious to the ensuing war crimes the Bush administration committed in Afghanistan and Iraq in their name.

Camouflage on the home front is about prostituting religion to prosecute these wars.  Former President Bush repeatedly, and prayerfully, hid the “shock  and awe” killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslim men, women and children in Iraq, and the destruction of untold numbers of their mosques, with, “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world.  It is Almighty God’s gift to every man and woman in the world.”  And a large majority of white evangelical Christians said “Amen!” with their support– and  vision of converting Muslims to Christianity when the deadly dust settled.  And many other Christians accommodated Bush’s perversion of their “Prince of Peace” with blunted protests and silence.

The camouflage employed was heavy indeed.  A “Jesus-changed-my-heart”-professing President Bush made his hypocrisy more palatable for public consumption by holding Muslim services at the White House, and by telling Americans to differentiate between Islam as a religion of peace and “terrorists” who were perverting it.  And as the “Commander-in-Chief” and self-proclaimed “war president” prayed on bended knee, he ordered the dropping on Afghanistan and Iraq of horribly devastating bombs that did not differentiate between innocent followers of Islam and “the evil ones.”  Bush’s religious tip-of-the-hat to Islam helped to camouflage his administration’s killing and maiming and uprooting of millions of Muslim human beings—and the decimation of their life-sustaining infrastructures.

Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in numerous other Muslim-populated countries, could readily equate American Christianity’s “God” with imperialistic violence and death and exploitation, and oppose the building of a Christian church anywhere near their “sacred ground” that America’s foreign policy has violated and plundered.  Christians, as well as Muslims and Jews and others, need to be guided by the universal humanity of the Golden Rule, which affirms everyone’s right to life and justice–and kindness.

It should not be about keeping a mosque at a distance from sacred Ground Zero.  It should  be about coming together with the realization that the ground upon which everyone walks is sacred.  It is time for people of faith to say No! to the camouflage of fear and ignorance and hatred and political opportunism and Yes! to the humanness which unites us all.

Rev. WILLIAM E. ALBERTS, Ph.D. is a hospital chaplain and a diplomate in the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy.  Both a Unitarian Universalist and a United Methodist minister, he has written research reports, essays and articles on racism, war, politics and religion.  He can be reached at william.alberts@bmc.org.

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Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D., a former hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center, is both a Unitarian Universalist and United Methodist minister. His new book, The Counterpunching Minister (who couldn’t be “preyed” away) is now published and available on Amazon.com. The book’s Foreword, Drawing the Line, is written by Counterpunch editor, Jeffrey St. Clair. Alberts is also author of A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, which “demonstrates what top-notch pastoral care looks like, feels like, maybe even smells like,” states the review in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. His e-mail address is wm.alberts@gmail.com.

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