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“The United States …should not try or be widely perceived as trying to manipulate religion in pursuit of narrowly drawn interests.”
— The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, February 22, 2011 Task Force report [Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative for US Foreign Policy].
“I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests. That’s why we’re going after al-Qaida wherever they seek a foothold… God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.”
— Obama speech on Libya, March 28, 2011
“If the president orders assassination, it must be legal… If the president orders torture, it must be legal.”
— Condoleezza Rice
Grabbing other people’s land and interfering in their affairs became as American as apple pie before the annexation of Texas, and “Manifest Destiny” as the engine of U.S. foreign policy.
In 17th Century inspirational moments God sent His chosen from England to found the “city on a hill” (Boston). He had dispatched other select British subjects to settle “the promised land” (Virginia).
According to John L. O’Sullivan in 1839, God intended “the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”
See how Americans talked to God before Pat Robertson – before God punished us with Hurricanes for allowing homosexuals to cavort.
In 1898, God, doubling as President McKinley’s National Security Adviser while simultaneously suggesting headlines for William Randolph Hearst, answered McKinley’s prayers for advice. The Big Guy told me to “take the Philippines,” McKinley explained to the press as he launched the Spanish American War.
Secretary of War Elihu Root extolled the virtues of that war because “The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the world began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness.” (In Peter Maguire, Law and War: AN AMERICAN STORY. Columbia University Press, 2002, pp.53-54)
Root omitted discussion of U.S. troop’s involvement in massacring suspected Philippine resisters. Our vanguard soldiers killed some 600,000 before President Herbert Hoover ended the U.S. occupation in January 1933. (Howard Zinn, Common Dreams, June 6, 2007)
Woodrow Wilson fought a holy war for democracy. Harry Truman to stop an atheist Communist dictator in North Korea and prop up a Christian fascist one in South Korea. And Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon all invoked His name.
Reagan invaded Grenada, but didn’t recall who advised him and Bush I ordered the hit on Panama after his third lunchtime martini. The born-again Bush II knew his direction came from above. The Iraqis and Afghans will remain ever grateful for those wars.
Making war without congressional declaration has become traditional. Some thought the Nobel Peace Prize winner would challenge that behavior. But, he explained, he had to kill (he used euphemisms) bad
Libyans to save good ones. “God bless us all,” he added at the end of his speech.
Was the photo of smiling Obama shaking hands with President Gadhafi taken before or after Obama knew he was a bad Libyan? Did Obama’s smile came from constipation, or did God only recently inform him after prayer that Gadhafi was evil? Did Divine consultation convince Obama not to save rebels’ lives in Bahrain and Yemen? He did nothing when their nasty leaders murdered them for protesting.
Or did God, again as national security adviser, explain the important religious functions of Bahrain’s King (hosting the U.S. fleet) and Yemen’s President (torturing Washington’s Al-Qaida suspects). GIs with cell phone cameras might send email photos of naked prisoners to loved ones and thus reveal national security secrets as they did in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo!
Obama couldn’t let all the despots that obeyed the U.S. kill their people with impunity; so with NATO allies he launched a “humanitarian” intervention. Warplanes and ships fired missiles against Libyan targets, speculating correctly that the mainstream media would not inquire whether these impressive explosive displays killed civilians. Well, even if some died, it wasn’t intentional.
Later their families might even collect compensation. We’re generous in war spending. By calling the mission “humanitarian” we distinguish it from older missions when Belgians in 1911 massacred about 12 million Congolese. Germans between 1903-1906 killed 60,000 Hereros in Namibia.
In 1964, the CIA provided names of some one million plus suspected atheist-communists in Indonesia. Our anti-communist friends in that obedient Muslim nation wiped them out — humanely.
Our soldiers killed some 4 million (mostly civilians) in Vietnam – hard to remember why. And our zealous Latin American friend General Rios Montt (a religious Christian) exterminated about 70,000 Guatemalan peasants (1965-77) – and so on.
The United States claims authority to kill people in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, without formal accusations – forget due process – if the President (after praying) decides they might be enemies. So, U.S.
Kill Teams (ah, cooperation!) and drones (hi-tech is super!) waste suspected enemies (God’s enemies, of course). Do these newly named entities kill more than that G.. damned Gadhafi? Oops. Almost used God’s name in vain – a sin. But we not need worry, the weapons Obama instructed the CIA to deliver to “free Libyans” will carry Jesus’ blessing properly inscribed.
God Bless America!
Saul Landau’s new film WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP is available through cinemalibrestudio.com.
Nelson Valdes is Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico.