Thursday, March 20, 2003

Maronite Catholic patriarch on the situation
This is from today's Lebanon Daily Star.
Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir warned Wednesday against the dangerous consequences of the US “war machine moving in the Middle East” for Iraqis and international cooperation.

He was addressing students at Saint Joseph’s School in Aintoura during a visit marking the feast day of the school’s patron saint.

Sfeir called on the students to stand fast in the face of the “storm.”

The prelate said that US war plans had endangered the future role of the UN organization “after it was split between war and peace camps.”

The school’s principal, Father Jean Sfeir, earlier told the patriarch the Lebanese people had only to rally around him to say “yes to peace,” adding that the prelate’s “courage and wisdom,” had already strengthened Muslim-Christian dialogue.

Church of England bishops: no victory prayers will be said

Church chat
How to detect a vagante

Book picks
The Smoke of Satan by Michael Cuneo
Like Divided We Stand: A History of the Continuing Anglican Movement, about a phenomenon that parallels Catholic traditionalism, this book is a valuable history/exposé of the latter movement, and Novus Ordo conservatives as well, across the board by an unsympathetic but pretty objective outsider, a Canadian-born sociologist from New York (and incidentally AFAIK a born Catholic who remembers pre-Vatican II). The groups profiled range from the sane and straight-arrow (and probably very holy), whom Cuneo obviously dislikes but still respects, through 'there has been no Pope since 1958' groups and signs-and-wonders apparition-chasing hysteria (exploited by the tirelessly, tiresomely self-promoting Fr Nicholas Gruner and the late Veronica Lueken, a truly scary person) to the wackiest of the lot, the 'Apostles of Infinite Love' in Quebec with their self-ordained Pope and lady priests.

On The Death of the West
I take a couple of steps back from Pat's anti-immigration rhetoric and question Buchananomics too - see here - but:

1. A country's first obligation is to its citizens and practically speaking a country only can support so many people at a time - therefore some controls on immigration are necessary.

2. Right or left, race-based quotas are evil.

3. Part of the problem with 'multiculturalism' is while it appears charitable, it's relativistic, denying that according to objective principles such as those of Christianity, one culture is better than another. All people, all races, are equal in worth before God, but not all cultures are. (Example: The Aztecs practised human sacrifice, cutting out the heart of a living victim to please the sun god. Thanks, Hernán Cortez, for putting a stop to that and replacing it with the one Sacrifice of Christ in the Mass.) The decline and fall of European culture, which was Christian to the core - and Catholic and Orthodox to boot, can and should be decried. And Buchanan is not a racist for so doing.

Patriarch of Syrian Church speaks

On patriotism
Don't ever associate with politicians, dirty and corrupt men. The army
should have nothing to do with these. As enlistees in the RAF, your duty is to your country through the Crown, not to big shots in the halls of politics.
- a British veteran, remembering something an officer taught him

A conservative blog for peace reader on the war
by an Arab from Lebanon, Melkite Catholic, one of the Queen's Canadian subjects - and a better American, true to the principles of the republic, than a lot of Americans

The person being answered is a friend as well, even though we disagree.

He (Saddam Hussein) is evil, he kills his own people by violent torture, we have the power to stop him, we should, end of story. It's the Christian thing to do.

No. It's not Christian to incinerate Iraqis and destabilize a region, and rub shoulders with Turks who are looking for a piece of the pie, whom you have already permitted to bomb Kurds in the illegal no-fly zones, Kurds you betrayed in the past. There are also more ruthless tyrants than this one amongst countless others, who call for your attention. If human rights are America's concern, then Israel is the primary antagonist in that department. Maybe Mr. Bush should renege his commitment of friendship and lap-dog service to a bona fide butcher, who more than likely is clinically insane. Perhaps he should break ties with the fundamentalist nutcases who search Scripture for hidden meanings every time Sharon breaks wind. Also, I assure you that living under Saddam would have done me much less harm from a religious angle than the U.S. government's friends the Saudis, who would have me eat shit were I to merely step into Mecca. Who allied themselves with Pol Pot, for God's sake? Do you think Saddam amounts to anything in comparison to your government's former buddy?

The bizarreness of this entire propaganda blitz is how the spin doctors have so personalized Saddam. This tone of a global Crusade against an "Evil Man" (a truly insignificant one) is genuinely baffling in the world of Realpolitik where we know that interests are at play. Do the bureaucrats in Washington honestly believe the American people are that stupid? To not suspect that interests are at play?

[Me: Considering that one in five Americans is functionally illiterate and the average American reads at about a fourth-grade level, such that he can't understand the instructions to install a child car seat, they probably do.]

We can't let the French stand in the way of world peace just because they
want to earn the oil contracts.

World peace?... errr... "World Peace"? I'm sorry, but you're losing me, bud. You're not making sense anymore.

What are the objectives of this war again? And how does directly opposing an unnecessary war, death, and mayhem, rather than supporting them, stand in the way of world peace?

No, President Bush was right last night (17th March); the oil wells belong to the Iraqi people. Whoever says WE are just doing it for the oil never mentions the immense profit the FRENCH stand to gain if Hussein outlasts the embargo against him.

Casting suspicion on the motives of opponents of war does not undermine the argument against the war. Oil, Israel, imperial ambitions, securing military bases (please get out of Germany already) and with this President and his supporters, possibly religious nuttery and delusions of apocalyptic grandeur, are the interests being served from your end.

That's why I believe bishops should pray for peace but keep out of war politics.

You honestly don't understand the Middle East and the important role the bishops and patriarchs play in commenting on the political climate and affairs of such a nature. I am sorry, but the model you have in mind here is utterly surreal,
where I come from [Lebanon]. It is not necessary at all if you merely want hierarchs to remain a far cry from Communist Latin American bishops actively participating in politics and scandalizing the Church.

[Me: Isn't this the 'compartmentalizing' of religion apart from 'real life' that enthusiastic orthodox converts, including the neo-Orthodox I see on message boards, decry? As SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson puts it, is Christ merely the king of the sanctuary and not the king of the universe? Long may the social kingship of Christ reign.]

I think the bishops have every right to ask your government to stop sending your country's young men to their deaths, and have it leave us the hell alone.


I for one can't sit back and say "my views on war preclude me from supporting this intervention" while I look at the reality of what life is like in Iraq

Welcome to the world, my friend. Hurt and pain exist. Iraq is a drop in an ocean, if one likes to seek misery and persecution. Iraq should not be made a showcase just because the media's daily digest of propaganda happens to now focus exclusively on the career of this one man. There are places far worse in which to live if one wishes to speak of repression, and some of these are ruled by your allies. You possess the natural instincts that recoil in hurt and rebellion at the sight of suffering from which you and many folks living in First World countries are spared, but which to us is a natural state of affairs. That is good, but you are channeling these feelings in the wrong direction frankly, and I believe, allowing your emotions compounded with your inexperience with and lack of knowledge of the complexity of Middle Eastern politics and history to cloud your judgement, especially if you are intent at grasping at straws with this untenable myth that there is a link between Saddam and fundamentalist Islamic militants, a point laughable on its face for us who live there, and one that can only be made tangible in the twilight zone.

combined with the terrorist forces Saddam is training, etc.

The only "terrorist forces" that this man is training are the ones getting ready to defend their country. Don't be quick to believe anything some clod has to say. Defectors are notoriously inaccurate and even contradictory.

As for the claims of links between Hussein and fundies and mujahedeen, the British have an expression just for these kinds of things: a load of old cobblers. The reaction of laughter of Englishmen to such assertions would be fatal were they sitting on a terrace enjoying tea and eating cucumber sandwiches. Clinging now to any semblance of this idea is grasping at straws in the wind. These panic-stricken people are out of their league here in trying to set up any such pro-war argument based on this ridiculous premise. In fact, allow me to direct you to the Kurds for that one, the fundamentalists amongst whom are more likely to have ties with al-Qaeda types than the mustachio'd menace would. No one who lives in the region I come from can take such a crazy notion seriously, much less the assertion that Saddam has any intentions of actually attacking (!) the U.S. For someone from the Middle East to even consider this involves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the suspension of his rational faculties for the duration of the investigation.

A bit on intelligence. The squawks of Chicken Little defectors are and have always been a dime a dozen, including some hilarious ones warning of nuclear bombs to be found in a country that can barely let off a firecracker or defend its own airspace. Stirring up hysteria viz-a-viz danger to Americans, is ridiculous at this juncture when the only threat Saddam poses is to his political enemies within his country. Let me remind you that defectors are one of the most unreliable sources of information, and citing some individual from mukhabaraat as the article you provided for us has done, is hardly impressive. Also, these folks have their own interests to serve; they are not beacons of clarity and objective reporting. Any Middle Easterner, and anyone versed in the basics of politics understands this. Khidir Hamza, another defector, tried to place the blame of the anthrax episode-now known to have originated domestically-on Iraq. Don't just believe whatever some dolt has to say.

A point by the way: Saddam's son-in-law, a class A defector, himself stated that Iraq has no W.M.D.'s (in its inflated definition; in the past this category did not encompass biological and chemical weapons); this was evidence that wasn't flaunted out in the open, I'm afraid. I wonder why. Neither is the evidence against the official version of Halabja.

Understand that the U.S. government has been found guilty by many of sloppy intelligence, and some of the most crude, embarrassing, and clumsy incidents of misinformation and freshman level plagiarizing as to rival the predictability of Arabic state propaganda. (Look at the lengths these politicians went to in Gulf
War I with their bogus "babies in incubators" stories-and of course the recent slew of fabricated "intelligence"). There isn't a leg for these clowns in Washington to stand on where intelligence, and epiphanies and revelations derived therefrom are concerned. The government personnel couldn't see 11/9 happening under their very noses here in the U.S., and one expects them to discover in a country whose language few in intelligence can understand, clear incriminating evidence that even the inspectors can't get to, of an absurd plot to strike heavy at the U.S. Balderdash. I've seen the West's propaganda like its military deteriorate, and become ever more unsophisticated, careless, and ever more resembling plain bullshit since Gulf War I. Kosovo and now Gulf War II are two cases in point. The level of propaganda quality seems to be a good guage of either the aggregate intelligence of the American populace on world affairs, or of the contemptous degree the government condescendingly thinks the people under its jurisdictions to be saps. In respect for knowing that many conscientous and smart Americans exist, I will say the latter.

People die every day there

Bomb the abortion "clinics" then, by that logic. The unborn get slaughtered in the multitudes daily, and there's more killing of the unborn going on where you live than the people Saddam has ever killed.

and we can sit back and let it happen or take action.

Noble motives, but to paraphrase Thomas Woods, creating a world void of such suffering is beyond the capabilities of the angels themselves. This is the world, and as Serge and I have pointed out oftentimes before, if one is swayed to a side in the conflict, he is free to join or fund one side. Don't open the Pandora's box, and give licence to the American government to undertake a global crusade against whomever fits its description of an oppressor*. Believe me, if so, then America's work will never be done.

*which I certainly consider the American government to be towards those under its own jurisdiction--in fact, I see it as a monster that facilitates the killing of both the bodies and souls of many Americans, in some avenues having reached macabre extremes that surpass any tinpot dictator's crimes. Abortion and exporting this credo abroad is only one of them. Waco is another, an example of how the state can administer torturous deaths with gas, to kids AND pretend through endless justifications to the public that its shocktroopers did something heroic. I doubt even Saddam would stoop so low as to poison the souls of children like a sick puppy, by teaching them the wonders of homerasty. That's just the domestic; the foreign features a black track record miles long. Some unfortunate Japanese in ’45 come to mind, casualties of a despicable Mason** and of the only use of the ultimate weapons of mass destruction in the history of warfare. I would gladly love to see this usurping Leviathan that masquerades as the Republic of the Founding Fathers, crushed, and the localism that once identified the United States (in the plural) restored, but I won't advocate a war to that effect by other countries who have a chance against American forces unless they are attacked directly (in fact, were it not merely for the principle of proportionality, many countries would have a just case of war against your government). For the sake of genuine freedom from the little Caesar and all those to follow him, I would very likely support any local secessionist movement by any part of the country.

**a despicable man whose engineering of foreign policy favourable towards Israel, in binding the former nation to the latter by commitment, was decided on his asking how many Arab voters there were in America. My comment: a pox on democracy, a model made for tyrants. To the conspiracy theorists amongst Orthodox, if there's anything concering the late Patriarch Athenagoras that deserves worry, it is his having called Truman a "good man".

The world doesn't have to operate on a strictly "what am I gonna get out of it model"; no, we can take action based on principles.

Not governments I'm afraid. And those who think they can tame that monster for their own ends, no matter how laudable and commendable their motives may be, should disabuse themselves of this notion, and also take heed that they themselves do not be corrupted should the reins of power fall into their lap.

If I saw a person being killed on the street I would step in and try to save them.

Read Fr. Seraphim Rose, and note the contrast he would make between your Christian conduct in the matter of an individual case, in adherence to Christ's command to clothe the naked, feed the hungry etc., and the epic-scale statist enterprise of Pax Americana. He distrusted misguided attempts to "change the world" or fullfill Christ's commandments on the national scale you propose, only implementable through the instrument of the state.

If I am called to help save innocents in Iraq then I will do it.

You are not undertaking the task of thinking out of the narrow confines of this box, and of realizing the resultant consequences of your government's actions on the stability of the region. Things are never as simple as you think they are, and with all due respect, it takes more than the reading you have accomplished so far to grant you the necessary understanding of Middle Eastern affairs and politics that you need in order to confidently assert that it's time to shout "Bombs away." As for Saddam, the political aftermath that will accompany his fall may prove worse than him by far. Flashing Saddam's "ruthless dictator" credentials does absolutely nothing to further the argument for war. In fact it's bloody annoying and cynical, implying that there is a lack of acknowledgement on the obvious.

You are free to join or fund local resistance movements, but should refrain from using the State, with its gargantuan capacity for destruction, as your instrument. Plus it is fueled by stolen loot, otherwise known as tax dollars, for such purposes. Perhaps the money's rightful owners do not wish their hard-earned labour which produced their wealth to have gone in the service of something they disapprove of as murder. Build your own treasury of funds and go recruit combatants to join in the Iraqi battlefield.

I wouldn't have fought in the Vietnam war because that war was unjust not to mention unwinnable--the people of Vietnam were against it.

You bring the principle of proportionality into the equation. Well then, I highly suggest you take a good number of years living in and studying the entire Middle East and its modern history, so as you can start unravelling the subtleties and nuances behind the geopolitics of that region, and realizing what kind of a volcano you will cause to erupt once the bull elephant that is your military forces breaks into town. I also strongly recommend the history of the Balkans as a cross-reference. You have a whole decade of American intervention and blunders in that wretched, fractured part of the world to study, and a good idea of how a historically and geographically myopic, yet frighteningly strong world power can wreak havoc when it steps into these quagmires, especially when it waves the "humanitarian mission" placard as its credentials. You will also realize the depth of ignorance that the government is confident pervades the populace when you observe how the American government can make a mess of things and still call such a victory as was the case in Afghanistan and Kosovo for example. You will hopefully realize that this Iraqi campaign is not, and can not be a simple case of good guys beat bad guys, and liberated populace lives happily ever after. That's spiel.

The people of Iraq, however, are generally not against our intervention as report after report coming out of Iraq shows.

After the hell and misery your sanctions and bombing have put them through and the state to which they have been reduced, you find that surprising?! When you falsely promise them an end to the sufferings you caused (I say falsely in light of difficulties to come), but for which your government blamed Saddam, Americans are supposed to seek solace in the moral permissibility of their strikes supposedly given them by the miserable Iraqis' cries for relief from all this?

Regardless, concerning the quoted paragraph above, wrong, despite statements of defectors out of harm's way to the contrary. Three points need mentioning. Folks are not prone to welcoming liberation via incineration. Second, America (and unfortunately, as is sometimes the case, the people by association, another example of the danger the U.S. government poses to its own civilian populace) is loathed by Iraqis and many Arabs, and propaganda is entirely unnecessary for
that when you've seen the carnage caused by American military and economic weapons that I've seen. Third, for those who have experienced injustice or suffering by Saddam firsthand, and have been driven to despair and desparation by sanctions--a repugnant form of killing (which shares the same idiosyncracies as abortions in targeting the helpless) that aims at waging a sick Soviet-style psychological warfare against the populace to have them revolt against whomever Washington doesn't like--I can expect such to have had their suffering made so acute, that they will not be reflecting over the political ramifications of this strike. Everyone knows Saddam is a cutthroat, and I doubt you fill find more than a handful of Arabs who will not gladly slit his throat. Therefore, any commentary on his bad behaviour is a red herring and diversion from the core of the argument: the balkanization that will ensue, and the interests of fundamentalist Islamism and the butcher par extraordinaire, Turkey..and Israel! Keep your eye on Palestine in the coming days ahead.

If I am called to serve, I will go because that is my responsiblitity to my country.

Getting yourself involved in other people's wars is a responsibility you owe to no one. And it doesn't serve your country, but imperils it. Your country is your native sod, and you are bound to love and protect it. Your country is not Washington government headquarters.

I'm afraid at this point I will have to call your attention to the change in the mission objectives of your country as you see it. Notice how what first was supposed to be a war strictly for the purpose of eliminating a "threat" to
American security, is now, by your words, turned it into a "humanitarian" campaign. I'm afraid the upper echelons can't make up their minds on how to clearly define the purposes of this war, at least without telling the people the truth.

I do believe this is America's war. We are the world's superpower and there is no way we can "turn back." We created the world in which we live, so
now we have to deal with it. Arguments that "this doesn't concern our nation" don't hold water for me because we are all interconnected now. Globalism is here to stay. Nations were a 16th century Protestant thing, they were here for awhile, but now it's time to go back to multi-cultural "empires" like the Roman empire which have nothing to do with race, ethnicity, etc. People need to keep coming together and integrating more closely.

A neocon credo if I ever saw one.

I think a eulogy for the republic is fitting.

As one of a libertarian persuasion, I believe in free trade (not exporting "democracy" and New Dealish mixed economies [misnamed "capitalism"] at gunpoint)--though I, along with Austrians (followers of the economics school), see NAFTA to be to free trade what Sharon is to peace, imposters in drag--and cultural interaction and exchange such as what the Arabs engaged in in the past. We have always been merchants and traders and these commercial activities foster peace and goodwill.

And I believe this, quite frankly, frightening blueprint that you draw up here of military globalism, imperium Americanum, and the dissolution of national sovereignty, is the antithesis of the aforementioned principles. As for your plans regarding ethnicity, keep it to your parish, but keep it out of my country. Without advocating isolation or opposing healthy cultural interaction, I am certainly not too crazy about the idea of disasatrous social engineering ("integration") getting exported over there, or the structure of American society being used as a template for a global scale model of same.

In closing, no harsh remark was at all intended against your person, but I believe the foregoing had to be said. I think you have good motives, but your vision and perception of things I will have to disagree with vehemently. I pray for the lives of soldiers on both sides, and knowing a war veteran, I have respect for soldiers as opposed to their unscrupulous civilian commanders. However, should a U.S. soldier let off one bullet or bomb that would harm an Iraqi, I will hope to God his plane comes down or he takes the fall. Make no mistake; your forces are the enemy from our point of view, and without malice directed at their persons, I hope to see them defeated in combat, though that is an impossibility. This intention is in effect as of now, since your forces are already attacking as we speak.

[Me: I wish no harm to any American soldier who simply is following orders - he isn't acting of his own free will (one of the three criteria for mortal sin in Catholic theology). I don't want to emulate those despicable people 30 years ago who spat on Vietnam veterans.

As I have written before, had I been of age in the 1960s and knowing what the common man heard back then, I probably would have supported the war in Vietnam, seeing Communism as a threat. I wonder how today's younger armchair generals of draft age would feel if they had their student draft deferments taken away and, like many blue-collar Catholic and Orthodox boys during the Vietnam War, were conscripted into the American imperial army and sent to the desert.]