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The irresponsible pursuit of war

July 02, 2006|By Barry Kissin

Our country is engaged in an illegal and immoral war of aggression. The only thing unusual about the massacre in Haditha and the ensuing cover-up is that the massacre has been uncovered.

On June 1, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stated that violence against civilians had become a "daily phenomenon" by troops in the American-led coalition who "do not respect the Iraqi people." "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion," he said.

On June 9, congressional conservatives quietly stripped a provision from an Iraq War funding bill that would have prohibited using any of the appropriated funds for the construction of permanent military bases in Iraq. We are constructing 16 massive military bases in Iraq, not to mention our huge fortress of an embassy in Baghdad. These bases are part of a network of about 800 bases in 130 different countries that we maintain around the world.

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On June 13, when Mr. Bush visited Baghdad, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi asked for a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops. President Jalal Talabani said he supported Hashimi's demand.

On June 15, the United States Senate voted 93 to 6 against a measure to withdraw U.S. troops by the end of the year. On June 16, the House voted 256 to 153 to approve a resolution that says an "arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment" of American forces is not in the "national interest."

Does this mean that our government is abandoning the lie that we are and have been waging war in Iraq for the sake of the Iraqi people? The answer is certainly no. Our government and much of our media will continue to expect the American people to believe that we are in Iraq for the sake of helping the Iraqis achieve freedom and democracy. The recent developments cited above will no more yield an abandonment of the lie than did the quite reliable polls of a number of months ago that demonstrated that more than 80 percent of the Iraqi people want us to leave.

Spiritual and religious people are obliged to recognize the truth of the matter. We are in Iraq for the sake of the American empire, an empire modeled on Roman and British imperialism. American imperial power is in the service of wealth and global domination. The economic and military dimensions of the exercise of our power is intensifying inequality everywhere (including in our own country) and is hastening the ecological catastrophes that loom.

Spiritual and religious people are also obliged to recognize that the political right wing has allied with the Religious Right in a terrible perversion of Christianity and Judaism. The view of God as a force that violently smites enemies and punishes sinners has been made to fit in well with a politics of militarism, nationalism and support for U.S. domination.

Jesus lived in a country occupied by the most extensive empire the world had ever known. Jesus challenged the authority of the Roman empire. He taught people to seek goals other than wealth and power. He envisioned a world in which God's will is done "on earth as it is in heaven," a world in which the sick are healed, the hungry are fed, and the naked are clothed, a world in which wealth is shared and barriers between people are erased, a world in which people treat each other as they wish to be treated themselves, with respect and forgiveness and love.

"Blessed are the peacemakers love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth "

Rome responded to every act of resistance disproportionately. By the time of Jesus, the Roman legions had killed tens of thousands in Galilee and had enslaved many thousands more. Another method practiced by Rome for deterring challengers of its rule was crucifixion.

For a real view of what Jesus would be saying if he were here today, we have the example of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a man whose Christian faith compelled him to address injustice in the behavior of his own country. MLK said: "Look across the oceans and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries. This is not just The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually"

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