When all the arguments for a failed war collapse, make God your argument.
After no weapons of mass destruction, no mission accomplished, no functional democracy, no progress in Iraq, no stopping Al Qaeda from rebuilding strength to threaten the American homeland, President George W. Bush has no real argument for continuing the war in Iraq.
So he has retreated to his last defensive cave, using the divine to justify the folly of staying the course.
New York Times columnist David Brooks came away from a 110-minute interview in the Roosevelt Room of the White House late last week in awe of how upbeat Bush was.
Brooks, who pounded the drums for the war, observed that Bush expressed no need to compromise with Congress on ending the war and confidence that he can regain support from a public that opposes the war.
What's the source of Bush's self-assuredness?
According to Brooks, Bush's self-confidence "flows from two sources."
One source is more telling than the other.
Brooks wrote that one source is "his unconquerable faith in the rightness of his Big Idea. Bush is convinced that history is moving in the direction of democracy, or as he said Friday: 'It's more of a theological perspective. I do believe there is an Almighty, and I believe a gift of that Almighty to all is freedom. And I will tell you that is a principle that no one can convince me that doesn't exist.'"
What is Bush saying?
It sounds like the president is saying the following:
--He believes in God.
--God wills freedom.
--Freedom comes in the form of American democracy in Iraq.
--Iraqi freedom is God's cause.
--God's cause is Bush's cause.
Bush apparently believes that he is doing God's will. If so, then God's will is spreading democracy in Iraq through a preemptive war in its fifth summer using violence for righteousness' sake.
If this is Bush's theological perspective, then our nation is being lead by a Christian crusader, not a commander in chief. And that is a very dangerous place to be. Good democracies go bad when governed by theocrats.
If the president is theologically right that God wills the war in Iraq, what does that say about the moral reflection of the broad sweep of Catholic bishops, Methodist bishops, mainline Protestant clergy and other Christian leaders who hold the view that the war is morally wrong?
What does it say about all the global Baptist clergy in Ghana, with whom I spoke two weeks ago, who find the war a disastrous mistake?
Is God the author of confusion? The biblical answer is no. 1 Corinthians 14:33 records, "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace."
So, who is confused? Are the Christian clergy confused? Were they wrong when they said before the war it did not pass the rules of a just war, moral reflection that was routinely ignored in the White House and Congress?
God is neither the author of confusion nor the God of the Iraq war.
Having given lots of reasons for the war, Bush has shamefully added a theological justification for staying the course in an unwinnable war, where violence begets more violence.
Christians believe in the Almighty. Americans believe in democracy and freedom.
However, American Christians should have no confusion about how flawed Bush's theological perspective is.
Robert Parham is the executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.
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