Saturday, May 23, 2009

Onward Christian Soldiers, indeed.

This is now kind of an old story, as things go these days. I haven’t gotten around to posting about it, but it is something I felt like I should.

It’s not a secret that the armed forces of the United States has become a very Christianized place in the last 10 years. Oh, no doubt, the various services were always pretty conservative, which usually goes hand in hand with religion. But under President Bush and his Iraq War, Afghanistan War, War Against Islamic Terrorists, Global War on Terror, etc. etc., the trend has become a full fledged avalanche, gathering speed and mass as it careens downhill. I have read stories about what has been going on at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for years. I don’t like this and firmly believe that religious fervor and military should NOT be sharing the same bed. That’s pretty much a recipe for disaster.

What is finally coming to light, however, is yet another thing altogether. GQ magazine broke a story about how Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon put together daily briefings for President Bush on how the wars were going. That’s not really newsworthy by itself, but the nature of the briefings were. Here is part of a column by Frank Rich at the NYTimes.

But Draper’s biggest find is a collection of daily cover sheets that Rumsfeld approved for the Secretary of Defense Worldwide Intelligence Update, a highly classified digest prepared for a tiny audience, including the president, and often delivered by hand to the White House by the defense secretary himself. These cover sheets greeted Bush each day with triumphal color photos of the war headlined by biblical quotations. GQ is posting 11 of them, and they are seriously creepy.

Take the one dated April 3, 2003, two weeks into the invasion, just as Shock and Awe hit its first potholes. Two days earlier, on April 1, a panicky Pentagon had begun spreading its hyped, fictional account of the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch to distract from troubling news of setbacks. On April 2, Gen. Joseph Hoar, the commander in chief of the United States Central Command from 1991-94, had declared on the Times Op-Ed page that Rumsfeld had sent too few troops to Iraq. And so the Worldwide Intelligence Update for April 3 bullied Bush with Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Including, as it happened, into a quagmire.)

What’s up with that? As Draper writes, Rumsfeld is not known for ostentatious displays of piety. He was cynically playing the religious angle to seduce and manipulate a president who frequently quoted the Bible. But the secretary’s actions were not just oily; he was also taking a risk with national security. If these official daily collages of Crusade-like messaging and war imagery had been leaked, they would have reinforced the Muslim world’s apocalyptic fear that America was waging a religious war. As one alarmed Pentagon hand told Draper, the fallout “would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.”

I really don’t know what I find more disturbing. That Bush might be swayed by such crap, or by the fact that Rumsfeld, who is not really a “true believer”, would cynically play such games with Bush to manipulate him into what Rumsfeld really wanted to do. Both are really disturbing to think about. This is what might have been going on in Europe back in the 16th century. It should not be going on in the United States in the 21st century.

And, as always, some people are upset that these things are being made public. It’s not the fact that they even exist. No, that’s not the problem. But showing them to people and talking about them, well, that’s just terrible.

I wish all politicians, but mostly Republicans, would stop and think for a second about this. If you think there might be some bad repercussions if what you are doing eventually becomes public, then doesn’t that immediately tell you something about what you are doing? If you are worried about your actions showing you in a bad light, then maybe, just maybe, that is something you shouldn’t be doing? For example, it’s O.K. to torture detainees that haven’t been charged with a crime, but boy, no one better talk about that. That would endanger this country!

This is, without a doubt, a very warped way of thinking. It’s never your fault, it’s always someone else’s fault. To me, such thinking is a sign of either criminal behavior or a deep psychological problem, and possibly both. To me, everything that is coming out about the Bush administration just confirms the absolute worst that all us DFH's have always suspected. These guys were delusional. They were megalomanics. They were criminals who knew what they were doing was criminal and tried to hide their actions behind a curtain of fog and legaleze that no lawyer with an ounce of integrity would try to sell to a judge.

And all of them are going to get away with their misdeeds. I find that sickening.

Image from here.

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