"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
- Martin Luther King
IMAGINE President Bush Stuns the World - Announces An End to the Occupation of Iraq and a New World Organization for the Benefit of Civility in Iraq and Beyond…
The public trust is all but gone and our military is stretched and broken and cannot take anymore without having to resort to a draft, because on the U.S. present course, over the next five years it will take to see Iraq through its bitter civil war, there will be a need for at least 400,000 U.S. soldiers and marines in theatre. President Bush decides to make a serious move to change the course of future events in Iraq – for the sake of morality, for the sake of a strong military, for stability of the Middle East, for U.S. national security. He finally understands that the U.S. needs to regain international respect and to sincerely seek the cooperation of all nations to end terror and to do the work of solving the complicated root causes of terrorism. (The kind of cooperation where you don’t have to pay off the participants). Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a good thing in principle, and Bush knows he'll always have that piece of history to his benefit – but in Iraq today, as things stand, Bush has come to understand that he needs an immediate strategic change of direction. Things are going terribly sour. Until he makes that basic change, Bush knows that the nation will pay a higher and higher price over a long time - until the ultimate train wreck occurs...when we are eventually forced to withdraw troops, anyhow, but without a plan for stability in civil-war-torn Iraq.
Bush will get the world's attention by proclaiming that Iraq will be demilitarized. This will require great humility on Bush's part, a virtual turning of the other cheek. Bush will re-direct the correct level of American devotion and commitment to Iraq and he will call upon world leaders to join him in a unified international front against anyone who would employ terrorism against innocent civilians for political reasons.
Bush realizes that he has been seen, by many in the world and in his own nation, as a leader who has sent his troops to Iraq for divisive political reasons, and that many innocent Iraqi civilians have unjustly suffered because of the many strategic errors on the part of the U.S. with Bush as Commander in Chief.
He begins to convince the public that he "means business" by firing Donald Rumsfeld and replacing him with _______ (imagine). Bush publically rebukes and fires anyone in his office and in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office who smeared Joseph Wilson and outed his CIA-agent wife Valerie Wilson Plame. Bush convinces the public that he believes that playing dirty politics by playing fast and loose with the identity of a CIA official is as close to being a traitor as you can get. The Pentagon’s Office of Special Planning would be cleaned out – any of the the neoconservative wonks still on the Washington payroll (the ones who haven't been indicted or promoted to UN or World Bank positions) are tossed out on their ears. Scott McClellan is either given leeway to actually talk to reporters instead of being a clammed-up automaton that no one trusts – or he is simply replaced because it’s too late for anyone to believe him (thanks to the administration who sent him out to cover up their rot for too long).
The End of a Too-Long-Wrong Occupation
A new day begins. After putting diplomacy to work in a sincere and convincing manner, Bush, with humility, announces that, while al Qaeda is dangerous and while he still believes that they must be met by force, a war on a technique called “terror” – fought the one-party way we’ve been fighting it in Iraq – has backfired. Not only is the U.S. left with a new Iraq where an ever-increasing league of terrorists are emboldened by their occupation, but a dangerous low-grade civil war is taking place while our troops are left to protect Sunnis from massacre by Shiites – while the U.S. is also protecting Shiites from Sunnis; while the U.S. is also supporting the Western ideas of the Kurds (who will likely soon completely lose interest – and faith - in a unified Iraq with a strong central government). The U.S. simply cannot appear consistent in their defense of the Iraqi people because the “Iraqi people” have not decided who they are or what they want – and they will probably will have to fight it out between them. There has been a common demand by the Shia leaders and the Kurds - as well as Sunnis - for a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. occupation forces, which has discredited the Bush administration's argument that setting such timetables would be a disastrous mistake. There is simply no “there” there. Iraq's guerilla insurgency says far more (and says it far more forcefully) than any Iraqi election could say. The U.S. is defending everyone - and fighting some of the same people they purport to defend - for no clear goal while theocrats set a new Constitution to water down and dismantle women’s rights and militias roam a land of unbridled anarchy.
President Bush tells us that he realizes that the U.S. occupation must end now, and he insists that Iraq must be policed by their own citizens here and now, but the Iraqis will not be able to do it alone – not today – not six months from now – probably not even six years from now.
Iraqis will still need help, but the U.S. can’t do it alone – and the strategic course must drastically change without doing further harm to the security of Iraq’s civilian population and infrastructure. We look back on what we’ve done and see the immoral ramifications. It's heartbreaking - and it's been ineffective. Too many dead civilians, too many orphans, too many towns destroyed, too many lives ruined and disrupted, no possibility (because of the lack of security) for NGOs to do the real work of rebuilding lives or supporting the building of new democracy.
A New World Organization and A New Global Institute For Anti-Terrorism Policing vs. Militarization
This must be an international policing effort with multilateral authorization - based on international law. Terrorist movements and finances must be monitored and their ranks must be infiltrated. These thugs must never be allowed to get their hands on nuclear weapons. The governments of Middle Eastern countries must become convinced that it is in their best interests to eliminate the threat of terror in their own countries and to join the international effort. Bush admits that the U.S. can't police Iraq on a unilateral basis and that the military occupation is no longer effective. Rather than pulling out U.S. troops and continuing a U.S. air war with errant bombings that kill thousands more innocent Iraqi civilians, he announces a new global alliance against terrorist groups. This new organization will be led by the U.S. and it will be called the World Anti-Terrorism Organization (WATO).
A new think-tank for the global effort to end terror will also be established, with the best diplomatic and academic minds working on real solutions, in conjunction with the UN, to support democracy while attacking the complicated root causes of terror - such as human rights, world hunger, the lack of education, and disease. It will be called GIFT - Global Institute for the Freedom from Terrorism.
Islamic Fundamentalists Join the Debate
The regimes of Syria and Iran, who have caused many problems for citizens within their respective nations who desire a more free and democratic society, would be far more intimidated by a Middle East that was prepared to act, with allied affirmation against those who employ the tactics of terror, in a multilateral effort to protect innocent civilians in Iraq as they work toward building a society they have not yet had a chance to experience. There are many Islamic fundamentalists who do not share the terrorists' commitment to violence. They could be the most important and instrumental group in putting down terrorism and dissuading those who would join the ranks of the terrorists. Iranian and Syrian citizens do not like the tactics of al Qaeda anymore than any civil human being likes them. The world, acting as one, could be a light to these citizens and much more of a threat to totalitarian theocratic regimes. Bush will decide to pull back American-led forces in the areas close to the Syrian border, because it is doing nothing but fueling the insurgency in Iraq. Iraq will be unable to function normally until the insurgency is brought under control and history has shown that a conventional military power will never defeat a guerrilla force without the support of its indigenous people. That is where the international focus must be.
Having made an unfortunate mess of the training (and the speed of training) of the Iraqi security forces up to this juncture, priority could be put on training more and more Iraqi forces – and many WATO nations could host and participate in this effort, with the U.S. in the lead. An immediate and clear plan for training Iraq's troops, along with definite timetables for certain benchmarks to be met will be required.
When President Bush contemplates the difference between what the US troops leaving “precipitously” vs. what leaving “responsibly” means, he sees that every moral person understands that you don’t just pick up stakes and leave the country, but the time has come to plan a withdrawal with a responsible plan for the international police effort. If a battle was ever worth fighting, or if a a war was ever worth winning, the American people have always known what they have to do, and they've done it boldly, decisively, with courage and ferocity. We would do it in Iraq, if it was truly an American war, an American value, or an American interest. The battle is not - and has never been for America alone, and Bush finally realizes that we never should have taken it on as such - especially when bad intelligence was politically manipulated to fit the policy in order to gain the American public's trust - and fear was used to mold public opinion. Bush finally sees that it is in the world's best interest that terrorism is put down and its root causes are addressed - and most importantly, this big idea transcends all partisan politics.
Europe Throws Schadenfreude Aside
Europeans will come the conclusion that they can no longer sit on the sidelines – regardless of how much they might wish to tell President Bush "We told you so, you impulsive imperialist bastard." The security failure in Iraq has created the immediate danger of destabilization which is affecting the European street and the European economy. Seeing the pain and struggle for the peace in Iraq and the hard work of establishing a new government, Europeans will find compassion and purpose (both economic and moral) in joining WATO.
After the terror attacks on the tube and buses in London on 7-7-05, Tony Blair has changed his mind about his steadfast political support of Bush's unilateral cause. Jacques Chirac was reawakened last month to the inequities in France's own egalitarian society when Muslims staged violent and widespread local uprisings. Spain recalls the terror of 3-13-04, and the Spanish people have since elected new leadership who has been waiting for Bush to reach out to them with a multilateral plan that the people of their nation would accept - perhaps even embrace. Innocent people are tired of being used as the pawns in the power struggle.
To this day, Iraq, a nation of 26 million people, still have no functioning judicial system or effective police force. European countries will make a commitment by establishing new WATO forces (taken from their respective militaries or civil police forces on a volunteer basis) and having them ready for international policing/security missions in about 10 weeks, with the assistance and training of knowledgeable and experienced U.S. military generals, MP trainers, and civil police trainers. They will then train as units, which could take at least another four to six months. Together, WATO forces will conduct a coordinated counter-insurgency effort alongside the Iraqi military police, who also need more training.
The United Nations will eventually find a reasonable assurance that there will be security so they can move in, once again, and began to do the good works of humanity for the war orphans and displaced families in Iraq. The UN will also provide additional support for the burgeoning democracy and new government in Iraq, making efforts to ensure the rights of women and protect other human rights, even under a government that embraces some unavoidable theocratic elements based upon the unique culture and society of Iraq.
The American Public Begins to See Some Light
The public will begin to forgive President Bush for his many mistakes in Iraq, knowing that he made up for those errors by turning the effort around to find success by what was the simplest thing he ever could have done - finding humility within his soul. The kind of humility that caused him to think about his people - even though he does not govern by the polls. His people are the ones who have depended upon him to be trustworthy and honest with them. The people are the ones who gave birth to the young men and women who fight and die for President Bush's vision of national security. The fight in Iraq is being done in the people's name, with President Bush as their leader. To know that the people are starting to believe - genuinely believe - that he sent the troops to Iraq based upon falsehoods and errors has made Mr. Bush heartsick. Humility was all it had ever taken to change many hearts - the hearts of his own people and the hearts of the most powerful leaders around the world who have understood, for a long time, that the tactics of terror that have been used for many decades in Europe and the Middle East have been increasing on their own respective countries' streets - and since 9/11 and the pre-emptive war in Iraq (mistake or not), terror-recruitment and copy-cat acts of terror have reached unacceptable levels.
Humility Has Great Power
Humility will call all world leaders to have a change of heart. Terror has not occurred and grown in a vacuum. The powerful must understand that you don't put down terror on the one end, with super-power and forceful might, while letting social tensions build on the other end - ignoring poverty, human rights issues, and the valid civil arguments that the powerless bring to the powerful leaders. The work of real peace, prosperity, and security will be harder than any war could ever be. Diplomacy is conducted by the wisest people who understand that the cycle of war between groups of people who are different from one another will divide them for all time, ensuring endless wars to come.
Once this plan is accomplished successfully, the Republican party might be assured electoral victories for many Novembers yet to come. The world would be a better and safer place - and the people of the United States, seeing their common values represented at last, could feel they were united on the issue. They would respect that President Bush remembered the importance of humility and love for our brothers and sisters, even in the face of hate, terror, and contempt. Christian Americans, especially those Christians who believe that devoted public service to the state is not the same as one's quiet individual service to God, think about Jesus' radical command to turn the other cheek, his rejection of the old law of "an eye for an eye." By the Devil's own misleading, Jesus was told up on that wilderness mountaintop about promises of peace and of wealth, and of visions of control of earthly matters. He rejected that message. America was never meant to do this thing by ourselves, and it shouldn't have ever been any wonder that somewhere along the way, the people lost faith in President Bush's promises that he would be able to erase their vulnerability to danger by removing Saddam Hussein and occupying Iraq unilaterally. Bush needs to prove that we are not continuing to try to transition from a 229-year-old Republic to a new American Empire, or we will ultimately fail - and destabilize the Middle East in the process.
This was a fantasy, of course. A workable fantasy. If President Bush cannot do this now, because time is wasting, he should get our troops the hell out of Iraq - pronto. For my mil-blogging friends, cut me some slack on the miltary lingo, wouldja? - I'm a novice. Perhaps you could add some ideas and correct me where you think I'm off-base. I'm a big girl - I can take it.
Update: Senator Joe Biden's (D-Delaware) WaPo op-ed moves lightly toward a different kind of resolution, saying this about seeking multilateral cooperation:
Iraq's neighbors and the international community have a huge stake in the country's future. The president should initiate a regional strategy -- as he did in Afghanistan -- to leverage the influence of neighboring countries. And he should establish a Contact Group of the world's major powers -- as we did in the Balkans -- to become the Iraqi government's primary international interlocutor.
Like Sen. John McCain calling for ground troops during the Kosovo crisis (which would have been a disaster), Sen. Biden has continously harped for many more boots on the ground in Iraq when we should have been pulling them out instead, seeking a more effective and much wider international cooperative force. Now he says no one listened to him when he suggested that more troops were needed, and I thank God no one did at the time. When he says "A liberation has become an occupation" in Iraq, I wonder why it's taken him until now to bring that up - and why he put it that way. This has been an occupation since we arrived in Iraq in 2003. I don't feel comfortable with his ideas. We'll require something bigger if we're going to turn this thing around.I wonder why no Democrat is bold enough to suggest a solution that would be best for Iraq, the U.S., and the world. Perhaps it's because Bush has taken us so far down the wrong path in Iraq that no political leader will risk any big ideas because those ideas would depend upon allies, old and new, and Bush has alienated them nearly every step of the way.
An image of a modern-day "American Moses" is raised:
"We are but a year from a first great step in this freedom, and on this day next year, we may see that the darkest moments of our struggle behind, not before us. But that turning is merely a beginning. If God were to take an American Moses to the mountain top this day, and show him the whole world in a single sweeping vision, he would, yes, see around him gleaming spires, and golden domes. But he would look back and see what a great wilderness had been crossed to reach them. And he would look forward, to see out over a world, one quarter of whom are ill fed, ill clothed and ill housed. Ill schooled, ill treated and ill cared for, who scream as their children die in hunger and their families die in thirst and sickness.
And what would God say to that American Moses. I believe he would say this: "As you have come out of the wilderness, as this was your past, so it is their present. You cannot rest in your prosperity, but must lead my people into the promised land. And not by sticking with a gun, or jerking on a chain. As you have been transfigured, so must they transfigure themselves. As they are imperfect, you must see how you are imperfect. For you have been given much, and they have been given less."
He would say to this American Moses "Be thankful for what you have, and keep this day, but admit that it will not be fully holy, until there is one vast banquet of humanity, where every place is filled, and none are turned away from the table."
- from "Let Us Pray", a Thanksgiving feature by Stirling Newberry, BOP
Going backward in time, flash back to a sermon that was preached in Miller Chapel, Princeton Theological Seminary, March 6, 1968 by Calvin B.Marshall:
I think it is more realistic and far more fitting for us to concern ourselves with the judgments of God that confront this society and the Christian church at this present moment. Indeed, all over the world, the church stands in judgment. She has failed to do the things she should have done, and she has done those things that she should not have done. The church in America has been a stilled voice as racism has ravaged the society, entrenched poverty has become the plight of a major segment of the population, and injustices seem to be the rule of the day.......In this period of self-examination, we also found that our major urban churches and most of our suburban churches and even a few of our rural churches no longer want to minister to the needs of the poor and the impoverished, but that we have become very middleclass oriented. This was seen across a wide spectrum: from the kinds of people that we drew as members to the restructuring of our worship and liturgy to make it correspond more closely to white churches. We became ashamed of our music; we became ashamed of our spirited expressionism.... We were caught in this trap because everything in our society that was supposed to be good, noble, lofty, and right was white.
Flashback to the beginnings of Christianity:
34 Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' 37 Then the righteous 16 will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' 40 And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' 41 Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' 44 Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' 45 He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'
We will not overcome poverty with economic solutions alone. It's clear that society must change if the way our democracy deals with poverty is going to change. Our political and civic leaders talk a good talk about allevating the conditions that lead to poverty, but after election day, we see little action. Poverty increases in our communities by the year. There is virtually no discussion or debate in the public square about the faith that would lead Americans to guiding their Representatives to reconciling policy with social justice. Pro-rich policies are passed by the Republican party, who have been elected by a majority of Americans who attend church services on a regular basis. How does that make sense? Was Jesus pro-rich?
- In the middle class churches today, what is being touted as good, noble, and lofty? Why are the poor so often blamed for their own poverty?
- Is the middle class so removed, both literally and figuratively, from the urban and rural poor that they have forgotten the importance of God's calling to serve the poor?
- We may never realize the full alleviation of poverty, but does that spiritually excuse us from trying to address such problems?
- Why are there literally thousands of references to poverty and/or serving the poor throughout the Bible?
- What about man's propensity for social injustice, selfishness, greed, and prejudice? Why isn't the Church talking about committing to racial justice and reconciliation in our congregations and communities?
- Why isn't the Church drawing connections between terrorism and poverty, no matter how complex the issue?
- Why aren't the middle class churches talking about the wars to which our nation has committed our soldiers? Do they believe that Jesus was pro-war?
The Church needs prophetic voices, like the many who have spoken through Scripture. Those who subscribe to a Conservative Christian theology and those who are more liberal in their religious theology can agree on Matthew 25, and together, Christians can all stand strong and united in serving the Kingdom of God, which they well know does not always fall in line with serving a government. But they can remember that it is their moral responsibility to call upon that government to legislate with the poorest Americans in mind - along with the poor of this world. With the exception of a few spiritual activist movements, the calling to serve the least of our brethren, as prescribed in Matthew, has been ignored.
The American middle class church seems to have lost its soul on the issue of poverty - and they seem to have lost their way on how a spiritual engine can be used to make political changes in our nation that reflect the democratic values of its citizens.
"Hope is one of the theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.
It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the slave trade all left their mark on earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven."
Just think of what Christians could do today's "present world"- how they could lead a movement to fulfill God's calling. What are today's American Christians occupied with when they speak of their "values?" Abortion? Gay issues? Why those narrow priorities -and not the poor? What has blinded so many Christians in our nation to the poor among us?