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Is Preparing the World for the Second Coming Appropriate Middle Eastern Policy?

I believe this to be the first time in modern American history that a president's religion, in this case his Christian fundamentalism, has become a decisive factor in his foreign and domestic policies. It’s a factor that has been under-reported, to say the least, and that begs for press attention.

Saul Friedman
Prior to the last election I asked several friends who were voting for Bush to explain why; to give one reason that would justify re-electing the man. For the one friend who answered it boiled down to his faith. I pointed out how un-Christ-like his policies were, from rewarding the rich to the unnecessary deaths in Iraq. I think that may have been the end of the discussion. I essentially felt that my friend and millions of Americans had been duped. I thought Bush was pretending to be a Christian for the sake of votes. I was wrong. Bush is a simple man. I forgot that my own seperation from the church was prompted by the inconsistencies between the teachings of Christ and the apocolypse of Revelations. It didn't make sense for me but it helped him to make sense of a complex world by offering a simple dichotomy. As Yoginder Sikand says,
"True to his passionate commitment to the doctrine of Christian supremacy, Bush sees the world in stark Manichaean terms. In the Christian fundamentalist world-view, God and Satan, evil and good, are engaged in a constant battle that will culminate in the grand war of Armageddon that will engulf the world, heralding the Second Coming of Jesus. Seated on a throne in Jerusalem, Jesus will rule the world. All knees will bow before him and all unbelievers will be despatched to eternal damnation in Hell. Christian fundamentalists believe that the end of the world is near, and for this suitable preparations, including unleashing bloody wars against Christianity’s supposed enemies, must be made."
So my dear Mr. Stewart funnyman haha, I think you should actually be afraid. The reason the newscasts are discussing prophecy to explain the events in the Middle East is because they got the memo that I'm sure the liberal elites at the Daily Show didn't. They discuss prophecy because the White House is using prophecy to determine policy in the Middle East. While the reality-based community continues to insist that there is no plan and no policy, it should be growing frighteningly clear that there is. There were warnings even before the Iraq war began. Micheal Ortiz Hill wrote in 2002
I'd become accustomed to George W. Bush's use of the word "evil" until he told the nation this last spring, "The evil one is among us."

Anyone with a passing understanding of the evangelical world of Bush' faith knows he was referring to the Antichrist. The implications of this are grave beyond telling and yet scarcely ever noted in the public discourse. On the eve of a misguided war the Commander in Chief of the most powerful military force in human history has located American foreign policy within a Biblical narrative that leads inexorably towards the plains of Megiddo, roughly fifty five miles northwest of Jerusalem: the battle of Armageddon. Two essential questions, as impertinent as they are imperative, need to be asked: Mr. President, as a born-again Christian is it not true that you regard this as the end times prophesied in the Bible? In what way does your religious understanding of apocalypse inform American policy in the Mideast?

This seems a little crazy, a little too Dead Zone: a powerful political figure who is destined to bring about the end of civilization. And yet it's the only way to make sense of his policies. More Hill,

Such is "the glory of the coming of the Lord." Truth, carnage, and the ecstasy of vultures. In a ruined world the Messiah slays the antichrist and creates "a new heaven and a new earth." The dead are judged, the Christians saved and the rest damned to eternal torment. The New Jerusalem is established and the Lord rules it "with an iron scepter."

It is not inconceivable that Bush is literally and determinedly drawn, consciously and unconsciously, toward the enactment of such a scenario, as he believes, for God's sake. Indeed the stark relentlessness of his policy in the Middle East suggests as much

This is an exchange between Tony Snow and the press gaggle at Crawford on August 4th I found on The Carpetbagger Report:

Q: Tony, earlier this year the President brought in some advisors to talk about the war in Iraq, some outsiders — outside experts. Is he doing anything similar, or are any senior officials doing anything similar with respect to the Middle East? Are you bringing in any outside experts or –

Snow: Yes.

Q: — perhaps Jewish or Christian or Muslim –

Snow: There have been meetings of that sort in recent days.

Q: What can you tell us about them?

Snow: You know what, I'll see what I'm cleared to tell you about.

Asked what "types of people" have offered the White House advice on the Middle East, Snow said, "Again, at this point, I really don't want to do it." Asked if "religious leaders" have been part of these meetings, Snow said, "Again, I'm just not going to go any further."

Why all the secrecy? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that White House recently invited a Christian apocalyptic fiction writer to chat about biblical prophecy.

The writer in question is Joel C. Rosenberg, who confirmed his repeated visits to the White House. He hasn't been the only one, Robert G. Upton of the Apostolic Congress has been another. Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post, who is one of my favorite columnists because we think alike (he just does it better) quoted an article from his paper

"The White House won't disclose whether the president has read the 'Left Behind' books. . . . Whatever his personal theology, however, many of the policies of the Bush administration 'strike prophecy believers as perfectly in harmony with God's prophetic plan,' according to Paul S. Boyer, a scholar at the University of Wisconsin, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education."

Somebody finally asked Bush for his views on the subject in March, during a visit to the City Club of Cleveland :

"My question is that author and former Nixon administration official Kevin Phillips, in his latest book, American Theocracy, discusses what has been called radical Christianity and its growing involvement into government and politics. He makes the point that members of your administration have reached out to prophetic Christians who see the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism as signs of the apocalypse. Do you believe this, that the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism are signs of the apocalypse? And if not, why not?"

Bush stammered and laughed nervously as he responded: "The answer is -- I haven't really thought of it that way. . . . The first I've heard of that, by the way. I guess I'm more of a practical fellow."

As Sabrina Eaton wrote at the time for Newhouse News Service: "Bush critics, including [author Kevin] Phillips, contend the president feigned confusion. Had the president embraced the controversial views of his religious backers, the critics say, he would have alienated moderates."

It's not just that the president is essentially a Christian fundamentalist, which is bad enough, it's that this administration is the perfect storm of destruction: an apocalyptic visionary married to a neo-conservative fanatic whose fantasy destinies begin and end in the Middle East. Our Middle East policy has been fashioned by Revelations and the people who were made fun of and got their asses kicked in elementary school, avoided fighting in Vietnam, and now believe that war is our first foreign policy option-- like Columbine on a macro level. I read an article at Last Chance Democracy Cafe that quotes Juan Cole:

The wholesale destruction of all of Lebanon by Israel and the US Pentagon does not make any sense. Why bomb roads, bridges, ports, fuel depots in Sunni and Christian areas that have nothing to do with Shiite Hizbullah in the deep south? And, why was Hizbullah's rocket capability so crucial that it provoked Israel to this orgy of destruction? Most of the rockets were small katyushas with limited range and were highly inaccurate. They were an annoyance in the Occupied Golan Heights, especially the Lebanese-owned Shebaa Farms area. Hizbullah had killed 6 Israeli civilians since 2000. For this you would destroy a whole country?

It doesn't make any sense.

Moreover, the Lebanese government elected last year was pro-American! Why risk causing it to fall by hitting the whole country so hard?

And, why was Condi Rice's reaction to the capture of two Israeli soldiers and Israel's wholesale destruction of little Lebanon that these were the "birth pangs" of the "New Middle East"? How did she know so early on that this war would be so wideranging? And, how could a little border dispute in the Levant signal such an elephantine baby's advent? Isn't it because she had, like Tony Blair, been briefed about the likelihood of a war by the Israelis, or maybe collaborated with them in the plans, and also conceived of it in much larger strategic terms?

And then asks,

Could Bush and the neoconservatives really be that cruel — destroying an entire country as nothing more than a chess move in the Great Game? Real men and women and, of course, real children too — lots of them — their lives spent as part of a Machiavellian scheme that is sure in the end to blow up in our faces anyway, just like everything else these would-be Churchills touch.

This would be so much crueler than even Iraq; the same pattern of lies, to be sure, but at least in Iraq they could claim to be trying to bring a better life to the Iraqis, even if that was never the actual goal. But how is Lebanon supposed to benefit from this? Where’s its supposed payoff for having its infrastructure (and citizens) blown to hell?

Could the neocons really be that cruel?

Probably. I'd like to see Mr. Stewart make a joke out of that, while also considering this neo-con dream come true.


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