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God, the terrorists, and Trump

Yes, that was an intentional “God, the Devil, and Bob” reference.

This whole essay was spawned by a friend on Facebook going off on me when I said that Trump invoking God in his speech the night of the bombing of Syria was stupid and we were going to get killed with this moron. He went off and told me that Obama had been “coddling those who want to destroy our way of life”. I started to respond, but it got too long to stay on Facebook, so I thought it would be best as a post here:

Regarding the hit on Syria:
I feel I should state that I know I have a very situational approach toward combat and warfare. I am a firm believer in peace through superior firepower when it comes to warfare in general. The better your battle tech, the fewer countries will screw with you. However, in close combat, my closely held opinion changes. That isn’t relevant here, so I won’t go into it. This is large-scale warfare-level combat. In that case, yes, kick the tires and light the fires. Why do you think so many smaller countries buy their fighters from the U.S. or Russia? Superior firepower.

Now, that said, let’s look at Syria.

Obama actually did want to hit back when Syria ran over the red line and stomped it into submission. He asked Congress for a military authorization to intervene there back in 2013. Congress. Said. No.

Hell, Paul Ryan, now Speaker of the House even said:
“In fact, I fear it will make things worse,” Ryan said. “The President says a show of force will preserve our credibility. But a feckless show of force will only damage our credibility.” But, after he argued for Congress to support a response, Obama then inexplicably withdrew the notion. I totally disagree with that. He should have followed through. But responding without Congressional approval after seeking it might have been even worse for the country than what he did end up doing.

Now, while there wasn’t the major response to Syrian chemical attacks that Obama wanted in 2013, he did order strikes on known terrorist bases in Syria. He even ordered one before leaving office in January of this year. (The Telegraph). So, saying that he was “coddling those who want to destroy our way of life”? That’s a notion that I just cannot find a basis for in reality. If the strike that finally freaking killed Osama Bin Laden is “coddling those who want to destroy our way of life”? I would suggest re-evaluating your definition of that term. Let’s not forget George W. Bush and the battle of Tora Bora. Many, myself included, still believe that the U.S. backing off after al Qaeda negotiated a truce with the Afghan militia in late 2001 allowed bin Laden to get away. Because we didn’t press the advantage that we had, commit the troops that the generals wanted, and—dammit—finish the job, bin Laden got to live another 10 years. Hell, my alt-history brain often wonders what might have happened if Bush the Elder would have finished the freaking job in Gulf War I back in 1991 instead of retreating at the last minute, sticking us with Saddam still around after 9/11 to be the boogeyman for GWB’s Iraq invasion arguments.

This is not a simple situation. Anyone who tells you it is probably doesn’t have even the grasp of a civilian who has paid attention to what’s going on. Russia has been treating Syria as a “client state” for years. Basically, if we went into Syria guns blazing, no matter what atrocities have been committed, we run a very high probability of Russia getting involved. Hell, Medvedev already said the strike cut too close to forcing Russia to get involved, and that would have just created a shooting war. And we can see that Russia has looked at us pretty sideways since the hit. That risk is not even slightly mitigated at the moment.

I think we all know that a shooting war between the U.S. and Russia, especially with a president who has stated flat-out that he doesn’t quite understand the purpose of having nukes if we don’t use them, has the potential to actually destroy the planet several times over. Therefore, dealing with the Syrian situation requires treading very, very, VERY carefully. How to strike back at a Russian client state without forcing Russia to get involved? That’s a balancing act I’m not even sure our all-time great military or diplomatic leaders could manage. Basically, how do you punish a belligerent child who is not your own, without invoking the wrath of that child’s parent, who could very easily end your life today if they wanted to? That’s a balancing act. And nobody with sense takes a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to that kind of situation. This isn’t Hollywood.

You want to talk “coddling those who want to destroy our way of life”? How about doing precisely what ISIS needs us to do to help them recruit new soldiers for the caliphate? How about giving ISIS plenty of footage for their recruitment videos? The numerous times that 45 invoked God in that speech was just exactly the kind of thing they needed. I honestly believe that that was absolutely the worst thing he could have done. I believe that doing that definitely qualifies as “coddling those who want to destroy our way of life”, because it allows ISIS to portray this attack in their videos as one of violent Christian retribution against an Arab nation. You may not be aware but that’s EXACTLY what ISIS wants the world to think is happening. They want their followers to believe that Islam and the West cannot co-exist. By invoking what would obviously be considered the Christian God in an attack on a majority Muslim nation, 45 has basically come forward and stated ISIS’ central thesis for them. Words have power. Ill-used words have consequences. ISIS wants their holy war. By invoking one particular God so many times in that speech, 45 is basically saying that even though this strike was against Syria and not ISIS, he’s using the old “God’ll get you for that.” that my grandparents used to say. He’s invoking the Christian God in an attack on a majority Muslim nation. And we need to always remember that the U.S. is not a Christian nation, and it can *never* be a Christian nation. To make the United States a theocracy would invalidate one of the basic reasons we fought the Revolutionary War.

I have often referenced an argument for why the U.S. can never become a theocracy, but I have yet to go into it in any detail. Here it is, folks, my argument for why the U.S. can never be a theocracy under ANY religion, not and still remain the country the Founding Fathers brought into being. You don’t need to look at papers written after the Constitution to figure this out. Just look at the Revolution itself. As you could see whenever President Obama showed the Japanese PM the courtesy of a bow, the right-wingers got their knickers in a twist about how America does not bow to anyone, let alone a foreign ruler, even if it is their cultural norm for greeting. Period.

There you go. That’s it right there. It’s that simple. We fought the Revolutionary war to eliminate the rule of an external king over this country. Why in the name of all that is sacred and good would we EVER allow another foreign king to rule over the nation? God, no matter how you see it, could not possibly be American. Any possible historical Jesus was most assuredly not American. Yet many believe that the United States should bow down to them as rulers? What makes people think that a nation that was founded on the basic principle of self-governance, where blood was shed by thousands (including my own ancestors) to make sure this country wasn’t ruled by a foreign king, would ever bow down to another foreign ruler? I find the notion to be absolutely un-American. This is why any and all attempts to install the Bible as law in this nation need to be fought. I don’t care what your personal beliefs are. Those are yours, and you are welcome to them. This nation was founded to not bow down to another foreign king, and if you want the Bible to be the law of the land? You are telling me that you want this nation to bow down to your foreign king. (And before anyone goes on that it’s not the same, look at the widespread use of phrases like “Christ the king” or “Christ is king” or statements about living in the “kingdom of God”. Yeah, you’re not going to disabuse me of the analogy here, folks. If you want to live in the Kingdom of God, that’s your personal choice. I won’t take it away from you. I will, however, be there to stand in the way of your trying to force others to make that same personal choice for themselves.)

We are a nation of many different origins. As the United States motto goes: “E pluribus unum”, “out of many, one”. To deny that is to deny what it is to be American. We’re all of it. We’re the good. We’re the bad. We’re even the ugly sometimes. And to deny that we are a nation that is Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Pagan, Atheist, Agnostic, Catholic, keep going until I hit all of the religions? That’s just willful ignorance of reality.

So, circling back to the initial prompt for this essay, we’re fighting a terrorist organization that wants the world to believe that Islam and the West cannot co-exist. And we have a president who seems to want to prove them right, even to the point of giving them all of the ammunition they could ever need in their PR battle against us. If THAT, my friends, is not “coddling those who want to destroy our way of life”, I don’t know what is. And that doesn’t even begin to cut into the investigation on the Russian interference in the election in a blatant attempt to get Trump elected. That is a whole ‘nother group who wants to destroy our way of life, and a whole ‘nother topic for later.

  1. Patrick Drazen
    April 11, 2017 at 12:40 am | #1

    I don’t want to use “God” and “king” interchangeably, but the Age of Reason (aka the Age of Enlightenment) which gave rise to the Constitution was in favor of government which recognized individual human worth. Until then, things were more medieval: God proposed and the priests disposed on the one hand; the king proposed and his ministers disposed on the other, and in both cases the peasants had no say in the matter. The 1700s saw a sea-change after the excesses of the 1600s (including the 30 Years War, Cromwell’s war on the Irish Catholics, and the Salem witch trials). In the Age of Enlightenment, our unalienable rights included the right not to believe in God! No wonder the Evangelicals hate that period.

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