Admitting Our Mistakes
I heard Congressman Ron Paul say recently that our misadventure in Iraq was a mistake. A huge number of his fellow Americans agree with him. Yet have you ever heard anyone apologize? There have been no apologies. Instead we find politicians engaged in the fine art of rationalization.
We, the American people, made an honest mistake. We made a wrong choice. Our judgment was way off base. We were in a hurry, we were afraid, we panicked perhaps, and the result was a very bad blunder. Even if our intentions were good, our nation’s foreign policy has been disastrous. What’s so hard about acknowledging that? The grave and painful manifestations of our miscalculations are all too apparent.
So how do we set things straight? First, I think we have to assess the situation realistically. Mark Twain once said, “Everyone is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” That’s true of nations as well as individuals. So we have a dark side. What’s new with that? Let’s admit it and get on with life.
Second, I think we have to correct the problem. Our foreign policy has some huge cracks in its foundation. The floor has buckled. The building has shifted. Permanent damage has resulted. Either we come to terms with this problem now or we’ll regret it later.
When we built Bradford Hall here at the farm, we used oak flooring for the front porches. We figured that oak would be a good, sturdy wood for our decking. We were wrong. After the first major rainstorm, the oak floors buckled. And I mean buckled. There was nothing we could do to repair the damage. So we had to take up all the old flooring and lay down pine in its place, both upstairs and down. That was a ton of work, let me tell you. But we learned from our mistake. We were even able to salvage the oak and built our kitchen cabinetry out of it.
Foreigners don’t hate us but rather the policies of our government. We’ve tried the old approach and look where it’s gotten us. Can we really afford to “act for the good of the world” whether or not other nations understand us and even if they overwhelmingly object? The burning question facing the church in America is whether it has fully faced the consequences of its support for an interventionist foreign policy. The way of the Gospel is not the violent change of existing social or political structures, least of all when our wars are predicated on half-truths and casuistries.
Some time ago I wrote a book called Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon. That book pointed out the lack of even a basic understanding of constitutional government by Christians, including evangelicals. Regrettably, the result is a church with a yawning gap between what it says about peacemaking and what it actually does – and in practice even hinders. If we can’t take a cold, hard look at reality, how can we possibly protect ourselves from ourselves?
It might be good to ask ourselves: How much longer will we turn a blind eye to the injustices caused by our national egotism and pride? How much longer can we afford to underwrite with our dollars and blood an ineffectual and self-defeating foreign policy? Isn’t it time we sought to moderate the conditions that breed violence and terrorism by supporting Ron Paul’s conservative policy of free trade and dialogue abroad and a strong national defense at home?
I believe there’s still time to correct our mistakes. But first we have to acknowledge them.
November 6, 2007
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.