restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


Trust Bush on Iran? Bad Idea

 David Alan Black 

President Bush has consistently appealed to the American people for trust. He says he acted in good faith when he invaded Iraq, and he expects us to trust him. He granted unheard of power to the attorney general, and he asks us to trust him. He speaks of Iran's "unacceptable" nuclear program, and he asks us to trust him.

Well, I don't trust him, and neither should you. Where are the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Not found. What are Iran's nuclear capabilities? Unknown. Still, the White House wants to turn the heat up. And what will be the likely outcome for our sons and daughters? Perpetual war.

And now, as if things weren't bad enough between the U.S. and Europe, Washington and the E.U. are on a collision course over how to neutralize Tehran's nuclear capabilities. The good news is that Iran has agreed to freeze its nuclear program, even dropping its insistence that some uranium enrichment activities be exempted from a deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and also dropping its condition that 20 centrifuges be exempted from the freeze. The bad news? This is unlikely to satisfy Mr. Bush, who is confident the E.U.-Iran pact will collapse. Over the weekend Bush said he appreciated the European efforts, but that "The only good deal is one that's verifiable."

"Verifiable." Heard this before?

Thus the Prussianization of America proceeds apace. The growth of militarism and statism during the Bush presidency is simply mind-boggling. Let us recall that our nation's Founders refused to place war-making power in the hands of a single individual. Yet today, this all-important constitutional guarantee against militarism has been lost. The power to decide for war or peace has been moved from the Capitol to the White House.

Bush's aggressive, hand-on-gun stance in relation to Iran is the inevitable result of a spirit of militarism that has infected him and his neocon advisors. Suggestions to negotiate are regarded by the New Right as signs of weakness. There is at present the very real possibility that our political leaders, despite the counsel of the military, may escalate the conflict in Iraq and bring on a general conflagration in the region. The actions of the Bush administration seem to be leading almost inevitably toward thermonuclear war.

What can a Christian do in such a situation? He is bound to suspect any political leader who asks him to obliterate his love of peace for the sake of foreign adventurism. No American has a "duty" to die for his country. Moreover, the Christian must always oppose the spirit of militarism in order that people may maintain the freedom to act according to their consciences to assume or refuse employment in the military without restrictions or encumbrances imposed upon them by the state. Finally, the Christian must always ask, "Does the situation justify the use of military force, and if so, may I with good conscience become a participant?"

Years ago Alfred Vagts, a leading authority on military history, wrote:

Militarism is thus not the opposite of pacifism; its true counterpart is civilianism. Love of war, bellicosity, is the counterpart of the love of peace, pacifism; but militarism is more, and sometimes less, than the love of war. It covers every system of thinking and valuing and every complex of feelings which rank military institutions and ways above the ways of civilian life, carrying military mentality and modes of acting and decision into the civilian sphere (A History of Militarism [New York: Meridian, 1959] 17).

It seems that the present leadership in the White House is guilty of militarism to a shocking degree, and unless Christians shake off their apathy, a creeping pro-militaristic spirit may soon become totalitarianism. Expanding the war in the Middle East is not beyond the president's aspirations, and a huge and well-funded propaganda machine centered in Washington will undoubtedly continue to put pressure on the American people to support the administration's military ambitions. Unless we guard against this unwarranted influence of the military-industrial complex and an unwarranted "trust" in the president the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power will only persist and increase.

November 29, 2004

David Alan Black is the editor of

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