28 September 2010

The Power of War

No surprise, but the United States is once again employing Death Squads to do its work. This time instead of Central America and Vietnam, it's Afghanistan. The consequences of this are terrible and if history is any precedent, the civilian costs are equally severe.

Much to the astonishment of the American public, it is exactly this type of tactic that leads so many in the world to loathe and despise the United States. If people here wonder why someone like Hugo Chavez gets elected in Venezuela, you only need to look at America's policy in the region. Chavez in his defiance of the United States represents the heart of the people. Sure, he's something of a buffoon, and has taken a recent blow to his power, nevertheless, it's America's employment of these types of tactics and warfare, this type of shadowy manipulation that leads to people wanting a ruler like Chavez. He stands up to the Giant. And then when you have people like Pat Robertson calling for his assassination on television...that doesn't help.

For a stunning and heartwrenching depiction of the consequences of Death Squads, the movie Innocent Voices is not easily outdone. It deals with what happened in El Salvador in the 1980's. It doesn't not explicitly deal with American participation in those events, but hints at it. If you watch it, remember these types of scenes have been played out over and over again. Some might argue, that it's usually not Americans directly participating in atrocities. Mostly true. America's role is something more akin to a puppetmaster. She excels at keeping the blood off her hands in order to remain pure and altruistic in the eyes of the public.

The way 'the machine' works here is both astonishing and impressive. It takes generations for a populace to be conditioned like this. After World War II, I can't imagine Europeans falling once again into a trap like that. Generally speaking, they lack something of the naievete and innocence found in the heartland of America. It will be interesting to see what happens there in the next generation as the Right-Wing parties continue to grow in power. Any comments from European readers in support or to the contrary would be appreciated.

What will be the end result, the telos, in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran? The consequences of this might extend for generations. If there is mass slaughter in Pakistan a generation from now, would it be America's fault? Not directly of course, but you can't start a house and fire and walk away. And then when the entire row or block burns down say, 'It's not my fault.'

This is part of the debate over Africa today. Is it a mess because of colonialism, or is the mess of their own making? The answer of course is both. But many try to assert that the Western Powers have no responsibility, that they've only done good things. It's a rather short sighted and simplistic way of viewing the world.

As Christians, we should know better.

War and Imperialism generate bloodshed and sorrow for years and sometimes generations.

Ironically, quasi-Communist Vietnam has largely picked up the pieces and moved on. I wrote a piece related to the current situation here.

So what am I about here? More criticisms of the United States? Not really. This is how Empires act. My point as always, is to consider all these things and then tie it in with the state of the Church.

American Christians were duped by a "Christian" president in 2001. They were duped in the 1980's under their hero Reagan as copious amounts of blood we shed throughout Latin America, Asia and Africa. And they were duped in Vietnam during the 1960's and 70's. Also notice in every case, these wars expand and include neighbouring countries. It's the nature of war, and it doesn't take long for the original motives to be abandoned and the war takes on a life of its own.

Even worse today, we have organizations like Erik Prince's Blackwater with its Evangelical ties. Now the dirty war is being waged by Christians. Where is the criticism from the Christian community? There's been precious little. Very few voices speaking out. Reading the articles at these links leaves me somewhat breathless. I've read them before, but re-reading them this morning to create this post leaves me speechless.

Power to shape people's lives, power over life and death....it is a fearful thing. Christians think they can manage it, but look how blind they become.

I'm not talking about Erik Prince. He's obviously lost, knowing nothing of Christ or the power of God.

I'm speaking of the Evangelical community which supports Empire and all that comes with it.

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