Sunday, July 31, 2011

Interesting evidence that hatred hurts itself

War Nerd at The Exiled rethinks his disdain in 2005 for the self-restraint of the Irish Republican Army compared to how Al Qa'eda went all out, having noticed how the IRA survived and won their war against Britain, while Al-Qa'eda has pretty much been destroyed.

The IRA was very careful not to kill people, while inflicting plenty of damage on the British economy with huge truck bombs. Knowing that the British government and counterinsurgency people would want civilian casualties to mobilize public opinion against the IRA, they made sure to broadcast warnings to radio stations, newspapers, everybody, to keep the British government from gaining that success.

At the same time, the British were recruiting Protestant paramilitaries to murder Catholic civilians in Belfast in order to provoke the IRA to get into tit for tat revenge killings there, but the IRA disciplined themselves not to respond. Not at all because they were thinking of what Jesus said, I'm certain, they kept turning the other cheek in Belfast, never forgetting that their job was not avenge themselves or even Roman Catholic civilians but to convince Britain to walk away. And the way to do that was to keep blowing up billion dollar targets in London like the Stock Exchange, without killing people, while not letting the British draw everyone's attention to communal strife in Belfast.

By contrast Al-Qa'eda gave way to passion to kill people and burned themselves out.

I see one basic problem in his analysis, though. The IRA and Al-Qa'eda had very different goals, and in fact both have won in their own way. The IRA meant to get Britain out of Northern Ireland and to survive as a successful above-ground political party. Al-Qa'eda was not aiming to expel the Americans. On the contrary, its aim was to incite the Americans to invade Afghanistan and other Muslim countries in order to bleed out and collapse, as the Soviet Union did in Afghanistan before the Americans came to replace them, to the wonder of Russian generals. Al-Qa'eda didn't need to survive as an organization. It needed the Americans to invade and teach people that what Al-Qa'eda said about the invaders was true, so that the population would be mobilized against them. That's how Napoleon's empire was defeated in Spain and Russia, when regular armies could never defeat him. The American thirst for revenged has sucked in the Americans, having deprived them of their senses, just as Al-Qa'eda intended, and Al-Qa'eda was willing to lose its own life to achieve that win.

So both have won in their own way. From these two conflicts we learn that those who must avenge themselves will lose, and the winners are those who turn the other cheek, not being distracted from their goal by temptations to strike back. The one who lays down his life to attain his goal will win, and the one who aims to dominate in order to protect himself will bleed out and lose.

In the Proverbs we read that Wisdom shouts in the public square and at the head of every street. The Wisdom of God is proven true in the most unexpected events and places.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Some Christians Get It!

John Whitehead is the director of the Rutherford Institute, an evangelical Christian civil liberties organization analogous to the ACLU. They're often on the same side. Imagine that! Christians who think the 4th Amendment and due process are good things, who recognize that imperial domination out there means forfeiting liberty at home. Concepts obvious in the Bible, sure, but hardly suspected among evangelical "Christians."

John Whitehead: The military industrial complex: The Enemy from Within

Similar sanity in Israel today, Zvi Bar'el in Ha'aretz.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

July 4th, 2011

It's hard to do better than Juan Cole's warning to the new Arab revolutionaries:

I will add a little theological diagnosis, though. I pretty much always do!

It seems to be a law that whatever we say about ourselves winds up not being true. There's no better way to be a fool than to be wise in your own estimation. Check out the really infamous, the real monsters - the Nazis, the Stalinists, the Inquisition - and you'll find how impressed they were with themselves and their holy mission.

It works the other way too. Those who are unimpressed with themselves keep surprising you with their wisdom. My wife is a good example.

John the apostle summed it up in few words: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." If you talk straight about your sins, it's not true anymore. You no longer have them. But on the other hand, "If we say we have no sin, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." As Jesus said to the Pharisees, "Because you say, 'We see!' your sin remains." The people in Laodicea were rich and increased with goods, and in need of nothing in their own eyes, so they did not know that they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. It's not so bad to be these things - but not even to know it! That's really pitiful.

So it should be clear why America is in the shape it's in and getting worse. If this law holds, we should expect those who boast of being the land of the free and the home of the brave to be slaves of various addictions and empty pleasures leading to self-destruction, both as individuals and as a nation, and to be afflicted with cowardice to an insane degree. Here we are, groped and x-rayed at airports, seemingly unable to understand that anyone that wanted to blow us up would just blow up the crowd assembled for their convenience at the checkpoint.

Boasting of being the light of the world and a beacon of freedom, the nation has been degraded to a filthy and violent empire that tortures, kidnaps, and locks people away forever precisely because there is no case against them that any court would listen to. The moral leader of the world, the foremost producer and exporter of violent pornography, provisioner and trainer of the secret police for vile dictatorships around the world!

No surprise that a nation that boasts of being "under God" is anything but. No surprise that boasting of being "indivisible," its people are so easily ripped off by pathological rich people and corporations that set their victims against one another, people that have learned nothing since Frederick Douglass saw the white dockworkers hating the black slaves working with them on the Baltimore docks instead of noticing the bosses that were ripping off both of them. And a nation that boasts insanely of "liberty and justice for all" - should we be surprised that no one even expects justice, except the "justice" people can buy anyplace, if they have a good lawyer and a fat wallet? When somebody actually does get justice, who is not amazed, so that everybody talks about it?

In 60 years, 40 as a Christian, I've found an unfailing principle: if what I say invites God to look my way and say, "Oh yeah?" - don't say it! If American Christians don't lay this principle to heart, and soon, there will, in the most literal sense possible, be hell to pay.Link