War, Imperial Christians, and Ron Paul

On March 19, 2003 the United States military invaded Iraq to launch a “shock and awe” war on a people 7,000 miles away. The war, later dubbed by President George W. Bush as “This Great Mission,” represented a philosophy of preemptive strike that became known as the Bush Doctrine. As we now understand it, this policy means that the United States should by whatever means depose foreign regimes that represent a potential or perceived threat to the U.S or its global interests, even if that threat is not immediate.

President Bush and Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld told the American tax payers that Operation Iraqi Freedom (and Operation Enduing Freedom in Afghanistan) would cost about $50 billion. Though the Iraq war officially ended on December 15, 2011, thousands of U.S troops and mercenary contractors remain there today, the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are ongoing, and the price tag is at $4 trillion and counting. Of course, the cost of the conflict is not measured in mere dollars.

As of June of 2011, a quarter million people have died directly from warfare, many more have died indirectly, 365,000 have been wounded, and 7.8 million people — equal to the combined population of Connecticut and Kentucky — have been displaced. As February of 2012, more than 34,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded and 4,400 U.S. killed in Iraq alone. Iraqi casualties? The death toll is estimated to be 162,000, of whom 79% were civilians. From the same source: “Of the 45,779 victims for whom IBC was able to obtain age data, 3,911 (8.54%) were children under age 18.” Regarding the unethical use of depleted uranium, one study has recorded that in a given month of recorded Iraqi births as many as 25% were still born or died within the first week, while 75% of babies that lived had serious birth defects.

The material justification for the massive death and dollars was that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in violation of United Nations resolutions, and was therefore a threat to the United States and its coalition/regional allies. (One study calculated as many as 27 rationales by the Bush administration for invading Iraq.) The justification for continuing the war after the WMD theory was proven bogus was a connection Americans sensed between the “threat” of Iraq and the terrorist events of 911—a connection galvanized by the media and the Bush administration itself. Said President Bush:

I am often asked why we are in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat. My administration, the Congress, and the United Nations saw the threat – and after 9/11, Saddam’s regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take.

Just how Iraq was a clear threat remains unknown. As Laurence Vance has noted,

Not only was Iraq’s army considerably weaker than it was during the first Persian Gulf War – a war in which Iraq only managed to kill 148 Americans – but Iraq had no navy or air force. Iraq’s economy was in ruin after a decade of sanctions – sanctions that destroyed its water supplies. The gross national product of Iraq was not even 15 percent of that of the state of Washington.

In other words, the United States invaded, killed, occupied, and reconstructed a nation that was no past, present, or future threat to the United States.

Imperial Christians

Though the difference between just and unjust war is one between righteous killing and cold-blooded murder, so-called “pro-life” Christians today make up 77% of U.S. armed forces.

The war in Iraq and the surrounding invasions in the Middle East over the past decade are but a mere microcosm of the United States’ interventionist foreign policy. This policy precedes the “Bush Doctrine” and dates back to the 1860s when President Lincoln decided that in order to “preserve the Union” he would do anything, whether it was allowing slavery to remain intact or sending 75,000 troops onto sovereign Southern soil to, well, invade, kill, occupy, and reconstruct. Since that U.S intervention, guess how many others have occurred? According to this partial list, about 147. The U.S. military now occupies 146 countries and 10 territories, possessing 1,000 foreign military bases, with half a million troops and mercenary contractors present in three-fourths of the world. In their own words, as of 2009 the U.S. Department of Defense “manages a global real property portfolio consisting of more than 539,000 facilities located on more than 5,570 sites, on approximately 29 million acres.” Its annual budget is ten times larger than Iran’s own defense budget, and greater than the GDP of Russia. Simply stunning.

Equally staggering is the nearly universal Christian endorsement of this reprehensible policy of hegemony, nation building, regime change, and jingoism. Oblivious or irrelevant to most believers today, our Christian and American forefathers believed in non-interventionism, practiced Christian Just War Theory (see primers here and here), discountenanced standing armies, and saw war only as a last-option defensive effort to protect the God-given freedoms and soil of those on the homeland. Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Dabney and others would frankly denounce the U.S. military as a mob of murderers. Were they alive today, Madison, Jefferson, and Washington would ironically agree with former U.S. Attorney General William Ramsey Clark’s advised assessment that the greatest crime since World War II has been U.S. foreign policy.

Though the difference between just and unjust war is one between righteous killing and cold-blooded murder, so-called “pro-life” Christians today make up 77% of U.S. armed forces. The current U.S. war model is lauded by professed Christian leaders of every stripe, from Pat Robertson, John Hagee, and Jerry Fallwell (who ranked George W. Bush with Ronald Reagan as one of America’s greatest presidents),  to Cal Thomas, Chuck Colson and Sean Hannity (who maintains that America has a moral duty to fight for the security of any oppressed nation). Even leaders of Reformed Theology are war mongers. One would think that at least a Christian leader could be found who condemns the U.S. Government for endorsing opposition forces which are now murdering their Syrian Christian brothers and sisters with impunity. No matter the war and the “collateral damage,” Christians are blindly behind it, yellow ribbons and all.

Antinomianism and Bondage

What gives? What about the Sixth Commandment? What about the U.S. Constitution which requires that Congress must declare war (Congress hasn’t declared a war since World War II)? Why have Christians swallowed the rhetoric of senior President Bush who on the eve of the Persian Gulf War said, “And so to every sailor, soldier, airman, and marine who is involved in this mission, let me say you’re doing God’s work“? Why do so-called Christians support this and this and dare call themselves pro-life?

I suggest that in their incorrigible love for the State (rebuked by 1 Tim. 5:21), they’ve bought the brazen lie that U.S. troops are fighting for their American freedoms. It’s not quite clear how American freedoms are being preserved by 116,960 U.S. troops still stationed in Germany, Italy, and Japan nearly 70 years after World War II. But if freedoms are being preserved by such an unnecessary presence, which freedoms?

The freedom to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures? Then why the Patriot Act?

The right of Habeas Corpus? Then why the 2006 Military Commissions Act?

The freedom to fly without being fondled or filmed nude? Why the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA?

The freedom to hire, serve, and live among whomever you wish for whatever reason you wish? That liberty was robbed in the 1960s.

The freedom for vets with a VA appointed fiduciary to own a gun? They’re “mental-defectives” whose Second Amendment is stripped by the Gun Control Act.

How about the freedom to not wear a seat belt or the freedom to put in a new bathroom without a permit? Try it and pay big!

The freedom to spurn the unconstitutional IRS, or to snub the unlawful income tax, property tax, or death tax? Go to jail, buster!

What about the freedom of your fellow citizens to not pay your jail expense. Nope.

Are you free to not pay for illegal immigrants who don’t share or care for your history, lineage, religion, culture, or language? Racist!

These freedoms?

It’s more than stupefying that God’s covenant people—who are described as the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15), salt and light of the world (Matt. 5:13-15), and the recipients of God’s law making them wiser than all their enemies (Psa. 119:98)—could be so confounded as to believe the U.S. government when it tells them that laws which infringe their basic freedoms are actually protecting their basic freedoms. It’s beyond vexing to behold the moral dyslexia of an ecclesia set apart from the world that misapplies the label of “terrorist” to Iraqis who defend their families from armed invaders, and the term “freedom-fighters” to the U.S. aggressors. For Christians, politics is a weird wonderland in which evil is good (Isa. 5:20), freedom is slavery ( James 1:25; 2:12), and enemies are friends (Prov. 27:6; James 4:4).

More Military Masochism

Yet, with a depleted military, ruined economy, and the blood of thousands staining our hands, we now have presidential candidates like Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich who in some capacity favor a strike on Iran. Deplorably, half of Americans back the strike, which now appears to be underway. Before they bolt to the booth this November, most Christians won’t pause to question such a madcap move. But let’s consider it now.

Iran hasn’t attacked another country in over 300 years and is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran has allowed inspectors into its country and 16 intelligence agencies of the US recently converged in agreement that they were not developing a nuclear weapon. Their military? Mainly ships that can’t cross oceans and some F-5 fighters with an 870 mile rage. Iran is in no way, shape, or form a threat to U.S. national security. Moreover, if the U.S. were to attack Iran it would be in violation of the Hague Convention of 1899, the Kellogg-Briand Peace Treaty of 1928, and United Nations charter which says that no nation can attack another without the approval of the security council unless it’s facing an imminent threat. Where is the imminent threat that justifies such lawless (1 Pet. 4:15) meddling?

The immediate retort is that that Iran’s President wants to wipe Israel off the map and Gingrich’s reminder that Iran’s getting nukes would run the risk of a second holocaust! First, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn’t say that; it’s pure propaganda, as are most lies about his country. Second, Israel has 200-600 nukes of her own and can easily defend herself, just as this spent solider was saying live to the world when CNN pulled the plug. That’s right, Israel—the country who has not signed the nonproliferation treaty, and who will not allow inspectors into its country.

Enough with the insanity, saints.

Ron Paul

Meet Ron Paul, a presidential candidate who wants to end our warfare/welfare state, restore our constitutional freedoms, and who really is a pro-life Christian. The seasoned Texas Congressman also served as an obstetrics/gynecology doctor and delivered more than 4,000 babies. His buddies in Congress call him “Dr. No” because he never votes for an unconstitutional bill, even when his whole party venerates it: “I interpret through the eyes of the Constitution. If we don’t have direct authorization, I don’t vote for it, even if there are good intentions.”

This uncharacteristically principled behavior from a politician is no political show, but who he is in “real” life. As a doctor, he never took payment by Medicare or Medicaid, but rather worked out a cash agreement or rendered his services no-charge. He won’t even sign up for the government pension afforded to Congressman because receiving government money would be “hypocritical and immoral,” and he  returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year. His personal portfolio matches his convictions.

Ron Paul, however, not only stands alone in wanting to stop the needless deaths of U.S. servicemen and those they slaughter, but he’s the only candidate to have served in the U.S. military.

Dr. Paul is too consumed by that “obeying the Constitution” and “taking the oath serious” business. He’d rather stop the unjust wars and bring our troops home to control the Southern border, end the thieving of your earnings which is funding unconstitutional welfare from Social Security to food stamps, and abolish the IRS and the income tax in order to save you more cash. Speaking of “dollars,” he wants to audit/end the sinister agency responsible for printing fiat currency and wrecking our economy, much to the chagrin of a “conservative” vanguard. Relevant to a recent welfare and pro-life issue, he’s the only GOP presidential candidate who has consistently opposed the federal promotion, funding, and mandating of contraception and abortion. That Ron Paul’s a winner.

He’s also a brother, both a kinsman (unlike Obama) and a believer – this stuff matters according to the Bible and American history (see here, here, and here). Also according to Scripture, the most important characteristics of a ruler is that he fear God, be able and truthful, and hate covetousness (Exod. 18: 19-23). From 1 Samuel 8 we learn that God discountenances magistrates who amass offensive weaponry to themselves ((Republican + Democrats) – Ron Paul), have many wives (Newt Gingrich?), and horde wealth (Mitt Romney?).  Yet, among the favorites of Evangelicals are a fornicating Catholic and a man who entrusts his salvation to the non-Trinitarian and polytheistic dreams of a convicted peepstoner who claimed he saw men walking on the moon.

Question: What about Rick Santorum? Answer: What about the Constitution? He voted NO on preserving habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees, voted YES on reauthorizing the Patriot Act, and despite taking his dead baby home from the hospital for family bonding, he’s been a consistent cheerleader for the homicidal War in Iraq. Not pro-life = Not a candidate.

Ron Paul, however, not only stands alone in wanting to stop the needless deaths of U.S. servicemen and those they slaughter, but he’s the only candidate to have served in the U.S. military. He’s also the top receiver of military donations. But those two facts are hardly good enough for military-loving Christians who prefer a member of the unholy GOP trinity of Newt, Mitt, and Rick – candidates who are receiving less military donations than even Obama. Odd if not sickening, these same Christians have the cheek to say that the most likable Ron Paul is against the troops. What is “against the troops” if not a preference for the kind of honor-lacking wars that produce suicidal U.S. veterans? This study mentions that, according to the VA, veterans account for 20 % of U.S. suicides at a rate of 18 former servicemen per day.

Rather than support Ron Paul, those who have been set free for freedom (Gal. 5:3) favor fetters and the political suicide of candidates who are doing nothing to curtail the quickly growing U.S. Police State. Romney’s gun record is worse than all candidates and he favors using the U.S. military to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without legal representation or due process of law.  Santorum is a bourgeois big government conservative who was once so bold as to mock the idea that American citizens should be left alone by the Fed to do what they want, with low taxes and low regulation! Gingrich? There’s only one standing plank of the Bill of Rights after he marked it up, for crying out loud.

While citizens are being turned into convicts with the help of the GOP, Ron Paul is challenging the constitutional defilements that his party backs. He recently introduced a bill to repeal section 1021 of the ominous National Defense Authorization Act that Romney likes. He voted against the Patriot Act. He voted against regulating the Internet. He’s never voted to raise taxes. My word, who else stands on the floor of Congress and speaks like this?

The last nail is being driven into the coffin of the American Republic. Yet, Congress remains in total denial as our liberties are rapidly fading before our eyes. The process is propelled by unwarranted fear and ignorance as to the true meaning of liberty. It is driven by economic myths, fallacies and irrational good intentions. The rule of law is constantly rejected and authoritarian answers are offered as panaceas for all our problems. (Watch the video for the rest.)

What’s Next?

The massive calamity of Iraq, U.S. Interventionism, diminished homeland freedoms, and the growth of a police state is purely a symptom of our own disease as lousy citizens, and in particular, as bad Christians. Ron Paul may never win the presidency or may never live to execute its office if he does. But if we voters cannot appreciate the paradigm and regime changing opportunity before us in his candidacy, how will we escape more of the same? If we Christians are the leaders of cultural preservation and political reform, how are we not most culpable for our perilous future if we spurn our only leader who implores Washington to once again serve the people?

The choice this November is not one between all-or-nothing or incremental politics, between a wasteful or a feasible vote. We’re aware that most voters stay uninformed from the tendentious disservices of the mainline media, and that long shot Paul is under a deliberate black out. The choice, which transcends any candidate, is more like a line in the sand: on one side are conformists who will soon express their mundane love and approval for more inevitable death and slavery; on the other stand outliers who choose principle and lost causes over following a multitude into evil.

We shuffle steadily toward the final precipice of a despotism which only endures by our accord. We are Christian men who know that the consent of the governed is futile if alongside the capitulation of the church. And we are armed Americans who prefer peace.

(Editorial Note: See our follow-up piece which will field conservative objections to Ron Paul’s key positions.)

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