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Jim Wallis

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The Hypocrisy of War

Posted: 03/22/11 04:13 PM ET

The U.S. just started another war. We're good at starting wars. We're not good at ending them, but we start them really well. They say this is for "humanitarian" reasons. Aren't they all? But we still haven't intervened in arguably the clearest humanitarian crisis: Darfur. We're not defending civilians against brutal attacks in Bahrain or Yemen. And we didn't even care about democracy in Egypt until youthful, democratic protesters forced us to restate our values. 

Muammar Gaddafi is crazy, and brutal, and dangerous. But the U.S. has known many dictators like that and has supported them faithfully for years, as long as they are compliant with our interests. But when their craziness makes them no longer compliant, we go to war against them for the humanitarian cause of protecting their people. Right.

Oh, and then there's oil. Darfur doesn't have any. Bahrain does, along with a huge U.S. naval base. And the Saudis, who have come in to crush the democratic protests in Bahrain for their good friends in the royal family, have all the oil. Obviously, no humanitarian concerns there.  It's amazing how consistent U.S. foreign policy is from administration to administration, and how little changes when we elect a new president.

Then there's the cost. We're fighting to protect poor and low-income people against draconian budget cuts, but there is apparently more than enough money for another war. In just the first night of attacks, 112 cruise missiles were launched at Libya. Each one costs approximately $1 million, so there was $112 million of destruction in one night. The National Journal quoted an estimate that the ultimate costs could "easily pass the $1 billion mark." But we can afford that -- we always can for war.

The Republican deficit hawks seem unconcerned about the cost of war. They never seem to worry about that kind of spending. They're busy cutting budgets and deficits by slashing malaria-preventing bed nets, nutrition programs for women and infants, Head Start for children, Pell Grants for college students, and community health centers. The true priorities of this country have never been clearer. That's a consistent pattern too.

We've been asking "What Would Jesus Cut?" Maybe he'd start with cruise missiles.

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Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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Follow Jim Wallis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jimwallis