Since the time of the February 1979 revolution in Iran that swept Ayatollah Khomeini into power Americans have grown accustomed to looking down their noses at "Islamic fundamentalists." Many of us see these religious fanatics who call America "the Great Satan" and promise to "avenge the Crusades" as backward people susceptible to extremism and the influence of radical clerics. But what are we to make of Robert Draper's reporting in GQ magazine that during the initial stages of launching the war in Iraq senior intelligence officials in the Pentagon affixed Bible quotations on eleven different cover sheets of President George W. Bush's "Worldwide Intelligence Updates?"
Major General Glen Shaffer, himself an ardent believer, who was a director of intelligence for both the Joint Chiefs and the secretary of defense, with Donald Rumsfeld's encouragement, played on the President's "born again" faith to give the U.S. invasion of Iraq a distinctly Christian fundamentalist aura. On April 3, 2003, for example, when U.S. troops were entering Baghdad, Secretary Rumsfeld and General Shaffer decided the President needed a good dose of Joshua 1:9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that Shaffer and Rumsfeld leaned toward Isaiah and Joshua instead of Deuteronomy or they could have easily found a quote from the Bible like this one:
. . . [W]hen the LORD your God has gives it into your hand you shall put all its males to the sword, but the women and the little ones, the cattle, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourselves; and you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you. . . . But in the cities of these people that the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall utterly destroy them . . . as the LORD your God has commanded. (Deuteronomy 20:10-18)
No wonder Rummy and Bush didn't have a care in the world when Iraq descended into looting and chaos after the fall of Baghdad -- "Stuff Happens" Rummy famously said -- but what he really meant was: "It's god's will."
There's a context and a pattern here.
For example, Lieutenant General William G. Boykin (now retired) was preaching the gospel that god ordained the U.S. attack on Iraq and saying things like this about the enemy: "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." Monica Goodling was one of the 150 graduates inside the Bush Administration of Pat Robertson's "Regent University," whose purpose is "to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world." Ms. Goodling messed with a lot of people's careers inside the Justice Department by rejecting them for posts for which they were qualified for the sole reason they didn't share her right-wing Christian fundamentalist beliefs. The former head of Bush's "faith-based initiatives," David Kuo, exposed how Bush's "faith" programs were designed to funnel money into the coffers of Republican-connected right-wing Christian organizations as patronage to help Bush and Cheney win re-election. John Bolton, Bush's choice to be ambassador to the United Nations, was on Senator Jesse Helms' short list as "the kind of man" you want to "have by your side" when the battle of Armageddon takes place and the Second Coming arrives. And we're all wearily aware of the religious-tinged gay bashing that led to the cynical Republican ballot measures in swing states aimed to get the flock to the polls. And now we learn that the highest-ranking intelligence and military officials were framing the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a Holy War against Islam?
They tell us George W. Bush is a moral man because he opposes abortion and therefore he's superior to those baby-killing Democrats.
But when Bush vetoed a bill that would have provided elementary health care for about 9 million of America's most destitute children I didn't think it was consistent with Christian teaching about taking care of the poor.
And as Texas governor when Bush carried-out a record-setting 152 executions I thought he might have violated the commandment: "Thou shall not kill."
And when Bush approved torturing people I thought of my childhood catechism where I heard the story of Jesus being tortured.
And when Bush blocked efforts to pass on to future generations a less polluted, less hot planet I didn't think he was taking care of the "Good Earth."
And when Bush ignored the human suffering in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where his negligence cost human lives, I thought he could have responded to that "act of god" a little better.
And when Bush appointed corporate cronies to head key regulatory agencies that led to the poisoning of children from tainted toys and diseased hamburgers and spinach and unsafe workplaces it didn't seem to promote brotherly love.
And when Bush, serving the richest elites in our society, unleashed Wall Street in a Social Darwinist free-for-all where swindlers pillaged the middle class costing people their homes, pensions, and jobs, I thought the "meek" inherited nothing from this president.
And when Bush lied to the American people about Iraq's WMDs and ties to Al Qaeda and brought the nation to war on false pretenses the whole enterprise seemed to bit morally questionable to me. And with Bush's war continuing to exact its deadly toll, with about a quarter-million Iraqis who met premature deaths, and 4,300 dead Americans, and tens of thousands of maimed and mangled people who will never be the same, and all the soldiers suffering from varying degrees of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and all the resources wasted that could have been better spent -- Maybe it was weirdly appropriate that General Shaffer and Donald Rumsfeld framed the war for Bush with quotes from the Bible. If any man needed a blessing for his deeds it was George W. Bush.
It's sort of fitting that a Bible-thumping administration, with a president who wore his religion on his sleeve and was prone to public displays of piety, caused so much lasting damage to the country. Bush proved that the blurring of the line that separates Church and State is not only unconstitutional, it is also wholly dysfunctional.