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Was Torture Really Part of a Religious Crusade?

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Conservative Christians were the biggest backers of the Iraq war.

Churchgoers were more likely to back torture of suspected terrorists than atheists.

One of the top Pentagon officials involved in the Iraq war - General William Boykin - literally:

Sees the "war on terror" as a religious war between Judeo-Christian civilization and Satan, with Islam of course cast in the latter role.

Jeremy Scahill describes Boykin as:

A Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under Bush. Boykin was part of Donald Rumsfeld's inner circle at the Pentagon where he was placed in charge of hunting "high-value targets." Boykin was one of the key U.S. officials in establishing what critics alleged was death-squad-type activity in Iraq.

Boykin's crusade is also important because one of his assigned jobs was:

Speeding up the flow of intelligence on terrorist leaders to combat teams in the field so that they can attack top-ranking terrorist leaders. It can easily be speculated that it is this urgency to obtain intelligence, and an uncompromising religious outlook backed by a [crusader] mentality, that has led to the lower echelons in the US military to adopt Saddam Hussein-like brutalities.
Moreover, the U.S. military has just been busted trying to convert Afghanis to Christianity (the same thing happened in Iraq).


As Scahill notes:
What's more, the center of this evangelical operation is at the huge US base at Bagram, one of the main sites used by the US military to torture and indefinitely detain prisoners.
The bottom line is that - while torture was ordered by the highest level Bush administration officials in order to create a false link between 9/11 and Iraq - it seems like many of those who enthusiastically rallied around torture looked at it, literally, as a religious crusade.

The Officials Who Created the Torture Program Used The Old Playbook

The godfather of the Neoconservative movement - Leo Strauss - taught that religion should be used as a way to manipulate people to achieve the aims of the leaders. But that the leaders themselves need not believe in religion.

As I have previously written:
Leo Strauss is the father of the Neo-Conservative movement, including many leaders of the current administration. Indeed, some of the main neocon players were students of Strauss at the University of Chicago, where he taught for many years. Strauss, born in Germany, was an admirer of Nazi philosophers and of Machiavelli.

Strauss believed that "A political order can be stable only if it is united by an external threat . . . . Following Machiavelli, he maintained that if no external threat exists then one has to be manufactured" (quote is by one of Strauss' main biographers).
Therefore, it is unknown whether the Bush administration officials who created the torture program actually believed that the brown-skinned people they wished to torture were Satan-worshippers who needed either to be converted or destroyed.

More likely, they just followed the old Straussian playbook in creating a threat which didn't exist - Satanic Muslims who wanted to take over the world - and using religion to rally the mid- and lower-level participants in the torture program to carry out their orders.

 

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George Washington


As a political activist for decades, I have rejoiced in victories for the people and mourned in defeats. I chose the pen name "George Washington" because - as Washington's biographies show - he wasn't a (more...)
 

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