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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/2/10

Looking for a straight answer

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If I could have had a cordial word with the driver I would have seriously asked, if you really want our troops to come home, it doesn't take the Lord or any other religious deity. All it takes is the will to do it -- or as one senator put it when asked how he would get us out of Vietnam: "Ships and planes." Wait for the Lord to do it and we'll likely be waiting for a very long time.

Religious demagogues like Beck count on their followers believing that "God" is out there somehow speaking to them and offering them guidance. But, then, that guidance always ends up being delivered by the demagogue himself. What feels like piety is too often really about conformity to Faith, about not wanting to be known as the individual who doesn't believe, and not wanting to be expelled by the flock, especially in bad times.

Since God loves you and is always right, if the Pentagon and the US government refuse to bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, that means God must want them to remain there.

But if you follow this logic, it also works the other way. If instead of the phony PR withdrawals we're witnessing, the US government began to ask serious questions about its bankrupting military overreach around the world and, as a consequence, began to seriously withdraw its vast mobilizations from Iraq and Afghanistan and to pull back its many overseas bases ... after we decided to do it and did it, it would then be the Lord's will that we did it.

The Lord works in such strange ways.

It all makes my head spin -- especially when you add in the growing lunacies of Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists.

There's Christian-based attacks on Muslims in the US sprouting up everywhere, and Islam itself is more and more seen by Americans as our enemy. The New York Times reports that the secular Zionist movement in Israel that was once able to sit down with Arab Muslims has been overpowered by an orthodox, fundamentalist settlement movement that disdains Palestinian Muslims. And, of course, let's not forget fundamentalist Muslims like Osama bin Laden who love to fuel this circular firing squad of narcissism and hatred.

On one hand, the world is becoming more and more stressed due to poverty exacerbated by corporate greed and political corruption. On the other hand, fundamentalist elements of the three major religions are doing their best to drive the world's populations mad and to encourage greater conflagrations.

Liberation Theology as the villain

Following his three-hour Aztec sacrifice, Beck conceded on Fox News he was wrong to call President Obama a "racist." No, Obama was a "liberation theologist." That would put him in the same gang as Archbishop Oscar Romero, the Catholic archbishop gunned down in El Salvador for supporting the poor.

From my experience in Central American in the 1980s, a liberation theologist is someone who sees Jesus Christ as a moral and spiritual actor in history. The term was coined by Peruvian theologist Gustavo Gutierrez. One of its central tenets is "the preferential option for the poor," or the Christ-like identification with the least comfortable among us. They also preach the importance of addressing social conditions that cause poverty.

It should come as no surprise that those who damn liberation theology tend to identify with the most comfortable elements of society, the ones doing the oppressing and the ones benefiting from it. They naturally want their priests and religious leaders to tell the poor that Jesus is about salvation in the next world, that this world is about pain and suffering and graceful acceptance.

The notion that President Obama is a liberation theologist is comical. It's the same ridiculous slur that he is a "socialist."

Obama is a centrist, but more important, he is a classic progressive like Teddy Roosevelt, liberal on the domestic front and an imperial militarist on the foreign policy front. Unfortunately for Obama, it's not 100 years ago, when the glories of imperial outreach were ascendant and not as expensive as they are today, when they tend to eat up resources needed to address deteriorating conditions at home.

So President Obama visits ex-President George Bush before giving a speech announcing that the war in Iraq is over. It would be unfair to make a joke about appearing in a flight suit to give his "mission accomplished" speech. So I won't.

Still, it's a fact 50,000 well-armed combat troops and ample super lethal aerial support units remain in the country; it's a fact the Iraqi government is a joke and people are dying like flies from political bombings; and it's a fact electricity, fuel supplies and other vital services are at such an abysmal level Iraqis tell reporters they're demoralized and pine for the stable, developed conditions under Saddam Hussein.

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I'm a 72-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and political (more...)

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