Is George W. Bush proof that we live in a universe devoid of intelligent design? Bush, of course, is famous for asserting that Jesus was his favorite political philosopher. He has also claimed that God wanted him to be president. Perhaps the Almighty has a sense of humor, because it looks increasingly certain the George W. Bush will go down in history as presiding over the most incompetent, corrupt, and disastrous administrations in U.S. history.
We now know that the Bush administration’s missionary zeal to spread democracy across the Arab world, beginning in Iraq, was just part of a larger effort to export its libertarian ideology and Christian values into the heart of the Middle East. God knows, the Saddamists and Islamicists could do with a little more capitalism, but more religion?
Seriously, though, the fact that the Bush administration used a litmus test to select the diplomats and officials that would oversee our nation building crusade in Iraq proved to be a fatal mistake. Put simply, the administration vetted State Department officials and other relevant personnel according to the following criteria: are you pro-life? That is, those espousing a pro-life philosophy would be sent to rebuild Iraq while those possessing expertise in Middle Eastern and Arab affairs (but not hewing to the president’s pro-life agenda) were relieved.
It’s a little ironic that so many in the pro-life movement were so gung ho about an invasion that failed to meet the standards established by Christian philosophers for a “just war.” For instance, according just war theory the use of force must meet four criteria: 1) it can only be waged by a legitimate authority, 2) it must be in self-defense only, 3) it must be a last resort, and 4) it must be proportional (the good achieved must outweigh the injuries inflicted).
Leaving aside the question of Bush’s legitimacy, momentarily, it is abundantly clear that Bush’s invasion of Iraq failed to meet three out of four criteria the just war theory requires. For instance, it is evident that Iraq posed no serious, direct, or imminent threat to the United States. Second, Bush unilaterally withdrew the U.N. weapons inspectors just weeks before they were due to complete their mission, thus precluding the possibility of a peaceful outcome. Further, the invasion has “succeeded” in spawning a civil war in Iraq, which means Iraqis are far worse off now than they were under Saddam.
Questions regarding Bush’s legitimacy are worth raising. Bush asked for and got a blank check from Congress authorizing the war, but the wording of the resolution called on the president to exhaust all means short of war first. Bush failed to do this, just as he failed to get a second U.N. resolution explicitly authorizing the invasion. Put simply, Bush used the vaguely worded U.N. resolution he obtained earlier as a blank check, though most international law experts believe Bush acted illegally. It is also worth noting that Bush’s path to the White House was extremely dubious. His ascension to the Oval Office owed more to legal sophistry and a partisan Supreme Court, which essentially nullified the will of the American people (as expressed by the majority of Americans who voted for Al Gore and the majority of Floridians who cast their ballots for Gore as well).
Bush is a throwback to leaders who operate according to the discredited theory from the Dark Ages known as “the divine right of kings.” According to this deeply irrational idea the monarch is acting as God’s representative on earth and his decisions are divinely guided. Bush’s disastrous reign is a reductio ad absurdum argument against this theory. However, Bush has brought great credit to the sole political teaching of his favorite political philosopher, Jesus: Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. In other words, George has proven that Jesus was right about keeping religion out of politics.