Sunday, May 28, 2006

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I have spent a significant portion of my adult life around children. Most of the time, the things that children say and do are necessarily childish. But every now and then a child will say something that is very adult in its significance, or a child will say something or perceive something in a way that we adults do not because of our own arrogance and self importance. The letter President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran sent on May 8, 2006 to U.S. President George Bush reminded me that the ignorant and childish can see things the learned and enlightened fail to see (this letter can be found in its entirety here).
Ahmadinejad, as a Muslim, is a child in regards to his understanding of God. Islam is heresy, containing some elements of the Truth mixed in with many lies, deceptions, and purposeful misinterpretations. But just because he is a Muslim does not mean Ahmadinejad cannot teach us Christians a thing or two.

Ahmadinejad writes “Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God, feel obliged to respect human rights, present liberalism as a civilization model… but at the same time, have countries attacked. [sic]” What he is referring to is the invasion of Iraq. As a Christian leader, one can be a follower of Christ and have countries attacked, as long as such an attack conforms to the Catholic Church’s just war doctrine (I must note here that the invasion of Iraq did not conform to the Church’s just war doctrine, as we were told by Pope John Paul II, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and Pio Cardinal Laghi). Let us continue with the letter:

Or because of the possibility of the existence of WMDs in one country, it is occupied, around one hundred thousand people killed, its water sources, agriculture and industry destroyed, close to 180,000 foreign troops put on the ground, sanctity of private homes of citizens broken, and the country pushed back perhaps fifty years. At what price? Hundreds of billions of dollars spent from the treasury of one country and certain other countries and tens of thousands of young men and women – as occupation troops – put in harms way, taken away from family and loved ones, their hands stained with the blood of others, subjected to so much psychological pressure that everyday some commit suicide and those returning home suffer depression, become sickly and grapple with all sorts of ailments; while some are killed and their bodies handed to their families.

On the pretext of the existence of WMDs, this great tragedy came to engulf both the peoples of the occupied and the occupying country. Later it was revealed that no WMDs existed to begin with.

Ahmedinejad has a very good point here. On the supposition that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. and the “Coalition of the Willing” invaded Iraq. But there were no WMDs. So our entire justification for war proved unfounded in fact. What happened then? Our justification transformed into invading Iraq because Saddam Hussein was supporting al-Qaeda. This too has proven groundless in fact; there is no evidence of pre-war, post-9/11 collaboration or support between Saddam and al-Qaeda. So what is our justification now? Saddam was a brutal tyrant, and by invading Iraq we freed the Iraqi people from his dictatorship, all while spreading freedom and democracy. Justifying a deed based on the outcome of that deed is faulty justification. The ends do not justify the means. We went to war for a reason, a reason that turned out to be false and groundless.

But what about the fact that Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant? Surely the world is better off without him in power. Here is what Ahmadinejad has to say about that:

Of course Saddam was a murderous dictator. But the war was not waged to topple him, the announced goal of the war was to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. He was toppled along the way towards another goal; nevertheless the people of the region are happy about it. I point out that throughout the many years of the imposed war on Iran, Saddam was supported but the West.

Sounds to me like Ahmadinejad is right on target: our war was not waged to topple Saddam, but to find and destroy WMDs. Even he can see the faulty logic that the Bush Administration and neo-conservatives use to justify the war in Iraq. He also points out that we supported Saddam when it was politically expedient for us to do so. Perhaps we should be more forward thinking when we start our international political maneuvering.

Perhaps the most moving and profound part of Ahmadinejad’s letter is this: “Liberalism and Western style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the Liberal democratic systems.” I do not think I could agree with him more. Who would have ever thought that a Muslim “extremist” from Iran could have so much to teach us “enlightened” Christians? I think all monarchists owe him a debt of gratitude for his letter.

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