Monday, October 23, 2006

"Arrogance and Stupidity"
Alberto Fernandez, the director of the press and public diplomacy office in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs for the United States State Department was recently interviewed (Oct. 21, 2006) on the Arab network Al-Jazeera. In the interview he stated: "We tried to do our best [in Iraq], but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq," (see article here).

Apparently Mr. Fernandez has apologized for his comments, stating that he seriously misspoke and these comments do not represent his views nor that of the State Department (gathered from various news channels and articles I have seen/read). I think he was right the first time; America was arrogant and stupid to invade Iraq. My guess is that he came under pressure from his neo-con bosses. Unless Americans, especially politicians, are willing to admit we were wrong to invade Iraq, I don't see how we can ever overcome this sad chapter in our history.


A. M. said...

Hi Nick,

I've written a new article on America's foreign policy & Middle East strategy. Having read a lot of neoconservative literature over the years and being a fellow monarchist, I thought you might be interested in my take on things.

As you know, I work hard to reconcile my monarchist convictions with loyalty to my American heritage. I understand this to be an obligation of Christian charity.

I view America's origins, whether Puritan or Enlightenment as problematic. I'm also not happy with much of what I see today. However, my concern is less about what America used to be--or even what it is now--and more about what she will become. Remember, yesterday's revolutionaries are today's establishment and tomorrow's traditionalists.

I don't really see the point in constantly berating America's foreign policy. Even Catholic monarchs in the real world (and not in the imagined past) are subject to error. I'm sure that if you were to fairly compare America's virtues and vices with those of any other nation on planet earth, past or present, you'd find America measuring up favorably. Let's have a little perspective shall we?

I think Christian traditionalists of all stripes should be cheering on America's efforts to bring order to the Middle East. This can only result in a transformation of Islam, maybe even its destruction.

Don't be fooled by neoconservative speech rhetoric. What they mean by "democracy" is constitutional government & rule by law that respects human rights and promotes economic prosperity. Neoconservatives are only enamoured of majority rule when the majority hold to traditional values. This is the democracy that G. K. Chesterton wrote about in his masterpiece, Orthodoxy.

There is currently no better alternative available to the Iraqis. I'll take neoconservative "democracy" over Saddam any day. It's too bad more Iraqis don't appreciate the opportunity they've been given.

Andrew Matthews

Nick said...

Hi Andrew,

My criticism of American foreign policy is far less influenced by my monanarchist views than my Catholic faith. When America first invaded Iraq, I was a committed Republican and I ignored my Church. As time went by, I realized that rather than being "the king's good servant, but God's first" I was the king's servant and God's when it was convenient to me. Pope John Paul II, Josheph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), Pio Cardinal Laghi all made it clear that the war was unjust. As a Catholic my first loyalty must be to Rome, whether I live in America, Britain, Germany, or Sudan.

As far as America measuring up with other nations, I have to say that I live in America, and am most knowlegable with America (makes sense right?). So that's why so much of my focus is on America.

As to its vices and virtues, no nation is perfect, but I'd wager that we are indeed up there on the vice list (tens of millions of abortions in just a little over 30 years, pornography, divorce, embryonic stem cell research, contraception, this list goes on). We may not be the worst nation in history, but we are quickly becoming it.


A. M. said...

Okay, Nick, I'll respect your Catholic conviction that the Iraq invasion was unjust, but what do you propose now that we are in? Just leave?

While I'm interested in becoming more conversant with the Catholic argument against the war, I view this as largely an irrelevant exercise now, because the decision was already made to go in. It is childish (or worse) to wish American efforts to fail because one disagrees with the original war rationale.

I'm not too happy with an apparent trend in the Catholic Church toward pacifism, especially opposition to the use of capital punishment. The Church has historically been in favor of the just use of capital punishment. So, the new anti position is not a part of the tradition.

Every day in this country we suffer from crimes perpetrated by criminals who should have been executed for crimes they were already apprehended and tried for. The lack of just punishment itself is a contributor to the culture of death, in my judgment.

As far as America's sins, I agree there is much that is reprehensible, but I believe there is a sizeable and committed portion of our population that opposes these things. We are working toward solutions through our government process with all its limitations.

As a monarchist, I perceive that the pace this is occurring is much too slow, and the results inconsistent. However, I have reason to think that a better day will come.

All the best,


Nick said...

That's exactly what I propose: leave Iraq. The war was unjust, and out occupation is both immoral and illegal.

Capital punishment: I'm not sure how this is applicable to our argument. The Church has never changed her position on capital punishment in principle, just its application in the modern age. Is the Church pacifist? Some members, even leaders in the Church have some pacific strains, but the Church is not. However, one would hope that the Church would always strive for peace. If it didn't, would we be any different from the Muslims?

This may be a bit uncharitable, but if you think my views are childish, why do you keep coming back to my blog?

A. M. said...


Can you direct me to an official Church pronouncement condemning the "immoral and illegal" occupation? Is the Church actively campaigning for U.S. withdrawal, or are they more quiet now that the decision was made to go in? If so, I'd suggest that the rationale for "occupation" is distinct from the rationale for the original war.

We have to make our ethical choices in light of the actual circumstances we are confronted with, not what we wish had happened. This is wisdom and maturity.

You might be interested in this article by Bernard Lewis:

The Church should always strive for peace when peace is possible. But there comes a time when employing harsh methods is more compassionate in the long run. Capital punishment assures that murderers (and other heinous criminals) will never be able to do any more harm. This is the analogy between capital punishment and the Iraqi war I'd like to draw.

I think there is a modern temptation to take the path of least resistance and then congratulate ourselves on being compassionate or civilized.

I fear that Europeans and even the Catholic Church have drawn the wrong lessons from the terrible conflicts of the last century. They have concluded that war is evil. What they haven't considered is that there may be a greater evil than war.

This greater evil is what's happening in Europe now: the destruction of an ancient way of life. It may be that U.S. forces will have to occupy part of Europe in order to prevent the Muslim takeover.


Nick said...

The "immoral and illegal" occupation of Iraq were my words, not the Church's.

War is an evil, sometimes necessary, but always an evil that is a result of our fallen nature, regardless of what side we are on. The Church, however, strives to accomplish peace through non-violent means if possible, which was John Paul II's point: there was till time for diplomacy with Saddam. According to the Church's just war theory, war must be a last resort. If diplomacy is still possible, war cannot be waged and be just.

As far as U.S. occupation of Europe, God save us from that possibility!!