The irony is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Thanks to Gentlemen’s Quarterly (GQ), of all things, we are learning that our progress reports on our battle against Islamic extremists were peppered with our own brand of “let’s go on a crusade” rhetoric.
The reports prepared for Donald Rumsfeld, then Defense Secretary, to share with the President included a cover page with an inspirational war-time picture and an accompanying biblical quote. Ah, but not just any biblical quote. Here are a few samples:
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” — Ephesians 6:13
“Commit to the LORD whatever you do and your plans will succeed” — Proverbs 16:3
“It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” 1 Peter 2:15 (this one appeared above a photo of Saddam Hussein)
And perhaps the most egregious, this one accompanied by a photo of a US tank rolling into Iraq:
“Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, The nation that keeps faith” — Isaiah 26:2
If “God” and the “lord” were replaced in the above quotes by “Allah” you could not tell the difference between us and our enemy. One aspect of liberal spin on this is that Rumsfeld or his minions were trying to manipulate Bush’s attitude toward the war by playing on his piousness. Even though I do feel that Bush was not up to the job and was mislead by bad counsel repeatedly during his administration I don’t buy this “Manchurian Candidate” (“Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?”) theory of religious messages playing some subliminal role to keep the President in a war he would otherwise have abandoned. Too far fetched for me.
I don’t really care why the messages appeared on the security briefings. It’s just really scary that they were there. You would think that an administration that needed to distance itself from the appearance of fighting a religious war would keep all defense documents concerning Iraq completely void of any religious implications. Instead, these documents make it look like we were sending our Christian soldiers to conquer the Muslims. One commentator said today that this is worse then the Abu Ghraib photos and I tend to agree. These memos betrayed one of our most enduring traditions, a strict separation between church and state. They make us look like supreme hypocrites.
Every time I think we can’t hear anything more bizarre from the Bush years, something new arises. With the debate over torture and now these new revelations, every day we look more and more like the enemy we were fighting.