(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, has issued a statement communicating the Holy Father's prayerful concern over the violence raging in Iraq, and especially for the Christians affected by the violence. In the statement, Fr. Lombardi says, "The Holy Father is following with deep concern the dramatic news reports coming from northern Iraq, which involve defenseless populations. Christian communities are particularly affected: a people fleeing from their villages because of the violence that rages in these days, wreaking havoc on the entire region."
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The statement goes on to say, "The Holy Father renews his spiritual closeness to all those who are suffering through this painful trial, and makes the impassioned appeals of the local bishops his own, asking together with them in behalf of their sorely tried communities, that the whole Church and all the faithful raise up with one voice a ceaseless prayer, imploring the Holy Spirit to send the gift of peace." Please find the full text of the statement in English, below.
Statement of Fr Federico Lombardi SJ regarding the situation of Christians in Iraq
The Holy Father is following with deep concern the dramatic news reports coming from northern Iraq, which involve defenseless populations. Christian communities are particularly affected: a people fleeing from their villages because of the violence that rages in these days, wreaking havoc on the entire region.
At the Angelus prayer on July 20th, Pope Francis cried with pain: “[O]ur brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are pushed out, forced to leave their homes without the opportunity to take anything with them. To these families and to these people I would like to express my closeness and my steadfast prayer. Dearest brothers and sisters so persecuted, I know how much you suffer, I know that you are deprived of everything. I am with you in your faith in Him who conquered evil!”
In light of these terrible developments, the Holy Father renews his spiritual closeness to all those who are suffering through this painful trial, and makes the impassioned appeals of the local bishops his own, asking together with them in behalf of their sorely tried communities, that the whole Church and all the faithful raise up with one voice a ceaseless prayer, imploring the Holy Spirit to send the gift of peace.
His Holiness urgently calls on the international community to protect all those affected or threatened by the violence, and to guarantee all necessary assistance – especially the most urgently needed aid – to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others.
The Pope also appeals to the conscience of all people, and to each and every believer he repeats: “May the God of peace create in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is not conquered with violence. Violence is conquered with peace! Let us pray in silence, asking for peace; everyone, in silence.... Mary Queen of peace, pray for us! (Angelus, July 20, 2014)”
Judaeo-Christian nations need to join together and erase this nest of terror, conflict, and evil by whatever means necessary and not feel the least bit guilty about it.
The photograph may be, I think, not Christians but Yezidi faithful fleeing from ISIS in northern Iraq.
The faith of the refugees doesn't really matter since all who do not meet the ISIS standards of religiosity are suffering this brutal oppression.
The Yezidi, by the way, are "a Kurdish ethno-religious community, representing an ancient religion that is linked to Zoroastrianism. They live primarily in the Nineveh Province of northern Iraq." (Wikipedia)
As in 1975 when the US pulled out of a region and the Democrats insisted on us not going back in to honor commitments so too now, the same thing is happening and the same genocidal killing fields are being replayed.
A power vacuum has been created by our feckless and incompetent CinC and secretaries of state (both completely stuffed shirts/skirts). Into this pour the very enemies of civilization the entire war was supposedly all about eradicating. And they do nothing.
If only the ISIS thugs were homophobic or blew up an abortion clinic or two! Then we'd see round the clock airstrikes and the 82nd airborne division re-inserted into the place to protect the civilians. But no, it's merely Christians and others who are threatened with annihilation so this administration and the party in power will do nothing.
But wait for the tut tuting about what "could have been done" if only, if only, if only...once the massacre is concluded.
And various and sundry liberal progressives wonder why there's been a civilian stampede to stock up on guns and ammo since 2008? It's because the same viciousness, the same nihilist "will to power" attitudes that propel ISIS also propel our own homegrown secular hedonists who preen and pride themselves on their sophistication and darkly mutter about getting rid of believers. We won't be caught as unarmed as the poor Catholics of Iraq when they come for us as they most certainly will. Indeed, when have secular atheists ever NOT attempted to forcibly silence believers as a means to some utopian end?
Anonymous,I am aware of a few loose associations of veterans in several neighborhoods who, in a very low key way, have reconned their neighborhoods for strong points, defensive sites, and small unit tactics operations. They have some fun while providing a service to the residents. There is even a chain of command based upon the rank and MOS of the various residents. Not really a bad idea. There are several super ambush sites in my own neighborhood...natural cover, varied topography, and naturally occurring fields of fire that overlap due to curves in the road. Of course, I would NEVER take part in such activities...I just think it is cool.
President Bush lied to take this country into a war in Iraq we had no business getting into. That was the incompetence that gave us the current ISIS mess.
We are reaping the repercussions of that idiotic and morally unsupportable fiasco.
If I may, and if permitted.
This is an Anglican website that has been reporting on the genocide in Iraq and Syria. They even have pictures of beheaded Christians and their heads hanging from power lines, impaled on fences etc.
Pray yes. Evil must be met with prayer and force.
And pater is correct, not only Christians but other minority people are being targeted. Virtue even has a MP of the Iraqi government trying to alert the world to the genocide.
Sadly, there are those in the Iraqi government supporting these evil humans, more like animals but animals behave more decently. And the world is silent. OH except to berate the Jews for defending themselves.
Canon White, the last Anglican priest in Bagdad, reports on what is happening. Now even the Kurds are running.
We need a Churchhill, not a Chamberlin or Obama. Sadly the world has reverted back to the 1930's. Unless we (the west with the nations of Eygpt et al)act soon, we will all be engulfed in a blood bath. History is repeating itself and we are loath to learn from it.
The Anglican Priest
Actually, I agree with Ignotus that Bush's policy was short-sighted and ill conceived.
Pater is absolutely correct, of course, but I would add that we are not the main ones suffering the repercussions of the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of the Republic. I only hope we have learned something from such incredible stupidity (I live in hope).
Also, ISIS provides a salutary lesson of how religions can be perverted to evil purposes and how the interpretation of religious norms is shaped as much by what we bring to them as by the norms themselves. This is amply demonstrated by the widespread condemnation of ISIS by Muslims themselves. This will give a sense:
Regarding Churchill, FWIIW Churchill was one of George W. Bush’s heroes (Churchill bust in Oval Office and all that). President Bush should have confined himself to fighting AIDS in Africa (for which he is to be greatly commended) instead of destabilizing the entire Middle East.
Leave it to a leftists, even one with a collar, to troll up the ole Bush for one more bash about.
Bush is gone. Obama has been here since 2009. This is not Bush's mess,but Obama's and ours. Obama has screwed this up. It was his to do. Since 2009 he has made bad decisions leading to all the wars in the mideast, africa and now eastern europe. He, Obama, has supported the militants such as the Muslim Brotherhood who is behind ISIS and many other terrorist groups. For St Petes sake his half brother helps bank roll the brotherhood.
As much as I did not like Bush, he is out, Obama is in and the responsible party. His lack of action and poor decisions have alienated moderate Muslim nations like Jordan and Eygpt. Obama and his arab spring have done more to create a vacum and a cesspool of violence than bumbling Bush.
As someone who fought in the first gulf war I understand the need to finish your enemy or your children will be fighting.
Since the WWII the West has not fought a war to win, but to bring our enemies to the table. We claim victory, they re-group to oppose us again.
As a reservist called up for the
2nd Gulf War with my nephew, I get somewhat sick of the ole "Bush lied, people died" bovine fecal matter. Intelligence from many countries said the same thing. Even told us, it WMDs were moved to Syria. Where it has been being used in the current Civil War. The intel we had, and my MOS in the Marines was 0202 (intel officer), moved from 0302 (Infantry Officer) for medical reasons, told us so. President Bush did not lie. He acted upon given intel.
I thought Bush's management of the war was poor. He lacked the drive to totally defeat our enemies and then he made horrible selections for civil control. Patton had a very successful rule of Bavaria after WWII because he used the in place civil system, nazi and all.
We can live in the past and achieve nothing or WE now have an opportunity to confront and stop this manifestation of evil and save lives and civilizations.
Let us pray God sends us a Charles Martel and not another Chamberlin/Obama.
The Anglican Priest
Churchill was the greatest man of the 20th Century. Together with Roosevelt (whom Winston worked like a puppet), Truman, and Eisenhower, he saved Western civilization from a descent into barbarity and oppression. Barbarity and oppression once agin threaten in the person of Nobama…alas, there is no Churchill, and the stupid Brits are trying to forget him. Obama is not even a stain on Churchill's drawers.
Mark - According to W we finished our enemy. Remember "Mission Accomplished"? He and his neo-Con advisors gave us the immoral war that has resulted in the ISIS mess of today.
Bush is gone. Bush's errors live on.
ISIS and these types( I understand they are just IS now) are possessed of a demonic-like will to fight and conquer. We in the West have been of late losing our faith and the will to confront evil and to fight the good fight . The conflict between Western civiization and various iterations of Islamic militantism has gone on for centuries now. We are also now faced we an increasingly assertive secularism. What is happening in our world does not bode well. Those with faith in Christ will keep in mind that existence is fleeting, life is short, and we are assured with the hope that salvation will come. In the meantime we must pray and sacrifice for nothing good and worthwhile is secured without effort and perseverance.
With the greatest respect and sincere gratitude for your service, I disagree with you.
First, it is a shibboleth of the Right in this country that only “leftists” were opposed to the Iraq adventure or remind people about Bumbling Bush. There were very sound conservative reasons (not neo-conservative, please note) for opposing that war. Those were among my reasons. Also among my reasons was the strong opposition of Pope St. John Paul II to the war, and as a Catholic his opposition weighed very heavily with me. It is too easy and unfair to dismiss those of us who are still very angry and vocal about this extremely ill-advised decision to invade Iraq by using the “leftists” label. Please do not do it.
Second, we all know what the U.S. intel claimed to say. However, those of us who were following the foreign news sources (and not just American ones) had very good reason indeed to doubt the reliability of that intel. Oh, and don’t forget the UN weapons inspectors (but who wants to listen to them?). Here is Hans Blix on the matter (including the quality and reliability of U.S. intel):
Oh, and on the Arab Spring, I have public statements in my files from George Bush’s Merry Men and Maid Condi claiming the Arab Spring as vindication for their own policies and the invasion of Iraq. In other words, they were for it until they were against it (which, of course, was when they got mugged by reality – yet again). Thus another shibboleth of the Right bites the dust.
Sorry, Gene, I will disagree with you too. Winston Churchill did not save the West from sinking into barbarity. He contributed to it. I don’t know what “the stupid Brits” are up to nowadays regarding Churchill but I do not believe anything is gained by refusing to face up to the truth. The Allies sank into barbarity during WWII as much as the Germans. It was not called “terror bombing” for nothing. And it was evil. We have argued about this before. Here again Wikipedia suffices:
Just like the Tonkin Gulf incident decades before, the Intelligence assessments on Iraq and how they were handled will always be suspect in the minds of some. In retrospect, it has turned out to be a great blunder. It was a prudential decision on the part of the President with the support of Congressional members of both political parties. Wars are not always determined by how successful one is on the battlefield, but rather in how the conflict is resolved, either at the negotiating table or in the execution of the exit strategy. As far as the last part, Mr Obama, at least up to now, has been a failure. Since as both a Senator and a presidential candidate, he received briefings on the situation in Iraq, he new full well what he was getting into. The results of military operations he authorized in Libya have not turned out well. Neither has his handling of the situation in Syria and other parts of the Middle East. So, even if he were to get a pass on Iraq, his foreign policy more often than not has been one of missteps and mistakes. Of course he still has two years too go so we'll have to wait to see what transpires between now and then. My major problem with him has been in other areas such as his support of same sex marriage and federal funding of abortion. It is not how history will judge his governance that is of greater importance but rather how God will judge him.
Anon 2, you need to read a bit more WW II history, and you also need to read a bit more about Churchill and Roosevelt. Your response is typical liberal, revisionist hogwash.
Mark - "W" will be dragged out, not for "one more bash about," but until the end of time for his feckless policy and reckless War in Iraq.
He and his neo-Con cronies ginned up a war with hubris and arrogance and lies about WMD's, centrifuge tubes, yellow cake uranium, and mobile chemical war labs.
In their arrogance they said:
"I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." --Vice President Dick Cheney, on the Iraq insurgency, June 20, 2005
"My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." –Vice President Dick Cheney, "Meet the Press," March 16, 2003
"Ladies and gentlemen, these are not assertions. These are facts, corroborated by many sources, some of them sources of the intelligence services of other countries." –Secretary of State Colin Powell, testifying about Iraq's chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons capabilities before the United Nations Security Council, Feb. 5, 2003
"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." –President Bush, standing under a "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier, May 2, 2003
"It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his army. Hard to imagine." –Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, testifying before the House Budget Committee prior to the Iraq war, Feb. 27, 2003
"The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction, as the core reason." – Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, during a "Vanity Fair" interview, May 28, 2003
And on and on and on.
This massive foreign policy blunder has cost, in Iraq and Afghanistan, 5,281 American lives and 50,897 wounded. In Iraq alone, the number of documented death of non-combatants is between
127,109 and 142,178.
Yes, President George W. Bush's name, and the names of his neo-Con cronies, will be rolled out until the end of time as an examples of how to 1) lose a war, 2) destabilize an entire region, 3) ensure that our enemies are primed for further attacks against innocent people here and abroad.
If you're looking for a manifestation of evil, look no further than George Bush's record.
Pater Ignotus, the "mission accomplished" banner was flown for the aircraft carrier on which Bush flew to thank the crew. It wasn't a statement about the entire war but about that ship's involvement in it.
But you'd not get this from the left wing media. You'd only get it from the ship's own media. It was their sign, for their mission, which they had accomplished and were proud of.
Typical false memories of liberals.... you just can't accept that Obama has had any responsibility AT ALL. You simply can't accept that Hillary accomplished NOTHING positive as Sec of State with respect to the US position in the Middle east. She was (is) hell bent on promoting secular hedonism (abortion, contraception, gay marriage etc.) around the world via the US embassies and NGOs and that obviously led to immediate opposition by Catholics and other Christians. So allowing these same 'obstacles' to "the right side of history" to be removed by ISIS is par for the course.
The administration airdropped food to the pagans on the mountain, not to the Christians. They intervened now - when they could have blasted the ISIS convoys approaching Mosul. We own the skies. We could blow up any vehicle that moves. We're not helpless. If ISIS is still alive it's because our administration as determined that it's tolerable.
Otherwise, why no airstrikes on behalf of the Iraqi government we're supposedly allied with?
Ignotus is your typical liberal, looking for anybody but themselves to blame for the deplorable state of the nation and the world.
Gene have you seen this article from Ann?http://www.barnhardt.biz/the-one-about-jesus-and-guns/
It's a pretty good exegesis on the matter that I can't find flaw with - though I know many theologians will have conniptions.
Those who are pirates, thugs, robbers, unjust aggressors will continue to prey on the innocent until stopped by force. They rarely give up on their own. But who wields the force that stops them? If confederates then the injustice would never stop. But only if the implication is that just men stop unjust men could we ever have periods of peace in the world.
The Pate Ignotius' of the world will point to police - just men who are armed and stop there. Their faith is in the "state" however assembled. But that's merely to confuse one application from the premise which is that human beings have a right to their lives and so ought to have the right to the means of defending their lives (including private property). If we posit that human beings have a right to self defense, then it follows they have a right to the means appropriate to that defense.
Sure, contracting some mercenary to be a body guard or security guard is fine, it makes economic sense. But contracting the job out to someone does not annul the human right!
This is what the US 2nd Amendment is based on - the insight that rights come from our nature as human beings, NOT from some sovereign king or assembly of powerful men called "the state". If human beings didn't have a right to property or defense then neither would groups of humans called "the state" have such rights!
So we civilians look at the serial genocides against unarmed civilians the world over and conclude that this is what invariably happens when governments insist on a monopoly of weapons "in the name of public safety". When vast numbers of peaceful people are also unarmed, it is just a matter of time before the ruthless wolves begin to prey on them and feckless governments withhold protection.
Si vis pacem, para bellum.
Thank you, Anonymous. What you write is dead on. I will read Ann's article.
Just read the Wikipedia article, Gene, if you dare. It will tell you all you need to know about Allied (and German) bombing of civilians. And I can give you more scholarly sources as well. Many people just do not want to face the ugly truth. Of course, my mother had to face it directly as a student at the University of Cologne during the War.
We can talk details if you want although we have already done that in earlier threads but you have probably forgotten that.
What the British (and to a lesser extent the Germans) did in bombing civilians was a war crime, but of course the victors write the rules and try the defendants.
Let me know if you would also like to talk about the deliberate efforts to starve the German population after the War. We could have a nice little chat about that too.
No, Gene, I am under no illusions whatsoever about the evil of war.
You forgot one: Kenneth Adelman’s “cakewalk” comment. Some cake we baked!
Yesterday you agreed with Pater Ignotus (and by implication with me too) about the invasion of Iraq:
“Actually, I agree with Ignotus that Bush's policy was short-sighted and ill conceived.”
Why the sudden change?
It seems that you are more or less correct about the Mission Accomplished point:
Thank you for correcting the prevalent misperception on that point. However, this does not really blunt the force of the criticism of the entire misadventure.
Anonymous and Gene:
I read the linked article from Ann Barnhardt. Here are my thoughts
(1) I was finding the article intriguing but became increasingly irritated at the constantly repeated verbal sleight of hand that referred to swords as the “assault weapons” of the era. The constant repetition of this phrase suggests a clear agenda. And with the suggested “prophecy” about Islam at the end I thought she really lost her grip on reality and her agenda became even clearer.
(2) I then researched the Vulgate and the Douay-Rheims English translation. Here is an article (I suspect it is pre-Vatican II but do not know) that suggests much, much more complexity and uncertainly regarding this matter than the author suggests. Good luck with it. I found it heavy going and it vastly increased my respect for biblical scholars who devote their lives to this stuff:
Of course, I stand to be corrected in these impressions but I think we need a bona fide and truly learned biblical scholar to weigh in if we are to avoid simplistic conclusions about the meaning of these texts.
Anon 2 - Adelman's "cakewalk" comment is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of such examples.
"Saddam 'has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.' —Secretary of State Colin Powell 2/24/01
"PNAC letter to Bush: 'Even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power.'" 9/20/01
"Bush briefed by intel community that there is no evidence linking Saddam to 9/11." 9/21/01
"Cheney on Meet the Press: "Well, the evidence is pretty conclusive that the Iraqis have indeed harbored terrorists." Also claims 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi spy in Prague, a claim he'll repeat long after CIA and Czechs disavow." 12/9/01
"Downing Street memo: "There has been no credible evidence to link Iraq with Al Qaida…In the documents so far presented it has been hard to glean whether the threat from Iraq is so significantly different from that of Iran or North Korea as to justify action." 3/25/02
And the list goes on and on and on. The quotes are taken from http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/leadup-iraq-war-timeline
Anglican Mark's "MOS," his service in the second Gulf War, and his attempt to absolve Bush and his neo-Con cronies from their responsibility don't amount to a hill of beans. The facts, not the politically motivated emotions, are undeniable.
Anon 2, My views on Bush and the war are not a sudden change. Like I said, I liked and supported Bush, but did not agree with his policies in the Gulf War,etc.
I have far better sources than Wikipedia for WW II, which I have spent quite a few years studying. Most of the opinions about Allied bombing fall along political lines. But, one major line is that the Germans started it. Churchill deliberated and worried about bombing civilian targets, fearing we would 'lose the very values we are fighting to preserve." The Germans did not even deliberate before killing thousands of British citizens with V weapons (true terror weapons). To even compare the motivations and values of the Allies with those of the Nazis shows a naiveté that goes beyond comprehension.
In retrospect the second Gulf War was a mistake. Most now acknowledge that. It's important to note that 82 Democrats in the House and 29 Democrats in the U.S.Senate voted for the resolution authorizing the use of military force against Saddam. Who were some of these 29 in the Senate? Let's see... there was Diane Feinstein, Christopher Dodd, Tom Harkin, Jay Rockefeller, Hillary Clinton, and the late Mel Carnahan(hardly right -wingers). Going further down the list who do we find (surprise, surprise) but non other than Joe Biden, John Kerry and Harry Reid. Well, well.
Now one could also go back a couple of decades and hash out the blunders made by the Johnson Administration in micro-managing the Vietnam war but what useful purpose would that serve here?
I never absolved Pres. Bush. Sadly you are so leftist you fail to think clearly. Everything is Bush's fault to you. So you absolve you icon Obama.
This is Obama's failure. Every President has failed, IKE warned Kennedy to stay out of SE Asia. Ooops, the lefts golden boy got us involved in a war we lost and cost us 57000 KIA. Johnston and Nixon expanded the war.
Is Kennedy responsible for what Johnston and Nixon did? No. Bush had his failures. If you actually read what I wrote and understand you would know that. But your hatred for Bush clouds your ability to think correctly.
ISIS occurred on Obama's watch. His actions lead to it. ISIS came into being after Bush. Obama's decisions in foreign policy has lead to the genocide in the Middle East. He backs the wrong people.
I dislike President Obama. He supports every evil man has thought of, such as abortion. But when I heard the US had bombed ISIS today and dropped supplies to the stranded, I was happy and supportive. I think more needs to be done and hope Obama will do more...well Congress under the Constitution should be the one making the decisions, not Obama.
Right thinking people can set aside differences for a common goal. Leftists and extremists are unable.
So as ISIS now beheads Christian children and puts their heads on pikes, the leftist scream it Bush's fault. Drag up phrases, comments, banners in their orgasmic display of hating Bush. And what happens, women have their throats cut, children beheaded, men crucified. All the pictures are on Catholic Online. But if you do go there, beware, the pictures will sicken you.
So pater and anonymous, babble on hating Bush and ignoring the horror. Rest secure that at least in your twisted mind all is right in the world. Bush is hated,babies are killed....wasting time hating Bush is so much more important.
So as Canon White and the Bishops of Iraqi plead for help, lets just tell them to wait...bashing Bush is so much more fun and satisfying.
Oh and Clinton admits, there is audio records, he had a chance to kill Osama back in the 90's and did not. So Clinton is responsible for 9/11? Only a loon would say that.....same about Bush.
The Anglican Priest
Anglican Mark - No, I do not think "everything is Bush's fault." But the situation in Iraq with ISIS most definitely is Bush's fault.
It is his fault and the fault of the raft of neo-Con advisors, primarily Vice President Dick Cheney, who urged him to attack Iraq, destabilizing that country and region.
I would appreciate it if you could explain how ISIS is Obama's fault. Simply asserting that "his actions" led to the formation of ISIS, or simply asserting that "his decisions in foreign policy" led to genocide is insufficient.
No one is ignoring the horror - like you I pray regularly that it will end. I don't "hate" Bush, but I am not willing to ignore the essential part he and his neo-Con advisors played in the destabilization of the region that remains in tragic turmoil.
And if you don't think that quoting the people who took us into war is sufficient evidence to show their involvement, I'd ask you what is.
I've got to go with Anonymous and Mark on this one. President Kennedy got us involved in Vietnam. He thought he was doing the right thing. Ditto Mr Bush and Iraq. President Johnson cannot be blamed for the policies of his predecessor. He can only be blamed for his own policy getting us more deeply involved in that conflict which ended in a much greater loss of life in that the war than in Iraq. Now one could argue whether the mistake was getting us involved in the first place or whether the blunder was in how the war and its aftermath was conducted. Presidents make decisions and sometimes they turn out to be very bad decisions. A far as Mr Obama, when a person assumes a leadership position, they inherit what their predecessor left, the good and the bad. So whether its a football coach a CEO or a president, they assume responsibility. They do this willingly with knowledge of what they are getting into. It seems to me from what I can gather, that Mr Obama was not as engaged with what was transpiring in Iraq as he should have been. Either that, or he just decided to let things play out. It is often after hostilities that a war is one or lost. Mr Obama did not manage the end game well at all. Now it could very well be that had someone else been elected president, things would have turned out the same. We'll never know. What concerns me (and should concern all Catholics) is that this administration has been on a dedicated mission to promote and spread abortion, contraception, gay marriage in countries around the world that have up to now been resisting these things.
It is not how history will judge Mr Obama's governance that is of greater importance, but rather how God will judge him.
George - I don't agree with your assumption that there was a way to "manage the end game" in Iraq. Johnson and Nixon inherited another war in which there was no manageable way out, other than to cut our losses and withdraw the troops.
I agree that Johnson cannot be blamed for the mistakes of his predecessor. Neither can Obama. I think his view of the proper use of American military power is very different from Bush and the neo-Cons. I happen to think it is the correct view.
Both Vietnam and Iraq, from the get-go, were "quagmires" into which we had no business sending our troops. The decision to bring about "regime change" in Iraq is the greatest foreign policy blunder in US history.
And that decision was based on lies, worthless intelligence, untrustworthy sources (Chalibi, "Curveball," and the neo-Con founders of the Project for a New American Century who, in 1998, were urging the overthrow of Saddam Hussein), and a "Bring 'Em On" swagger that worked in Dodge City but does not work in 21st century geopolitics.
The timeline for withdrawal from Iraq had already been set by the time Obama took office. [Iraq and U.S. agree that all U.S. forces will withdraw "no later than December 31, 2011." On November 17, 2008, US and Iraqi officials signed a Security Agreement, often referred to as a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), stating that "All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011." The agreement also called for all U.S. combat forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities "no later than June 30, 2009."]
That indicates to me that they - Bush and Advisors - believed 1) that we had won (whatever that meant to them), 2) that we had accomplished our strategic goals (whatever those might have been), or 3) that there was no good way out and the best thing to do was cut our losses and withdraw.
The short take on Obama's view:
"Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished. The United States is not going to be the air force of Iraqi Shiites or any other faction. . . .
At the end of the day, the president mused, the biggest threat to America — the only force that can really weaken us — is us. We have so many things going for us right now as a country — from new energy resources to innovation to a growing economy — but, he said, we will never realize our full potential unless our two parties adopt the same outlook that we’re asking of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds or Israelis and Palestinians: No victor, no vanquished and work together.
“Our politics are dysfunctional,” said the president, and we should heed the terrible divisions in the Middle East as a “warning to us: societies don’t work if political factions take maximalist positions. And the more diverse the country is, the less it can afford to take maximalist positions.”
The full take, NYTimes interview: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/09/opinion/president-obama-thomas-l-friedman-iraq-and-world-affairs.html?_r=0
What is needed, what has always been needed, is clear thinking and practical wisdom, but it is something that has been sorely lacking in American foreign policy regarding the Middle East and in some other places in the Islamic world for many years now, and especially since 9/11. The reason some of us are so mad about Bush’s invasion of Iraq is that it led directly to the current terrible mess, in Iraq and elsewhere. And one can’t just absolve Bush and his merry Men and Maid Condi and say it is time to move on and deal with the current situation for this reason – the same neo-con buffoons who got us in the mess in the first place are now advising the same sorts of actions that created the mess. THAT is why it is so important to keep reminding people about Bush – so we don’t make the same stupid mistakes as before. And they want us to believe that all would have been well if only Obama had left some American troops there. Pleeeese. How naïve can one be!
More broadly, all this is the result of “liberal” Western meddling in things we just do not understand. I could go back to the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I and the treachery of the British (and the French) towards the Arabs as they divided up the Middle East between them, but I will stay with just recent history since 9/11. The neocons were just as “liberal” in this respect as Obama, more so in fact. As I said before, there were sound “conservative” reasons for not invading Iraq, including the strong opposition of Pope St. John Paul II. Obama may know more than Bush but he too has engaged in the same misguided interventionism, either through choice or because of the terrible legacy he was left (i.e., he may have had no choice). He has been more restrained than Bush (or than a Romney would have been), thank goodness, but U.S. actions under Obama have also contributed to the destabilization of the old older, under which, and this is the point here, Christians were much better off than after “liberation” and “regime change.” When I saw the euphoria over the Arab Spring, including at first also among the Bush neocons, I said again: How naïve can one be!
Here is an even-handed account. You will like the criticism of Obama in the second part but may dislike the criticism of Bush in the first part:
And by the way, semantically ISIS came into being on Obama’s watch. But in reality ISIS predates Obama by years, as the Islamic State of Iraq. Like so much else in this snakes nest, it is a Bush creation, not an Obama creation:
I am sure many will recommend re-invading Iraq and thus repeating the same mistakes. In the words of the late Pete Seeger: “When will they ever learn.” It is time to play it smart not stupid. Supporting the Kurds and keeping boots off the ground is smart.
P.S. Also Smart is seeking a political solution in Iraq that will reach out to disaffected Sunnis and thus undercut their support for ISIS.
This is ridiculous. Just please read the wretched Wikipedia article and then we can talk. You can tell us all why it is so wrong since you have read so many books about the War.
There is only one real solution to Iran and Iraq and Hamas, but you can't go nuclear over there without hurting Israel. I suppose they could be conventionally bombed out of existence, but that would take a long time and be very expensive.
Probably the best option is to become totally energy independent after Nobama leaves the White Hut, then sever all ties with them and just allow them to slaughter each other. Maybe they could film it from satellite and show it on Wide World of Sports...
Let's get Bibi Netanyahu to say he was born in Hawaii, then get somebody to fake a birth certificate for him and run him for President. Hey, it has been done before…LOL!
Pater Ignotus and Anonymous2:
"I am sure many will recommend re-invading Iraq and thus repeating the same mistakes."
Let' s hope and pray that doesn't happen. There will be many things written about what Mr Bush did, didn't do, and could have done. John Kerry, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden all voted to authorize the action which they all I would think regret doing. I try to focus on whoever is the current occupant of the White House.
There was a recent Frontline show on a documentary by Michael Kirk "Losing Iraq" which I missed but someone who saw it thought it was a balanced approach to what happened. Nouri al-Maliki lost access to the ear of the President when Mr Obama assumed office. The administration essentially back-burnered Iraq, while Maliki took ill-advised sectarian actions that hastened the rise of the Islamic extremists, known as ISIS. Mr. Obama did not take on the challenge of Iraq as he should have.
In Frontline’s press release, Kirk labeled Iraq “the tragic accumulation of many mistakes,” and as the documentary makes clear, no one of them can be blamed for what has transpired.
I did not know about the Frontline video and have watched it this evening. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. Here is a link:
Watch it and weep! The fatal vice for the ancient Greeks was hubris. We should study the ancient Greeks more and learn from history (theirs and ours).
I agree that the video seems quite balanced. This is what I take away from it: The Bush boys were a joke. They did not have the first clue and committed mistake after mistake. The first thing they got right was the Surge. This now raises the question: If the Obama administration had been more engaged and had tried to exert more political and diplomatic influence over Maliki after troops left, would it have made a difference? Some of those interviewed suggest that the disengagement was a serious mistake. It is my sense from reading between the lines of the following Frontline interview with General Petraeus that, in his view, it would have made little difference. But I could be wrong in how I am reading him.
My bottom line: If we had never invaded, Iraq would not be in the mess it is now; and I weigh that certainty (in my mind) against the possibility that it could perhaps have come right in the end if we had stayed more involved. So, I assign 80-90% blame for all this on the Bush administration and about 10-20% on the Obama administration.
But that’s just Iraq. The destabilization of the entire region is, in my view, still clearly to be laid at Bush’s door. The documentary doesn’t mention this dimension at all, which is fine given the scope of the piece. More troubling is that it mentions nothing about the Alliance, in particular the British contribution to the effort (remember Tony Blair and all those British troops anyone?). But that is just typical of the American view of these things and I am used to it by now (see comment on hubris above).
As for the votes, well, no surprises there – couple the self-interest of politicians with the usual chilling and totally illegitimate conversation stopper of: “You are not a patriot if you __________” [complete blank as required, as in e.g., “oppose this war”] and you have your explanation in my view. Sorry to be so cynical.
How about, "You are not a patriot if…you voted for Obama." LOL!
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