I voted for George W. Bush in 2000. I opted for Bush because he was the “conservative” choice. It was with delight that I heard candidate Bush speak of a “humbler” foreign policy and of reducing U.S. forces overseas. I also anticipated that the new administration would embrace conservative objectives such as smaller government, tax cuts, a balanced budget, and protection of individual rights.
Then came 9/11. Since then, the “Bush Doctrine” of preemption has proven disastrous. Has the president learned his lesson? How can the man who proclaims himself a humble sinner remain so cocky in his behavior? And what does the future hold? Where will our “anything goes” conservatives lead us in 2005?
The administration’s agenda for changing the politics and culture of the Middle East shows no sign of abating. Because of a complacent Congress, an unobstructed path to more warring seems inevitable.
With regard to Iran, the ad bellum questions are scarcely being raised, and I know of few conservatives who are willing to admit that the absence of WMD and of compelling evidence of a link with al Qaeda meant there was no just cause for the current war with Iraq.
It is worth remembering that this is not the first time we have forsaken the moral high ground. During World War II we deliberately targeted non-combatants at Dresden, at Nagasaki, at Hiroshima. In effect, we adopted the principle of our enemies – the end justifies the means – but the evils committed by our enemies did not exonerate us from God’s moral law.
I fear evangelicals have yielded to that temptation again. I look in vain for those who will stand up and unambiguously renounce preemptive war, or who will critically examine traditional doctrines of military policy such as the just war theory, or who will take seriously the New Testament’s demand for nonconformity.
Despite Abu Ghraib, despite the civilian casualties, despite the Somalia-like debacle in Iraq, conservatives do little more than reiterate the arguments in favor of our invasion and occupation policies. Their faith in the Bush administration remains unshaken despite the most serious questions about noncombatant deaths and broader questions about how the war is being conducted (jus in bello). Yet is it not the duty of Christian conservatives to do everything in their power to clarify the moral and ethical issues at stake in a time of war?
But God is not mocked. Man always gets what’s coming to him. There is always justice with the Almighty, though it might take another world to settle accounts.
Never have evangelicals needed “lips touched by fire” (Isa. 6:7) as today. When we should be shouting from the housetops we hold our peace. It is significant that the parable of the minas was given “because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Luke 19:11). The imminence of Christ’s return is always balanced in Scripture with sober counsel to “occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13). We are to be good stewards and buy up the opportunities.
We are now entering the fourth year of Pax Americana, our dreamy-eyed dalliance with imperial hubris. For those of us who are defenders of the original hermeneutic of the U.S. Constitution, I would like to offer a few simple New Year’s exhortations:
- Stay informed.
- Study and ponder national and international affairs.
- Be a real patriot.
- Beware of those who preach peace but foster a pro-war mentality.
- Be willing to do God’s work in God’s way.
- Blend the serpent’s wisdom with the harmlessness of a dove.
- Keep no account of slights and catty remarks.
- Eschew the praise of men.
- Refuse to be an uncritical thinker.
- Reject any infringement on the original intent, no matter how respectable the source.
- Beware of the religious aloofness that is the hallmark of Pharisaism.
- Share your material blessings with others.
- Help send forth missionaries, never forgetting that you are one.
By God’s grace, Dave Black Online will seek to exemplify these attitudes throughout the coming year. I feel I am simply articulating what many people believe in their hearts, ideas they rarely find in the mainstream media. My goal is to help people think as individuals, express their convictions, and serve as role models for those mired down in conventional wisdom.
You are the people whom the “experts” ignore but who are hungry for the truth. You reject the cultural phenomenon of Rush Limbaugh, the abysmal failure of both Democratic and Republican Parties, and the Bush administration’s claim that it represents true conservatism. You desire a return to the old paths, known to Thomas Jefferson as “self-evident” truths. You are not ready to fly the White Flag.
To you I say: Welcome to 2005, and may the grace of God make you strong in the Lord Jesus Christ!
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. His latest book is Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon.
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