I don’t very often write about politics on this blog, especially about American politics. But I do sometimes comment on posts on other blogs which have a political slant, especially where they relate this to the Christian faith. Here for once I am posting on a political issue, on the situation in Iraq. But I am making this a post only because my attempt to write this in a comment was frustrated.
My latest attempt at making a political comment was last night on Adrian Warnock’s blog. Adrian had written a post which disturbed me a lot, entitled IRAQ – A Clash of Worldviews. In this post he reports how Chuck Colson boasts about how much superior American culture is to that of Iraq, because of its “Judeo-Christian heritage”. I posted a comment last night, but Adrian, who continues to moderate all comments on his blog (which, as I predicted, has made his blog much less interesting than it used to be), has not yet accepted this comment. It may be that he has been so busy looking after his new baby that he has not yet had time to consider my comment. But it may also be that he has become so afraid of controversy that he has rejected it. Well, if he is not prepared to post it on his blog, I will spare him the trouble by posting it here (unchanged except for adding the link and correction of a typo):
Adrian, you may have been encouraged by Colson’s article, but I’m afraid I was appalled by it. Not by the story, it is true. It is heartening to read that individual American soldiers are showing their humanity by giving their blood to save the life of a fellow human, even if that person is supposed to be an enemy. But I was appalled by the way that Colson congratulates himself on the superiority of American civilisation over that of Iraq, when in fact both are rather similar mixtures of good and evil.
Let’s look at the facts behind this story, and see if they support Colson’s basic contention that Americans care for human life but Iraqis don’t. Who started the war in Iraq and set off the cycle of killing? The US government, with some shameful help from our own UK government and some others. Who caused the injuries to these people? American forces in a helicopter. Were these people really planting a bomb? Maybe, but we probably only have the word of the helicopter crew for that. The Americans caused the injuries, so they can hardly be congratulated for doing their duty of treating them.
Yes, bombs are being planted in Iraq, because the people of Iraq have a right and duty to defend their country from the aggressor forces which have invaded it, and not surprisingly many of them don’t accept the puppet government which the occupying forces have set up. The situation has degenerated into a civil war only because the invaders went in with no exit strategy beyond the incredibly naive assumption that they would be welcomed as liberators.
As for the suggestion that this indicates a basic difference between Christianity and Islam, Colson needs to look at the log in his own eye first. The majority of Muslims worldwide are peace-loving and put a high value on human life. They would give their blood to save an injured American. But some, probably a small minority although one whose growth has been encouraged by the situation in Iraq, have been led astray into a kind of fundamentalism which puts a nationalistic cause above basic human morality. But precisely the same is true of Christianity. The majority of Christians also are peace-loving and put a high value on human life. But a small minority of those who call themselves Christians, including George W Bush and Tony Blair, seem to have abandoned Christian morality by treating Iraqi life as cheap and expendable, for advancing their political aims in their so-called “war on terror” which is in fact far more destructive than terrorism.
The heartening thing is that some ordinary American soldiers have managed to maintain their morality and humanity despite what they have been ordered to do.
And yes, I do believe that Christianity is superior to Islam, but not in this way. Its main superiority is in offering salvation not by works but by grace. But this superiority is sadly not clearly shown in any kind of superior behaviour by Christians in the world.
Re-reading this after 24 hours, there is not much I would want to change. I accept that I was being rather controversial, and Adrian may be right to keep such controversy away from his blog. But I would want to qualify my words
a right and duty to defend their country
in such a way as to affirm any Iraqis who have chosen passive resistance to the invasion. Indeed maybe they have chosen the best way. But they have a duty not to accept and collaborate with the conquest of their country by a foreign power, just as we Westerners would have a duty not accept any takeover of our own country by an aggressor nation or collaborate with it. The world rightly condemned and acted against Iraq for invading Kuwait. The same condemnation is deserved by the USA and the UK for invading Iraq.
You should also know that I have consistently been against the war in Iraq since before the 2003 invasion, although it is only more recently that I have opposed it publicly.
It seems to me that the clash of worldviews on Iraq is not so much between the West and the Middle East or between Christians and Muslims as between the majority of peace-loving moderates on both sides and the fundamentalist minority on both sides, and I include here many but not all fundamentalist Christians, who put their own understanding of truth before common humanity. I am reminded of the scribes and Pharisees of Matthew 23:23, but what these fundamentalist warmongers are doing instead of practising justice, mercy and faithfulness is rather more harmful than tithing their herbs!