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THE IRAQ HYPOCRISIES
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                 THE IRAQ HYPOCRISIES

 

 

For at least a generation, since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the following have been consistent mantras of American conservatives: affirmative action is reverse discrimination, “make work” public works programs are wasteful and bad for the economy, trying to rehabilitate criminals is a waste of time, and negotiating with terrorists is tantamount to appeasement.

 

All of these policy positions have been thrown out the window overseas as the US implements its military and foreign policy in the “war on terror.”

 

Just about immediately after overthrowing governments in Afghanistan and Iraq the US forced the leaders it appointed to write new constitutions in those countries that guaranteed representation for women in the national legislatures.  It would be heresy for Republican leaders to suggest something like this at home.  Does anyone remember Lani Guinere?

 

Similarly, the US military, about as conservative bunch as you will find, has been willing to use millions of US tax dollars for public works with just about no audit trail ("US Cannot Manage Contractors in Wars," Washington Post article from 1/25/08).  They have tried to implement all types of wild ideas to jump start the economy in Iraq in an effort to buttress local support for the Iraqi government ("US General Seeks to Create Iraqi Jobs," AP story from 3/2/08).  Iraqi politicians have been reduced to simply handing out money to citizens in a throwback to Tammany Hall or Chicago machine politics ("Iraq Handing Out Cash to People on Street," AP story from 7/12/08).

 

Likewise, rehabilitation of those in US military custody has become a successful program that has effectively reduced recidivism among former militants according to an AP story from last weekend ("More than 10,000 Detainees Released in Iraq," an AP story from 8/2/08).  Because it’s related to crime and punishment, I would also note that at least one American jurisdiction has instituted special “veterans” courts ("Special Court for Veterans Addresses More than Crime," AP story from 7/7/08).  If it’s alright to have increased sympathy for former soldiers; why not others from low income and violent backgrounds, including refugees from war zones?  Both groups often suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

Finally, former Sunni tribesmen who worked with the al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist organization are now part of the “Awakening Councils.”  These are groups of armed men securing neighborhoods in Iraq with the US paying each man to the tune of $300 a month. 

 

The US blackballs Iran and Syria for supporting Hamas and Hezbollah.  In the past, we have all but ordered the governments of Lebanon and Israel not to negotiate with these “terrorist” groups.  We are mad at Pakistan right now for attempting to sign peace agreements with Islamic militants.  The White House and leading Republicans have labeled Democrats, including presidential contender Barack Obama, “appeasers” for expressing a willingness to negotiate with personae non gratae. 

 

But here we see that the US is not only working with, but handsomely paying, people in Iraq to perform security functions even though they were probably shooting at and killing US soldiers last year—and may again in the future.

 

What’s going on here?

 

For years, one of the hallmarks of US foreign policy has been to give significant aid only to those who support us and to those who are “good” world citizens (think Bush’s Millennium Challenge Fund).  Here we are essentially paying Sunnis in Iraq not to shoot at us, and its working!  Even though it sounds like paying the mafia protection money it provides a respite from the violence and gives peace a chance.

 

If it’s working in Iraq why does the US criticize other governments for suggesting or using similar policies?  Why isn’t this an important facet of our foreign policy and foreign aid budgets generally, especially in the Middle East where terrorism is such a concern?

 

To do so would be to demonstrate the compassion and mercy taught by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  When done sincerely, this is what it looks like to implement His teaching to "love your neighbor."  Some might say that this makes America look like weak appeasers; but I respond that the Apostle Paul wrote: "...my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).  In the end these practices make us strong in the Lord; and "If God is for us, who can be against us" (Romans 8:31)?

 

To all conservatives I might add, if these programs and policies that I’ve described are good enough for Iraq and Afghanistan, why aren’t they good enough for America?

 

 

 

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LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE  YOURSELF REQUIRES TOTAL LOVE, TOTAL FORGIVENESS, TOTAL BROTHERHOOD AND SUBVERTING THE DOMINANT PARADIGM