Friday, March 16, 2007

Senator Tom Coburn and Me on Iraq

I was recently forwarded this canned letter from Tom Coburn,
United States Senator. Below it is my response:

Thank you for your letter regarding the War in Iraq. I appreciate your
First, I am extremely proud of our men and women in uniform. Our
military has performed bravely in the most difficult of circumstances and
they have done a superb job. They and their families deserve our thanks and admiration for all they have sacrificed in service of our country.
I have visited Iraq, and I continue to monitor the situation closely.
It is vitally important for us, when considering Iraq and the War on
Terror, to remember who we are fighting and what is at stake. We have
an obligation to future generations of Americans that we achieve victory
in the War on Terror. The terrorists we are confronting today in Iraq,
Afghanistan and elsewhere would be on our doorstep if we retreat. It is
better to confront and disrupt terrorists who would do us harm in their
own lairs in far away lands rather than allowing them to once again
launch attacks on us in our own cities.

Overall, the debate over troop levels in Iraq is not what matters - victory
is what matters. I believe now is the time for us to look within ourselves
and ask "Do we want to win?" If our goal is simply to get our troops
home and not to win the war, then we should bring them home today, not
over along period of time. We will be doing our troops a great dishonor
if our objective is to leave Iraq yet we leave them in harm's way. Let's
bring them home today if we do not intend to defeat this evil.

If we are committed to making the world safe from terrorism in the future,
then packing up and leaving Iraq because we are unsatisfied today with
our progress would be an unwise move. Al-Qaeda and other radical
Islamic terrorists in Iraq will certainly seek to seize control of all or parts
of Iraq at the first sign of American retreat. This would allow al-Qaeda to
re-establish a base of operations in Iraq to plot terrorist attacks, replace
their terrorist training camps we destroyed in Afghanistan and fund
their nefarious activities through one of the world's largest oil supplies.

We all mourn the loss of the more than 3,000 soldiers who have been
killed in Iraq. Each one of these is a brother, sister, father, son, mother,
sister, friend or neighbor who we will never see again. They gave their
life so we and our children can live a life free from fear of the next
terrorist attack.

We must recognize our troops have eliminated two evil regimes that
threatened international security. We cannot forget our soldiers have
killed or arrested approximately 55,000 terrorists and insurgents.

Almost every one of those 55,000 would have committed horrific acts of
terrorism against innocent Americans if they had been given the chance.
We must also understand what motivates our enemies to commit
terrorism. In their twisted worldview, there is no middle ground or
moderation. Their vision for the Middle East would move the region
farther and farther away from societal norms and into an even larger
confrontation with Western Civilization. These terrorists and their
ideology call for the absolute submission of individuals to a combined
church and state. They discourage artistic expression, punish
intellectual curiosity and deny people the right to pursue their entrepreneurial talents. All the while, they treat women as if they were property instead of people -prohibiting them from being educated and stoning them for not wearing veils. They throw hand grenades into churches and synagogues. They ban satellite dishes and
Internet service so their propaganda will go unchallenged. It is a
mindset that believes everyone should submit to their rule - that everyone
must believe as they do or be killed. It would have disastrous
implications for the United States, Israel and all of Western civilization
should we cede control of Iraq and yield to the brutal terrorists who cling
to this evil way of thinking.

Radical Islamic terrorists attacked us in 1979, 1983, 1993 (twice), 1996,
1998, 2000 and on September 11, 2001. Before 2001, we retreated after
each and every attack, thereby inviting our attackers to grow bolder.
Each subsequent attack was worse than the one before it, all leading up
to the September 11 attacks that killed 2,819 and harmed many more.

Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, called the United States "a
paper tiger" and said "dealing with the pampered and effeminate
Americans will be easy."
Today, the followers of this ideology are fighting us furiously as we try to
rebuild Iraq, and we are on the verge of repeating the same mistake we made so many times before - retreating.

If we believe the violence we see on television is not part of an ongoing
strategy, then we are mistaken. Terrorists have learned from our past
retreats that Americans can be easily broken of our resolve to finish a
fight if it becomes drawn out. Terrorists believe we will give in if they
can make us weary of death and destruction. Of course, we all do not
wish to see this detestable type of behavior, which is why we must end it
by winning, not retreating.

Every American should remember bin Laden has said, "The most
important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third
World War raging in[Iraq]." Also consider the words of Ayman
al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's top deputy, who said, "We must establish an
Islamic Authority over as much territory as [we] can to spread [our]
power in Iraq and extend the Jihad wave to the secular countries
neighboring Iraq."

The decisions we make about our role in Iraq and its future are being
watched closely. Iran, for example, has funneled weapons and money to
terrorists in Iraq, hoping a defeat for America is a victory for Iran and
their plan to acquire nuclear weapons. Keep in mind the haunting
words of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he said, "We
will soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism .

Undoubtedly, I say that this slogan and goal is achievable, and with the
support and power of Allah, we will soon experience a world without the
United States and Zionism and will breathe in the brilliant time of
Islamic sovereignty over today's world." In January 2007, he also told his
supporters to "[be] assured that the United States and the Zionist regime
of Israel will soon come to the end of their lives."

We must remain mindful these individuals are determined to see our
annihilation, and that their blustering and threatening must be taken
seriously, not dismissed and pushed aside. It is clear leaving them alone
will not appease them, as they have attacked us repeatedly. We ignore
these threats at our own peril.

Mistakes were made after Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled and we
should re-examine our tactics in Iraq. But leaving Iraq will not stop the
attacks against America. We must keep in mind that Iraq is a central
front in the larger war on terror. We aren't simply fighting Iraqi militias
protesting an "American occupation," we are fighting terrorists from
across the globe who seek our defeat and ultimate destruction. They have
waged this war against us for more than 25 years. It is not the
democratically elected Iraqi government that seeks our withdrawal.

Rather, it is the terrorist insurgents who fight to prevent democracy from
gaining a foothold in the region. They hope the United States will flee
and abandon their mission,leaving them with the upper hand.

Our enemies are smart and patient. They know that while they cannot
defeat us outright, they can frustrate and outlast us.

As I stated earlier and I emphasize again, it is time for us to look within
ourselves and ask, "Do we want to win?" For the sake of our security
and our future, the answer must be an emphatic "yes."

Thank you again for your letter and for taking the time to share your
opinion on this most important issue. I appreciate your views, and I

hope that you can appreciate mine. Please keep in touch.

Sincerely, A
Tom Coburn
United States Senator

My response;

This was a canned response and is exactly the kind of oversimplification that is the very problem.
Nowhere do you even consider the reasons other than religious intolerance that have been stated by the terrorists themselves for their positions... Nowhere do you even begin to acknowledge the foreign policy mistakes and/or the reasons for the "blowback" of terrorist acts against us and our interests.

The people prosecuting this war would love for all of us to believe that te U.S. and other Western powers that have been targeted are nothing more than innocent bystanders and victims and that the attacks that have been made upon us simply sprang out of the irrational mind of religious zealots or else a historical vacuum. The U.S. has helped squelch nearly every effort to build secular governments in the Middle East because their allegiance to our government and thus our control of their resources would be questionable. There will never be a solution to any of these conflicts until we (the collective we of the U.S.) stop lying to ourselves and pretending that the people's of the Middle East are merely insane zealots and that none of their grievances are legit.

Of course much of what is asserted about radical Islam is true. Sure, there is an obvious connection with the conflicts to the radical Islamic view about those of us who they consider to be infidels. We are often encouraged by voices in our own society to listen and take seriously what radical Islam says on this. They are correct. However, we should also listen when they list the litany of grievances they have that have triggered these movements. I will dare to say that although I would never legitimize or condone killing innocent people with bombs (that goes for us too)- they do have some legitimate beefs with us. If we simply refuse to acknowledge or adjust those items then we cannot even begin to hope for reconciliation and peace.

Osama himself, when it was suggested to him that his group simply hated freedom and democracy and that is what motivated them, chuckled and said, "Go and ask your President why we didn't attack Sweden then."

Senator, I have also been following this conflict closely since the days of the Reagan administration. I am somewhat sure you are aware of some of the mistakes that were made back then- like arming and enabling Saddam (even supplying him with the gasses he used on the Kurds- a crime he was recently executed for- and then supplying him more more of these items even after we knew what he had done), having the CIA train the Mujahideen how to make car-bombs and such when we backed them against the Soviets etc., etc. I am also aware that the U.S. maintains a strong relationship with the unfree- est place on the planet, Saudi Arabia. If this is truly a clash of civilizations and Islam (Saudi is the most fundamentalist nation there is with the only possible exception the U.S.)- then why do we maintain such a hunky Dory relationship with Saudi? In Saudi Arabia, women cannot even go outdoors without male escorts, they cannot drive and they certainly cannot vote. In Saudi Arabia they still have public executions and so on. So, the whole thing about the religious intolerance of Islam being the main cause and focus of these conflicts is a little hollow.

Senator, I have also read the Iraq Study Group report and found it to be extremely insightful and helpful as well as very much on point with what I am saying here. I will make no bones about the fact that I am apalled and disgusted with the way the presiding administration and members of the Republican party disregarded and snubbed this important study. Sir, these failures will be what incites a holocaust.

Sir, do the math...there are over a billion Muslims in the world. There are at least 300 million who could be considered violent radicals. Can we really hope to convert or kill all of them through this myth of redemptive violence which tells us that if we just hit them hard enough we can solve the world's problems with military force? We have to do more than just engage in the never ending cycle of violence and revenge which is by now self sustaining. I strongly encourage you and your counterparts to re-visit the ISG report and reconsider the tact your are continuing on. I realize that the idea that we live in a representative democracy is pretty much another myth as demonstrated by the president's ignoring the will of the people, his advisors with views contrary to his own and much of the advice from the military itself- but if not for the rest of us- do it for your own family. Sir, I respect you- but, drop the partisan garbage and the party line towing and start thinking outside of the box on this.

sincerely, Scott Starr


ChristianZionismExposed said...

Hi Scott,

Thank you for your comment on christianzionismexposed. What I'd like to say, and I rarely post anything anymore, is that this canned response to you is very typical of what I've gotten since the war began from my own 'representatives' and is insulting to us as taxpayers. In fact, we are treated as less than creatures who are good for taxing and talking down to and taking our family members as carnage and cannon fodder for their wars. Haven't we had enough? And who do we vote side is as bad as the other. The Democrats have the power now to do something and won't. I've given up on them, frankly.

We need Divine intervention in this world and it will come. Until then, we have to put up with these professional political leeches who feed on our lives, our families and our finances.

Scott Starr said...

Right on Bro.

Archbishop 10-K said...

Hey, Mr. Starr. I wanted to comment not specifically on this entry, but on your blog in general:

If you checked out my blog, it might seem as though, on the outside, I'm your complete opposite while still being Christian: a traditionalist Catholic who enjoys Latin Masses, singing in Gregorian chant, and swinging incensers. I'm a soldier in the U.S. Army, and I'm definitely a "just warrior" type. If I lived in the 11th century, I would have fought in the First Crusade (one of my patron saints is Saint Louis IX, King of France, a crusader king, and my local cathedral is San Fernando, after Saint Ferdinand of Castile, another crusader king; I look forward to the canonization of Queen Isabella of Columbus fame). Heh, I'm so conservative/"right-wing" that I'm a monarchist, and the Founding Fathers often confound me as being too liberal. You can imagine that I feel pretty out-of-place in this century.

However, all that being said, I actually agree with you on a lot of things. On matters of faith, although I emphasize on my blog a return to pre-Vatican II tradition and ritual in the Catholic Church, I never forget the basic message that Our Lord Jesus gave to us in the Sermon on the Mount and in His last discourse with the Apostles before going to pray in Gethsemane. Hence, on a typical day at my parish church, one moment you'll see the priest in full pre-Vatican II regalia incensing the high altar and praying in sung Latin ad Orientem (facing East, away from the people); and then you'll hear him read from the gospel and preach with conviction about the virtues of faith, hope, and charity and how to get back to the most basic messages of Jesus Christ. Visitors often are surprised, since they assume that high-church liturgy must be "dead" or "boring", and incompatible with being on fire for the Lord.

Anyway, I just wanted to throw out some musings of mine for you:

Even though I'm in the Army, I do agree that it's time for the fearmongering over the Middle East and the American imperialism to end. It's true that we're doing a lot of good in Iraq, but we're also imposing a western culture that they don't like or accept. It is certainly possible for people to not want democracy; for many Iraqis, democracy basically represents anti-religion, loose morals, and the rule of the mob. America itself did pretty well with the democratic experiment, but then again, look at the French Revolution and many Latin American revolutions, and in that case, the Iraqis' fears are well-justified.

As I say, democracy isn't for everyone. Not everyone wants to be like us, and Americans need to wake up to that.

And as you know, I'm also very concerned about John Hagee's rhetoric of a so-called Christian-Jewish alliance against Iran, even though America is by no means Christian, and Israel is by no means Jewish. It's very easy for Americans to sit on their couches at home and root for the next war against the next little Middle Eastern nation. At least in the days of old, a crusade affected both church and state personally, with bishop and king having to personally fight the fight and spend their own money. Nowadays, pastors like Mr. Hagee can preach the new crusade against Iran from the safety of their million-dollar homes and bank accounts. No sacrifices involved, except maybe some sons and more dollars in the collection plate. But I can tell you that we (the U.S. armed forces) are very stressed as we are right now, and a war with Iran will not only be unjust, I can guarantee it will spell the end for the American Empire, one way or another.

That's about all I can think of for right now. Don't forget to pray for soldiers!

Scott Starr said...

I could tell that we actually have much in common by reading some of your posts. I also want you to know that I respect you and what you do.

I am helping get a prayer group started that is dedicated to praying for the following:

Wartime prayers and meditations enable us to bear witness to many dimensions of the wartime situation:

• with the fear and the vulnerability of soldiers on both sides of the battle;
• with the mixture of bravado and confusion experienced by commanders in the war;
• with the anger and the hatred of those who injure or kill;
• with the agony and pain of those who are injured or killed;
• with the grief of parents who have lost a son or daughter;
• with the sorrow of those mourning fallen comrades;
• with the worry of relatives of those missing or taken as prisoners;
• with the anxiety and the suffering of the civilians in Iraq;
• with the despair of those who have lost their homes and workplaces;
• with the cries and trembling of hungry and tense children;
• with the yelps and screeches of terrified animals;
• with the agony of the earth pulverized by bombs and bullets;
• with the shock of buildings blown to bits by missiles from the sky;
• with the dismay of city streets and parks bruised and battered by the fighting;
• with the abandonment of shot down or wrecked equipment left in the desert;
• with the pressures felt by journalists to tell the truth about the war;
• with the desperation of viewers around the world seeking to learn the truth about the war;
• with the yearning of relief organizations and medical professionals to reach and assist those in desperate need of food and healing;
• with the frustration of those who see this as a justifiable war of liberation; and
• with the anguish of those who see it as a tragic misuse of American power.

Wartime prayers and meditations enable us to experience an ever-deepening awareness of God's presence and
• to express our unity with others,
• to cultivate peace and justice,
• to manifest forgiveness and compassion,
• to practice empathy and hospitality,
• to find common ground with those who are different from us,
• to reach out to all those who are helpless and hopeless,
• to become God's emissaries of love, reconciliation, and renewal.

I believe in a theology that allows for noble men like you to serve the way you do as long as its done in love and with a heart that is dedicated to God first and above all. There is no hard and fast rule in the words of Christ that makes either warfare or refusal to engage in warfare inherently right or wrong. It is a matter of the heart. If and when the military life ever puts you in a situation where you must choose between obedience to the army or the Lord. I pray that you have the courage to live by your convictions. I believe that you will. I sense that you are a fine and brave man.
I am honored to have you as a brother in Christ.

Scott Starr said...

One other thing- I consider myself so conservative that people think I am a liberal because I don't think putting an (R) beside one's name makes them conservative. Nowadays I am fond of saying:
"I have begun to understand that the whole conservative-liberal debate is useless and the terms are meaningless. There is no left and right - just authoritarian/worldly and more authoritarian/worldly. There is left and further left and right and further right so that they both really fall in approximately the same position on the dial I encourage my fellow men, Christians and citizens to climb out of those respective boxes and become discerning human beings again."

Archbishop 10-K said...

Mr. Starr,

I appreciate your starting the prayer group. I just saw that list of yours elsewhere on your blog.

In the Army, I work as a JAG paralegal. Part of my duties in wartime are to assist commanders in following and enforcing the rules of engagement, the Geneva Convention, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This is how I chose to bring a little more of the kingdom of God into the kingdom of this world, if that makes any sense.

I hope that I never end up in a situation where I'm forced to choose between God and Caesar, but if I am, I'd choose God. I take my oath to the Constitution and the military extremely seriously, but my baptismal vows "outrank" them, you could say. If put in a questionable situation, I will remember St. Maurice and the Theban Legion, if you know what that story is about.

I loved this sentence:

"One other thing- I consider myself so conservative that people think I am a liberal because I don't think putting an (R) beside one's name makes them conservative."

I'm slowly beginning to let go of the Republican Party myself. Although I tend to vote R instead of D, it is really only picking the lesser of two evils for me. I'm embarrassed to be associated with neocons. The gospel has been seriously perverted in recent times.