Monday, July 01, 2013

Beheadings of Christian clergy by Syrian opposition supported by U.S.

Makes one wonder whether Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin doesn't have the better of the argument, doesn't it? I've thought so for a long time. My Chaldean students readily acknowledge that former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, was repressive, cruel and dictatorial; but they also point out that there was a great deal more stability as well as safeguarded civil rights for Christians in Iraq under Hussein, whereas they have mostly fled Iraq for their safety under the present "democratic" regime. Is Obama repeating the mistakes in Syria that G.W. Bush made in Iraq?



Clarification: It seems my title confused at least one individual. My intent is not to state that the beheadings are supported by the U.S., but that the Syrian opposition responsible for the beheadings are supported by the U.S.


8 comments:








I am not Spartacus

said...

Having successfully seceded from the English Crown, the Judaised Calvinists created a government that would not confess that Christ is King and so America got Satan as its Prince and The Prince is properly proud of abortion, sodomy, and war against the One, True, Church Jesus established but if you think the AmBishops have even the remotest clue about this undeniable reality you are only fooling your own self.

They are still busy planning rallies for Religious Liberty.

All of what has happened in America since its inception has been a long and slow descent into immorality which has, since the 1960s, recently intensified and increased in speed and any talk of a political restoration is laughable.

The one good thing about this is I, like King David, have but one step between me and death and so I do not let the devolution of America trouble me too much; I've got bigger things - my salvation - to worry about and America's Prince likes the sturm und drang of modernity for if he can keep us spending time worrying about a crummy country that is openly an enemy of Altar and Throne and not concerned with the Four Last Things (When was the last time AmBishops spoke about that?) and our own Salvation, he will have stolen more souls from Christ.





Christopher

said...

"My Chaldean students readily acknowledge that former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, was repressive, cruel and dictatorial; but they also point out that there was a great deal more stability as well as safeguarded civil rights for Christians in Iraq under Hussein, … Is Obama repeating the mistakes in Syria that G.W. Bush made in Iraq?"

This much is true: Christians were [probably] safer under Saddam Hussein, whose largely secular dictatorship helped to quell Sunni-Shia rivalry. He even employed a Christian as one of his ministers. At the same time, while I understand ethnic-religious identification and the desire to preserve and protect "one's own", part of me still bristles when I hear this, because at the same time it can be taken as a "better me than them" mentality.

When the U.S. first entered Iraq, and the uncovering of Saddam's 250+ mass graves began in earnest, the casualties of his dictatorship were said to be as many as 300,000. Here are some more statistics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_graves_in_Iraq . . . in light of which, when I hear the "[Christians] had it better under Saddam", it begs the question: yes, but at what cost?

If I was a Christian and I knew the full extent of Saddam's crimes, I'd be hard-pressed to wish that he was back in power. I even wonder how a Chaldean Catholic like Tariq Aziz could meet John Paul II in defense OF Hussein's government with a straight face, knowing the man he was protecting.

As for the characterization of Obama's mistakes with Bush's, I think it's apples and oranges. Or mistakes of a different kind, rather. Let me explain:

There were plenty of strategic mistakes that occurred in the war in Iraq, chief of which was in a failure of the leadership to anticipate the extent of the military and social resources required to stem the Shiite-Sunni rivalries and the steady infiltration of Al Qaeda into Iraq post-removal of Saddam's regime.

When they sought to rectify their mistakes (under General Petreus, and the Surge), the U.S. leadership did so by establishing alliances with Muslim tribesmen who were protective OF the Christian communities against external Muslim extremists.

One of them, Sheikh Ahmed al-Rishawi of the "Iraq Awakening" movement, even adopted the official title of 'Protector of the Chaldean Catholics' [against Al Qaeda] and received correspondence from Pope Benedict XVI, back in 2008.

Read about the life of Abdul Sattar Abu Risha -- leader of Iraqi tribes and ally of the U.S. against, and assassinated by, Al Qaeda; succeeded by Ahmed Al-Rishawi.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdul_Sattar_Abu_Risha
http://catholicjustwar.blogspot.com/2008/08/christians-and-muslims-show-solidarity.html
http://catholicjustwar.blogspot.com/2008/06/sheikh-amed-goes-to-washington.html
http://catholicjustwar.blogspot.com/2008/05/vatican-anbar-awakening-and-protector.html

So whatever the strategic mistakes of U.S. military in Iraq, I would still maintain that this is a very far cry from what the Obama administration is currently doing, insofar as from what I understand the 'rebels' that we're presently seeking to form an alliance with (against Assad, who nonetheless is a legitimate threat) -- are "Muslim extremists", namely, the same kind of extremists we would be otherwise opposed to in Iraq, who aren't averse to kidnapping and persecuting Christians AND Muslims alike.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/352494/shadow-war-against-syrias-christians-nina-shea

THAT, at least to me, is a better explanation why Obama's move makes no sense, except in a very loose, pragmatic-but-foolish "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of way. In much the same manner as we are reportedly engaged in "peace talks" with the Taliban, which to this day has a penchant for murdering women because they were caught dancing or proclaiming the right to an education.





I am not Spartacus

said...

It is my understanding that the reason we invaded Iraq instead of Iran is due to Dubya insistence that we will invade them alphabetically; first Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Iran.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Christopher,

There's no question that the administrations and foreign public policies are, in other ways, incomparably different. I say "public policies" because if any of us knew what was really going on behind the scenes with CIA operatives and the like, our view of things might be significantly altered.

In defense of "W," IF weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) was actually one of the real reasons for invasion (as opposed to a publicity front), then -- contrary to current public opinion -- I think that assumption was justified. Why? Not because they found nukes. They didn't. But ignored in the discussion are the thousands of gallons of nerve gas Hussein had in store (then shipped to Syria?) and had already used against the Kurds.

It's true that Catholic Chaldeans had many 'perks' under the Hussein regime. They were TRUSTED. They weren't either Sunni or Shiite. Hence, many key roles were fulfilled by them under Hussein, from foreign minister to liquor store owners. Still, that isn't the chief reason for Chaldean mixed feelings at the collapse of Hussein's administration, and I would say the same for the current Afghan situation. Rather, it's essentially in the counter-revolutionary conservatism both St. Paul's injunction to "submit" to governmental authorities in Romans 12, even at the time when Nero was emperor of Rome; and St. Thomas Aquinas' general opposition to "regime change" in both his Treatise on Kingship and Summa Theologiae where he treats "sedition" as a mortal sin. In other words, even a severely unjust government (think here of Plato's descending hierarchy, which includes Timocracies, Oligarchies, [anarchic] Democracies, etc.) bears a stabilizing authority that ought not be thrown off. Think of David refusing to kill the murderous Saul, and again the words of Paul regarding him who "bears the sword" (Rm. 12, = Nero).

The situation in both Iraq and Afghanistan today is injurious to all inhabitants of these countries indiscriminately.

[Incidentally, something I'm following with great interest is the current unrest against the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt, as I'm sure you are!]





Christopher

said...

" IF weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) was actually one of the real reasons for invasion (as opposed to a publicity front)"

If you are ambivalent on this point, I might suggest Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, which provides a pretty good insight into the mindset of the Bush administration at the time. Or Douglas Feith's War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism.

"In other words, even a severely unjust government (think here of Plato's descending hierarchy ... bears a stabilizing authority that ought not be thrown off."

Howbeit while there is a presumption to acquiesce, Aquinas did not believe this categorical:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aquinas-moral-political/#UnjLawJusRev

Christians in practically every Middle Eastern nation -- from Egypt to Syria to Iraq -- have had a tenuous existence.

"There was a kind of a social contract in Iraq," between minorities and Hussein, says Adeed Dawisha, a professor at the University of Miami in Ohio. "Under Saddam, it was understood that if you don't interfere in politics, then you are provided with a good life."

"If the Christians supported Saddam, not because they loved what he was doing, it was the fear of the alternative," Dawisha says. As a result of turning their focus elsewhere, Christians prospered economically. They were businessmen, doctors, lawyers, and engineers. A select few were part of the political elite, like Tariq Aziz who served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister under Hussein.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/10/mid-easts-christians-intro.html

Some Christians under Hussein found themselves in the same crisis of conscience as those living under, say, Communist Poland or Nazi Germany. Some acquiesced -- others came to regret their passivity, describing life under Saddam as "a constant, never ending state of terror for the people who never knew when they would be dragged out of bed or from work or school or anywhere else and hauled away never to return."

http://www.assyrianchristians.com/commentary_saddams_human_rights.htm

Who was morally in the right in such circumstances? Those who were subservient and passive in the face of such horrors? those who fled into exile? or those who resisted by whatever means they could?

"The situation in both Iraq and Afghanistan today is injurious to all inhabitants of these countries indiscriminately."

I don't think either of us know nearly enough of what's actually happening to state this categorically of all inhabitants. I would imagine some Iraqis are quite relieved NOT to live under Hussein, as others are relieved not to live under the Taliban, and Egyptians -- as you note -- are relieved not to live under the equivalent to such in their country.

[Incidentally, something I'm following with great interest is the current unrest against the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt, as I'm sure you are!]

Here we are discussing Aquinas' admonishment to remain passive in the face of tyranny, and yet I think are mutually pleased that the Egyptian populace has overthrown -- at least via military insurrection -- a tyrant of another kind.





Pertinacious Papist

said...

Hi Christopher,

Of course you're right about the publicly-available reasoning in the U.S. at the time of the (regime-changing 2nd) invasion of Iraq. Even OBAMA voted in favour of it, as I recall! So retrospective condemnations can be a trifle disingenuous.

I agree without reservation also with the complexity of demographics and motives on the ground among Iraqi nationals. Difficult all around.

The Angelic Doctor's advice, of course, is not passivity or acquiescence as such, but conforming with a magisterially-formed conscience in times of relative duress. The linked Stanford article on the issue mediates his thought in summarized generalizations a bit, though even here, the author states a caveat thusly: "laws which are unjust by reason of one or more of these three enumerated types of defect in authority sometimes create an obligation in conscience just to the extent that disobedience would cause disorder or give the kind of ‘example’ that leads others into wrongdoing. To avoid those sorts of unjust harm to public and private good one may have a moral obligation to forgo one's right(s) [iuri suo debet cedere]." And, again, there's St. Paul.

Every American Independence Day, I wonder whether I could have sided with the Colonial Whigs in support of the American Revolution. One Catholic signed the Declaration of Independence; many others did not.

The moral reasoning that Aquinas suggests about possible revolt is a bit like that involved in just war theory. This is never easy, obviouslyl. Just cause may seem easy enough; but what about proper authority, reasonable prospect of success. or avoidance of civilian casualties, for example?

There is a reason why the Sicarii (after whom Judas Iscariot may have been named, and other rebels of the Roman period were never sanctioned by the Sanhedrin or followers of Jesus. Besides, despite their ruthless repressiveness, as Larry Yoder used to point out, the Roman regime represented a number of positive goods as well, such as the Pax Romana, freedom to travel unmolested, relative religious toleration (as long as the regime wasn't directly threatened), and so forth.

But the final note, as you may be suggesting, is humility in the face of the complexity of such situations. I can think of none more complicated than the current Syrian one, and I think the eagerness of McCain, et al. and willingness of our administration to consider arming the "rebels" is probably great folly.

Even the rebellion in Egypt against Morosi may be animated more by disappointment with his "insufficient hostility against Israel" than by a desire to see the values of "western democracy" prevail in Egypt. At the very least, there are doubtless radical Jihadi types systemically exploiting whatever such democratic sentiments exist in Egypt for their own ends. I think the Obama administration suffers from a fatal wishful thinking at this point.





I am not Spartacus

said...

Responding to Lord Acton's letter to him lamenting the defeat of The Confederacy and States Rights, General Robert E Lee, sagely and prophetically, observed ...I consider it (states rights) as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to de aggressive abroad and despotic at home will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it

And so here we are being treated to the lies of the execrable neo-cons Reagan brought into power in Washington rationalising away the very evil General Lee warned us about.

Yeah, The Republic was kilt a long time; when the Union one, the world lost.





Thanh

said...

This is great!