Both Vatican And White House Must Be Respected In What Is A Global Conflict
by Michael H. Brown
And so the armored rumble, the guns of March, of April, the tank turrets, are quieter and the battle is over (or almost over) but the war is not.
I say "battle" because this was not a war but the third engagement in what will one day be looked upon as a slow-grinding but expanding global conflict. It is the second major battle won by America, which is the most militarily adept nation in history and which (by the way) is also still a good country, a country that morally struggles, yes, a country that has a lot of work to do here at home, a lot of lumber in its own eyes, but a country that unlike other huge militaries takes three weeks to overthrow a regime only because it is trying to limit civilian casualties.
If the U.S. were an evil nation it would simply drop a single bomb on Baghdad (or Kabul or Tehran or Damascus) and be done with it, for it is such an extensive military power that it could occupy the entire Western hemisphere while waging a ground war with Russia. If it were an evil nation, we'd all be in a lot of trouble.
To those who bash this nation, let me repeat what I said last week: sit back and imagine what the world would be like -- what the Balkans would be like, what Western Europe would be like, what the entire world would be like (electricity, TV, cars, air conditioners, medication, computers, surgery) if the U.S. had never existed. Without the United States, an evil empire called the Soviet Union -- an empire dead set on turning the globe atheistic and binding it in the chains of totalitarianism -- may well have prevailed. Before that, there was the role of the U.S. against Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler.
These are just reminders not to be too hard on America: it has much goodness. We have viewers in many nations, and consider ourselves Catholics above all else, part of the global Christian community. That's our number-one calling. We love every nation. But we also are Americans and yes: it did the heart well to see Iraqis rejoicing on the streets of Baghdad after decades of terrific oppression, of even gruesome torture -- young Iraqis who waved the American flag.
At the same time, as I have also said, the "war" has caused us to be conflicted. Despite efforts to put a different spin on his words, the Holy Father clearly has been against the conflict -- strenuously so -- objecting right into the second week of combat and calling any war a "defeat for humanity." He did not think this "war" had to be engaged at the time it was engaged and underlings at the Vatican went even further, all but condemning the U.S.
I took this very seriously because Pope John Paul II is the most impressive human being to live during my lifetime. He is an incredibly prayerful man. He is a prophet. He was as important as the United States in the fall of Communism. He is mystical. He believes in seers. He meets them all the time. He may himself experience visions. He prays up to seven hours a day. Perhaps most importantly, he has also been through wars.
Infallible? The Pope is not infallible in political or military matters; he is infallible when it comes to faith and morals. And he does not have the information accorded by the CIA. But he has the greatest discernment I have ever witnessed and I listen to his every syllable. In the final analysis, we go with his discernment, and we are against killing. We believe in the miracles of prayer.
But I also have great esteem for the President, whom we prayed would win the last election. He too prays. He too is anointed. In fact, he has the specific anointing of making military-politico decisions. A good man. A brave man. Whether his view of Iraq will be proved correct in the long run (it's easy for it to look good in the short term) is the interesting question. After all the emotion, all the flag waving, we have to see how the world will react to an America that took such a bold step, directly and blatantly targeting the life of a foreign leader.
We usually like bold, forthright steps, but we are very wary of killing. We appreciate the need to stand up to evil and defeat terrorism -- and evil -- while we also observe that there is no asterisk in the commandment that tells us not to kill (or as Jesus said, to raise the sword).
How to resolve this quandary?
We could go back and forth on this all day, but let's say this: what happened had to happen. It is just part of a much larger picture. Despite the "end-game" way the media tries to play it, Iraq is only a battle. It is one of several recent battles in a new global war, one that will last the rest of our lifetimes. The first was September 11. That was the kick off. They won that battle by surprise. Then there was the battle of Afghanistan.
It won't stop there. It cannot stop there. There are things that must shake down. It's called purification. The consequences? One major mystic (who asked not to be identified) said that if the Iraq war lasted more than three weeks, a catastrophe would ensue. Yesterday (April 9) was three weeks.
Did it end? Has formal victory been declared?
Very interesting. A very difficult call. Just know this: there will be at least a dozen other battles, and several will be of more important than September 11.
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