Oct 17, 2011

doing missionary work thru occupying countries

The other day I made a political comment as my facebook status update.
Always dangerous. But I couldn't hold it in. It was too much. I made my comment after reading this.

I'm not going to write here what my comment exactly was. Because I don't want that to be the focus of this post. Suffice it to say that old friends/family commented and it lead to a (genteel, but pointed) discussion about foreign policy.

I described my views as:
against military adventurism
against foreign entaglements
against spending more money on the military in a down economy (and here I'll modify and say, unless we've got a plan to pay for it that is concrete and can be enacted BEFORE the money is spent.)

And then this lead to a sort of side-discussion... that completely boggled my mind.

Did you guys know that there are people who think that having troops in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Egypt/Middle East and all sorts of other places...
qualifies as missionary work?

Did you know that there are people who think that, because there is an occasional afghani baby delivered by a US soldier on the ground in an undeveloped country, that this offsets the fact that we're there when we don't belong there, that we've killed thousands of civilians, and that all this must mean that we're making a good impression on said undeveloped country and making them want democracy?


Has nobody seen this?
or this?
or this?

How 'bout this.

You'll note that this last link directly refers to the wars in Iraq and the war on terrorism as causing "distaste" among those in the Muslim world.

Sounds like some great missionary work we're doing over there. I guess that is a traditional form of missionary work that has been practiced for thousands of years... back in the middle ages we called it the crusades. And before that, in the first century, it was the Muslim world who engaged in that kind of missionary work, converting millions to their religion by the sword.

Plus, when you think about it, that's a rather expensive mission, compared to the 10,000 or so it takes to send a church-approved missionary out into the field. How much more, I wonder, does it cost to send a US soldier into a battlezone, complete with equipment (including backup from tanks, drones, helicopters, etc?)

Sometimes when I talk to people, I realize that they don't really have anything. They just really really really want to believe something, so they find a reason to justify it. I mean, how else could someone actually believe that, when everything we hear from sources (and by sources, I don't mean comedians and talking heads like sean hannity, jon stewart, stephen cobert or glenn beck, and I don't mean slanted news sources such as fox news and yes, sometimes even NPR, I mean, real intelligence--when you go to their news websites and read their opinions) indicates that our perception in the world, not just the Muslim world, either, is falling, becuase of these conflicts that we are engaging in... just sailing into without collaborating with anyone, without caring about repercussions to neighboring countries... without caring about whether or not it's our business to be here at all?

The sad thing is, our soldiers could be good missionaries. If we used them the right way. If we did what it says to do in the Book Of Mormon--attack only when it's necessary to defend ourselves. I'd argue that it's possible to say that was the case, when we went into Afghanistan. But honestly, when you step back and think about it... why did we get involvedn Egypt? Why did we go to Iraq (other than the obvious reason... the Bush administration had a ve
ndetta that spilled over from the previous Bush administration.)

Since when do we go to war at the drop of the hat? Remember WWII, when the entire world was holding it's breath, waiting for America to join in, and it took a direct attack
on American soil for us to do anything about it?

What's happened since then?
I can see Afghanistan. Everything else seems pretty shady to me. And anybody who says we're in Afghanistan to do missionary work... let's just say I hope my tax dollars aren't paying for a crusade.
Just a little rant.


David L said...

I'm in.

I first MUST simply call you on the "thousands of civilians" dead. I've got to see a link on that. I'm not denying that there are casualties, but "thousands"?

And I laughed out loud at the "sometimes NPR" being slanted. I cannot recall a time when that was even close to center. The admittedly few programs I've heard are always left biased. Just like Fox is right biased.

And the vendetta by the Bush administration? Come on, NSG. You are better than this. You are the reasonable one who sees past the smoke and mirrors, the name calling, the hyperbole. You are the one who taught me to do the same.

If you get to do those things, do I get to call Obama on his Death Panels?


All that aside and on to the meat of the conversation, I think I take a different perspective on military involvement and missionary work. Remember I was in Germany during the first Gulf War. I was at Rhein Main AB, the primary point of deployment for that war and the Bosnian conflict. I watched literally tens of thousands of troops come through those gates. I remember sitting on top of the hill at the end of the runway and watching plane after plane loaded with troops, weapons, tanks, and so forth. The roar of C5s screaming down the runway is a memory that sits at the forefront of my mind.

It was an awesome sight.

I grew up military, I'm defensive about the military, and I have a deep love for the military--one that I would argue rivals just about anyone else out there. I don't say that to brag but rather as a point of reference to what comes next.

I think it is very important to consider Mitt Romney's audience during his address. You're talking The Citadel. Arguably one of the hearts and souls of the military.

What would you have had him say?

It would be similar to Obama addressing one of the left-most organizations in our nation and shooting for the middle of the road. They would have screamed for his head.

As I read his speech, I felt an upwelling of pride. Of gratitude for what our military has and can accomplish. It's my upbringing. It's my heritage. It's part of who I am.

No, it does not make some of what has happened right. To be frank, there is always bad in war. That's not an excuse for what as happened but rather the reality of the situation. And all sides are guilty.

Yes, you are right that there are different ways to have done this, but can you honestly argue that doing nothing would have been better? Can you honestly argue that Iraq is worse than it would have been? Can you honestly argue the same for Afghanistan? I have no idea what you are talking about for Egypt (when did we get involved in Egypt?).

Why no ranting about Obama ordering operations in Libya _without_ congressional approval?

I guess this is my key problem with what you argued, NSG--It's a rant (I have those, too). It's not entirely based on fact. It ignores glaring errors by a nation and instead focuses it on only the Republican side of that equation (please note, I'm NOT a Republican). It uses talking points from only one side. Egypt? No mention of Obama's work in Libya? No recognition of the actual good that has happened? No recognition of the many, many people who honor or military and nation for what we have accomplished. No recognition that even those sources that are immediate to the situation are often biased and especially that they do _NOT_ represent a uniform opinion of the entire nation.

No one has said that delivering an Afghani baby on the side of the road validates anything, although I'm certainly glad that we were there for it. No one is saying that there haven't been atrocities. No one is saying that there aren't better ways of doing what we are doing.

But painting the last ten years of foreign policy as an abject failure is a gross disservice to all the good that has been done, and it ignores the arguably larger body of good that has come as a result.

That's my Return Rant. :-)

NoSurfGirl said...


first of all, I adore you.
OK. now that's off my chest... let's pick out the main bone of political contention/disagreement that we've always had but never addressed:
you like George w. Bush.
I do not. I think he is the very devil. Because he went to war in Iraq with very slim evidence/reasoning, in fact the intelligence he recieved, that he then presented to congress as "confirmation of weapons of mass destruction," that was his reason for going into the country with troops, proved to be a lie.

Why did we go into Iraq then? Not because Al Queda was there. Al Queda cohorts began to spring up in the country *after* we invaded, and Iraq was a ripe ground for such groups because we invaded.

Why did we go in? Bush's reason for going in, in the first place, proved false.

A lot of people say it has something to do with 9/11. It didn't (then. Now we've changed that).

So why?

Well, we deposed someone called Sadam Hussein. Who is, I admit, a very evil man. But was he ours to dispose of? No. Is it our job to go after every evil dictator, set up a panel of people we know will convict him or her, and then execute them? Absolutely not.

And if *that* was the real reason why we went in (get rid of an evil dictator and free a people under oppression and spread democracy) then why haven't we killed Achmedinijad, or Kim Johng Il? Why Hussein, specifically?

You'll remember a certain stand-down in a previous Bush presidency. And I abso, bloomin' lutely, do believe that is why we went into Iraq. It was an ego thing on Bush's part, and he was lucky enough to be in the middle of circumstances of war-happiness in our legislative bodies, who were more than willing sign away the lives of thousands of our troops and (yes, I'm going to say it again) thousands of civilians. Because it's not just OUR killings that count... it's the killings that have happened BECAUSE of our killings. When a suicide bomber blows up a marketplace and kills a couple dozen people in protest of American troops, we can kind of chalk that up slightly to our conscience. Because we shouldn't be there at all. And our being there, feeds those terrorist groups with people who do have a legitimate claim to frustration at us.

WHew. Hope we're still friends.

You're right about the syria thing. I left it out... I was tired when I posted this, and as you said, it was a rant. But yeah, let's talk abou Syria. What the crap was that???!! We absolutely did not belong there, either. We only need to ask ourselves one question before going into a country: is it our fight?

The answer in this case: no.

What is the natural consequence of what happened (America supporting the rebels and helping to set up a new government)?

Everyone in the middle east will point fingers at said new government and call it a puppet democracy of the United States. You have to let countries figure these things out... we have to let rebelions occur naturally so that they can claim their own victory and get started on the right foot.
Now... what if the fighting (without our support) went really badly, and a bunch of people wanted to flee the country? Maybe that would be our place... to shelter them. As in the Book of Mormon, when the Nephites in the city of Zarahemla sheltered the Anti-Nephi-Lehites or the people of Ammon. But is it our place to go in and say, "we want this group to win, becuase they are more into what we believe?" Absolutely not.

NoSurfGirl said...

That goes for the Sudan incident as well. Now, maybe when one people is being massacred by another, it's not moral for a country such as America to stand by. But what is our place in that situation? Certainly not to send in a bunch of our planes, to go off on our own, half-cocked, without asking the help of neighboring countries or other nations who might be willing to collaborate. That move was such a great example of why the world sees America as the world's policemen. Which we are not, and never should aspire to be. Not only is it morally unsound for us to put ourselves in that place (after all, people have to WANT policing for policing to really work) but it is also financially unsound. No coutnry, not even America, can afford to be the worlds' policemen. Heck, we don't even have the warm bodies on our own soil to help out with natural disasters such as Hurricaine Katrina or the tornados in the south. If we can't even take care of oursevles, why are we sending troops out all over the world to take care of everybody else?

And one last thing... I don't know enough about the politics of what you describe, living on the military base in Germany, or even the politics of the cold war, to say much on the issue. I will just say that there is a line that used to be well-defined, that we didn't cross when it came to shoving our military into other countries. In the last three decades, that line has become nonexistent, and our military, as well as our global repuation, has suffered dramatically as a result.

So that's my answer-vent!

David L said...

We'll just have to have a knock-out, drag-out fight over Thanksgiving.... :-)

I go back and forth on Bush. Did I like him? I'm not sure.... Do I think he was better than Gore or Kerry? Definitely. Do I think he was the devil? Definitely not.

Obama is way worse in my opinion. WAY worse. :-)

And we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

I think the role of world's police office came about post-WWII in the Korean War, and it was an anti-communist role. While I don't necessary like it, there was at that time a legitimate communist threat where the world was falling one way or the other.

Now? I don't know that that major threat exists. I think there is a thought that it _should_ exist though. Let me explain: Our generation and even our parent's generation grew up with war constantly there. It was our upbringing, probably more for me than most. I remember going through the bomb drills during school, and I don't mean bomb as in there is a bomb on the campus but bomb as in BOMBERS ARE FLYING OVER US AND DROPPING BOMBS!

But even if you didn't grow up with that, we grew up with nuclear war ever on the horizon. We grew up with the Berlin Wall (and yes, I was in Germany for that). We grew up with the Soviets, not the Russians. With countless movies that villianized the Soviet bloc.

I have to wonder if part of our national psyche has been shifted towards needing a threat, needing an enemy. I _do_ think that Bush capitalized on that psyche, and I almost think it's one of the reasons that Obama is a failure from the right's POV. That's not to say that we are war loving as a people but rather that we are fear needing. We need an enemy. It's galvanizing, uniting, and a powerful message for our politicians.

But does the world need one? I don't know, but I will say that nature hates a vacuum. We've got one in a lot of ways when it comes to real enemies.

Ah... I miss these conversations.... Now all we need is Skywalker spouting off his libertarian nonsense! ;-)

Can I just say that I'm _VERY_ much excited to see you guys in November?