The new United States ... not so much a nation as a religion

The new United States … not so much a nation as a religion.

[color=indigo]Self-appointed as God’s chosen people, Americans refuse to believe they can fail in Iraq, writes George Monbiot.

“The death of Uday and Qusay,” the commander of the ground forces in Iraq told reporters on Wednesday, “is definitely going to be a turning point for the resistance.”

Well, it was a turning point, but unfortunately not of the kind he envisaged.

On the day he made his announcement, Iraqi insurgents killed one US soldier and wounded six others. The following day, they killed another three; over the weekend they assassinated five and injured seven.

On Monday they slaughtered one more and wounded three. This has been the worst week for US soldiers in Iraq since George Bush declared that the war there was over.

Few people believe that the resistance in that country is being coordinated by Saddam Hussein and his noxious family, or that it will end when those people are killed. But the few appear to include the military and civilian command of the US armed forces.

Are we really expected to believe that members of the US security services are the only people who cannot see that many Iraqis wish to rid themselves of the US army as fervently as they wished to rid themselves of Saddam? What is lacking in the Pentagon and the White House is not intelligence (or not, at any rate, of the kind we are considering here), but receptivity. Theirs is not a failure of information, but a failure of ideology.

To understand why this failure persists, we must first grasp a reality which has seldom been discussed in print. The US is no longer just a nation. It is now a religion. Its soldiers have entered Iraq to liberate its people not only from their dictator, their oil and their sovereignty, but also from their darkness.

As Bush told his troops on the day he announced victory: “Wherever you go, you carry a message of hope - a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, 'To the captives, come out, and to those in darkness, be free.”’

So US soldiers are no longer merely terrestrial combatants; they have become missionaries. They are no longer simply killing enemies; they are casting out demons.

As Clifford Longley shows in his fascinating book Chosen People, published last year, the founding fathers of the US, though they sometimes professed otherwise, sensed that they were guided by a divine purpose. Thomas Jefferson argued that the Great Seal of the US should depict the Israelites, “led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night”.

George Washington claimed, in his inaugural address, that every step towards independence was “distinguished by some token of providential agency”. Six weeks ago, Bush recalled a remark of Woodrow Wilson’s. “America,” he quoted, “has a spiritual energy in her which no other nation can contribute to the liberation of mankind.”

Gradually this notion of election has been conflated with another, still more dangerous idea. It is not just that the Americans are God’s chosen people; America itself is now perceived as a divine project. Since the attacks on New York, this notion of America the divine has been extended and refined.

In December 2001 Rudy Giuliani, New York’s mayor, delivered his last mayoral speech in St Paul’s Chapel, close to the site of the shattered twin towers. “All that matters,” he claimed, “is that you embrace America and understand its ideals and what it’s all about. Abraham Lincoln used to say that the test of your Americanism was … how much you believed in America. Because we’re like a religion really. A secular religion.”

The United States of America no longer needs to call upon God; it is God, and those who go abroad to spread the light do so in the name of a celestial domain. The presidency is turning into a priesthood.

So those who question Bush’s foreign policy are no longer merely critics; they are blasphemers, or “anti-Americans”. Those foreign states which seek to change this policy are wasting their time: you can negotiate with politicians; you cannot negotiate with priests. The US has a divine mission, as Bush suggested in January: “to defend … the hopes of all mankind”.

The dangers of national divinity scarcely require explanation. Japan went to war in the 1930s convinced, like Bush, that it possessed a heaven-sent mission to “liberate” Asia and extend the realm of its divine imperium. It would, the fascist theoretician Kita Ikki predicted, “light the darkness of the entire world”.

Those who seek to drag heaven down to earth are destined only to engineer a hell.[/color]

An interesting commentary.

“Pussies in Australia wish they had the balls to kick out Britain like America did.”

What is it with the Foriegn press thinking one or two deaths a day is some sort of horrific disaster? I know you, in your suffocating envy, are all really eager to see America fall on it’s face so you can make yourselves feel better about yourselves, but it’s hardly a lost cause and it’s really way too early to be calling the ballgame.

And while we appreciate that you like to think of yourselves as evolved beyond such concepts, there is such a thing as right and wrong, good and bad, and even evil. Why are you rooting for the cowards who rig bombs to be detonated remote which kill not only Americans but Iraqis, who lob a grenade and run away, who contribute to a situation of hostility that negatively effects not only the American soldiers, but the Iraqis who have to endure continuing indignities required for security? You delude yourselves into thinking their freedom fighters, are ytou so certain that these attacks are even being made by Iraqis? It’s no secret that Iraq has become a magnet for fanatics who just want to take a swipe at Americans. I’d be surprised if even a majority of these Gureillas were Iraqi, I think we have many Syrians, Iranians, Saudis and Pakistanis in the mix. And what are they fighting against? The attempt to establish an era of self rule? Perhaps they should give the effort and chance and hold off the revolution for after autocracy fails to take hold? but we couldn’t do that, cause these people aren’t really interested in freedom of anything. Because that’s what Modernity, Westernism and America represent, increased self reliance, civil rights and equality. These are the actions of men desperately afraid of losing their strangle hold on the population, on their women and on their youth.

Godforbid humanity should believe it incombant upon itself to take responcibility and enforce some level of justice for populations mistreated, often horribly, by illigitimate leaders. Europeans, Australians, Asians, etc, sure like to talk a good game about reaching out to the rest of the world. Just so long as they don’t have to, you know, DO anything, assume any risk. You’re all about respecting culture and forging multilateral accords, until you try to right some wrongs. Then it’s tantrums all around.

And with as much history as there is in other parts of the world, those people conveniently forget that the United States is the oldest and most successful free nation in the world. We have more experience in this area than anybody else and I happen to think we know a thing or two about freedom.

:shock:

Clearly historical matters are not your strong point.

What is it with the Foriegn press thinking one or two deaths a day is some sort of horrific disaster?

Because one or two deaths a day on a regular basis after the war has supposedly ended is not exactly looking good.

I know you, in your suffocating envy, are all really eager to see America fall on it’s face so you can make yourselves feel better about yourselves, but it’s hardly a lost cause and it’s really way too early to be calling the ballgame.

The US screws up all the time - I don’t see how you could argue it’s flawless.

And while we appreciate that you like to think of yourselves as evolved beyond such concepts, there is such a thing as right and wrong, good and bad, and even evil. Why are you rooting for the cowards who rig bombs to be detonated remote which kill not only Americans but Iraqis, who lob a grenade and run away, who contribute to a situation of hostility that negatively effects not only the American soldiers, but the Iraqis who have to endure continuing indignities required for security?

Sigh - you wonder why people are becoming more anti-US with this ‘US or them’ attitude. Maybe we are just evolved to such concepts to see that such things as right and wrong, good and bad, and even evil are all black and white whilst reality is a shade of grey.

You delude yourselves into thinking their freedom fighters,

Why not? Bush wants to delude us he’s one.

are ytou so certain that these attacks are even being made by Iraqis? It’s no secret that Iraq has become a magnet for fanatics who just want to take a swipe at Americans. I’d be surprised if even a majority of these Gureillas were Iraqi, I think we have many Syrians, Iranians, Saudis and Pakistanis in the mix. And what are they fighting against? The attempt to establish an era of self rule?

To enforce a political system on a people is not a good start to self rule - if these people want the system they want let them have it. It is not our place with all the problems that democracy has to thrust it upon people who don’t want it. They clearly resent the interference.

Because that’s what Modernity, Westernism and America represent, increased self reliance, civil rights and equality.

^I cant help but laugh given the topic about Bush’s pandering to the Bible belt’s anti-gay marriage lobby. America may be based around that theory but you’re selling yourselves not the theory and frankly a lot of people don’t like what they see.

Godforbid humanity should believe it incombant upon itself to take responcibility and enforce some level of justice for populations mistreated, often horribly, by illigitimate leaders. Europeans, Australians, Asians, etc, sure like to talk a good game about reaching out to the rest of the world.

You really haven’t got a clue about history? We’ve done nothing but meddle with other countries for years - we’ve never been about justice for these people. The US is sure as hell no different. To straight faced proclaim the war was about that is just laughable.

And with as much history as there is in other parts of the world, those people conveniently forget that the United States is the oldest and most successful free nation in the world. We have more experience in this area than anybody else and I happen to think we know a thing or two about freedom.

I’d beg to differ what with camp X-Ray et al.

Being US I’m hardly surprised by your attitudes but it never ceases to amaze me that you somehow think the US is unique because of them.

Careful, Cyborg. You’re painting with a very broad brush. Brad’s post was psychotic propoganda-fed drivel. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Brad, or the current US Administration, is in any way representative of the opinions or state-of-mind of the entire nation, or all its citizenry. On average, Bush’s little hate-in is far, far, FAR more zealous and extreme than average opinion. He’s managed to accomplish his goals by manipulating a shellshocked country into a state of constant fear.

George Bush is not America.

I also wish more people were that cautious before entering the whole “hate the french” propaganda :?

George Bush is not America.

Amen to that.

So do I. All of this shit is ridiculous and insane. The leadership of my nation, and what they’re working around the clock to try to turn my nation into, frightens and baffles me. I can’t believe things have gotten to this point in such a short span of time.

You still have a chance to change things in a year or so. We’re stuck with our government for 4 more years.

So, you admit there are shades? By doing so you ackowledge there are extremes at both ends of the spectrum. I never said we were dealing in absolute terms, but some are so terrified these days of making any judgement that they are paralyzed by that fear. I don’t have that problem, and neither do a lot of my countrymen. Genocide is wrong, moreover, preventing genocide is even worth the risks and costs of military conflict. Pacifist like to delude themselves into believing that war is obsolete and should never be an option. And my responce would be, take a look around the world and see the atrocities man still commits against man, even without a declaration of war. Maybe humanity will reach such a point eventually, but we certainly are not there yet. There are still people in this world who wield great power and will use that power in pursuit of, here it comes, Evil. As long as that is true we should never be afraid to meet such people in open conflict.

Do you recognize the inherent irony in your suggestion that we are “forcing” democracy upon this nation? Democracy is an imperfect solution to an unsolvable problem, but I find it offensive that you think the Iraqis would prefer another dictatorship or a Theocracy. All the Iraqis say is they want to have their own government, to choose for themselves how to run the country. I don’t see how “thrusting” democracy upon them is contrary to their wishes. I think at the very least half the citizens of Iraq will be happy to not become subjegated as second class citizens. (*hint, I mean women).

I make no apollogies for Bush, I didn’t vote for the idiot. He’s a tool of history, and nothing more. But I can’t help but laugh that you think Iraq might be better off if the women become property again. That’s the brilliant thing about the American system of government, it’s the concept of civil rights. It’s majority rule, but not absolute authority as the minority, indeed everyone, is guranteed basic rights. There’s a line you are never allowed to cross no matter how many votes you have. And I think Gay marriage is an inevitability, and out of Bush’s hands, no matter what he says.

You really haven’t got a clue about history? We’ve done nothing but meddle with other countries for years - we’ve never been about justice for these people. The US is sure as hell no different. To straight faced proclaim the war was about that is just laughable.[/quote]

I’m assuming when you say “we’ve” you’re talking as a British citizen, in which case, yes, you’ve been fucking with the whole world for hundreds of years for the express purpose of turning a profit. But I do believe what America is doing is different. Imperialism was about going whereever you wanted and fleecing the countryside to fatten your coffers. What we’ve done is targeted a brutal tyrant who flaunted international law and abused his power with obscene results, and showed him the fucking door. I know the BBC likes to tell you we’re stealing their oil, but we could have bought it a lot cheaper and made a bigger profit without any loss of life. What we are attempting is a paradigm shift in the course of human rights enforcement, because the hands off approach is a fucking joke. Europeans, especially, have developed this unfathomable philosphy whereby they consider themselves observers and nothing more, who are marked by their inaction more than anything else. They are terrified of themselves, and who can blame them considering historic precident, but you are active agents in this world whether you like it or not. Inaction has real effects and repercussions. People who die because the world powers refuse to do someting within their power, don’t give a fuck about pathological timidness. All they know is some assholes in D.C., Paris, Berlin and Moscow don’t care whether they live or die. Very charitable of them. But, hey, that’s 800,000 Rawandans who won’t be needing treatment from Doctors Without Borders.

[quote=“Prodigy”]

:shock: [/quote]

Look it up.

I don’t have to, you’re not the oldest free nation of the world.

That’s pretty amusing, considering your country won’t do anything to help in Liberia, where people are actually begging for you to come. You’re the victim of the myth of America you’re trying to vehiculate.

Americans are never qiute as scary as when they start sounding like Marxist-Leninists. Except when they’re talking about nuclear weapons.

Well, European imperialists got rid of a lot of nasty characters as well, which was all well and good on its own. However, establishing a functioning democracy in Iraq is going to take a lot more than just getting rid of the dictatorship. The social infrastructure required for a democracy simply isn’t there; and unlike purely physical infrastructure, it can’t simply be built with foreign money. The Iraqis will have to establish it themselves; it remains to be seen if they can do so while under occupation by people they don’t exactly like.

:shock: [/quote]

Look it up.[/quote]
“We will bury you.” ;)

The main fear I have is that it will have the opposite effect of what was intended, and that the war has paved the way for more Talibans and mollahs and the like. Nothing positive will come out of this if Saddam is replaced by a fundamentalist “government”.

The main fear I have is that it will have the opposite effect of what was intended, and that the war has paved the way for more Talibans and mollahs and the like. Nothing positive will come out of this if Saddam is replaced by a fundamentalist “government”.[/quote]

I see that as a valid fear, and also have deep rooted suspicions as to the motivations behind our presence in the region. When the occupation is being run, from top to bottom, by men with a vested financial interest and proven desire to aquire and permenantly control the natural resources of the nation, how can people so easily believe that their goals are benign? The aquisition and privatization of Iraq’s oil infrastructure has already begun, and foreign corporations are swooping into the nation en masse to exploit every angle imaginable. How can a nation be expected to develop into a self-suficient Democracy when, under a military occupation, every industry is aquired, owned, and operated by foreigners? What will be left for these people?

Australians currently in: East Timor. Check. Soloman Islands. Check.
Historical support for US in: Iraq 1 and 2. Check. Vietnam. Check. Korea. Check.

I think you couldn’t have picked a worse nation to accuse of idle whinging.

Plus, after the US, Australia was the most hurt by terrorism in recent years (in Bali).

Plus, after the US, Australia was the most hurt by terrorism in recent years (in Bali).[/quote]

I think Israel has them both beat (unless you don’t count the suicide bombings as “terrorist”)

Of course that’s terrorism, but actually I was thinking of Al Qaeda’s and the like. Israel’s suicide bombings are more like the worst form of guerilla and resistance - I said the worst, I’m not diminishing them or saying theyr’e not as imporant. It’s just that, sadly, they became quite usual.

Actually I would have thought the opposite applied in this situation.

Genocide is wrong, moreover, preventing genocide is even worth the risks and costs of military conflict.

Lovely sentiment - but the US is sure as hell not the poster boy for preventing genocide what with recent racial problems flairing up again and the still quite unanswered questions, ‘why Iraq, why now?’.

Pacifist like to delude themselves into believing that war is obsolete and should never be an option.

You seem to assume I am a pacifist. I am merely highly sceptical about the Iraq war. Given the run up I would have to cut out half my brain before I could even accept that the war was about liberation.

And my responce would be, take a look around the world and see the atrocities man still commits against man, even without a declaration of war.

And I say look inwards for the US sure as hell isn’t exempt from that.

Maybe humanity will reach such a point eventually, but we certainly are not there yet. There are still people in this world who wield great power and will use that power in pursuit of, here it comes, Evil. As long as that is true we should never be afraid to meet such people in open conflict.

That’s all very well and good but frankly I’m more worried by Bush than I ever was about Saddam bombing me with VX gas.

There is no more powerful man and frankly with my morals I could consider him on the verge of evil.

The reasons things are a shade of grey is because there is no universal morality - not because people can’t have extreme views.

Do you recognize the inherent irony in your suggestion that we are “forcing” democracy upon this nation?

No.

Democracy is an imperfect solution to an unsolvable problem, but I find it offensive that you think the Iraqis would prefer another dictatorship or a Theocracy.

We (the Brits) imposed a democratic system similar to our own with a monarchy et al - the monarchy was unpopular and assisinated. I think it’s fairly obvious what happened to the government after that.
I fail to see why the US thinks imposing it’s democracy (because there is no single democratic system) is going to work any better.

History will not be heeded it seems.

All the Iraqis say is they want to have their own government, to choose for themselves how to run the country. I don’t see how “thrusting” democracy upon them is contrary to their wishes.

Because what the US has effectively said is that Iraq is incapable of deciding how it should do this on it’s own - this is a country with a well educated middle class perfectly capable of making its own mind up about how it should be governed. Again I fail to see why the US feels the need to impose itself. That is thrusting democracy on these people - not allowing them to have it for themselves and make it their own.

I think at the very least half the citizens of Iraq will be happy to not become subjegated as second class citizens. (*hint, I mean women).

History, Iraq, read. Iraq has been pretty progressive as a seccular state.

I make no apollogies for Bush, I didn’t vote for the idiot. He’s a tool

I’ll just misquote that for the laughs.

But I can’t help but laugh that you think Iraq might be better off if the women become property again.

Words. Mouth. Put.

That’s the brilliant thing about the American system of government, it’s the concept of civil rights. It’s majority rule, but not absolute authority as the minority, indeed everyone, is guranteed basic rights. There’s a line you are never allowed to cross no matter how many votes you have. And I think Gay marriage is an inevitability, and out of Bush’s hands, no matter what he says.

Theory. Practice. Gap.

I’m assuming when you say “we’ve” you’re talking as a British citizen, in which case, yes, you’ve been fucking with the whole world for hundreds of years for the express purpose of turning a profit.

I do include Britain but I think it’s funny you can pretend the US doesn’t have it’s hands in pots all over the place.

But I do believe what America is doing is different. Imperialism was about going whereever you wanted and fleecing the countryside to fatten your coffers. What we’ve done is targeted a brutal tyrant who flaunted international law and abused his power with obscene results, and showed him the fucking door.

In the past you supported him - ffs Rumsfeld bloody supplied him!
The CIA trained Osama to fight the Ruskies - nice going there!
There are other examples but those seem most relevant.

What you’ve done is political not moral. It’s just a shame you’re too blinded to see that your leaders’ motives for waht they are.

I know the BBC likes to tell you we’re stealing their oil, but we could have bought it a lot cheaper and made a bigger profit without any loss of life.

It’s all very well saying that but that’s beside the point - out of his own mouth he’s changed his reasons for calling for war in the run up.

If you can find me a news source which talks about liberation more than a few weeks before invasion I’d be impressed.

What we are attempting is a paradigm shift in the course of human rights enforcement, because the hands off approach is a fucking joke.

No you’re not. The US is not about human rights enforcement. If it were it could start by abolishing the death penalty - no wait - getting rid of camp X-Ray would be better and more appropriate.

Europeans, especially, have developed this unfathomable philosphy whereby they consider themselves observers and nothing more, who are marked by their inaction more than anything else.

I AM NOT EUROPEAN.

I have the attitude that we should get involved when requested - ie through the UN. Not just because we feel we can do whatever the hell we like and damn the consequences. Given the history of the British Empire (which you seem to know so well) and the mistakes made I would have thought that would make some sense.

They are terrified of themselves, and who can blame them considering historic precident, but you are active agents in this world whether you like it or not. Inaction has real effects and repercussions. People who die because the world powers refuse to do someting within their power, don’t give a fuck about pathological timidness.

Sure - but it’s funny you talk about things like inaction when the US refuses to take a stand on things like the environment which affect us all, third world debt which cripples many countries and world hunger - which could be solved tomorrow if we really wanted it to happen.

I also find it funny given how Britian has been commited to action in Iraq has yet stood still with events in Zimbabwe - argueably more our concern given they are part of the Commonwealth.

Sorry but it’s pretty hard to swollow this moral crusading bullshit from politicians.

:shock:[/quote]

I don’t think Brad was suggesting that the US was the oldest nation…

I think Brad is referring to consistency of government. The American democracy was founded in 1789, and has had essentially the same governmental system since then. Britain’s form evolved considerably since 1789, and most other European nations evolved over time. The only other country that can really say that is, I believe, Iceland, but Iceland isn’t exactly a world power.