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Iraq, religious conservatives, and the "crusade theory of warfare"

By pastor Anthony B. Robinson in

You might not expect a West Point graduate, Vietnam vet and career soldier to come out with a book titled "The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Addicted to War." But that's what Andrew Bacevich, who now directs the program in International Relations at Boston University, has done.

A self-described conservative, Bacevich argues that Americans have fallen prey to a "military metaphysic." By that he means all international problems are seen as military problems and the likelihood for finding a solution except through military means is discounted. The result is war as a permanent condition with the only acceptable plan for peace a loaded pistol. One has only to consider the relative weight given to the Pentagon and the State Department to get the point.

During the military buildup of the '80s, the claim of proponents was "peace through strength." Having a big enough military meant you wouldn't have to use it. But having such a large and sophisticated military has proved a tough temptation for politicians and people alike to resist. It's an old story: When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

As a pastor what most interested me is Bacevich's careful tracing of the role of leading religious conservatives in promoting a "crusade theory of warfare," to replace the more long-standing and cautious doctrine of just war. A crusade theory of warfare provides the mindset and justification for offensive military action, for so-called preventive wars like the current war in Iraq. The just war ethical tradition mandates the use of force for defensive, not offensive, purposes.

How did this change, a crucial element of American's seduction by war, happen? Beginning in the '70s a growing number of politically active religious conservatives told Americans, and their conservative Christian followers, that communism was everywhere on the march and America's subjugation was imminent. There was, however, not only this frightening side to their message but an urging to action. Christian America's true destiny is to wield military power in the death struggle with godless communion.

Beneath this rhetoric lies a theology declared heretical in the early centuries of Christianity: Manichaeism from a third century teacher, Mani. Manichaens of every age divide the world simply and starkly between the forces of good and the forces of evil, and urge the former to stamp out the latter. Appealing in its simplicity, Manichaeism is disastrous in reality. Early Christians regarded Manichaeism as heretical precisely because it blinded people to their own capacity for evil and encouraged gross self-deception.

After the Soviet Union imploded (in part due to its own military excesses), and 9/11 stunned Americans, these same politically active religious conservatives were quick to substitute Islam for communism. Falwell and Robertson recycled old lines with a new infidel. Franklin Graham, son of Billy, denounced Islam as "a very evil and wicked religion." Southern Baptist President Jack Graham declared, "Satan is the ultimate terrorist" and "this is a war between Christians and the forces of evil, by whatever name they choose to use." A crusade theory of warfare marched on, giving sanction to a new stratagem, "preventive war."

Eclipsed in the storm of fear and rhetoric was the older tradition of mainstream Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The ethical tradition of just war lays down rigorous tests if a war, always understood as a tragic option and always to be a last resort, can be considered just and justifiable. Such conditions include, but are not limited to, "just cause" (usually self-defense); public declaration of war by a lawful authority; no ulterior motives (self-aggrandizement or vengeance); reasonable probability of success, and avoidance of harm to non-combatants.

As the debate on the Iraq war enters a new phase, those who foisted a crusade theory of warfare on Americans, and those who bought it, have much to answer for. Such a mentality encourages an overreliance on the nation's military, a rush to war, the failure of careful analysis and the erosion of proscriptions against torture and abuse. In moving from a just war ethic to a crusade theory of warfare Americans have lost their way, and some Christian leaders have betrayed their faith. Christian faith ought always to be a check on war's excesses and a challenge to an overreliance on the military, not a cheerleader in war's camp. As a Christian and a soldier, Andrew Bacevich is arguing exactly that.

Anthony B. Robinson, a pastor of the United Church of Christ, is a speaker and teacher. He can be reached at

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The Project for a New American Century ...PNAC....had more to do with pre-emptive wars than the evangicals. The news media has been demonizing Islam for years with their so called clash of civilizations.
The group hate of Saddam and Arafat and Saudi royal family has led to a lot of this war mentality to change the world.

This is all we need.

Crusaders on one side of the conflict and jihadists on the other.


It is quite obvious from a short glance at our history from the end of WWII that war has become a necessity for no other reason than to prop up a failed economic system. The great depression of the thirties was ended when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. It ended the glut of overproduction and underconsumption that had sunk the economy.

When I got back from France in 1945 and picked up my wife and son I couldn't buy a car,or even a washing machine. Five years later I had a new car and all of the goodies, including a TV set. It was time for another war and the Korean war kept things on the rails. The "cold" war was going on, but increased productive capacity as a result of war production called for the Vietnamese war. We had reached the point of where we could have both guns and butter. The invention of the computer helped keep things running but we found ourselves with twelve air-craft carrier groups at over a trillion dollars and no possible adversary.

With the end of communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall it became necessary to manufacture war itself. This was the beginning of the American Empire and we are at the point that of 147 countries that have signed the treaty on global warming, that strongold of liberty, The USA was the only country to refuse to sign.

This is the real problem and the only solution is to end the rule of the corporation business form that has taken over our sovereignty as a free people. Queen Victoria pulled the charter of The East India Company because it had become a threat to her sovereignty. We must pull the charters of all of the corporations for the same reason. Corporations must become cooperatives. This is the only way a predator organization can become a social organization.

This is not communism. The communist experiment failed because it did not turn the tools of production over to the workers, but instead, turned them over to the government.

Bingo, my brother!!! CO-OPS ROCK!!! The most civilized business economic model ever devised!!!

Always beware the "Predators" seeking an opportunity. Because Co-ops are so effecient, effective and profitable, they are very attractive to those seeking a "good investment."

If the co-op members are not ever vigilent, next thing you know you have rich board members sucking off all the profits and your workers barely surviving and in constant fear of "losing their jobs."

"Together we'll stand
Divided we'll fall
Come on now people
Let's get on the ball
And work together
Come on, come on
Let's work together
(Now now people)
Because together we will stand
Every boy, every girl and man"
- Let's Work Together by Canned Heat


In fact, Mr Robinson's perspectives seem a lot closer to true conservatism than those of today's self-described "neo-conservatives" -- or than those of the "neo-liberals", for that matter.

One might even say that Mr Robinson has described, not just America's militaristic geopolitics, but its prevalent domestic culture as well when he says that the "result is war as a permanent condition with the only acceptable plan for peace a loaded pistol".

In an age when the president claims the right to stage "pre-emptive" invasions, should we really be surprised when innocent citizens are "pre-emptively" murdered by his air marshalls?

While I really liked this article by Pastor Anthony B. Robinson, I must ask the question, "Is a 'Christian' fascist not still a 'fascist?'"

One of the biggest obstacles facing the allies after World War II was the "de-Nazi-fication" of the German people. So effective were the propaganda techniques on the Hitler Youth during the 1930s, they "shut down" and refused to listen to the Red Cross and allied "therapists". In sorta modern terms, their minds could be described like a floppy diskette that has had the "write protect" slider moved into place. It doesn't matter how good/right the new software code is, you are not writing anything to that diskette as as long as that switch is set.

What Hitler's staff homed in on was that during critical phases of childhood development, the "lessons learned" could be "hard coded" and "write protected" if presented with extreme Ridicule, Shame, Pain and Fear of Death. I refer to this as having the software "bonded" to the individual's survival circuits in my model.

Now, look at BushCo's Fundamentalist support base and take a good hard look at the child rearing techniques used on these children over the past 25 years. I have lived in North Carolina for almost all my life and my wife actually grew up in one of these "Fundamentalist" households, but somehow was able to resist the beatings, the shaming, and ridicule. Her younger brother did not fair as well, especially when they were moved from public schools to "Wake Christian Academy" in Raleigh because dear ol' dad's problem with "black people."

Here, they were subjected to film after film showing them what "HELL" was and convincing them that this is where they were heading unless they "begged" for forgiveness, did everything they were told without question, and always respected "authority" (i.e. the Grown-Ups). They were given their "enemies" list of bad people.
Kidz would be screaming, wetting their pants and fouling themselves they were so scared. They would wake up in the night screaming from nightmares and wetting the bed. (Now, these are pretty high dollar films . .. who is footing the bill for the production costs???)

The girls were told they were "BAD" because of "Original Sin" and their own chance of redemption was to be subserviant to men. They were taught that Mary Magdeline was not Jesus most beloved disciple, but instead, a "whore."

Now, anyone that has read anything about early childhood development from Anna Freud onward knows that the mind of a child up until around age 9 cannot distinguish between "real" and "film fantasy".

My wife says that they would come home everday crying and begging their parents not to let "the devil get them." Finally, my wife's mother put her foot down and they went back to public schools.

So, this software is "emotionally bonded" in these individuals. Now, we have these same kidz of the Reagan years raising their own children by the same Game Rules. My wife's brother's kidz are terrified of my wife and I because, "We aren't SAVED" and they have been told to keep away from "our kind." My sister-in-law describes my wife's artwork as being "of the devil." The kidz have no interest at all in science, art or music.

Of course, these "Churches" are protected by the constitution's gurantees of separation of church and state. The second anyone points out that they are abusing these children, these preachers go on the "Persecuted Persecuter" victim warpath screaming about "secular humanism." And let me tell you from my experiences in "Chatham-by-Gawd-County, NC" . . . they play hardball.

In my anti-war efforts, I am constantly confronted by twenty-somethings that cannot have an objective discussion of facts. You can see their programming kick in once you deflect all their "talking points" and they are left exposed . . . they go into an emotional rage rather than experiencing that "Maslow A-ha Moment" of insight as a new understanding is achieved.

To me, these are the roots of our current REACTIONARY population that support BushCo come "hell or high water." "Our minds are made up, don't confuse us with the facts because we are the JESUS-YOUTH."

"Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when you’re older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams"
- Circle Game by Joni Mitchell


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