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Is Iraq a Sin?

08.12.2005 06:49 | DISPATCHES

From the Dossier of an Ex-Patriot.

"I am merely saying that there is objective sin in the Iraq war, and our country as a country is guilty of sin.... Americans... should live in fear and trembling about punishment."
-- Father Andrew Greeley
The Chicago Sun-Times, November 12, 2004

When Americans go to war, we don't abandon all pretenses to ethics like most nations and non-state actors. But, as if they were butter or rubber, we ration them. Sometimes even, like with gratuitous Allied bombing in World War II, we run out.

Sense can be made of -- if not excuses for -- war crimes if they're committed in the context of a so-called just, if total, war. But a war crime committed before a war has even begun, like conjuring false pretexts in order to gain a foothold in a strategic part of the world, is another story.

It has the potential to turn not only the country you're invading into a wasteland, but, if only spiritual, your own. Preemptive war, in other words, also preempts morals.

You don't have to be a fundamentalist Christian or a Traditional Catholic to believe God will punish you. Nor do you have to be a Buddhist who believes in karma to understand retribution is inevitable, if not at the hands of the enemy as it's presently constructed, by one that arises in the vacuum, or by a higher power in the afterlife.

Since Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, not to mention wiping out Native Americans and building our economy on the backs of slaves, the US has been walking on spiritual eggshells. Somehow it's dodged the bullet of retribution.

Whether the punishment Father Greeley invokes is temporal or earthly, the tide of history seems to be turning. Left high and spiritually dry, our iniquitous intentions exposed, we're thus vulnerable to a cataclysmic event, whether caused by nature, the economy, or a weapon of mass destruction.


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