Religion and Politics III: Foreign Policy.
Original post made by Tom Cushing on Aug 31, 2011
Ahem. Completing the religion and politics trilogy, this week's invitation is to consider the role of religion in foreign affairs. How does faith contribute to an understanding of, and underwrite this country's actions toward the great Other other people, of other religions (or none), living elsewhere in the world?
Outreach has always seemed to be a part of the Christian heritage, beginning with the apostle Paul's various sojourns around the Mediterranean and into Rome. Much later, and for several hundred years, Crusades were fought against infidels of many stripes (not just of the Muslim persuasion). In each case, the Crusaders apparently intended to extend the reach of their religion, in these many cases by force of arms.
In our own state's history, clerics accompanying the Spanish conquerors established a network of missions whose names endure in our cities. They did so ostensibly to enlighten the spirits of benighted primitives which often included the brutal enslavement of their bodies in the process. Certainly, missionary zeal continues among various denominations - well and truly intended by its best angels to relieve suffering -- and to import to the natives someone else's version of salvation.
In today's world, foreign aid from governments takes a variety of forms and is based on several very secular political motivations. Is it fair to say that at least some of those contributions also spring from humanitarian instincts, nurtured by faith?
It might be noted that the United States is not a particularly heavy donor in relation to GDP. Is there an argument founded on religious principles like charity, or at least "noblesse oblige," that America ought to do more? Congressman Charlie Wilson may not have been the most pious of advocates, but didn't he get it right in proposing aid to post-Soviet Afghanistan? Does America's commitment to its values end at our borders, or should this country be a missionary for self-determination, and oppose tyranny by peaceful means?
Regardless, it's clear that foreign aid investments are dwarfed by the many military commitments made by the United States. Does some religious motivation underlie our professed role in spreading democracy and nation-building by military means? And what if we don't approve of their version of self-determination? Does faith oppose the active use of military power? Or is there a faith-based argument for ongoing US interventions as a kind of world policeman? Did that justify Clinton-era actions in the Balkans? If so, where were we when Rwanda disintegrated into wanton violence?
And finally, has America's war on terror become infected with Crusades-like overtones?
on Aug 31, 2011 at 5:31 pm
Dear Editor and Tom,
There is a near-poet in Alamo named Alamo Ron that can use words and oxymorons ("Alamorons") to reflect thoughts back into commentary on this forum's exchanges. Alamo Ron looks at local thought and holds a mirror to commentary with cunning humor.
I celebrate that capability!
Together, you made your point more than asked any question. I was in Viet Nam for our Christian war against communism and saw the complete stupidity of that nonsense. I see current wars as a combination of empiralism in oil management and stupid efforts to control minority that takes Islam to extremes.
All doesn't matter today as we face another round of nonsense as USAmerican ignorance celebrates their crusade against other religions. Never mind it is all about the oil, "America" was attacked on 9/11 and we must respond with our military might against those not actually involve in this small group of criminals that actually did the mass murder.
Does that make sense?
on Sep 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm
Well, when GWB was asked whether he talked to his father regarding his actions in Iraq, he replied that he consulted a higher father, so I suppose we may assume that he was doing God's work there.
There may be some good people who choose out of all the lessons that could be extracted from the Bible that of "love your brother", but I don't believe that they include many of our conspicuously religious politicians. For them, religion seems to be a tool for being elected more than a guide how to act in the world, although it appears that some of them do seem to feel it important to help Israel in order to assist God in bringing biblical prophecies about the final days to realization.
on Sep 4, 2011 at 6:35 pm
Amen. Sadly there are too many conspicuously religious politicans, even worse are the crusaders who want to elevate them. I don't vote for, or like anybody's religion in my government.
Allowing religion to influence the primary, will insure the reelection of Obama.