Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christian Soldiers

American officers and men -- on the taxpayer dime -- strategize about how to most effectively spread the word of God in Afghanistan:

Their chief concern is in taking an approach that will neither offend Afghanis nor violate a general army order that forbids proselytizing. (There's even a discussion about what it means to proselytize.) The group is mostly white and mostly male. Altogether, they seem like highly unlikely candidates to evangelize a Muslim population.

The greater question is, though, what exactly do they think they are doing? How in the world does any of this square with the American mission in Afghanistan? Isn't there a danger that their activities undermine the mission? And why are U. S. taxpayers supporting such a bald violation of the line between church and state?

Christopher Hitchens watched the video shortly before he visited a beleaguered cadre of free thinkers at the Air Force Academy, which he writes about here. Hitchens also helpfully supplies this quote from Lieutenant Colonel Gary Hensley, chief of the United States military chaplains in Afghanistan:
The Special Forces guys, they hunt men, basically. We do the same things, as Christians. We hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down. Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them in the kingdom. Right? That’s what we do, that’s our business.
Which raises yet another matter: If Colonel Hensley is chief of all chaplains in Afghanistan, that presumably includes Catholic, Jewish, LDS, and Muslim chaplains, not to mention mainstream Protestants. If so, why is he taking sides? Isn't his real business to help them do their jobs? Just asking, is all...

(Thanks to Foxessa at Fox Home for calling my attention to Hitchens' article.)


Roy said...

This is an ongoing thorn in the side of American commanders in Afghanistan. They've told these people over and over again that what they're doing is putting American lives in danger and is contrary to US military policy. They actually had several crates of the Bible translated into Pashto confiscated by military police and burned. That one got all the fetal dementia syndrome types like Dobson and Wildmon and Robertson foaming at the mouth and crying "Persecution!"

I wish McChrystal would just man up and throw 'em all in the stockade for disobeying orders and violating the Military Code of Conduct.

Cowtown Pattie said...

They must be from the south...

K. said...

I read back through this and my blood pressure started to rise. Let's pass of the point raised by Hitchens regarding the desirability of having military chaplains at all. The troops that these people minister to are in a combat zone and under tremendous pressure. 110% of the chaplains' efforts ought to be dedicated to these soldiers, not to evangelizing in a way that arguably makes their lives more difficult.

You're absolutely right, Roy: The high command should throw the book at this bunch.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

K, you and Foxessa always pickin'on da'Christians. I swear goddamn.
Hitchens didn't invite me because I think we should round up All the Seriously God'Peoples, put'em on a boat back to the Holy Land and let them all work it out over there where they do that sort of thing all the time.
Meanwhile back in Secularland everything is way'mo betta right?
"It's hard to think of Jesus when you're blowing down the hole."
That is what an old Tunnel Rat toll'me once that he used to sing to himself looking down into a VC Tunnel with a flame thrower on his back. Then it was FIRE IN THE HOLE!

Foxessa said...

Funny how it turns out that old canard of 'there are no atheists in foxholes' is not true. There ARE atheists in foxholes ... so sez da fox. :)

Obama is not pulling anything together -- and he cannot since he's surrounded himself with those who all have agendas that are not the nation as a whole, but sometimes indeed are really about another country all together.

One of the Afghanistan generals yesterday just came out and said it -- Obama isn't getting any real intelligence about the place and the ignorance of the place by EVERYONE making decisions is beyond abyssmal. Not even Obama has bothered to learn anything about the culture, the place, the history, the languages -- nothing.

I'm starting to think his intelligence has been vastly overrated, or else that he is a slider. I started to get that feeling reading his Lessons From My Father.

And Byron Dorgan has chosen not to run for Senator (D) of North Dakota again -- he WILL be replaced by the former governor, an R. The Dems are falling apart and Obama hasn't pulled them together.

SP is likely to be POTUS next. The teabags are far better organized and enthusiastic than either the ds or rs.

Love, C.

Annette said...

I really can't agree with that last comment at all.. sorry but I am not sure where the facts come from to back up any of that because I have never seen anything of the sort.. Pres. Obama has always been very well spoken on the area and of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.. When he did an interview with Rachel Maddow before the election she really had some tough questions and he had some very good answers about it.. now I am not saying they have been implemented.. we are in such a hole there it is going to be hard to do anything until we fix the mess that is there.. Remember in 2007 there was a report that showed that Al-Qaeda had restored its operating capabilities to a level unseen since the months before Sept. 11, 2001...


So, yeah.. lets diss the President some more and let the Tea Partiers and the GOPers take back the White House and run the wars again..

K, this is part of the Bush contingent left fighting the crusade.. remember.. Bush said this was a Holy War... and that's what they think they are doing.

Foxessa said...


[ America's deputy chief of military intelligence in Afghanistan has issued a damning indictment of the work of US spy agencies, calling them clueless and out of touch with the Afghan people.

Major General Michael Flynn described US spies as “ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced... and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers”.

The bleak assessment of the intelligence community’s role in the eight-year-old war came in a report issued by the Center for New American Security, a US think tank. It comes less than a week after the CIA suffered one of the most damaging blows in its history, when a suicide bomber killed seven of its operatives at Camp Chapman, a high security CIA base near Khost in eastern Afghanistan. ]

I ask you: in what specific way has anything improved for you personally during this administration? For the nation? There is no more transparency now than before, no fewer -- actually more -- U.S. lives lost in this ever treasure draining ever still ill-considered contretemps, ever-expanding mess we have made from Palestine to Pakistan.

I can point to several things that are considerably worse, such as his health care plan, as it stands at the moment -- as far as we can find out what is in it -- means the closing of my community health center, my only health care. I can go on.

If he can't control his party, the pentagon, the intelligence community, the Hill, can't get any positions filled and approved -- what the fark is he doing there? The point of electing someone was to have someone who could take on the past. He is the past with a more attractive face and manner.

We need a party that can do something.

Now, if I am wrong, I'd love to be convinced! I mean that. At this point I am in despair that this nation has the will to ever turn itself around. No rebirth here.

Love, c.

K. said...

I think that he's been in office for less than a year and that he inherited a terrible mess. The health care bill is hardly what I would have liked, but there are good things in it. If progressive legislators decide to bail on it, they should do so knowing that the issue will be dead and buried for twenty years or more.

On the up side, there's no more talk of an imperial presidency. The stimulus -- even given its shortcomings -- staved off a depression, and I don't think that a John McCain presidency could have done that.

As for SP, I'm not worried. When you get past the hoopla, her actual numbers among Republicans aren't especially impressive. I doubt that she has the stomach for a run, anyway.

Foxessa said...

FDR kept trying things.

Obama ain't. He saved the banks.

End. No stimulous for jobs, industry, manufacturing, etc.

Love, C.

Annette said...

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.. we have a report which shows that the Recovery Act or Stimulus if you want to call it that protected millions from Poverty and it also Saved and Created Jobs, boosting the economy..


While the recession is expected to drive states’ poverty rates up for 2009, new analysis based on Census data shows that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is keeping large numbers of Americans out of poverty in states across the country. In addition to boosting economic activity and preserving or creating jobs, the recovery act is softening the recession’s impact on poverty by directly lifting family incomes.

The Center’s analysis, which covers 36 states and the District of Columbia, examines the effect on poverty of seven ARRA provisions: the expansion of three tax credits for working families, two provisions that strengthen unemployment insurance assistance, a provision that boosts food stamp benefits, and a one-time payment for retirees, veterans, and people with disabilities.[1] Nationally, these provisions are keeping more than 6 million Americans out of poverty and reducing the severity of poverty for 33 million more. (These figures include both people whom ARRA has lifted out of poverty and people whom ARRA has kept from falling into poverty.)

These estimates are conservative. The seven provisions examined cover only about one-fourth of the recovery act’s total spending. The remainder of the act contains an array of provisions that also have an effect on poverty either through direct job creation or through increased spending (on areas such as education, health care, and housing) that leads to more consumer demand in the economy, which in turn preserves or creates jobs. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the legislation as a whole had increased employment by 600,000 to 1.6 million jobs as of September 2009 and is expected to boost employment by 900,000 to 2.3 million jobs by the fourth quarter of this year.[2]

The rest is there to be read.. as for the transparency you asked about.. Pres. Obama has released the Visitor Logs to the White House which has NEVER been done before by anyone..

He has also done more for the LBGT than any other president.. no he hasn't done enough, but he has done more than any other.. He just appointed a transgender cabinet member.. the first EVER.. That's Change I can believe in..

There is a lot more.. but I am not going to hijack the comment section of K's blog to discuss it with you.. The list of accomplisments by this administration are very numerous.. but it is never enough for some people.. no matter what..

No I don't agree with everything that has been done.. and I probably never will.. but to say that he is a failure this early and to dismiss the fact that in 11 or 12 months what he has gotten done with the worthless bunch in Congress he has to work with as nothing is just wrong and is not being truthful. The President cannot do it all, he can only work with the Congress he has.. He does not have 60 LIBERAL Senators and he does not have 218 LIBERAL House members.. therefore compromises have to be made and we may not like what we end up with.. but you have to get the votes somewhere and with the Rethugs obstructing everything it is better to get something and build on it, just as FDR and LBJ did than to get nothing.

Sorry, K.. I apologize for being so long winded and hijacking your comment section.

K. said...

Hey, I'm just happy to have hit double digits in comments!

Like many/most liberals, I harbored secret fantasies of Obama being the next Franklin Roosevelt. But the United States of 2010 differs greatly from the radicalized nation of 1932 that suffered unemployment of between 25-33%. For the purposes of this discussion, it's useful to note that the pressure on Roosevelt to act and experiment came from his left. The labor movement was in its ascendancy and offered Roosevelt a popular vehicle with which he could make common cause. The Communist Party was growing and was in a greatly different position internationally than it is today. The Socialist Party, though irreparably harmed by Eugene Debs imprisonment during and after WW1, still counted for something. A grass-roots movement had elected populist legislators and governors without regard to state or region. Huey Long, Thomas Gore, and Burton Wheeler hailed from Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Montana, for example. I can't imagine any of those states electing a radical to the Senate today.

Obama, by comparison, faces pressure mostly from his right, even if it is largely media concocted. (Which is another thing Roosevelt didn't have to deal with.) Organized labor is virtually spent as a political force and acts primarily as an interest group, anyway. Overall, the left has failed to emerge as a unified, coordinated force for change and reform. I'm not saying that there aren't groups out there trying and even making a difference. But there's no movement to speak of, and that's a reality of the political landscape.

So where does that leave the individual progressive? I don't like the new strategy in Afghanistan, but I'm uncertain as to the alternative. As watered down and in some respects counterproductive as the health care legislation has become, I'm still reluctant to oppose it for reasons I set forth in today's post. And while I can't divine the future, there's a decent chance that it will be like the camel's nose, much like the maligned 1957 Civil Rights bill. Lyndon Johnson knew at the time that the bill was toothless, but he saw legislation with "Civil Rights" written on it as a necessary first step. (I admit that Harry Reid is a far cry from LBJ.) When the Civil Rights movement grew and attracted public support, President Johnson was able to push the next steps, which turned out to be the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act. (This, perhaps the high water line of 20th Century presidential oratory, still gives me chills.)

But I digress. I wish we were moving farther and faster to the left. We're not. I'm not prepared to blame President Obama for that nor am I giving up on him. The country has been on a rightward drift since 1980, including sixteen years of the radically right Reagan and Bush II administrations. Turning that around will take time.

Anonymous said...

Always interesting to hear what Hitchens is up to. McChrystal, as we are all tired of hearing, could have manned up when Pat Tillman got friendly fired but he stuck with the bogus official version of non-facts forever separating him from that group of military people deserving of my respect.