If you aren’t sure about Ron Paul’s non-interventionist foreign policy, give this video a try.
Why? Why have so many religious people gotten it so wrong? As I have explained in many of my articles on Christianity and war over the years, there are many reasons: thinking that the war in Iraq was in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks, believing that Saddam Hussein was another Hitler, supposing that Iraq was a threat to the United States, seeing the war in Iraq as a modern-day crusade against Islam, assuming that the United States needed to protect Israel from Iraq, viewing Bush as a messiah figure, equating the Republican Party with the party of God, blindly following the conservative movement, deeming the American state to be a divine institution, failing to separate the divine sanction of war against the enemies of God in the Old Testament from the New Testament ethic that taught otherwise, having a profound ignorance of history and primitive Christianity, reading too much into the mention of soldiers in the New Testament, possessing a warped “God and Country” complex, holding a “my country right or wrong” attitude, and adopting the mindset that brute force is barbarism when individuals use it, but honorable when nations are guilty of it.
I believe the two greatest reasons religious people have gotten things so wrong are American exceptionalism and American militarism.
Many Christians are guilty of nationalistic and political idolatry. They have bought into a variety of American nationalism that has been called the myth of American exceptionalism. This is the idea that the government of the United States is morally and politically superior to all other governments, that American leaders are exempt from the bad characteristics of the leaders of other countries, that the U.S. government should be trusted even as the governments of other countries should be distrusted, that the United States is the indispensable nation responsible for the peace and prosperity of the world, that the motives of the United States are always benevolent and paternalistic, that foreign governments should conform to the policies of the U.S. government, that most other nations are potential enemies that threaten U.S. safety and security, and that the United States is morally justified in imposing sanctions or launching military attacks against any country that refuses to conform to our dictates. These are the tenets of American exceptionalism.
The result of this American exceptionalism is a foreign policy that is aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling. This is why U.S. foreign policy results in discord, strife, hatred, and terrorism toward the United States. We would never tolerate another country engaging in an American-style foreign policy. How many countries are allowed to build military bases and station troops in the United States? It is the height of arrogance to insist that the United States alone has the right to garrison the planet with bases, station troops wherever it wants, intervene in the affairs of other countries, and be the world’s policeman, fireman, social worker, security guard, mediator, and babysitter.
The other reason religious people have gotten things so wrong is American militarism. Americans love the military, and American Christians are no exception. There is an unseemly alliance that exists between certain sectors of Christianity and the military. Even Christians who are otherwise sound in the faith, who treasure the Constitution, who don’t support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who oppose an aggressive U.S. foreign policy get indignant when you question the institution of the military. It doesn’t seem to matter the reason for each war or intrusion into the affairs of another country. It doesn’t seem to matter how long U.S. troops remain after the initial intervention. It doesn’t seem to matter how many foreign civilians are killed or injured. It doesn’t seem to matter how many billions of dollars are spent by the military. It doesn’t even seem to matter what the troops are actually doing – Americans in general, and American Christians in particular, believe in supporting the troops no matter what. Americans are repulsed by the serial killer who, to satisfy the most basest of desires, dismembers his victims; but revere the bomber pilot in the stratosphere who, flying above the clouds, never hears the screams of his victims or sees the flesh torn from their bones. Killing women and children from five feet is viewed as an atrocity, but from five thousand feet it is a heroic act. It is sometimes suspicious when a soldier kills up close, but never when he launches a missile from afar.
Christians of all branches and denominations have a love affair with the military. To question the military in any way – its size, its budget, its efficiency, its bureaucracy, its contractors, its weaponry, its mission, its effectiveness, its foreign interventions – is to question America itself. One can condemn the size of government, but never the size of the military. One can criticize federal spending, but never military spending. One can denounce government bureaucrats, but never military brass. One can depreciate the welfare state, but never the warfare state. One can expose government abuses, but never military abuses. One can label domestic policy as socialistic, but never foreign policy as imperialistic.
It is the U.S. government that is the greatest threat to American life, liberty, property, and peace – not the leaders or the military or the people of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, or Yemen. And as James Madison said: “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” Christians should vigorously dissent the next time some warmongering politician says there is some great evil in the world that must be stamped out by the U.S. military. As John Quincy Adams said: “America . . . goes not abroad seeking monsters to destroy.” Christians should stop regarding the state’s acts of aggression as benevolent. Christians should stop presuming divine support for U.S. military interventions. And because just war theory merely allows Christians to make peace with war, they should reject it just as they would any theory of just piracy or just terrorism or just murder. It is Christians that should be leading the way toward peace and a foreign policy of nonintervention. It is Christians that should be leading the way toward the ideas of Ron Paul.
Why do professing Christians continue to beat the war drum despite the glaring dichotomy between murder and God’s Word? It is all too common to witness the Christian war fever — that sickening blind worship of the state that elevates G.W. Bush or Barack Obama to Messiah and seeks to justify the immoral, unscriptural, unconstitutional wars in the Middle East by incessantly repeating the false mantras “obey the powers that be” and “God is a God of war.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834—1892) was an English Baptist minister who served as pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London from 1861 until his death. Spurgeon preached his first sermon as a teenager and, in 1854, was called to the pastorate of the historic New Park Street Church, Southwark, London. During his thirty-eight-year tenure, the church increased from 232 to over 5,000. Many times his public teachings gathered close to 10,000. He was truly one of the most influential preachers in history. Spurgeon was no ordinary minister. He was a pastor, preacher, teacher, author, editor, and the overseer of a pastor’s college, a Christian literature society, and an orphanage. When he died in 1892, 60,000 people filed past his casket in the Tabernacle. He is still widely revered today among Baptists (and many others) as one of the greatest ministers in church history.
Below are some of his thoughts on war:
If men receive Christ, there will be no more oppression: the true Christian does to others as he would that they should do to him, and there is no more contention of classes, nor grinding of the faces of the poor. Slavery must go down where Christianity rules, and mark you, if Romanism be once destroyed, and pure Christianity shall govern all nations, war itself must come to an end; for if there be anything which this book denounces and counts the hugest of all crimes, it is the crime of war. Put up thy sword into thy sheath, for hath not he said, “Thou shalt not kill,” and he meant not that it was a sin to kill one but a glory to kill a million, but he meant that bloodshed on the smallest or largest scale was sinful. Let Christ govern, and men shall break the bow and cut the spear in sunder, and burn the chariot in the fire. It is joy to all nations that Christ is born, the Prince of Peace, the King who rules in righteousness. (“Joy Born at Bethlehem,” December 24, 1871, Metropolitan Tabernacle).
Long have I held that war is an enormous crime; long have I regarded all battles as but murder on a large scale (“India’s Ills and England’s Sorrows,” September 6, 1857, Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens).
So combustible are the materials of which this great world is made, that I am ever apprehensive of war. I do not account it wonderful that one nation should strive against another, I account if far more wonderful that they are not all at arms. Whence come wars and fightings? Come they not from your lusts? Considering how much lust there is in the world, we might well conceive that there would be more war than we see. Sin is the mother of wars; and remembering how plentiful sin is, we need not marvel if it brings forth multitudes of them. We may look for them. If the coming of Christ be indeed drawing nigh, then we must expect wars and rumors of wars through all the nations of the earth (“The God of Peace,” November 4, 1855, New Park Street Chapel).
It is astonishing how distance blunts the keen edge of anything that is disagreeable. War is at all times a most fearful scourge. The thought of slain bodies and of murdered men must always harrow up the soul; but because we hear of these things in the distance, there are few Englishmen who can truly enter into their horrors. If we should hear the booming of cannon on the deep which girdles this island; if we should see at our doors the marks of carnage and bloodshed; then should we more thoroughly appreciate what war means. But distance takes away the horror, and we therefore speak of war with too much levity, and even read of it with an interest not sufficiently linked with pain (“A Present Religion,” May 30, 1858, Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens).
Better far for us to have famine than war. From all civil war and all the desperate wickedness which it involves, good Lord deliver us; and if thou smitest us as thou hast done, it is better to fall into the hand of God than into the hand of man (“Christian Sympathy,” November 9, 1862, Metropolitan Tabernacle).
Oh! that God would put an end in the world to all wars between nations, as well as all strifes between individuals (“The Fruits of Grace,” January 21, 1872, Metropolitan Tabernacle).
Perhaps Christian’s should take a good hard look at their Bible and realize that God has always forbid His people to murder. The continuous wars in the Middle East are bankrupting this country, killing hundreds of thousands or innocent people, and serving no purpose whatsoever. The government spends 1+ Trillion dollars per year more than it collects in revenue. So we charge the wars to our never-ending line of credit and leave it for future generations to bear, another practice frowned upon in Scripture. It’s time to replace the ever-perpetuating ignorance with sound reasoning based on Biblical principles.
The “fruit” of the Iraq war! Islam is incapable of peace and/or “Democracy”. There can be no real freedom in an Islamic State. Hence, the idea that we can wage war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, or any Islamic country and walk away with a thriving Constitutional Representative Republic in place is a complete farce. These places will always be hotbeds of persecution (especially of Christians and women), violence, pedophilia, and polygamy. Unfortunately, anyone who questions these “wars” is deemed 1) unpatriotic, 2) calloused (willing to watch people die and do nothing… i.e., refuse to spend Billions to send military troops trained to kill in the hopes of establishing peace), 3) a hater of our troops (that’s right, I want them brought out of harm’s way because I hate them… our government wants them to spill their blood for countries that are incapable of civility because they… love them?), or 4) pacifists. I assure you I am none of these things. And I STILL want our boys home… NOW! – Dr. Voddie Baucham
Many, including fellow presidential candidate Rick Santorum, have labeled Ron Paul as part of the ‘blame America first’ crowd in this election cycle. They are angered by his willingness to point out flaws in our country’s foreign policy and smear him as an isolationist who wants America to hide from the rest of the world. Contrary to establishment Republican rhetoric, Paul’s policy is not “blame America first,” but “put America first.”
From the start of the Cold War, America adopted a more interventionist foreign policy. We have been more concerned about the affairs of other nations than ever before, and the result has been more military spending. The United States spends roughly $1 trillion per year on defense, which is more than at any other time in our nation’s history. This spending has become unsustainable, as shown by the debt crisis that loomed this summer.
Opposition to these policies is the only sensible way to keep the deficit under control and to keep the country safe from those who want to do us harm. If we were to bring our troops home from around the world they would be in less danger, we wouldn’t be interfering with sovereignty of other nations and making enemies, and we would save hundreds of billions of dollars every year. These are the same policies that were supported by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Quincy Adams, none of whom were considered isolationists.
If we consider the enormous benefits to this country of discontinuing our role as world’s policeman, we’ll see that they would go a long way towards putting the United States back on the road to fiscal solvency. The United States would do well to stop worrying about the disputes and internal affairs of other nations when we are on the verge of a financial meltdown at home.
There is nothing isolationist about putting the interests of America first rather than funding wars with countries that pose us no threat, propping up dictators who are hated by their people, and sending aid to other nations to buy their friendship. Policies like these create more problems than they solve. Instead of defeating the terrorists, we are giving them more motivation to continue fighting. When we spread ourselves too thin, we make ourselves more vulnerable. And sending foreign aid to other countries generally means taking money from the poor in this country and giving it to the rich dictators of poor countries.
Pointing out these unfortunate truths is a necessary step to fixing our problems, and Ron Paul is the only candidate brave enough to do it. It is mind boggling that while Republicans claim to fight for smaller limited government, they feel that it does not apply to foreign policy. They would do well to listen to their own rhetoric when they talk about the problems and inefficiencies of government, and apply it to our meddling overseas. Maybe then the Republican Party might be able to demonstrate some consistency to the American people instead of talking out of both sides of their mouths.
When Rick Santorum shamelessly exclaims that Ron Paul is blaming America for 9/11, not only is he wrong but he is also being intellectually dishonest. Santorum, like the rest of the Republicans, opposes our current healthcare predicament. If Obama-care destroys our healthcare system in the next ten years, no one would claim that Senator Santorum had “blamed America” for our healthcare problem. Like any other conservative, he is simply blaming a flawed policy.
This is no different than Dr. Paul’s position on 9/11. He does not blame the country for the despicable acts that occurred on that day, but he correctly places some of the blame on our government’s foreign policy. Unfortunately, trying to explain this difference to Rick Santorum is as fruitless as attempting to convince him that his support for Medicare Part D in 2003 was as bad as supporting Obama-care.
It’s ironic that while most establishment Republicans accuse Ron Paul of not supporting the troops, he has gotten more money from active duty troops than all other Republican candidates combined. Maybe the rest of the Republican field should follow the example of our men and women oversees and put America first.
This is what everyone needs to be preaching at Occupy Wall Street. We need peaceful revolution, the time has come.