Friday, October 26, 2007

When North goes South

Gary North is unhappy with American foreign policy—not to mention American domestic policy.

“Contrary to the media, most American fundamentalists are not opposed to the legalization of abortion. Few of them have ever picketed an abortion clinic. The only way to persuade a majority of fundamentalists to picket an abortion clinic would be to spread a rumor that after each abortion, the abortionist gives a glass of beer to the woman to calm her nerves.”

Is there any point to this statement besides a gratuitous and demonstrably erroneous putdown of Christian fundamentalists?

“The fact is, this voter base is committed to imposing lethal force on Iraq until the counter-insurgency ceases to fight. Yet they know this will never happen. Their view of Islam tells them it will never happen.”

Is that what this voter base is committed to? Couldn’t the voter base be committed to a more modest proposition? Bringing the insurgency down to a manageable level, so that it can be turned over to the Iraqi army?

Not every insurgent is a jihadist. There isn’t necessarily an inexhaustible supply of jihadis. And the fact that militant Islam is committed to global jihad doesn’t mean that militant Islam can’t be defeated in a particular country. It isn’t necessarily going to stake all of its fortunes to one particular front.

“The two groups reinforce each other. The neocons provide the position papers. The fundamentalists provide the votes.”

That’s quotable, but it’s another gratuitous putdown. To my knowledge, “neocon” is a synonym for Jewish hawks or old Scoop Jackson Democrats. Liberal cold warriors, if you will.

Certainly they’ve contributed to the formulation and defense of the current war effort. Yet it’s simplistic to suggest that all of the intellectual firepower for the war effort is coming from the neocons. But Gary North has to oversimplify to make facts fit his preconceived theory.

“He [Ron Paul] is opposed by all neocons and most fundamentalists. Why? Because he opposes committing American money or American troops to saving Israel.”

Are we committing American troops to save Israel? In what sense?

“He believes that countries should defend themselves. Countries are not like unborn infants. They can speak and act on their own behalf. They can establish defenses. He thinks there is no legitimate reason for people in one country to go to war to defend people in another country unless, as in the case of Belgium in 1914, another country is being invaded because it provides a convenient pathway for troops marching toward the first country.”

Well, that’s also simplistic. Some countries lack the military might to defend themselves against a superior power. That’s why smaller countries either band together to form a military alliance, or align themselves with a superior power to act as a check on another, more hostile, superior power.

And a superior power sometimes enters into a military alliance with a client state to extend its sphere of influence.

“He is opposed to treaties that commit the United States to military action on behalf of other countries.”

I’m not unsympathetic to this position. Entangling alliances can be dangerous as well as one-sided.

At the same time, one country doesn’t form a military alliance with another country as a favor to the other country. Rather, it does so because it has a national interest in that alliance.

“He is opposed to the United Nations Organization.”

Fine. We should withdraw from the UN, sell the property, and deport the UN diplomats to Brussels or the Haag—where they should feel right at home.

“Ron Paul understands and honors a fundamental biblical principle that fundamentalists say they believe but really don't: without a legally binding joint covenant based on a common confession, an individual has no lawful authority to use violence against another person.”

I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. I mustn’t shoot a houseburglar who breaks into my home in the dead of night unless there is a “legally binding joint covenant based on a common confession” in place? I mustn’t forcibly defend myself against a mugger unless there is a “legally binding joint covenant based on a common confession” in place?

“Conclusion: if I have not agreed in principle to live under a common political covenant with you, then your battles are not mine, and my battles are not yours. The Bible is clear on this point:

‘He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears’ (Proverbs 26:17).”

But that begs the question of whether we have a national interest in some of these conflicts.

“During the Vietnam war, there was an anti-war poster with this verse on it, which featured a photo of President Johnson lifting up his beagle by its ears.”

That’s a bad illustration, since we did have a national interest in the containment policy.

“The same principle applies to nations. Ask a fundamentalist if he believes in the United Nations Organization, and he will probably say no. Why? Because he instinctively recognizes that the UN is based on a common covenant among nations even though they hold different views of God, man, law, sanctions, and time. There is no confessional basis for such a governmental organization.”

Is that the instinctive reason that a fundamentalist opposes the UN? I can think of many other possible reasons: the UN is anti-Semitic. The UN is anti-American. The UN is corrupt. The UN empowers dangerous regimes. The UN is promoting a radical social agenda.

“Prior to 1991, the fundamentalist had in mind the Soviet Union and its satellite nations. Today, he has in mind Islamic nations. His instincts are correct. They rest on this biblical judicial principle:

‘Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods’ (Exodus 23:32).”

Well, obviously we shouldn’t make a covenant with false gods. However, the theocratic state of Israel had the promise of divine protection as long as she was faithful to the Mosaic Covenant. God has not made the same promise to the United States. Therefore, Exod 23:32 cannot be transferred willy-nilly from the ancient state of Israel to the United States.

“The fundamentalist assures us that the United States has a moral, legal, and therefore covenantal obligation to use American tax money to pay the government of the State of Israel.”

I’m generally opposed to foreign aid, so this example is worth debating. However, North acts as if we don’t get anything in return for our support of Israel. For a somewhat dated, but useful counterbalance:

“So, we see this extraordinary alliance between secular neoconservatives and fundamentalists. It has led the United States into two wars with Iraq. It may lead this nation into a war with Iran.”

Is Bush 41 a fundamentalist or neocon? No. Is Bush 43 a fundamentalist or neocon? Who were the fundamentalists or neocons on the war cabinet of either administration? Cheney? No. Rummy? No. Rice? No. Powell? No. Gates? No.

Here’s a useful overview, by an insider, on the history of neoconservatism:

And what does this have to do with the notion of entangling alliances? Did we invade Iraq to fulfill a treaty obligation? If we bomb Iran, will that be to fulfill a treaty obligation?

“The swing voters within the voter base of the Republican Party promote a foreign policy of killing Muslims, including hundreds of thousands of civilians, whenever these Muslims are perceived as a potential military threat against the State of Israel.”

We invaded Iraq to save Israel? If we bomb Iran, is that to save Israel? Does Gary North think the Rothschids are behind American foreign policy? Is he getting his information from the Protocols of Zion?

Why is he so soft on the jihadis and so hard on the Jews? He sounds like a certified—or should I say, certifiable?—Jew-hater.

Traditionally, Calvinism has been characterized by its philosemitic theology—in admirable contrast to Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Luther. Let us hope that Gary North doesn’t succeed in tarnishing a noble legacy.

“Beginning on September 11, 2001, pre-war, pro-war pundits asked: ‘Why do they hate us?’ They no longer need to ask.”

So the jihadis didn’t hate us before the Iraq war? Why all those escalating attacks on American assets leading up to and including 9/11?

I don’t pretend to keep up with all of his articles. But of those I have read, I can’t help noticing the Chicken-Little tone of his output. He keeps predicting the imminent collapse of the firmament. Has Gary North become a pessimillennialist in his old age?


  1. "Resistance" is correct, not "insurgence.

  2. Gary North sounds like a ranting fruitcake. And the correct word is not "resistance" or "insurgence", it is "terrorist."

  3. Hey there
    I don't know what to think of Gary North at times...
    Its weird to me how pessimisstic he is despite being a theonomist as you pointed out.
    To be frank, it seems like all he writes nowadays are anti-war and conspiracy rants, oh and the economy is going to collapse.

    There's no more apologetics or something positive to offer it seem,

    Because afterall, you can't be something with nothing...

  4. North is still writing his economic commentary on the Bible, so to claim that he does nothing positive etc is just incorrect.

  5. > Gary North sounds like a ranting fruitcake. And the correct word is not "resistance" or "insurgence", it is "terrorist."

    "Terrorist" is a vague word used to describe anyone who instills any sort of terror or commits any public violent act. One man's terrorist can be another man's freedom-fighter.

    Why use such a word we can simply use the correct term - "insurgence"?

  6. Whoops, I mean "resistance"...too early in the morning.

  7. "One man's terrorist can be another man's freedom-fighter."

    So, whose side are you on?

    Using this same logic, Hitler wasn't a genocidal maniac, he was just a cleanser of unwanted human chattel. [Eyes rolling.]

  8. Gary North's last published commentary is 2000,
    Has he published anything new recently that I don't know of?
    I might have missed it...