Saturday, September 18, 2004


Sweden's sick leave payments skyrocket

This article amazes me. Is Sweden really this naive about human nature?They need a good dose of Augustine.

Polygamy. Coming Soon...

Steyn on Polygamy is another brilliant article from this compelling voice.

Ethics and Institutions

A post on the importance of integrity for institutions, be they religious, academic, or business etc.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Televangelist Paul Crouch Attempts to Keep Accuser Quiet

This is what's important enough to the LA Times to merit the front page.

Hugh Hewitt things that despite the LA Times penchant for poor journalism, this might be an exception:

"Sometimes old media does serious, difficult work. See the Los Angeles Times on the effort by Trinity Broadcast Network's Paul Crouch's efforts to silence an accuser. The article --potentially a TBN-destroyer-- is carefully researched and thoroughly balanced with charges and counter-charges, precisely sourced documents and named sources (though there is one unnamed source as well.) I know the reporter of this story, and he's a model of careful journalism and integrity. Perhaps the Times could assign him to the collapse of old media credibility surrounding Rathergate."

Dan Rather makes stunning new allegations...

Dan Rather makes stunning new allegations not related to the forged memos: First stunning allegation; and the second stunning reversal.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Flower power-2

vi) The Third Terrorist : The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing
by Jayna Davis

Product Details

* Publisher: WND Books; (April 15, 2004)
* ISBN: 0785261036

Editorial Reviews

Book Description
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were not the lone conspirators in the Oklahoma City bombing—the attack that killed nearly 170 people in a few short seconds. They were part of a greater scheme, one which involved Islamic terrorists and at least one provable link to Iraq. This book, written by the relentless reporter who first broke the story of the Mideast connection, is filled with new revelations about the case and explains in full detail the complete, and so far untold, story behind the failed investigation—why the FBI closed the door, what further evidence exists to prove the Iraqi connection, why it has been ignored, and what makes it more relevant now than ever. Told with a gripping narrative style and rock-solid investigative journalism and vetted by men such as former CIA director James Woolsey, Davis’s piercing account is the first book to set the record straight about what really happened April 19, 1995.

vii) The Secret History of the Iraq War
by Yossef Bodansky

Product Details

* Publisher: ReganBooks; (June 15, 2004)
* ISBN: 0060736798

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Bodansky, ex-director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare and author of Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America, offers many bold and contentious claims in this sprawling history of the Iraqi conflict up to Saddam’s capture. Saddam, he asserts, was deeply involved with al-Qaeda, and indeed dispatched a (never "activated") 500-man terrorist battalion to North America in 2002. Iraqi forces were awash in WMDs, which they planned to (but never did) launch at American soldiers, and which were finally spirited away to Syria or buried in the sand. And Syria and especially Iran, which now allegedly hosts al-Qaeda’s headquarters, have been busily fomenting turmoil in Iraq and terror throughout the region. Bodansky affirms the Bush Administration’s case for regime change and its larger "axis-of-evil" worldview. But he deplores the invasion itself-Saddam could have been toppled by a coup instigated by Russia or the Arab states, he says-and despairs of the American nation-building project in Iraq, which he feels faces an unstoppable jihad by a coalition of Islamists, Baathists, Sunnis, Shiites, al-Qaeda and even many Kurds, supported by an increasingly anti-American populace. Bodansky offers a microscopically detailed portrait of the byzantine politics of the various Iraqi factions and their regional sponsors, along with a vigorous critique of the chaos, intelligence failures, political ignorance and military overkill that characterize the American occupation.

viii) Treachery : How America's Friends and Foes Are Secretly Arming Our Enemies

Product Details

* Hardcover: 288 pages ;
* Publisher: Crown Forum; (September 7, 2004)
* ISBN: 1400053153

Editorial Reviews
From the Inside Flap
In his explosive new book, New York Times bestselling author Bill Gertz uncovers the most significant threat to U.S. national security today: America’s enemies—including radical terrorist groups—are arming themselves with the world’s most dangerous weapons. And they’re doing it with the help of America’s supposed allies. Worst of all, the U.S. has let it all happen.

Using his unparalleled access to the U.S. intelligence and defense communities, Gertz names names, revealing which of our "friends" have placed greed over principle to make America’s enemies far more deadly and the world a far more dangerous place. In Treachery, Gertz tells the whole story, complete with previously unpublished classified intelligence documents, and based on dozens of exclusive interviews with senior U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

In shocking detail, Treachery exposes:

*How Iraqi insurgents are killing U.S. soldiers with weapons that France, Germany, and Russia sold them
*How the French and German governments turn a blind eye to arms sales to rogue regimes and terrorist states like Iran, Syria, and North Korea
*How intelligence reports show that China supplied arms to al Qaeda after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America
*The real story of why Libya dismantled its nuclear program—how U.S. intelligence caught the Libyans red-handed trying to smuggle in nuclear weapons technology
*How Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation network is even more extensive than has been reported
*The CIA report revealing that al Qaeda is pursuing—and may already have—nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons
*The classified intelligence showing that Russia and France were cooperating with Saddam Hussein even after the 2003 Iraq war broke out
*The full story of how Saddam exploited the United Nations "oil for food" program, not only to line his own pockets but also to rebuild Iraq’s weapons and missile programs
*How U.S. security lapses have enabled our enemies to target Americans using our own weapons technology secrets

ix) Nuclear Terrorism : The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe
by Graham Allison

Product Details

* Publisher: Times Books; (August 9, 2004)
∑ ISBN: 0805076514

Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
A founding dean of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Allison applies a long, distinguished career in government and academia to this sobering—indeed frightening—presentation of U.S. vulnerability to a terrorist nuclear attack. While he begins by asserting such an attack is preventable, the balance of his text is anything but reassuring. Allison begins by describing the broad spectrum of groups who could intend a nuclear strike against the U.S. They range from an al-Qaeda with its own Manhattan Project to small and determined doomsday cults. Their tools can include a broad spectrum of weapons, either stolen or homemade from raw materials increasingly available worldwide. Once terrorists acquire a nuclear bomb, Allison argues, its delivery to an American target may be almost impossible to stop under current security measures. The Bush administration, correct in waging war against nuclear terrorism, has not, he says, yet developed a comprehensive counter strategy.

x) The Connection : How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America
by Stephen F. Hayes

Product Details

∑ Hardcover: 224 pages ;
* Publisher: HarperCollins; (June 1, 2004)
* ISBN: 0060746734

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Weekly Standard reporter Hayes marshals a wealth of evidence that, in contrast with the tenuous connections that have so far made news, point to ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda. Most intriguingly, Hayes finds links between Iraq and the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, one of whom apparently received shelter and financial support from Iraq after the attack. Hayes also gets confirmation by Czech officials of the alleged Prague meeting between September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent. Elsewhere, Hayes points to Iraqi intelligence documents that mention a "good relationship" with bin Laden. Other sources note an alleged agreement for Iraq to assist al-Qaeda in making chemical and biological weapons. Relying both on "open sources" like news articles, transcripts from the 1998 embassy bombing trials, as well as anonymous intelligence reports and informants, Hayes allows that some of these stories may prove unreliable. But he contends that the number, consistency and varied provenance of reports of high-level contacts between al-Qaeda and Iraq throughout the past decade allows one to "connect the dots" into a clear pattern of collaboration. Despite the frustrating absence of source notes and no knowledge of what cooperative efforts ever came of these contacts, most readers will conclude from this volume that the Saddam–al-Queda thread has some play left in it.


You then bring up the prison flap, which you choose to characterize as ‘the systematic torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners of war in Abu Ghraib.’ But there are a number of flaws in your summary.

i) These were not POWs. These were terrorists, murdering our troops--as well as Iraqi citizens.

ii) You have a single adjective (systematic) govern both nouns. But even if there were a systematic pattern of humiliation, what evidence do you have of systematic torture? Torture and humiliation are not at all the same thing. The word "torture" is a loaded-word, with connotations of mutilation and the like.

I saw a simulated execution, but although that's nasty business, yet given a choice, I'd opt for a simulated execution over the real deal any day of the week, wouldn't you?

iii) Most of the examples I saw took the form of sexual humiliation. Indeed, the photos could just as well have been shot at a San Francisco bathhouse. Yet you say that we shouldn’t 'squabble' about sex and sexual politics. Why do you fixate on the sadistic treatment of a few detainees while you turn a blind eye to the S&M culture in America?

iv) Isn’t one of the lessons of Abu Graib the sexual temptations of a coed military? But you say that we shouldn't 'squabble' about sex and sexual politics.

So what you take to be a 'symptom' of our 'reckless' foreign policy is really a symptom of reckless sexuality.

iv) What about the Catholic sex scandal, which is really a homosexual sex scandal, and which outnumbers Abu Graib by many orders of magnitude? Why do you turn a blind eye to that?

v) Why do you strain at the gnat of Abu Ghaib while you swallow the camel of truly systematic torture under Saddam’s regime? His victims outnumber our victims by many orders of magnitude.

You then raise the ethical question of the Bush doctrine. Yes, this question is well-worth raising. And we have an entire book of the Bible that answers that very question. The Book of Esther is a full-length prooftext for preemption. The Jews, in order to advert genocide, strike the first blow.

You then say that 'Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek when attacked. At the heart of Christian identity as his disciples is the call to be
peacemakers. Yet we fail repeatedly. Scripture diagnoses our true
condition: 'Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery are in
their paths, and the way of peace they have not known' (Romans 3:15-17, quoting Isaiah 59:7-8).

Of course, how we should apply the New Testament's teachings to
international affairs in a post-9-11 world is a complex question. At
present, however, we are not having the debate at all.'

This is quite a jumble:

i) Why do you limit the debate to NT teaching when this sentence follows on the heels of the previous statement, where you quote Paul quoting Isaiah? If Paul thought that OT ethics were relevant under the New Covenant, why don't you? If Isaiah is applicable, what about Deut 20?

Indeed, some of the provisions in the Sermon on the Mount go straight back to OT ethics (cf. Deut 32:35; Prov 22:21-22).

ii) As to turning the other cheek, what does this picturesque image depict? To strike a man on the right side of the face (Mt 5:39) implies a backhanded slap. In other words, this is dealing, not with assault and battery, much less national self-defense, but with a personal insult or affront to one's honor. As a NT scholar, I would expect you to be more attentive to the concrete imagery.

Again, this was addressed to Jews living under Roman occupation. It does not address the post-Constantinian situation.

BTW, I assume that Duke University as a campus police station. Have you lobbied for the abolition of campus security on the grounds that the staff, faculty, and student body should turn the other cheek?

iii) You conflate peacemakers with peacetalkers. Talking about peace is not the same thing as making peace. If you are serious about this, why don't you take a sabbatical, go to some hotspot in the world, and make peace between the warring parties? Or maybe you can persuade al-Qaida to lay down their arms and sing a round of Kumba-ya.

Am I being facetious? The more important question is: are you being facetious? Either you have a practical alternative or you don't. If you do, do it! Go somewhere and make it work. Otherwise, shut up!

You go on to say that 'the public, including the Islamic world, receives the impression that Christianity underwrites war-making.'

Well, one can only hope. Muslims are a warlike people. If Bush has fostered the impression in the Muslim world that if they fight us, we will fight back with superior force, then that's an excellent deterrent to further aggression.

You then say that 'Instead of obsessively debating sexual politics, we should raise our voices together in calling the Church and the nation to repentance and peacemaking.'

We should, should we?

i) Not only do you deny OT ethics, you deny Pauline ethics as well. After all, the debate is over sodomy, and sodomy runs counter to Pauline ethics (Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10).

ii) Not only do you deny Pauline ethics, you deny dominical ethics as well. Our Lord took traditional marriage as the paradigm (Mt 19:1-9). And he cited the Lord's judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah with evident approval (Mt 10:14-15).

iii) The church has no direct control over our foreign policy. But the church does enjoy direct control over its own code of conduct.

You round out by saying that we should 'seek God's mercy for the chaos our national has unleashed.' I'll grant that Iraq is unstable, but why you assume that chaos is worse than a homicidal police state or state sponsor of international terrorism is less than self-explanatory.

In any event, a chaotic Iraq poses no threat to the US, for the rival factions are to busy fighting each other to menace America any time soon.

My overall impression of your article is that, for a professional ethicist, you are morally blind. You lack a capacity for the most rudimentary moral discrimination. You have made no apparent effort to acquaint yourself with the opposing position. You indulge in fact-free denunciations and double standards. You say one thing, but live another. And you display only the most shallow grasp of Scripture.

Flower power-1

Dear Dr. Hays,

I read with some interest your recent article on ‘War, not sex, is the issue.’ You open your article by saying that ‘Christians in the United States should stop fighting one another about issues of sexuality so that we can focus on the deepest moral crisis of our time: our responsibility for the destruction our nation has inflicted upon the people of Iraq.’

To begin with, I don’t know of any Christians who are fighting one another over sex. All I’ve heard of is a battle between nominal believers and outright unbelievers, on the one hand, who are trying to impose their immorality on the church, and Bible-believing Christians, on the other hand, who are fighting back.

I also don’t know by what criteria you judge the Iraq war to be the deepest moral crisis of our time. Certainly there are other candidates for that distinction. Some would say that abortion is the great moral issue of our time. Some would say the persecution of the faithful around the world. Some would say the need to defeat gobal jihad. Some would say the attack on traditional family values.

However, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the Iraq war is the great moral issue of our time. How does that justify your characterization of the conflict: ‘our responsibility for the destruction our national has inflicted upon the people of Iraq’?

Before we toppled Saddam, the people of Iraq were living under the most oppressive despot in the Mideast. And we are now rebuilding a country whose infrastructure had deteriorated under decades of tyranny.

In fairness, though, you offer some supporting arguments for your allegation. You begin by saying that the US ignored just-war criteria.

That is a very debatable contention. Roman Catholic scholars such as Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Novak have argued at some length that the Iraq war had satisfied just-war criteria.

Richard John Neuhaus, 'War in a New Era.'

Neuhaus, 'Just war is an obligation of charity.'

'Fr. Richard John Neuhaus on the Iraq Crisis.'

Michael Novak, 'Asymmetrical Warfare & Just War.'

So, to be taken seriously, you would need to make a case for your contention. For example, it seems rather obvious that in some cases, at least, preemption is a logical extension of national self-defense, viz., the Six Day War, or when Israel took out Iraq's nuclear reactor.

Your accusation also assumes, without benefit of argument, that just-war criteria should dictate our defense posture. But since you are a Methodist rather than a Thomist, it is unclear to me why you resort to medieval moral theology as your point of reference.

I wonder, do you extend this line of reasoning to what Aquinas would have to say about the ordination of homosexuals?

Thus far, your article consists in a string of assertions instead of arguments. However, you go on to cite some statistics, the purpose of which is, I gather, to bolster your case. You say that at least 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, along with more that 900 American soldiers, and that ‘thousands more have been wounded and maimed on both sides of the conflict.’

'Both sides'? The last sentence is fascinating for what it reveals about your ethical center of gravity. Are you insinuating some sort of moral equivalence between American soldiers and suicide bombers?

On the one hand, we have American soldiers are risking their lives to defend the civilian populace; on the other hand, we have a terrorist network that is targeting the civilian populace.

The death of American soldiers is tragic, but that is really beside the point. In any war, soldiers are killed. Even just-war criteria war take that much for granted.

In addition, Catholic moral theology operates with the double-effect principle. Collateral damage may be an inevitable and licit side-effect of a just war. If you don’t agree with this, don’t invoke just-war theory in the first place.

You then say that ‘justifications proposed by the president and other leaders have proven false: no weapons of mass destruction, no involvement by Iraq in the 9-11 attacks or in sponsoring al-Qaida.’

But there are numerous errors in this summary:

i) When or where did the president or any of his war cabinet ever propose an Iraq/9-11 link as a justification for the war? Can you produce a single hyperlink to any speech or interview or press conference in which the war was predicated on such a connection?

You seem to be parroting a popular urban legend about the causus belli. Maybe you need to go back and check your sources.

ii) I’d add that if you read the Congressional war resolution, the causus belli is broader than WMD or al-Qaida. So, on the one hand, you’ve oversimplified the official causus belli while, on the other hand, you’ve intruded a gratuitous justification (an Iraq/9-11) link which was no part of the official causus belli.

I have to wonder if this is the quality of scholarship you bring to your NT writings. It is your habit not to consult primary source data before you go to press?

iii) We need to draw an elementary distinction between being right and being in the right or having the right. We must often make important decisions based on insufficient evidence. Life confronts us with forced options, as Williams James has said. But the moral warrant for a particular action does not depend on our being right.

I see a man breaking into a house. I call the cops. It turns out that the man was not a house-burglar, but the homeowner, who had locked himself out of his own home. Was I right to call the cops? No. Was I in the right to call the cops? Yes.

A suspect brandishes a toy gun and points it at a policeman. From a distance, the toy gun looks like the real deal. The policeman shoots him dead. Was the policeman right? No. Was the policeman in the right? Yes.

The most that we can expect of a president is not that he be right, but that he be reasonable, acting on the best evidence at hand, and opting for the most likely rather than least likely interpretation of the evidence.

The salient question is not whether Bush was right, but whether he had the right to act on what he thought he knew. What was the state of prewar intel? Just off the top-of-my head, I'm able to come up with the following:

a) In his biography (American Soldier), Tommy Franks says he was told by both King Abdullah and Hosni Mubarak that Saddam had WMD. So that was the state of Arab intel.

b) Bob Woodward, in his new book (Plan of Attack), quotes George Tenant as assuring Bush that Saddam had WMD. So that was the state of CIA intel.

c) Lord Bulter’s report reaffirms the finding of MI-6 that Saddam was trying to acquire yellowcake from Africa. So that was the state of British intel.

d) Putin warned Bush of planned Iraqi attacks on the mainland. So that was the state of KGB intel.

e) Former UNSCOM inspectors like David Kay and Richard Butler, in various prewar interviews, assured the public that Iraq had WMD. So that was the state of UN intel.

BTW, I even heard Hans Blix, on Hardball, express his surprise that we didn’t find WMD in Iraq. He also admitted that inspectors could never have done their job as long as Saddam was calling the shots.

f) Iraqi defectors, such as a nuclear scientist, gave many prewar interviews affirming a WDM program. So that was the state of Iraqi intel.

Even assuming that all this turns out to have been false, would it not have been recklessly irresponsible of Bush to disregard all this information? Is it your position that a commander-in-chief, after escalating attacks on American interests abroad under his predecessor, and culminating in the attack under his own watch on 9/11, should disregard the information he was being fed by his own DCI, by MI-6, by the KGB, by Arab leaders, as well as former UNSCOM inspectors and Iraqi defectors?

It is better to be right than wrong, but as I say, we often have no choice in life but to act on the basis of inadequate information, for both action and inaction carry potential and unforeseeable consequences.

Relative risk assessments are made all the time in various walks of life, by drug companies, insurance companies, by gov't when issuing a mandatory evacuation orders in case of a tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption, wildfire, &c., or when it quarantines a carrier or infected population group to prevent an epidemic or pandemic; when the military decides to vaccinate its servicemen, when it devises a battle plan, &c.

I'd add that the Iraq war is not all of a piece. It is possible to support regime-change, but oppose nation-building; to support disarmament, but oppose democratization.

And I have been assuming, for the sake of argument, that Bush was mistaken. But on what basis do you claim that Bush has been ‘proven’ wrong? How has the postwar situation falsified the evidence of an Iraq/al-Qaeda connection, or even WMD?

When Colin Powell gave his UN address, most of it consisted, not in the claim that Saddam had WMD, but that Saddam had had WMD, and that the onus was on Saddam to document that he no longer had WMD, given the status quo ante.

Again, Bush, in his prewar Cincinnati speech, didn't’ say that Saddam had a nuclear weapons program. Rather, he said that we didn’t know the state of his nuclear weapons program, and that was precisely the problem.

Now maybe you’d disagree with the burden of proof, but that is how the administration framed its case for going to war.

In addition, there are many postwar books and articles and other findings that reaffirm everything you deny, and a good deal more. Off-the-cuff, the following items come to mind:

i) Laurie Mylroi, 'Iraq's Complicity in Terrorism,'

ii) The 'Feith Memo'

iii) Evan Kohlmann's website:

iv) September 11 Commission report (p. 66)
In March 1998, after Bin Ladin's public fatwa against the United States, two al Qaeda members reportedly went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi intelligence. In July, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with Bin Ladin. Sources reported that one, or perhaps both, of these meetings was apparently arranged through Bin Ladin's Egyptian deputy, Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis.

September 11 Commission report (p. 66)
Similar meetings between Iraqi officials and Bin Ladin or his aides may have occurred in 1999 during a period of some reported strains with the Taliban. According to the reporting, Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq.

Bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report (Conclusion 92, p. 345)
The Central Intelligence Agency's examination of contacts, training, safehaven and operational cooperation as indicators of a possible Iraq-al Qaida relationship was a reasonable and objective approach to the question.

Bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report (Conclusion 94, p. 346)
The Central Intelligence Agency reasonably and objectively assessed in Iraqi Support for Terrorism that the most problematic area of contact between Iraq and al-Qaida were the reports of training in the use of non-conventional weapons, specifically chemical and biological weapons.

Bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report (Conclusion 95, p. 347)
The Central Intelligence Agency's assessment on safehaven--that al-Qaida or associated operatives were present in Baghdad and in northeastern Iraq in an area under Kurdish control--was reasonable.

For more citations, cf. S. F. Hayes, 'No Terrorism in Iraq Before the War?'

v) The David Kay Report:
Best of the Web Today - October 3, 2003

David Kay's preliminary report on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction is out. Here are some highlights (with a hat tip to Andrew Sullivan ):

*** QUOTE ***

We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002. The discovery of these deliberate concealment efforts have come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that ISG [Iraq Survey Group] has discovered that should have been declared to the UN. . . .

Let me just give you a few examples of these concealment efforts . . .:
-A clandestine network of laboratories and safehouses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW [chemical and biological weapons] research.

-A prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing of BW agents, that Iraqi officials working to prepare for UN inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the UN.
-Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist's home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.

-New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN.

-Documents and equipment, hidden in scientists' homes, that would have been useful in resuming uranium enrichment by centrifuge and electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS).

-A line of UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] not fully declared at an undeclared production facility and an admission that they had tested one of their declared UAVs out to a range of 500 km, 350 km beyond the permissible limit.

-Continuing covert capability to manufacture fuel propellant useful only for prohibited SCUD variant missiles, a capability that was maintained at least until the end of 2001 and that cooperating Iraqi scientists have said they were told to conceal from the UN.

-Plans and advanced design work for new long-range missiles with ranges up to at least 1000 km--well beyond the 150 km range limit imposed by the UN. Missiles of a 1000 km range would have allowed Iraq to threaten targets through out the Middle East, including Ankara, Cairo, and Abu Dhabi.

-Clandestine attempts between late-1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300 km range ballistic missiles--probably the No Dong--300 km range anti-ship cruise missiles, and other prohibited military equipment.

*** END QUOTE ***

'In addition to the discovery of extensive concealment efforts,' Kay continues, 'we have been faced with a systematic sanitization of documentary and computer evidence in a wide range of offices, laboratories, and companies suspected of WMD work. The pattern of these efforts to erase evidence--hard drives destroyed, specific files burned, equipment cleaned of all traces of use--are ones of deliberate, rather than random, acts.'

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Brainwashing 101

This is the title of a provocative new documentary on the leftist repression of free speech on college campuses. It reflects very poorly on Bucknell, Cal Poly SLO and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. You can watch it online. The feature length film is coming in 2005.

The difference...

Well said, Steve.

Mark Steyn says it as only he can:

I remember a couple of days after September 11 writing in some column or other that weepy candlelight vigils were a cop-out: the issue wasn't whether you were sad about the dead people but whether you wanted to do something about it.
Three years on, that's still the difference. We can all get upset about dead children, but unless you're giving honest thought to what was responsible for the slaughter your tasteful elegies are no use.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

A God for girly-men

The recent slaughter of Russian schoolchildren by Jihadi promoted a number of comments by Anglican clergymen. A common thread running through these remarks was their humanistic orientation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said "I think it is probably the suffering of children that most deeply challenges anybody's personal faith.
"When you see the depth of energy that people can put into such evil, then of course, yes, there is a flicker, there is a doubt. It would be inhuman, I think, not to react that way."

He insisted the murdered children had not been abandoned by God. God had given humans the freedom to make their own decisions, and He did not intervene, even in evil acts like the massacre.

He said he did not want to see the terrorists exterminated, and called for them to be given life sentences.

Canon Enid Morgan of Llangynwyd Church, near Maesteg, said, "We find it hard to think of anything as bad as September 11, then this happens. There has to be a refusal to take revenge. It was absolutely terrible. I was reminded of the story in the New Testament of Herod slaughtering the infant children. As Jesus wept over Jerusalem, so we can only weep over this."

Andrew Morton, rector of St Cybi's Church in Llangybi, near Cwmbran, said that "God has given human beings free will, so they can either choose to do bad things or they can choose to do good things. If they choose to do bad things, then it is not so much that they can't do anything about it, but He chooses not to do anything about it, because what is the alternative. The alternative is to take away our free will and our capacity to do evil, at which point we are no longer human."

"What is the alternative to people making choices? The alternative is that people don't have power to make choices. If that happens then we are no longer humans."

Church congregations across Wales were yesterday praying for the people of Beslan.

Philip Johnes, vicar of Llanegwad in Carmarthenshire, said, "God is in the middle of all the suffering and He is weeping for all creation and all those involved. All we can do is to pray for the sorrowful and the dead.

Although it is early for the people of Beslan, we must talk about forgiveness and reconciliation, there has to be forgiveness and reconciliation in any situation. These things have been going on for centuries, time is not always a healer and you have to do something. Unless we do forgive and have reconciliation at some time in the future then we are not fully human either."

Notice, again, the consistently androcentric emphasis. Not to doubt God would be inhuman. Not to be free would be inhuman. Not to forgive would be inhuman.

All we can do is weep. Indeed, this is all that God can do as well.

Not only is this thoroughly humanistic, but it presents a downright girlish view of God and man.

When confronted with evil-doers, we do not fight back. No, we, along with God, break out the hankies and have ourselves a nice long cry. And when we've run through a box of Kleenex, we absolve the evil-doers, not for what they've done to us, but what they've done to others.

One is also struck by the oracular tone of these pronouncements, as though they were beyond confutation.

Why, exactly, would it be inhuman not to doubt God at a moment like this? For one thing, why now? Has the Archbishop suddenly discovered the problem of evil? Where has he been all this time?

Is this a truly human reaction, or is it just an intellectual affectation? Faith is respectable as long as it is doubtful. The only good faith is a dubious faith.

Observe the manward understanding of faith. On this view, Christian faith is a faith in God, but not a faith from God. For if it were a faith from God, it would not be such a flickering candle in the winds of adversity.

I say "Christian" faith, but the Archbishop goes on to invoke the Koran as well. This is deeply ironic, for the God of Islam is a macho God for macho men. The dainty divinity of liberal churchmen is no match for Muslim machismo.

And why does the Archbishop take it upon himself to defend the religion of the child-killers? Jihadist theology is fixture of Islamic tradition. Cf. Paul Fregosi, Jihad in the West; Mark Gabriel, Islam & Terrorism.

I'm not saying that a Christians is immune to a crisis of faith. But to define faith by the presence of doubt instead of its absence is to found faith in faithlessness--which is not how the Bible defines it.

And although some in the saints of Scripture suffer from bouts of uncertainty, it's hard to think of any instance in which they doubt the very existence of God. Rather, they are simply perplexed. It is because they believe in God that they find certain situations to be perplexing.

And what are we to make of freedom as a fundamentum of human nature? One obvious problem with this appeal is that some "free" agents have a lot more freedom than others. The child-killers had a lot more freedom than the childish victims. That outcome was not, after all, the choice which the children would have made.

And how persuasive is it to say that God dare not lift a finger to intervene lest his interference infringe on the freedom of the human agents? Here was a case in which one party is completely violating the freedom of another party. Why respect the freedom of the child-killers over the freedom of their childish victims?

Suppose our clergymen were walking one of their own children through the park when their kid was jumped by a murderous assailant? Would they just stand there, crying their eyes out, as the assailant murdered their child? Would they refuse to defend their child on the grounds that any intervention on their part would rob the assailant of his freewill?

I pose this as a rhetorical question, but I'm unsure how rhetorical it really is. Not one of the clergymen has even suggested that we ought to fight back. Fr. Johnes says that all we can do in the face of terrorism is to weep and pray, forgive and seek reconciliation, while Morgan says that "there has to be a refusal to take revenge…[just] as Jesus wept over Jerusalem, so we can only weep over this"

But, of course, there's a lot more that we can do than burst into tears, is there not? We can defend ourselves, can't we? We can kill the killers before the kill again, can we not?

That would be the manly thing to do, but their theology has become so effeminate that the use of lethal force is apparently out of question.

The Archbishop tells us that we ought not destroy our enemy, but imprison him instead. But, to begin with, how is the threat of jail time any sort of deterrent to suicide-bombers? If they're prepared to kill themselves, will they really be impressed by the prospect of imprisonment?

And there's yet another little difficulty. Before you can imprison them, you must take them into custody. It's not as though they're turning themselves in to the authorities. Short of force, how does the Archbishop suppose that we can apprehend the a band of armed assailants?

How do we avoid a shootout, with a lot of bloodshed on either side? And how does this differ from conventional warfare, where we kill the enemy unless and until he surrenders?

And observe, for just a moment, the squint-eyed logic of all this. Having banished God from his own universe, and having disarmed all the men of good will, our clergymen then express their shock and dismay at how it is that evil-doers can do evil. Well, don't you suppose it might possibly have something to do with the fact that in a world one part Deism to two parts pacificism, evil-doers feel free to commit atrocities with utter impunity?

For that matter, why are libertarians so appalled by the slaughter of the innocents? Did they choose to be appalled? Did they will themselves to be appalled?

Fr. Johnes says that all we can do is to pray. Pray for what? Pray that God do something? Yet his God is not allowed to do anything. Why does a Deist pray to a God in exile?

One wonders, too, where all this Deism and pacifism is coming from. Not only is the God of the Bible not locked away in a broom-closet, but the God of the Bible is, among other things, a warrior God. And this is not only true of the OT, for the capstone of the NT canon is all about holy war, with Jesus in the lead (cf. Rev 19).

Again, there's nothing new about the doctrine of preemption. The Book of Esther is a classic case of a first strike, as the Jews strike the first blow to advert genocide. If the fate of the Jews were in the hands of such soft-hearted churchmen, rather than Mordecai's, they would stand by as Haman massacred the chosen people, then hold a teary-eyed vigil in memory of the victims.

There is a lot in life to cry about. But grief is no substitute for action. Jesus was more than a mourner; he was a doer.

Yes, Jesus wept, but Jesus was one of us. To say that God incarnate weeps over evil is not to say that God the Father weeps over evil. And let us remember that Christ restrained his omnipotence in the furtherance of his redemptive ends.

The idea that we need a heavenly sob sister is another mark of a sissified theology. And what good does that do anyone anyway? If I'm drowning, I want a lifeguard who can save me, not weep for me as I flail about.

A God who can only weep over the work of his hands is a pretty pitiful excuse for a God. This is not the God of Isaiah (40-48) or Job (39-41). This is not the God who redeemed the Israelites from Egypt and sustained them in the wilderness. A hapless, helpless crybaby God is not a real God, but a baby-doll for little girls to play with and put in their toy box.

And while we're at it, where goes Fr. Johnes get his notion of forgiveness? Why must there be forgiveness in every situation? To begin with, not every evil can be healed--not in this life, at least. What is the cure for a father or mother who loses a child to a terrorist? This is not like popping a pill or setting a broken bone. To speak of healing in a situation such as this is to indulge in cheap talk of the worst kind.

In addition, many victims find justice far more therapeutic than remission and reconciliation. The word "revenge" has come to be an easy fire-extinguisher for dowsing every faint flicker of righteous indignation. But there is nothing wrong with a wish to see justice done, to see justice exacted upon the unjust. The God of the Bible is, among other things, a just Judge. Even vengeance--yes, vengeance--has its proper place in Christian ethics (cf. Rev 6:10; 16:5-6; chap. 18).

Who is Fr. Johnes to forgive the child-killers on behalf of the victims and their parents? Where does Scripture ever authorize the idea of third-party absolution?

There are no doubt times when forgiveness is better than bitterness. But absolution is contingent on contrition. If the offender is impenitent, then there is no obligation to absolve him (cf. Mt 18:15-20; Lk 17:3-4).

And even if reconciliation were preferable, reconciliation is a two-way street. How can you be reconciled with a bunch of irreconciliables? Reconciliation cannot be stipulated on behalf of an unwilling party.

One of the striking things in all this is the loss of indignation among many men of the cloth. This was on full display during the Catholic sex-scandal. The clergy were ever so sorrowful and apologetic, but they were incapable of mustering any feeling of outrage. They felt pity for everyone alike, whether molester or acolyte. The tonal difference between the clergy and the laity was downright deafening.

There is, however, a further distinction between revenge, on the one hand, and retaliation, on the other, to deter further aggression, or preemption--to nip a looming threat in the bud. There is nothing punitive about self-defense.

And let us remember that you cannot be merciful to everyone. If you're merciful to the merciless, you are merciless to their victims. The victims have the first claim upon our mercies.

But if the freewill defense is no defense, then what is the answer? God's greatest gift to man is not man's freedom from God; no, God's greatest gift to man is the God made man; is God giving himself to man in revelation and redemption; For God is the highest good and the heavenly die in which all earthly goods are cast. And some goods are higher goods because the supervene upon the abuse of lower goods.

To know the Redeemer God is a greater good than knowing Creator God. That is the theodicy of Scripture, whereas the freewill defense is the philosophy of the Snake. (Cf. Gen 45:7; 50:20; Exod 7:3-5; 20:12; 1 Kg 8:37-40; Ps 51:4; 130:4; Prov 21:18; Eccl 3:11,14; Isa 6:9-13; 43:3-4; Ezk 20:25-26; Lk 2:34; Jn 3:16-21; 9:3,39; 15:22; Acts 2:23; 4:28; Rom 9:17,22-23; 11:32; 2 Cor 4:7-12; 12:9-10; Gal 3:22; Eph 3:9-10; 1 Tim 1:12-16; 1 Pet 1:12; 2:6-9; Rev 11:13).

These excerpts are taken from "So where was God at Beslan?," by
Aled Blake.