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August 22, 2005


Mark Shea

Uh-oh. You veer dangerously close to blaspheming the god. Beware the coming deluge.


Yeah, Amy. Why do you hate America? I think that's the question we need to ask here. Why does Amy Welborn hate America?


This is remarkably similar to the pattern that led up to the Great Liberal Crack-up in the 1960s. I am no Hegelian, so I do not thereby assume there is necessarily a Great Conservative Crack-up in the immediate offing (though there could be). I only suggest that people learn from the mistakes of those who went before them....

Victor Morton

No, that's not an "all about turf" reaction of pure "heat"? No, siree. Not at all.


While I'm not veering anywhere near leftward, I am incredibly dismayed by the turn of events in Iraq re: the constitution and the possible implementation of Sharia law. I am shocked at Rice's/Bush's seeming accomodation of such an outcome as well as the Bush administration's support of the Gaza evictions. Bainbridge has some points worth discussing from the political right--from social issues, to government spending, foreign policy and national defense. Gee, that's almost everything. Interesting.

The only issue that the partisan "conservatives" are willing to challenge Bush (& GOP Congress) on is immigration and sometimes on spending. Sean Hannity is an excellent example of this partisanship over principle. He's twisting this way and that to justify Jeanine Pirro--Hillary w/an R.

In the meantime, ABC Radio had a DC talk host fired under pressure from CAIR b/c the host stated a thought-ot belief of his that Islam is a terrorist organization. Can you say dhimmitude?

Victor Morton

My post was in response to the first reponse, not the intervening two.

Rich Leonardi

I guess that's all he has left. After all, if Iraq's alleged WMD programs were the casus belli, why aren't we at war with Iran and North Korea?

Once more, with feeling ...

The relative maturity of Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs is precisely why we aren't at war with them. Once a state has either gone or is about to go nuclear, our hands are tied militarily. Bush's argument is that it's better to nip those programs in the bud.

That said, I can't help but feel like Bainbridge is right on some level. Who doesn't watch the latest news from Iraq scroll across the bottom of a TV screen and pray for some sort of miracle to rescue us from that botched occupation.

Zhou De-Ming

Does this mean that the campaigning for the 2008 presidential election is now starting?

"There are no cats in America,
and the streets are paved with cheese!"
-Fievel Mouskewitz


Peggy, I can assume you have no problems with the stations have talk show hosts who state that CHristianity is a terrorist organization (and such people exist and prate on about that; I encountered such this weekend at a wedding).

Donald R. McClarey

Imagine the comments if we were losing in Iraq, instead of being in complete control of the country and fighting a group of mad bombers, many of them non-Iraqis, who have zero popular support among the vast majority of Iraqis. The only way we can possibly lose this fight is if American resolve collapses. Bainbridge and McCarthy aren't traitors, they are simply wrong and short-sighted.

Tom Herron

But democracy is a "fire in the minds of men" as the president told us in his second inaugural address. The good old U.S.A. has to lead all the nations of the world in this permanent democratic revolution, which is what Dubya told us last January when he fired David Frum as his speech writer and hired Leon Trotsky.

So this "fire in the minds of the men in the Middle East" means an Islamic Republic of Iraq where women don't drive, don't go out without the veil and don't vote and thieves get their hands chopped off.

That's why Casey had to die, Mrs. Sheehan.

Chris Sullivan

Caesar says :-

"Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy. They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war"

But the Holy Father says :-

How many pages of history record battles and even wars that have been waged, with both sides invoking the name of God, as if fighting and killing the enemy could be pleasing to him. The recollection of these sad events should fill us with shame, for we know only too well what atrocities have been committed in the name of religion. The lessons of the past must help us to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We must seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each other's identity. [Address to Muslim Representatives at Cologne Zenit ZE05082002].

The choice between Caesar and Christ couldn't be clearer.

God Bless



Bush gets a pass on foreign policy in general from the right.

When it comes to domestic policy and immigration, he has had his share of friendly fire. And rightly so, I think.

Iraq got the full treatment for a confluence of factors that made it the best candidate to make an example out of. Unfortunately, that doesn't sell so well on a bumper sticker or a soundbite. Especially since the kind of WMD programs everyone was expecting turned out to be much less than expected.

It goes without saying that an Islamist government would negate our efforts in Iraq, which are now largely about securing a legacy of pluralism (which does not necessarily equate to American-style democracy) for the Islamic world.

As for Iran and North Korea, I would not rule out (especially with Iran) the possibility of air strikes. Options short of full invasion do exist.


Here's the column in question by said host. There is no concerted effort in Christianity to rub-out (to use a mafia term) non-believers. Nor do our clergy recommend murder of sinners. [Unless you believe NARAL et als.] We gave up such thing a few centuries ago.


reluctant penitent

I'm not really sure what the despair is about. A regime permanently hostile to the US and supportive of terrorism is gone. The sanctions that were holding it in check were being eroded by the UN, France and other countries, and it was just a matter of time before the checks on the regime agreed upon at the end of the first gulf war disappeared. Most of the agreements made as a condition of the cessation of hostilities were being violated by Saddam, so this was just an extension of the first war as far. Yes, it's true they'll have Sharia. But frankly that's the best sort of democracy that a country with a muslim majority is capable of.

I'm far more disappointed in the Bush regime because of its hesitation to fight a more vigorous political war on abortion and the other life and moral issues.


Because people in this country have started to believe what they want to believe, rather than what is true. No one more so than the President--"we make our own reality".

If you don't want it to be true, it is false. And therefore the person claiming it is true is a liar, and he must have bad motivations.


Mark Shea, have you seen this magnet? I thought it was a joke at first.



Actually, Christian Reconstructionists in this country *do* recommend the execution of unrepentant sinners under Levitical standards. They are a fringe, and other than a few fanatics have not mobilized for violence here. But in the past, similar things have happened.

Now, I find the claim that *Christianity* is a terrorist organization farcical. While there is greater ferment in the Islamic umma in this period of history, as a historian I also find the same statement made about Islam qua Islam also farcical.

Understanding that does not mean one embraces dhimmitude.

Rich Leonardi

The choice between Caesar and Christ couldn't be clearer.

In case anyone is tracking these things, 2:26:38 PM CST marks the official time when this thread jumped the shark.


Did anyone see his speech today? It was the same old same old: fightin' hard, workin' for freedom, stayin' the course.
I recognized much of the empty claptrap and meaningless assertions from the 2004 campaign, not even substantially re-worked. And he said we had to be in Iraq because of 9/11 and the threat to our "freedom": someone should tell him *no one* believes that anymore; Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, everyone knows it but he's still sayin' it. Hearing him was frightenin', really.

Dan Crawford

Amy writes: the comments thread at Bainbridge's blog post is just a little depressing for the heat, rather than light it sheds.

Is it ever otherwise on any political or religious blog spot?

Jay Anderson

"On conservative blogs and boards, criticism of the President is tantamount to High Treason."

A little bit of an unfair overstatement. I, for one, have been very critical of the President where I think he deserves it. I think if you read the Corner at NRO, you will see plenty of criticism of the President and his policies. As you will on FreeRepublic and other conservative sites.

"Uh-oh. You veer dangerously close to blaspheming the god. Beware the coming deluge."

Typical. Don't worry, Mark, I'm not going to interrupt you while you continue to work on your "moderate" street creds.

Jay Anderson

Oh. I almost forgot: your "moderate" street creds(TM).


Bush is like a windup doll on this subject.
"We're not yet safe. Terrorists in foreign lands still hope to attack our country. We must confront threats before they fully materialize...
The only way to defend to our citizens where we live is to go after the terrorists where they live"
That's from his speech today at the VFW. And every speech since 2003. The only little problem with this is that there is no proof that Iraq ever had the means or the intention to "attack our country".

Victor Morton


Well, harumph. But whaddya expect from a Faithful Conservative Catholic[tm] who clearly worships Bush as there's no other reason for anybody to think unlike me.

Sydney Carton

"Beware the coming deluge."

She has little to fear, since she doesn't bandy in Trademarked terms.

Matthew Mehan

Amy et al.,

Bainbridge is correct to be upset with the Iraq war's illegitimate birth, but once the baby has been conceived, you have to see to its proper care. Donald McClarey (above) also is right that our resolve to see this through must not waver. But a more truthful dialogue about the 9-11 attacks and Islam would have changed the entire world strategy of the (poorly named) War on Terror and likely not led us to Iraq under the current pretenses which now cause both the frightening risks to a lasting democracy their and the sensible dismay of Americans at home. De-P.C.-ifying terror, and having a frank discussion about the difficulties of Islam, would have made for more rational measures taken at home and abroad in the first place, and enabled us to wage war in a way that had far more hope of developing lasting solutions to this world-wide problem, even if one of those solutions had been (in part) to invade Iraq.

Maclin Horton

I hope Donald McClarey is right. I must say, though, that as someone who supported the war rather queasily, I am feeling distinctly unwell.

Nguoi Dang Chay

>>unless it's Michelle Malkin going after him for his stance on immigration reform. She gets a pass for some reason

Michelle Malkin is SOOOOOOOOOOO hot!!

As for Iraq, I don't see what the problem is. As the Iraqi military and police take over, we reduce our military presence. It seems that people are demanding the streets of Baghdad be safer than those of D.C. (they may well be already!), energy generation be more reliable than that of California, and the threat of terrorism -- in a country in the midst of the middle east -- be eliminated, when that threat exists in New York, London, and Madrid.

John Farrell

I'm with reluctant penitant. Yeah, Bush has done a lot of things wrong, but the change in the attitudes of people over there, not just in Iraq, but what it's led to in Lebanon, Egypt and even slowly in Syria and Saudi Arabia can't help but have a better effect on the mid East.

Michael Barone has a nice piece on that today:

(Although the link was busy last time I tried it.)

Dave Hartline

Aside from the poor planning from Sec Rumsfeld, which is odd to say of him since he seemingly is such a stickler for detail, I don't get the lack of resolve with those that initially thought the war was right. It has always been my belief that if you believe in a cause you stick with until the bitter end, even if it means your "end." I continue to support the people in the Middle East (whatever their faith) having the same rights and privlidges that I have, no matter the cost. That is the inherit message within the Gospel, "Love your neighbor as yourself."

It gets into a psychological or historical question. Those of the Near East have always challenged the resolve of the West, whether they be Muslim or Orthodox Christian. The Orthodox have always insinuated that the West was overtaken by the Barbarians because they were weak. The "Peace" element of the Church really doesn't exist in the Orthodox or even Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. Why is this?

There's a perverse admiration Al Qaeda has for George Bush, Tony Blair and Silvio Burlusconi. When one reads transcripts of their tapes they mock those that don't have the courage to fight their advance like previously mentioned leaders do. The American Left hasn't quite got to the following scenario yet and I pray it doesn't but does anyone remember the movie "Independence Day?" The scene I am talking about concerns the aliens when they are just about ready to attack Earth. Everyone is taking offensive and defensive position when a group of "peaceniks" decide maybe the aliens need to be "understood and welcomed." As the assembled peaceniks wave from the top of one on LA's skyscrapers they are incinerated by the aliens. I know it's just a movie but the parallels are strinking. I am a conservative pro-life, pro national defense Democrat. The party use to have a great deal of folks that had similar thoughts to me like, Sen Joe Lieberman and the late Pennsylvania Governor Casey. If the GOP is getting soft too, heaven help us all.

Cindy Sheehan is talking about the fact that we should have never even invaded Afghanistan. Moveon.org has taken their movement so far left that we somehow even deserved 9-11. A person of any faith can walk through St Peter's in Rome, any holy site in Jerusalem, Bethlehem or just about any other place yet most people reading this couldn't get within many miles of Mecca. Why is that?

Osama Bin Laden and his henchmen like Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri and the beheader himself, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi have made it very clear that they want the world caliphate (world Islamic rule.) The strategy in Iraq may not have been the best but at least it is trying to make some sort of stand against extremism. If you don't believe me that Osama and his boys are trying to finish what was started centuries ago, just ponder this; Egypt, Syria, Turkey and even Bosnia and Albania use to be Christian lands. It took just one century before they were not. This was well before the Crusades, which really was an answer, to this 7th centry invasion. Osama talks about continuing the 7th century offensive. Maybe some of you don't believe him. I do. The words of Sister Mary Gregory still ring in my ears, "The greatest trick of the Devil is to make you think he doesn't exist." Somewhere in a cave in Afghanistan Osama is smiling thinking maybe those in the 21st century west are as weak as they were in the 7th century. I pray he's wrong but some of you make me think he may be right.


What interests me (well, one of the things that interests me) is the collapse of political debate that's so often reflected in these discussions. . . . I've never understood why some, in discussing politics, erect altars and shrines to their political leaders, instead of actually debating issues.

So when is the serious political debate going to start here, instead of all this incessant bitch, moan, bitch, moan, bitch, moan, bitch, moan, ad nauseum?

I'm beginning to wonder if Osama bin Laden was right -- maybe the West, and America in particular, doesn't have the will to fight and defend itself, that eventually we will delude ourselves into thinking that we can simply give up and it will all be over, blindly ignoring the fact that they have been at war with us, not for four years, not for 14 years, but for 1,400 years, since the time of "the Prophet," and there are elements among the enemy that will always be at war with us.

Blame the good people who are trying to fight the enemy all you want, instead of actually blaming the enemy and other evil doers, but the fight will go on and be with us regardless.


2 things:

David H.: "I continue to support the people in the Middle East (whatever their faith) having the same rights and privlidges that I have, no matter the cost. That is the inherit message within the Gospel, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
David, would you agree that one of the rights & privileges is not to be invaded by a country they weren't threatening?

Coilette: "blaming the enemy and other evil doers"
Just who is our "enemy", exactly?

Chris Sullivan

In contrast to Bush's ideology of a never ending war on terror, the Holy Father in his address to the Marienfeld Vigil with Youth points out that :-

It is not ideologies that save the world, but only a return to the living God, our Creator, the guarantor of our freedom, the guarantor of what is really good and true. True revolution consists in simply turning to God who is the measure of what is right and who at the same time is everlasting love. And what could ever save us apart from love?

That's God the guarantor of our freedom, not our armies. That's love the only thing that can save us, not war.

But the Holy Father warns us :-

There are many who speak of God; some even preach hatred and perpetrate violence in God’s name. So it is important to discover the true face of God. The Magi from the East found it, when they knelt down before the child of Bethlehem. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”, said Jesus to Philip (Jn 14:9). In Jesus Christ, who allowed his heart to be pierced for us, the true face of God is seen. We will follow him together with the great multitude of those who went before us. Then we will be travelling along the right path.

God Bless

Jay Anderson

I've gone back and read the comments at Bainbridge's blog. I question the legitimacy of the comment that Amy cites and which starts out "Prof. Bainbridge, You are a traitor to the cause of our country. You have joined the cowards like Sheehan who cries because her spawn got shot up like a dog in Iraq. Maybe he deserved it."

I just don't believe that those supporting the Iraq War feel that way about our men and women in uniform. The "spawn" of Mrs. Sheehan who got "shot up like a dog" may have "deserved it"?

The post continues: "I don't care if soldiers are conservative or liberal. They are our servants and are paid to do our bidding and sometimes to die for it. So stop blaming Bush for the cowardice of some military families. Using troops as flypaper is the right way to go. 138,000 assholes who volunteer to die is better than any number of civilians who may die in a terrorist attack."

Come on. That reads like a parody of what every leftist would like to believe that conservatives think. I don't know anyone with such a cavalier attitude toward our fighting men and women.


OK, thoughtful discussion to follow:

I think many are worried about mounting casualties of late. The solution from the left is to cut and run. The folks on the right, I would guess, would like more decisive action, not PC-ified, in the conduct of war. Even then there are legitimate concerns about whether the war is conducted justly. We're there and we must do our best to ensure that democratic princples are reflected in the constitution. Indeed, we need not make a US of Middle East, but the possible implementation of Sharia law which would extend few if any civil rights to women.

There is frustration on the domestic front as well on the items I listed in my first post. Bush & the GOP appear to be deaf on matters of illegal immigration and excessive spending, for example. These are 2 topics that the Dems can pick up for their own, as we've already seen w/Richardson and Napolitano on immigration. Ahnuld & TX gov Perry are pressed to take similar action. As far as social matters are concerned, even my husband wonders if the gay-marriage issue was just an election ploy. No word about it since. Maybe it's no longer an issue. Further, Bush actually compromised on the issue just days before the election, amazingly. Interestingly, John Roberts could very well be an instance in which Bush has come through, the more I read. Failure on SCOTUS nomination would be considered a great betrayal, I'd say.

What might have been is a fair question.
[Liam: The violence-advocating Christians are clearly a fringe (unless you watch L&O all the time!) and are not supported by many clergy; in fact, are condemned by co-religionists. This is far from the case with Islamic imans. Well, I won't hijack anymore. It is of concern to me, these victories by Islamicists.]


This entire discussion just goes to prove a crucial point in warfare -- the most powerful and overwhelming weapon ever conceived is not the nuclear bomb, it is the will.

If our will is superior to that of the enemy, we will prevail; if the will of the enemy is superior to ours, we will lose, indeed, if the will of the enemy is superior, we will probably end up surrendering hard fought victories and bring defeat upon ourselves.

Mark Shea


I've seen that magnet before. Americans have conflated religion and politics since before there was an America. Not for nothing did Chesterton call us a "nation with the soul of a Church."

Mark Shea

No, that's not an "all about turf" reaction of pure "heat"? No, siree. Not at all.


Actually, it was a mildly amused anticipation of the reaction such blog entries typically touch off, especially when the blogger has very conservative readers yet does not tend to discuss BushIraqtheWarNationalReviewhotbuttonstuff much.

If I'm "all about turf" I'm jiggered if I know what turf it is I'm all about with that little bit of a chuckle. Mostly I was just offering a bit of humorous sympathy for a fellow blogger as one who has, from time to time "stepped in it" myself (sometimes deliberately and sometimes accidently) and then watched a thread blow up as a result.

Personally, I though Nance's post (right after mine) was far funnier (and far more satirically inflammatory) than mine. But that's just me.


"It seems that people are demanding the streets of Baghdad be safer than those of D.C. (they may well be already)"

They are not. They are not even close.

In 2004, Washington D.C.'s homicide rate was 35 per 100,000 residents. This is one of the highest rates in the country, many many times higher than New York or Boston, though it is no longer the very highest. It translates to an average of 2.92 killings per 100,000 residents per month.

Time magazine recently reported that:

A murder spree has erupted in Washash, as in countless neighborhoods across Baghdad. Death squads, which tend to move in Opel sedans, are entering what once were tight-knit communities and killing ordinary citizens, apparently to stir up sectarian hatred. The goal: to incite a civil war that each side hopes will give its sect dominance over the other. In Baghdad, a city of more than 5 million, there were at least 880 violent deaths last month, according to Faiq Amin Bakr, director of the Baghdad central morgue. (In New York City, with a population of more than 8 million, the total number of homicides for all of 2004 was 571.) And the figure for Baghdad excludes those killed by car bombings and suicide attacks, which, if included, would add nearly 100 to the total. Most of the victims were felled by gunshots. Some were beheaded. Few of the murderers have been captured. "Nobody knows who is doing this killing," says Bakr. "It seems they're trying to destroy our society."

Let's say that the "nearly 100" killed in bombings = 90. This would put the total number of homicides at 970 for the month of July. If the population of Baghdad is 5,000,000, that translates to a rate of 19.4 killings per 100,000 residents per month.


I'm serious when I ask you again: just who is the "enemy", exactly?


By comparison, here are some average monthly murder rates per 100,000 residents for a few other big cities in the U.S. and abroad in 2004:

London .20
Montreal .14
Toronto .15
New York .58
Los Angeles 1.13
Chicago 1.29
Philadelphia 1.84
Detroit 3.46

sources: 1, 2, 3

Apart from Detroit I believe only Baltimore and New Orleans are worse than D.C.


Peggy, maybe you were kidding when you wrote that the "left" just wants to "cut and run". I think what people on all sides are growing angry about is that it is apparent we shouldn't have invaded Iraq in the first place and *everything* war promoters told us has turned out to be false (number of soldiers needed, costs, oil would pay for it, they wanted us there, they had mobile labs, they were conspiring with Osama etc.)
Instead of owning up to that, war supporters just keep repeating we can't leave. Many of us feel snookered into, and trapped in, a disaster that could bankrupt our country (4 billion+ a month)and doesn't increase our safety. Of course we want to bring it to an end. Maybe if the people who got us into this would resign, we might feel safer with new leadership to guide us out.

Mark Shea

So Iraqis are learning the necessary skills to privatize violence instead of leaving it in the hands of a cumbersome state! Who said we have nothing to teach the Islamic world?

"The rebirth of Islam is due in part to the new material richness acquired by Muslim countries, but mainly to the knowledge that it is able to offer a valid spiritual foundation for the life of its people, a foundation that seems to have escaped from the hands of old Europe."
--Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

john c

I think it's time to introduce some serious hyperbole into the argument... (without reducing the smugness level, mind).


This is, first and foremost, part of a brewing conflict within the Islamic umma. It is a much delayed brew, which began brewing in the first half of the 18th century when the three great state prongs of the umma -- the Ottoman Sultanate/Caliphate, the Persian empire and the Mogul empire -- imploded (though it took a couple of more centuries for the first two to disintegrate). There's a reason Wahhabism dates from the wake of this.

The developed world is not the primary arena for this conflict, and it needs to realize that it is not the subject, but merely a convenient object to project an internal conflict outward. The reason it is important to understand this dimension of the problem is because we are not in control of the solution to that internal conflict. And not being in control is something Americans prefer to be in denial about.

I don't say this from a peacenik perspective: I supported the invasion of Afghanistan, but not the war in Iraq. I am glad to see Saddam impotent, but I believed our whole approach here was deeply problematic. I also don't think cutting and running is an option; we broke it, and now have to have the resolve to fix it. But fixing it, given the prior paragraph, means accepting resolutions that won't necessarily be in our interest at all -- quite the contrary, in all likelihood. When you run a Wilsonian foreign policy, you cannot suddenly adopt realpolitik without significant cost to your integrity or pride -- since integrity is a necessary part of the foundation for American policy going forward, it likely requires sacrificing a fair measure of pride (as in admitting error, significant error, not just tactically but strategically). The current administration is incapable of that, sad to say, but I think that approach would leave us stronger in the long run.


just who is the "enemy", exactly?

I cannot believe that you honestly do not know the answer to that Dawn. And if you really do not, that is frightening.

The enemy are those that would cut off your head with a knife if you were to publicly pronounce Jesus as the Christ and Son of God. The enemy are those who plant remote controlled bombs and kill people in subways, buses, restaurants, schools, and hospitals. The enemy are those who coerce other innocent people to strap bombs on their bodies and blow themselves up in crowds. The enemy are those who take box cutters, slit the throats of flight attendants, seize control of airliners, and fly them into buildings, thereby killing thousands of people. The enemy are those that would give aid, comfort, encouragement, and safe havens to such persons, and who would seek to obtain horrific weapons to give to such persons to commit wholesale slaughter and genocide. The enemy are those that move little boats to the sides of ships and explode bombs, blowing holes in the middle. The enemy are those that attack and bomb embassies, killing countless people minding their own business. The enemy are those that bomb the barracks of Marines who are merely seeking to keep the peace in foresaken lands. The enemy are those that kidnap diplomats and keep them hostage for more than a year. The enemy are those that would seize an old man on a cruise ship and toss him and his wheelchair over the side into the sea. The enemy are those that kidnap and kill athletes at the Olympics. The enemy are those that would assassinate Egyptian leaders for making peace with Israel. The enemy are those that would attack Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and anyone else who is a perceived to be an "infidel." The enemy are those that would plunge knives into the chest of descendents of famous painters for the sin of making a movie. The enemy are those that would subjugate women, force them to wear humiliating burkas, and treat them as chattel or dogs. The enemy are those that invaded Europe before being defeated at the Battle of Vienna. The enemy are those that invaded Spain and France before being defeated at Tours. The enemy are those that destroyed the irreplaceable Library of Alexandria because the books were contrary to the "perfect" Koran. The enemy are those that attacked and conquered Christian lands in Northern Africa, Egypt, Byzantium, present-day Syria, and present-day Israel, subjugating Christians, molesting pilgrims, and formenting oppression.

B Knotts

I wasn't really in favor of the invasion to begin with, prior to its implementation. That said, the question seems now to be moot.

We're there, so now what do we do? Withdraw immediately? Is that the preferred strategy here? I mean, think that through for a minute...it doesn't seem very viable to me.

Dave Hartline


If I used your reasoning and say I was African-American, which I am not, I would probably still be toiling in some field in Mississippi. I find it very arrogant that some people in the west think that people in other parts of the world somehow deserve to live under oppression. Are you insinuating Saddam wasn't all that bad with your statements? He was a homocidal maniac, a supporter of terrorists and to top if off he attempted genocide on the Kurds, Kuwaitis, Iranians and Shiites. I suppose Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin weren't all that bad just a "little impulsive." If this is the type of thinking that is beginning to emerge in the American mainstream than I better start rereading the Book of Revelation. The end can't be far off. Somewhere in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan, Osama is saying the west is even weaker than I thought.

John Farrell

Coilette, beautifully put. It almost seems to me that some Catholics believe no offensive in the name of freedom against a worldwide death cult can be legitmately waged unless it be waged by a morally perfect state. (Utopia?) And yes, besides WMDs, Bush did mention that little bit about freedom and its importance to a world that wants to live in peace. That remains persuasive, even to those who feel "snookered" about not finding WMDs.

Andrea Harris

You know what? If I had a heart that wasn't a little, shrivelled, blackened, hard piece of coal it would be broken right now.

Oh yeah -- and darn those Iraqis for wanting to govern themselves in their own way. They were supposed to become little imitation Americans! I must have a couple of hard words with Mr. Rove; this failure cannot be allowed to stand. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to Windex the glass over the picture of Dubya I have on my shrine. Those candles get soot everywhere.

Chris Sullivan


Now that you seem to know who your own enemy is, you are in an excellent position to put in to practice what Christ taught: "love your enemies and pray for them".

God Bless

reluctant penitent

'The rebirth of Islam is due in part to the new material richness acquired by Muslim countries, but mainly to the knowledge that it is able to offer a valid spiritual foundation for the life of its people, a foundation that seems to have escaped from the hands of old Europe'

As much as I respect and admire the Holy Father I'm going to have to disagree with him on this one. I can't see Muslims terrorist groups being less militant toward a pious Christian Europe than toward a secular Europe. Is that why the Vatican is a prime target--because it's so secular and immoral? Is secularism the reason why there were so many Christian-Muslim wars before Europe became secular? Islam has as much problem with religious Christian (and Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, etc.) non-Muslims as it does with secular non-Muslims. I don't think we gain anything by giving interpretations of militant Islam that are generous at the expense of truth.

Mark Shea


Your beef is with the guys at National Review who rah-rahed for this war. Like it or not, once the WMDs turns out to be turnip ghosts, the war had to be justified on some other basis. The chosen basis was "Democracy for All!" Fine, and when you propose democracy to an Islamic society, what are you likely to get?

Answer: a democracy that freely votes to impose Islamic law on itself--to the horror of the rah-rah guys at NRO. It's not like we couldn't see this coming.

Jonathan Carpenter

There's something far more at stake than that, folks, and if you've read certain conservative websites, you'll see some Doubting Thomases,(Rod Dreher for example) and you'll see some people start to slip off the cliff and go over the edge. I think one of the reasons is that they are worried a little bit at some of these places about their own credibility and they don't want to be accused of, you know, just being in the back pocket of the administration or anybody else. But there's something far larger than that to me, and that is: let's just be hypothetical, let's say that I were to come out and say, "You know what, folks? Iraq is a mistake not because of Cindy Sheehan. We're not doing what we're supposed to be doing over there. It's not going right, and now that they're putting together this constitution over there, and if it's true that the government of Iraq is going to be an Islamic government, okay, then that's it for me. I'm outta here, because that's not what I was told this war was going to be. I'm getting out," blah, blah, blah. Yeah, a lot of people are saying that. A lot of people are doing that. A lot of people say, "Wait a minute! An Islamic government? We didn't go to war for that. We're losing American kids lives to set up an Islamic government? I'm not going to support that." Folks, we did not go to war in Iraq to set up an American government. I laugh. The same people that worry about an occupation, that worry about us imposing democracy and imposing Americans' way of life over there, now are shocked that we're not doing that. But let me just cut to the chase. One of the reasons why I'm not going to abandon this policy is, "What's the alternative?" You want to turn all of this over to the people you see from the left and CINOs (Conservatives in Name Only) on television every day? You want to turn this over to people like Hillary Clinton? You want to turn all this over to people like John Kerry or Ted Kennedy or Patrick Leahy? Or perhaps Tucker Carlson and Rod Dreher?

Donald R. McClarey

"Blame the good people who are trying to fight the enemy all you want, instead of actually blaming the enemy and other evil doers, but the fight will go on and be with us regardless."

Well said Coilette! Some people may harbor the pleasing illusion that the thugs we are fighting in Iraq would cease to attack us if we withdrew to a Fortress America, but that is simply not dealing with reality. The fanatics who wage war under the banner of radical Islam will not rest until they are killed or we, including our smallest infants, are all dead or converted. America and the West can debate this war from now until the end of time, but it will not alter that simple fact.

reluctant penitent

'The enemy are those that would cut off your head with a knife if you were to publicly pronounce Jesus as the Christ and Son of God'

This is very important to keep in mind. There are violent practices in the Muslim world that go beyond what we can reasonably call 'militant' Islam. For example, the persecution of converts to Christianity has broad popular support in Muslim countries.

Some randomly selected examples of such violence:

Saudi Arabia: http://www.asianews.it/view.php?l=en&art=2134

Egypt: http://persecution.org/Countries/egypt.html


Mark Shea


I have my own difficulties with the Holy Father's words (for instance, I question the word "valid"). However, that could be due to a translation issue, so I'll cut that some slack.

That said, I note with interest that the Holy Father is not speaking of "militant" Islam. He's speaking of Islam, whose adherents number about a billion. Militant Islam, while it attracts a bigger percentage than, say, Militant Christianity (*is* there even such a thing?) still does not represent anything like a majority in the Islamic world.

Benedict's point is that people in the Islamic world are finding some kind of *sustenance* in Islam that the dessicated world of the secular west does not and cannot offer. If Catholics wish to fight smarter, not harder, they should pay attention to this and out-Islam Islam in offering a spirituality that is not simply a shill for the worship of mammon, self and sex that so much of the West so obviously stands for. "Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" was the cry of the liberated Iraqi. That's cute and funny as a photo caption. As the foundation of a society it... will work as well in Iraq as it works here or in Britain.

I note with interest that Coilette's description of "the enemy" did not not include "people who freely and without coercion murder 1.5 of their children each year". It neglected to point out people who are laboring at this very moment to put to death aged people for the crime of being aged, not to mention disabled people for the sin of being disable. He didn't talk about the enemy who is working to mass produce human beings so that giant corporations can make billions by ripping them to pieces for component parts. He neglected to name as "enemies" people who steal into your home everyday via TV to rob your children of their virginity, first intellectually, and then, if all goes well, physically, so that they can get with the program of consumerism. (As Uncle Screwtape says, "A man with an obsession is a man with very little sales resistance.") No. The "enemies" are all Islamic for Coilette. It's not a particularly Catholic worldview, but it does line up very nicely with talking points from the GOP.

I'm quite willing to grant that Coillette's enemies list points, as far as it goes, to great evils facing us. I don't pretend that foaming Bronze Age Fanatics don't want to kill us. But I also don't pretend that a great many wealthy people right here in our own country want to kill us too, and are doing a far better job of it. Indeed, they are succeeding so well, that they've got a great portion of the population convinced that we are fighting to preserve the basic American values of buggery and baby-killing and deliver these blessing to the Primitives abroad.

Seen in that light, I think Cardinal Ratzinger's remarks make rather a lot of sense.

Jay Anderson

"No. The "enemies" are all Islamic for Coilette. It's not a particularly Catholic worldview, but it does line up very nicely with talking points from the GOP."

Yeah, that's right, Mark. Just like that talking point we keep hearing from Bush about Islam being a "Religion of Peace"[TM].

That Bush. What a Muslim-hater.

Charles A.

Dayum! I can't believe I agree completely with Mr. Shea!


Random thoughts, in no particular order:

1. Maybe it's not going as badly in Iraq as it seems. We're seeing things through a MSM filter. The milblogs and analytical sites like the Belmont Club consistently paint a more optimistic picture than does the MSM.

2. Maybe the above sentiments are extremely naive, and it IS going badly.

3. I supported the decision to invade at the time. I was convinced by the stated case of the administration, and by the arguments of commentators who I respected and admired.

4. As Bill Kristol said recently (yes, I know, a lot of people don't like Bill Kristol) the comparison that has to be made is between two worlds:
a) the situation as it exists now in Iraq in late August 2005
b) the alternative: an uninvaded Iraq with Saddam still in power in late August 2005

5. Which of the two above, on balance, is/would have been better for US interests and security?

6. Even if it has been horribly screwed up, what is the best thing we can do NOW, from this point forward? Morally, politically, militarily?

7. Bush's weaknesses are becoming more apparent over time. He has a singular inability to articulate abstract, sophisticated concepts and principles. He speaks in a sort of simplistic shorthand that is hackneyed and unconvincing. Boilerplate. Bush's instincts are basically sound, but that is not enough in an age of danger such as the one we are in. We need a leader of intelligence and vision and articulation. FDR was such a leader.

8. This is too important to screw up. I'd take a smart Democrat who knows what's at stake in the new world we live in. A guy like Lieberman. A guy capable of subtle thought and sophisticated articulation, combined with a gut level sense of the danger of the world we now inhabit.

9. George Bush is not the personification of the conservative movement. He is not uncriticizable by that movement. Hell, going back to 2000, I preferred McCain.

10. What is needed now is not tired, boilerplate rhetoric. What is needed now is honesty and intelligence. Talking straight with the American people.

11. During Iwo Jima, we lost 6000 Marines. One battle.

12. But of course, every death is a tragedy. And causes pain that reverbates in the grief stricken families for the rest of their lives. It kills me every morning when the latest casualties are announced.

13. Again, what is the best course of action from THIS POINT FORWARD?

Jonathan Carpenter

The following is for the people who think we are bogged down in a Vietnam type war and that it is an utter disaster. This is from the Armed Forces Press Service. The address is

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2005 – The rebuilding effort continues in Iraq, and coalition military officials here today provided a summary of the past week's progress.
Children in a village of Tamim province received school supplies, clothing and toys from the Nahrain Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that focuses on providing proper nutrition, decent clothing and medical supplies to Iraqi women and children. The foundation received its supplies as part of a joint effort between American donations and a coalition forces-run program known as "Operation Provide School Supplies," which accepts donations from private citizens and corporations in the United States.

More than 600 children will return to renovated or rebuilt schools in Maysan province when school starts this fall. This week, renovation on the Al-Eethnar Mud School was completed, and the Al Eethar Mud School was replaced at a cost of $87,000, benefiting 500 students who attend classes there.

Jonathan Carpenter

If you are tired of hearing the constant negative news on Iraq that the liberal media puts out, please visit the following site. www.goodnewsiraq.com

You may not agree with the sentiment posted but even the worst critics of the war will conclude that Iraq is no Vietnam.

Jonathan Carpenter USN (ret.)
Arlington Texas

Dave Hartline

Coilette & Dawn

First of all Coilette, please accept my apologies my comments were directed at Dawn who questioned my first post, not at you. Dawn just remember there is no greater gift than to lay down one's life for one's friends (even if you haven't met them yet.) I can't imagine what this country would be like if we would have backed out of the Civil War after Antietam where 20,000 died in one day! What would are country be like if we would have backed our way out of World War II after Normandy or Iwo Jima due to the high death toll?

The Holy Father told us about the dangers of relativism and we can see that with some in this country who put their finger in the air to see which way the wind was blowing. Bob Dylan warned us about those people 40 years ago. Even in Vietnam, the Communist government has practically proved us right by by adapting western economic models. I look with pity on those like Cindy Sheehan that latch onto each and every group that might be anti-this or anti-that. G K Chesterton put it best, those that don't believe in anything end up believing in everything.

Finally, in light of Islam having trouble with Al Qaeda types attempting to hijack their faith, and also with certain Protestant denominations having trouble keeping their teachings Orthodox, in the midst of pressure from dissident forces, I bet the idea of a Pope doesn't sound half bad.


I can't imagine what this country would be like if we would have backed out of the Civil War after Antietam where 20,000 died in one day!

I was just thinking about the Civil War, and the Revolution, and I am glad that we had such stubborn and resolute leaders as President Lincoln and General Washington, who absolutely refused to quit, no matter what apparent set backs each one faced. To be sure -- there were quite a few in 1864, such as George McClellan, who promoted the idea of quitting the war because it was too costly and unwinnable. Luckily, the American people disagreed and re-elected Lincoln, or else slavery might have continued to exist for several generations more. In fact, there were many in 1776, just a few short months after our declaring independence, that some were ready to quit, and desertions from the American army were mounting. General Washington may very well have been the only one left willing to fight, and thankfully he was in the right place at the right time.

If only we had one-one-hundredth the fortitude of the brave Iraqi people, who are taking the brunt of the attacks, and yet are remaining steadfast in their desire for liberty and freedom from terrorism.

Mark Shea


I have more in mind the groupthink kind of commentary that tends to dominate blogs and talk radio. Coillette's post was a particularly ripe sample. It doesn't seem to have occurred to him that far more American lives are snuffed out every day by homegrown ideologies that are every bit as hostile to the Catholic vision of the human person as militant Islam is. And because of this, conservatives are *stunned* when yer average Muslim looks at the freak show that is western media, or the moral abyss that is the western attitude to the unborn, the aged, and sick, and opts to go for the Traditional rather than the freak show.

Benedict's point (which you opted not to address) is that there is something in the Muslim critique of the West and that as long as we continue to ignore that and explain away revulsion at the Freak Show with dumb jibes like "Oh, they just hate freedom!" then we shall continue to make no progress.

I say this not as a "moderate", nor as a conservative or a liberal. I say it as a Catholic who is persuaded that the only cure for an inflamed Islamic spirituality is not a watery Western spirituality, but an authentic, healthy and red-blooded Catholic one. That's why I posted Benedict's comments. I have this queer notion that, on a Catholic blog, the teaching of God's appointed teachers might shed some light on issues that we are trying to deliberate.

Susan F. Peterson

Is only one person here upset about the possibility that Sharia laws will possibly be written into the new Iraq constitution?

I never feel I know enough about what is really happening in international affairs to be sure what ought to be or to have been done. I find myself suspecting the whole weapons of mass destruction thing was an excuse to pursue some other advantage to the United States. I don't think nations usually act with very high moral motives, any of them, and that one can mostly expect them to act according to their perceived self interest. And I want the United States to act in its self interest if to do so isn't horribly wicked. So for me, if we could get a foothold in the near east and access to near east oil reserves by developing an ally there, at the same time getting rid of an evil tyrant and establishing a democracy there, that was good enough. A lie about WMD (if that is what it was) would not have been needed for me. But I wanted to see the democracy come about. And I am too much identified with my gender to think it is really a democracy if only half of the adults have full civil rights.
I feel like...all of those deaths...and then we are going to let those mullahs and imams (or whatever you call Islamic clergy)be in charge? No, please, no.

Susan Peterson


I note with interest that Coilette's description of "the enemy" did not not include "people who freely and without coercion murder 1.5 of their children each year". It neglected to point out people who are laboring at this very moment to put to death aged people for the crime of being aged, not to mention disabled people for the sin of being disable. . . .

I knew I would draw out the blame-America-first types.

By the way, Coilette is a girl's name (if you didn't already catch it by the "ette" at the end).


Mark makes a good point when he states that a Christian revival in the West is the best long term counter to a threatening militant Islamic force. A new global caliphate.

A Christian revival would be good not only, and not even primarily as a means to an end, but as an end it itself. Unquestionably. No one who calls himself or herself a Christian would disagree.

That said, as I stated on this blog a couple of months ago in a thread, I still prefer Manhattan's Upper West Side or the Capitol Hill District in Seattle to Taliban Kabul.
Heck, I prefer Provincetown to Taliban Kabul. By a mile.

I still prefer a society which produces trash like "The 40 Year Old Virgin" to what bin Laden would have in store for us.


Whoever said George W. Bush was a conservative? Aside from quickly spurned talk of "compassionate conservativism," Bush never gave any indication of being anything more than a Republican. The GOP is not perfectly conservative. The notion that Bush has betrayed his conservative roots is specious.

As to Iraq: Remind me which division of the Republican Guard flew planes into buildings full of civilians. I am all for staying the course, but three years out, let's be honest. We went into Iraq because we could. Osama bin Laden is not in the dock, standing trial for crimes against humanity, and until he is, I won't be happy with the Bush administration's prosecution of the war on terror.


I agree with Mark Shea in that our society has much to be ashamed of the with the depravity and immorality we exhibit. However we do face a war of terror from people who would kill me, my wife, and my child if they had the oppurtunity.

Americans are so short sighted and impatient President Bush alluded to this in his speech to Congress right after 9/11 "Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime"

Our war on terror is working. Not one terrorist attack since 9/11 on us. I thank God for our President.

Jay Anderson

"Benedict's point (which you opted not to address) is that there is something in the Muslim critique of the West and that as long as we continue to ignore that and explain away revulsion at the Freak Show with dumb jibes like "Oh, they just hate freedom!" then we shall continue to make no progress."

Okay. I happen to agree with the Holy Father's comments.

What I have been doing here tonight is taking issue with the attitude being expressed that some GOP talking point has whipped all of us who (up until this point) have supported the Iraq War into some sort of unquestioning anti-Islamic frenzy.

I think the hyperbole that paints those of us with whom you happen to disagree as "mind-numbed crusading robots" marching as to war, not to mention our being quick on the trigger to yell "Treason" with respect to anyone who questions Iraq policy, is quite unfair and inaccurate.

To my knowledge, the only time I have seen someone play the "treason" card on this blog was when ajb referred to Karl Rove's role in the Valerie Plame affair as "treason".

Andrea Harris

Gosh, Mark. I didn't realize that we invaded Iraq on the basis of what writers on a conservative mag said. Which writer do you think pushed W. to the Big Decision, John Derbyshire or Jonah Goldberg? As for myself, I take all my marching orders (and get all my thoughts and ideas) from Better Homes and Gardens. Did you catch the column on "Rutabagas, Nutritious Tuber or Weapon of Mass Destruction" article in their October 2001 issue? I'm convinced Lynne Cheney read it.

Maybe I should run for president. Governing must be easy if all you need to do it is to read a biweekly periodical.

Sydney Carton

"But I also don't pretend that a great many wealthy people right here in our own country want to kill us too, and are doing a far better job of it. Indeed, they are succeeding so well, that they've got a great portion of the population convinced that we are fighting to preserve the basic American values of buggery and baby-killing and deliver these blessing to the Primitives abroad."

That is, however, entirely irrelevant to the matter at hand. Those people were with us yesterday, are with us now, and will be with us tomorrow (if we survive tomorrow, that is). Why that irrelevancy should be brought into a discussion about the merits of the war in Iraq was wholly foreign to me, but I think I've figured it out.

Mark Shea and others like to mock people who think the President's policies are right as Faithful Traditional Catholics (TM) or merely drones reading from a GOP Talking Points list. It's a standard insult. But I think his and others' point in mentioning the failures of Western Society when Iraq is a topic (as opposed to in general, or on a topic more germaine like abortion, in which all would agree that the West has faults) is to return to the base that THEY are familiar with: the standard talking point list of the Sunday homily (for lack of a better phrase).

I think that this Sunday Homily Talking Points are brought out because dissenters from the President's policies offer no alternatives of their own, can't admit that they have other solutions (at least solutions which involve taking the fight to the enemy) and so these standard lines about Western decline are regurgitated so that attention to that fact is concealed.

Even Prof. Bainbridge, who I like & admire, offered no solutions of his own. He even raises the question of whether it's prudent to resist terror at all, and I called him on that on his blog. If dissenters like Mark Shea keep banging the drum on our own sins, they'll never have to confront the enemy at all. In fact, the enemy is us - even if others want to kill us. After all, we're going to die anyway, so what the heck, forget about the war, the terrorists, etc. Look at that beam in your eye.

Perfection is thus made the enemy of the good. Understandably, I also think Mr. Shea and others like him take hyperbole to a new level, and accuse the President of lying or willful distortion regarding Iraq and its WMDs. And I think that they are particularly obtuse when it comes to the fog of war, dealing with unknowns, and tactics. That's all the more reason to bang the drum about the Sunday Homily Talking Points (TM).

The problem here is not necessarily anything in abstract with what is said. We can all agree that Western society has problems that need to be addressed with robust Catholicism. The problem is the utility of beating this drum in a context where it is wholly irrelevant. And using it as a club to silence people from supporting policies in which reasonable people can differ.

But what the hell do I know? I'm probably just reading from GOP talking points, and am a Faithful Traditional Catholic (TM) that can be ignored.

Andrea Harris

Sydney, you must come to the Dark Side and acknowledge your true Lord and Master, the great and holy Karlrove. Join us... join us...

Andrea Harris

Oh, and what julian said up there about Bush's so-called conservativism. He's about as conservative as it is possible for a politician in the United States government to be these days, which basically means suits and ties in the Oval Office instead of sneakers and track suits. And he listens to country music and doesn't seem to have a fondness for discussing the finer points of Hegelian philosophy. But that's all the conservativism We, the People, will allow.


I note with interest that Coilette's description of "the enemy" did not not include "people who freely and without coercion murder 1.5 of their children each year".

Well, perhaps Coilette didn't mention those people because abortion is not the topic of this thread. (since the matter's been raised, though, do you think John Kerry, or any other Democrat, would have chosen a Supreme Court nominee who would displease NARAL?)

One can be opposed to abortion, euthansia and all the sick manifestations of unbridled libertarianism in our society while still seeing that radical Islamic terrorist (and the leaders, like Saddam, who bankroll them) have to be fought. Recognizing that the West has a common enemy does not mean one is blind to the faults and sins of the West. America was not a pure and holy society in 1942 either - the Jim Crow laws were in effect. Does that mean we had no business fighting the Nazis and the Japanese? No right to see them as enemies?

Radical Islamists didn't care if the people in the Twin Towers were atheists, Christians, Jews, pacifists, Democrats, or Republicans. Heck, they don't care if they're fellow Muslims. They're not letting you off the hook if you oppose pr0n or stem cell research. They murder entirely secularized Londoners with the same zeal as they kill Buddhists in Thailand, Christians in Pakistan (remember that attack on that church several years ago?), and Arabs in Baghdad. They'd saw off my head, or Chris Sullivan's head (although he seems to long for martyrdom), or Gloria Steinem's head, with the same relish.

Larry: I wouldn't call McCain the "personification of the conservative movement", either. The news from Iraq is dismaying these days, but I don't believe many of the positive things going on in Iraq are reported outside of blogs like Belmont Club and I don't believe my lack of trust in the mainstream media is at all naive. Heck, a lot of the things which go on in the West receive very little coverage. I doubt I'd be aware of Theo van Gogh's murder by Islamists if it wasn't for the Internet.

Mark Shea


I'm glad we're on the same page with Benedict's remarks. I think Amy's use of the term High Treason is a bit of hyperbole. See, for instance, Coillette's (nee "flexo", who posts under various handles and doesn't make a convincing female) insta-knee-jerk response which characterized my critique of his ideologically blind tract as "blame America first". Guy's been listening to Talk Radio too long.

My point is not "blame America first". My point is that, from a *Catholic* perspective, an ideology that is totally blind to the *massive* toll on human life and dignity that the West is responsible for (as Coillette's description of "the enemy" so clearly was) is an ideology that is *powerless* to present an alternative to Joe Blow Muslim when he is attracted by the familiarity of his own tradition and repulsed by the ugliness of the West. It is also an ideology that will tend to *defend* these ugly excresences as "American values" everytime they are contrasted with "Militant Islam". "We may not be perfect," declares the apologist for 1.5 million child murders a year, plus the burgeoning industry of fetal mass murder and harvesting, "But at least we don't blow up people on buses!"

Right. We are more elegant and silent in our privatized violence. But seriously, 1.5 million deaths a year is equal to "we may not be perfect"?

My point is this: sooner or later we are going to have to abandon the game of pretending it's
"Islam" vs. "western values" and recognize, once again, that it's Catholic truth (about the human person, among other things) vs. various diseased ideologies and religous movements. Sometimes "western values" line up with Catholic ones. Sometimes Western values blaspheme God and man. Same with Islam. It's a fool's game for a Catholic to pledge his allegiance to any ideology of man's--including American ideologies--at the cost of his Catholic faith.

Donald R. McClarey

"How is it that we hear
the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?"

Doctor Samuel Johnson attacking the American revolutionaries.

Criticism of America in its war against radical Islam because of such festering evils at home as the abomination of abortion reminds me of Doctor Johnson's criticism of our revolutionary forebears: true and utterly beside the point. We can attend to our foreign enemies and reform our country at the same time. The terrible sins that beset America today no more discredit our cause than slavery did the Revolution, or Jim Crow did our fight against fascism during WWII. I might also add that the idea that Islamic nations are appalled by the decadent West is somewhat simplistic. Under the surface, and not too far beneath the surface, there has always existed in Islamic states a lively immorality that has absolutely nothing to learn from the West at its most dissolute. The radical Islamists do not hate us for our decadence; they hate us because we exist and are not part of Islam.

Victor Morton

Well, when there's a Catholic Confessional State or just a secular republic sufficiently pure for Mr. Shea to think worth defending against Islam, wake me up.

And the "turf" I was referring was the instant totally-predictable introduction of the usual Shavian Talking Points of other as Capital-Letter Trademarks and GOP-worshipping(cq) zombies reading karlrove's talking points.

BTW ... exactly how do you know Coilette is an apologist for abortion? He/she/it (to the extent the pronoun choice should matter) didn't say word one about it. One way or the other.


I'm late to this, but here goes...

I think Bainbridge is dead-on about Bush in many areas, however; as much as it pains me to say it, I'm not sure that the war is the leading one.

The one really good argument for the war is the one the President seldom seems to make, and that is: that we are injecting a "good virus" into the throbbing center of the Islamofascist breeding ground. The sort of Iraq that Bush proposes to foster will, in time, set at least a good portion of Islam in a different, and more benign (to us) direction.

Of course, it may not work; but it does seem to me that all other alternatives are wanting. Can we really hunt down the terrorists? Can we really defend against them, indefinitely? Do we really want to appease them, buy them off -- even assuming that would buy us anything in the end?

There are those who argue they will go away if we leave them alone. I don't believe that. So, they will keep coming.

I don't know if this really is Bush's plan, but occasionally, he indicates it is. He may fail to see it through; he may fail, despite all efforts. I think the information we have about the situation in Iraq, however troubling much of it is, doesn't tell me one way or the other. I think the bad news we get is not a very meaningful indicator; in a sense, it could be "good news" -- if things were going badly in Iraq for the Islamofascists, there would be a period in which they would behave very badly, trying to avert a bad outcome. That might explain what we're seeing. Or not. It's just too soon to tell.

I wasn't for this war, and I still have mixed feelings, but I do think the stakes are too high, now, to pull out. I think a lot of Americans understand that, even as they wish things were otherwise.

Now--after all that--do I think Bush has "pissed away the conservative movement"? Pretty much, yeah.

Does saying that get so-called "conservatives" (CINOs--I like that!) bug-eyed? Yepper.

I said as much in my first foray into the blogosphere. I said it at "Free Republic" -- I was swiftly shown the door, for doing nothing else than criticizing Bush as insufficiently conservative. I did intend to be provocative, but I naively thought it would be positively so, in a "conservative" blog. Nope!


Islam" vs. "western values" and recognize, once again, that it's Catholic truth (about the human person, among other things) vs. various diseased ideologies and religous movements. Sometimes "western values" line up with Catholic ones. Sometimes Western values blaspheme God and man.

Mark, nobody's debating that there's some mighty diseased ideologies out there, both secular and religious. Unfortunately, one of them is radical Islam and it's followers are flying planes into buildings and sawing off heads and bombing buses. And they're undoubtably planning to do more evil as I type. You don't think the Vatican is a very possible target? Really, I was praying every day that no bomb would go off in the midst of the WYD crowd. I don't think I was being delusionally paranoid, either.

It would be nice if the terrorist would just leave us be and let us straighten out our own backyard first - but they're not going to do that.


We have many brave young people fighting and dying to protect civilized society from an enemy of unspeakable cruelty. It is not possible for the enemy to defeat them, only lack of support back home can do that. The enemy is well aware of this.

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." - John Stuart Mill

Christopher Fotos

I am very late to this party, but I'll say this anyway: Prof. Bainbridge's post was extremely frustrating largely because it merely replayed ancient and dishonest arguments against the war in Iraq from the left(e.g. why don't we also invade North Korea and Iran. Like we have an army to do that, etc. ) I am sure Bainbridge didn't intend any intellectual dishonesty, but it was a little shocking to see him channel Michael Moore.

And Amy, Michelle Malkin "gets a pass" on criticizing Bush on immigration because a large and growing number of conservatives and Republicans are outraged at the massive lawbreaking and unraveling of society that illegal (sorry, undocumented) immigration represents.

I will leave Victor and Donald (to their relief) to their engagement with Mark, who reverts to type. Mindless idolatrous robots come to the defense of President Bush. We all know the script.


Coillette's (nee "flexo", who posts under various handles and doesn't make a convincing female)

That's a rather odd comment. I'm wondering why Coilette would lie about her sex - who would care one way or the other? I also wonder what makes for a convincingly "female" comment on a Internet site.


Hi Sherry,

I guess it's a good thing that at least 2 of us are dismayed at the possible implementation of Sharia law in Iraq. I daresay I might empathize more with Ms. Sheehan's claim that her son's death was for naught. None of us supporting, favoring or simply not opposing the war, I think it's fair to say, favored good men and women giving their lives for such an outcome.

Mark Shea


If you read over the correspondence, you will discover that I only refer to Bronze Age Fanatics in my trademark capitals. Others are applying terminology to themselves that I would not, in fact, have applied (which is why I didn't).

It's also worth noting that at no time have I said the war on terror should not be fought. I also did not refer to Coillette as an "apologist" for abortion. Rather, I pointed out that, in a clash of civilizations, it's generally not smart to speak in terms which suggest that one's own civilization is simply and solely the Good Civilization and the Other Guy is the Evil Civilization. That was part of my point in citing Benedict's remarks and in noting that Coillette's "This is the Enemy" post seemed to be wholly lacking in recognition that not every heel is in Baghdad and Afghanistan.

I made no appeal for a pure Catholic confessional state (speaking of straw man arguments). I simply note that an increasingly depraved West sounds more and like "The Andrew Sullivan Gospel of Patriotism Hour" (brought to you by Planned Parenthood and the bottlers of Fetal Brand Skin Care) to large parts of the world and, if we expect to *win* the war on terror (which is still an objective of *mine*, at any rate) we should really take that into account.


In re Shea's comments, it does occur to me that back when the West arguably presented a much more faithful vision of Christianity (as did the Middle East and East) that certainly didn't stop Islam from panting to slaughter untold thousands of Christians and conquering half the known world...

Sherry and Peggy are right, it would be a major, major setback if Sharia were implemented in Iraq. I think it'll be a while till we know if that's happening or not, even if the line I've heard proposed for the constitution is passed. After all, Egypt uses very similar language in its constitution (as I think someone point out above) and while that country certainly leaves much to be desired, it's certainly not a theocracy along the lines of Iran.

The question of Islam seems to disorient the more simplistic culture warriors, in that we find ourselves confronted with a "traditional" society with some of the same moral norms and Christianity, which is nonetheless unquestionably brutal and oppressive. Sure, one can sympathize with good Muslims and their reaction to the godless secularism of Europe and much of the US. But at the same time, the way that most Islamic countries (and many Islamic immigrant communities in Western countries) treat women and members of other religions is unquestionably and objectively wrong. No amount of "we all believe in one God" feeling can be allowed to get in the way of that point.

Nor do I think that the Holy Father meant in any way to suggest that Islam was wholesome simply because it can fill the God-shaped hole in man's heart. After all, as Dante shows us, most sin is but a misplaced or perverted good. Similarly, false religions, to the extent that they engage the human heart and mind, bear some kernel of truth.

Andrea Harris

Actually, I am quite dismayed at the apparent implementation of Islamic law in a Muslim country. Almost as dismayed as I am at the sudden popularity of discounting what the Iraqi people may or may not want for themselves, as opposed to what Americans, secular and Christian alike, want them to want.

Seriously, this is the deal: we didn't go to that country to take it over and make it over in our own image. (No! You blaspheme! She's a witch, she's a witch -- burn her, burn her!) To do so we would have to occupy Iraq like we occupied Japan, and I don't have to visit the crazies at Free Republic to know that America and her allies no longer have the nerve or the willpower (as is so well displayed by certain people here and on Bainbridge's site) to undertake such a large and costly undertaking, considering we are shrieking already about a war that has so far had a mild (as compared to say, one week in V*****m) casualty rate on our side. (Is it okay if I refer to us as having a "side"?) So, the only alternative we have is to tell the Iraqis "you know where to get the manual if you need any sensible guidelines, but it's your country, do what you want." Unlike ceratin people here and Professor Bainbridge I'm sure that the Iraqis aren't entirely stupid and can figure out for themselves the implied... caution that if they don't keep out of our hair and turn themselves into Iran-lite, or Son of Taliban, we'll be glad to pay them a little visit. Eventually. Considering that we are still the most militarily powerful country in the world, and considering what we do when we get even slightly riled up and even while dragging the lead weight of a reluctant, complaining, spoiled population, our "eventually" is no longer the joke it was on 09/10/2001. That, at the very least, George Bush (or his evil Master Karlrove) has managed to do for us -- liberals, conservatives, and all. Of course, he hasn't also prevented teenage girls from wearing hoochiemama clothes and getting pregnant, amd Will and Grace still infests the airwaves, so he's a "failure." Whatever.

Andrea Harris

Well, Mark, how about Evil and Eviller? Light Gray and Dark Gray? Not Heaven Yet and Not Quite Hell?

By the way, the Andrew Sullivan Gospel of Patriotism Hour went off the air some time ago, to be replaced by The Andrew Sullivan Gobsmacked and Horrified at the Way Bush Betrayed the Cause of Gay Marriage Hour. I thought you got the memo.



Yes, Bainbridge's argument about not invading North Korea, etc., was a particularly stupid argument.


I am one of those minded numbed robots who voted for George Bush. Those on this blog who preach love and righteousness should practice what they preach when it comes to the President instead of maligning a good and decent man. It is hard to imagine the grief that is his because of the casualties in the war. Those on the left who say . . . he lied to the country. . . he did it for oil . . . he wanted to avenge his father, should have no place in the conversation.

The WMD objection is most ludicrous of all. Every intelligence agency in the world believed Sadam Hussein still had the weapons he had previously used, as did Al Gore, Bill Clinton and John Kerry. The question was not that he didn't have them, but that they could not be found.

It is not difficult to see the hatred that the left and the MSM has for Bush, obviously so because they recent his outward Christianity. This is reflected in their slanted reporting and emphasis on the negative aspects of the war. A war BTW, that we won in three weeks. Sadam was defeated and is in jail, his cruel sons are dead, his army and republican guard are disbanded, democratic election were held and a new constitution is about to be put in place. The conflict now is NOT a war with Iraq but with Islamic terrorists mostly from Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

If John Kerry was president the terrorists would likely be more active knowing that he would more readily withdraw out military, meaning that many Americans and Iraqis would have fought and died in vain.

And the U.S. Senate would be getting ready to approve a pro abortion justice to the Supreme Court with another to follow in a few months.


Coillette is rather too fond of "Futurama."

In re Bush's conservativism: I, the Person, would allow as much conservativism as he's willing to present.


I am also not thrilled about the possibility of Sharia law in Iraq. It is interesting though, to listen to NPR and WI Public Radio and hear the sudden horror of Islamic law many left-leaning commentators seem to have developed overnight. Some of them are the same people who have been bending over backwards to assure us of the wonderfulness of Islam ("Jihad means "Inner Struggle") since 9/11.


Coilette's (nee "flexo", who posts under various handles and doesn't make a convincing female)

That's OK, Mark, you don't make a convincing male either. (OUCH, did that shy farm girl actually say that?) I didn't have that operation and have all that Femzoil pumped in me to be insulted!

Coilette is rather too fond of "Futurama."

Bite my shiny metal ass.

Andrea Harris

One more little tiny thing: some of you -- okay, Mark -- who have been lecturing on how we should clean up our own filthy sinful ways before we so much as dare lecture fanatical Muslims about things like keeping women in hot sacks so men won't be driven into a frenzy of lust at the sight of female hair seem to have conveniently forgotten that the nits Al Qaeda Et Al have to pick with the Great Satan is the fact that we don't put women here in hot sacks, and we even let them walk out in the street with their lust-causing hair uncovered, and so on. Also we haven't all converted to Islam, that seems to be another point. So you guys -- you can be the best Catholics in the land, totally non-sinning to the point you have trouble coming up with reasons to go to confession, etc., and you're still not going to get a pass. So we might as well fight them who wants to kill us as opposed to tearing at each other for imprefections real and imagined.


Seriously, this is the deal: we didn't go to that country to take it over and make it over in our own image. (No! You blaspheme! She's a witch, she's a witch -- burn her, burn her!)

How about we just build a bridge out of her?

Victor Morton


Your very first words were an accusation of politics as idolatry. And FWIW, I was far from the only person to see where this familiar line was going.

And no, you didn't use the word "apologist" about Coillette and abortion. Merely "note[d] with interest that [his/her/its] description of 'the enemy'," in the context of answering that question from a war opponent did not include Domestic Demons X, Y and Z. (But didn't exclude them either -- I repeat, you have no basis for what you're accusing.) And then cited "Uncle Screwtape" and noted "not a particularly Catholic worldview, but it does line up very nicely with talking points from the GOP." That's not calling someone an abortion apologist. Pardon my slander.

And since actually-existing polities will always be imperfect, it is a tiresome point of no import whatever (except paralysis-inducing demoralization), to point out said imperfections in the context of a war discussion among one's own citizens. As Joe Louis put it when asked about American racism: "whatever's wrong with my country ain't nothing Hitler's gonna fix."



It's not currently a war? That's not what the president himself says. He calls Iraq the main front in the global war on terror.

One of my beefs with the president is that he has asked nothing of the American people in the war effort. The only Americans who are sacrificing anything are those who are in the military and their families. About 1,800 KIA so far and about 15,000 wounded.

Instead of requiring us to pony up the money to pay for this enterprise, he's cut our taxes--three times--lest he offend the supply-side gods, apparently. What has been asked of the rest of us? Some inconvenience at the airport, that's about it.

Victor Morton

One of my beefs with the president is that he has asked nothing of the American people in the war effort.

That's a very fair point. There's a disconnect between what Bush is claiming is at stake, i.e., we're in a war (which I actually think he understates -- it is a clash of civilizations). And the "everything normal" attitude he, and the left to be fair, tries to convey (if we change anything about our way of life "the terrorists will have won). I mean, we're actually more afraid of ethnic profiling than another 9-11, talking about airplane searches as if this is a rerun of late-90s debates on Driving While Black on the NJ Turnpike. And talking about immigration as if it were (and this actually is how Bush sees things, but many on the right do not, hence the ease with which Michelle Malkin and others slam the administration) not a matter of national security or, somewhat less imminently, cultural identity but about capitalism's need for a ready supply of cheap labor. On that issue at least, witness his guest-worker program, I believe Bush sorely wishes it were still September 10.

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