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April 2006 Archives

April 8, 2006

Foreign Policy Failure, or just what Bush wanted? North Korea tests missiles in response to US 'Star Wars' missiles, and Bush threatens to fire back

North Korea test-fired six missiles this week in a show of defiance toward the Bush Administration. The US Government immediately responded with familiar threats to impose further economic sanctions and possibly to bomb selected Korean nuclear facilities. The stand-off continued the six year-long passion play initiated when Mr. Bush began threatening North Korea as a presidential candidate in 2000. From a Catholic standpoint, the destabilization of the Korean peninsula under Mr. Bush is a classic illustration of how threatening words and behavior on our part only lead to more threatening words and behavior on their part. It's Cain-vs-Cain all over again, with the lives of millions of South Koreans and Japanese in the balance.

Mr Bush made public remarks July 7 justifying his missile defense system as an essential response to the Korean missiles. Few analysts have commented publicly on the possibility that US "defensive" missiles might actually be used offensively against North Korea, commensurate with the repeated Bush references to "leaving all options on the table."

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, representing the government that possesses the world's highest levels of ballistic missiles and deployed nuclear weapons, began arguing once again that the International Community wouldn't stand for North Korea to fire off missiles and possibly deploy nuclear weapons. The irony of her position was not lost on many news analysts, recalling that this Administration had itself largely ignored the International Community in 2003 when tens of millions of people and virtually every other government around the world pressed the US not to invade Iraq.

Meanwhile, mainstream media once again failed to place any of the blame on the militaristic policies of the Bush Administration, which has sent the message loud and clear to North Korean President Kim Jong Il that the only sure way to protect your dictatorship against a US invasion is to possess nuclear weapons of your own. No mention is made publicly of the Administration's six year campaign to deploy untested long-range missiles meant to attack North Korea from Alaska and California. The Administration is shocked--shocked!--to discover that pointing missiles at North Korea compelled the Koreans to test missiles of their own. Schoolyard bullies around the world are nodding in agreement, as North Korea merely reciprocates the threats that have been directed toward it.

Is it reasonable to conclude that the Administration predicted that the North Koreans would respond with this kind of militarization of its own? Can a dispassionate observer come to any other conclusion but that the North Koreans have done exactly what this Administration predicted they would, and have thus obliged Karl Rove by becoming precisely the kind of "irrational" enemy that keeps returning Republican majorities to Congress?

Human nature is something that Jesus understood: the only way to stop violence is by refusing to participate in it. The Sunshine Policy of cooperation between the two Koreas, encouraged by the Clinton Administration and sabotaged by the early Bush political posturing (as a justification for deploying their Star Wars system), represents perhaps the most Christian alternative to the current steady diet of threats and counter-threats. The time has come for truly creative solutions to these long-standing hostilities, to supplant 55-years of pointless and fundamentally anti-Christian dependence on the threat of violence by both sides.

April 10, 2006

Bishops again seduced into attending Republican political event honoring President Bush

President Bush was honored by Republican Catholics again last week for the second year in a row at an event in Washington DC called "The National Catholic Prayer Breakfast." Mr. Bush offered self-deprecating humor and lavish compliments for Pope Benedict and the leadership of the Catholic Church. To his credit, he had the good taste to avoid the praise he offered last year for his war effort in Iraq, intimating (erroneously) that Pope John Paul had supported the killing there.

The event was again a purely partisan spectacle, with one of the organizers (Leonard Leo) being a co-chairman of the Republican National Catholic Outreach for the mid-term elections. Senator Rick Santorum's candidacy was promoted, despite his pro-war, pro-death penalty, and pro-poverty legislative voting record.

The surprise this year was not Mr. Bush's need to further ingratiate himself to Catholics, but the fact that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and other Church dignitaries again attended the event despite the pledge of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in a 2004 statement condemning events like this. "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions," read the statement that was published just prior to the 2004 presidential election.

The organizers of the event cheerfully honored Mr. Bush despite new evidence of plans to launch military action in Iran, dramatic cuts in social services planned for the coming fiscal year, and new abortion data showing that the Bush Administration is overseeing the first abortion increases since 1990.

In a piece this week by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, the Administration's plans are detailed for a possible bombing campaign against Iran--with the potential loss of tens of thousands of lives. Donald Rumsfeld responded to this news, which included credible reports of planning for the use of tactical nuclear weapons, in the same fashion that the Administration responded in June 2002 to similar reports about their planning for an attack on Iraq. They called it "a fantasy."

On the domestic front, Republicans sought dramatic cuts this past winter from social service programs in the current budget, while further boosting military spending above the $600 billion mark (including the "emergency" allocations for Iraq and Afghanistan). These distorted, anti-Christian spending priorities, were apparently of no concern to the event planners.

Lastly, the organizers of the Communion Breakfast seem blissfully unaware of new CDC data showing the first increases in abortion since 1990 on this Administration's watch--correlating with economic policies that have dramatically driven up the number of Americans below the poverty line, escalated the medical uninsurance rate, and stagnated the real income among average Americans. All the anti-abortion rhetoric in the world cannot make up for these pro-abortion policies that are the result of the unqualified Republican advocacy for the moneyed interests that have benefited so richly from the Bush tax agenda. The Bishops' 2004 statement was directed primarily toward dealing with the issue of politicians' stances on abortion, and all the evidence would suggest that Mr. Bush has now distinguished himself as the most pro-abortion president in recent history. He mouths the right words, but the proof of his failure on the abortion issue is unfolding in the data that will be marching out over the next six years.

If policies that promote poverty, war, environmental degradation and abortion aren't enough to constitute "defiance of our fundamental moral principles," then Church directives like that articulated by Cardinal George, Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Wuerl in their 2004 letter have no meaning. We applaud what our bishops sought to do in their letter, namely calling our lawmakers to a higher standard of defense for the dignity of human life. We are working to assure that Republicans are held to the same standard that seems to be applied so often now to Democratic lawmakers, in order to avoid letting our Church fall further prey to the manipulation of the Religious Right. Karl Rove is smiling this week at how beautifully he is playing the Republicans' tune on the Catholic harp.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

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"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

First Inaugural Address, President Barack Obama

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