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Prayer for Memorial Day


Via Vatican Information Services, here is a prayer Pope Benedict XVI offered yesterday at a military cemetery:

VATICAN CITY, 24 MAY 2009 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. today, after celebrating Vespers, the Pope travelled by car to the Polish military cemetery at Montecassino which contains the bodies of 1,052 soldiers who died in the battle of May 1944 against German forces occupying the hill on which the abbey stands.

The Holy Father lit a votive candle and recited the following prayer for the fallen of all countries in all wars:

"O God, our Father,
endless source of life and peace,
welcome into Your merciful embrace
the fallen of the war that raged here,
the fallen on all wars that have bloodied the earth.
Grant that they may enjoy the light that does not fail,
which in the reflection of Your splendour
illumines the consciences of all men and women of good will.
You, Who in Your Son Jesus Christ gave suffering humanity
a glorious witness of Your love for us,
You, Who in our Lord Christ
gave us the sign of a suffering that is never in vain,
but fruitful in Your redeeming power,
grant those who yet suffer
for the blind violence of fratricidal wars
the strength of the hope that does not fade,
the dream of a definitive civilisation of live,
the courage of a real and daily activity of peace.
Give us your Paraclete Spirit
so that the men of our time
may understand that the gift of peace
is much more precious than any corruptible treasure,
and that while awaiting the day that does not end
we are all called to be builders of peace for the future of Your children.
Make all Christians more convinced witnesses of life,
the inestimable gift of Your love,
You Who live and reign for ever and ever

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Whatever you think of Christopher Hitchens, and I think I've made my opinion clear elsewhere on this blog, this is a truly moving piece.

I don't exaggerate by much when I say that I froze. I certainly felt a very deep pang of cold dismay. I had just returned from a visit to Iraq with my own son (who is 23, as was young Mr. Daily) and had found myself in a deeply pessimistic frame of mind about the war. Was it possible that I had helped persuade someone I had never met to place himself in the path of an I.E.D.?
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Speaking of our crazed foreign policy


Many of the contractors we're paying to fight our war are from Latin America.

So.... to whose laws are these guys subject?

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This article seems to be an important contribution to the effort to understand bin Ladenism. Even if, like me, you think the war in Iraq a mistake, and think the coming war with Iran is as well, it's important to keep in mind that there are many Islamists who think their religion not just condones, but mandates violence towards the infidel.

Face 1:

After the events of 9/11, my increased interest in Arabic language and history led me to enroll in Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. Before and during my studies at Georgetown, I avidly read any and all posted Al Qaeda messages. The group's motivation seemed clear enough: retaliation. According to its widely disseminated statements, the West in general, and the United States in particular, had been — overtly and covertly — oppressing and exploiting the Islamic world. The accusations included: unqualified U.S. support for Israel at the expense of Palestinians; deaths of Iraqi children due to U.N. sanctions; U.S. support for dictatorial regimes in the Muslim world; and, most recently, Western occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Every single message directed to the West by Al Qaeda includes most of these core grievances, culminating with the statement that it is the Islamic world's duty to defend itself. "After all this, does the prey not have the right, when bound and dragged to its slaughter, to escape? Does it not have the right, while being slaughtered, to lash out with its paw?" bin Laden asks.

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Even the 9/11 strikes are explained as acts of reprisal. After describing the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, where several high-rise apartment buildings were leveled, reportedly leaving some 18,000 Arabs dead, bin Laden, in a 2004 message directed at Americans, said: "As I looked upon those crumpling towers in Lebanon, I was struck by the idea of punishing the oppressor in kind by destroying towers in America — giving them a taste of their own medicine and deterring them from murdering our women and children."

Face 2:

Soon after 9/11, an influential group of Saudis wrote an open letter to the United States saying, "The heart of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is justice, kindness, and charity." Bin Laden wrote in response:

As to the relationship between Muslims and infidels, this is summarized by the Most High's Word: "We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us — till you believe in Allah alone." So there is an enmity, evidenced by fierce hostility from the heart. And this fierce hostility — that is, battle — ceases only if the infidel submits to the authority of Islam, or if his blood is forbidden from being shed, or if Muslims are at that point in time weak and incapable. But if the hate at any time extinguishes from the heart, this is great apostasy! Allah Almighty's Word to his Prophet recounts in summation the true relationship: "O Prophet! Wage war against the infidels and hypocrites and be ruthless. Their abode is hell — an evil fate!" Such, then, is the basis and foundation of the relationship between the infidel and the Muslim. Battle, animosity, and hatred — directed from the Muslim to the infidel — is the foundation of our religion. And we consider this a justice and kindness to them.

Bin Laden goes so far as to say that the West's purported hostility toward Islam is wholly predicated on Islam's innate hostility toward the rest of the world, contradicting his own propaganda: "The West is hostile to us on account of ... offensive jihad."

America needs to change its Middle East policy - not to appease al Qaeda, but simply because it's a bad policy. The happy side effect would be to remove one pre-text for terrorism. It won't solve the problem, because we'll still have to deal with the Face 2 folks, but we'll have the world (including many more Middle Easterners) on our side when Peace Through War ideology is no longer shaping our policy.

P.S. Kudos to the Chronicle of Higher Education for publishing this. I was pleasantly surprised to see it there. It gives it more legitimacy for them to talk about this than for, say, the Weekly Standard to print it.

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Krauthammer's Thought Experiment

Thought experiment: Bring in a completely neutral observer — a Martian — and point out to him that the United States is involved in two hot wars against radical Islamic insurgents. One is in Afghanistan, a geographically marginal backwater with no resources, no industrial and no technological infrastructure. The other is in Iraq, one of the three principal Arab states, with untold oil wealth, an educated population, an advanced military and technological infrastructure which, though suffering decay in the later Saddam years, could easily be revived if it falls into the right (i.e. wrong) hands. Add to that the fact that its strategic location would give its rulers inordinate influence over the entire Persian Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait ,and the Gulf states. Then ask your Martian: Which is the more important battle? He would not even understand why you are asking the question.

Al Qaeda has provided the answer many times. Osama bin Laden, the one whose presence in Afghanistan presumably makes it the central front in the war on terror, has been explicit that “the most serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War that is raging in Iraq.” Al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has declared that Iraq “is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era.”

Alleged intellectual Krauthammer apparently thinks we can take Osama bin Laden's words at face value. Surely, the man with a multi-million dollar bounty on his head has no vested interest in keeping the full force of American military strength away from his cave! Or maybe, just maybe al Qaeda has learned our grand defense strategy: "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here."

Larison puts it this way:

If you were to then tell the “Martian” the rest of the information that would show the true significance of the two theaters, even the “Martian” would have to agree that Krauthammer doesn’t understand the first thing about geopolitics or strategy. What rather strategically significant country borders Afghanistan and could be affected rather signficantly by a resurgent Taliban in the borderlands? That would be Pakistan. That would be the Pakistan that has a nuclear arsenal, and which has a highly unstable authoritarian government and the Inter-Services Intelligence branch that is heavily compromised by sympathies with and ties to jihadis forged over decades of sponsoring jihadis in Afghanistan and India. Western Pakistan also now serves as the base for the Taliban and, to the extent that it is centered anywhere, the center of the leadership of Al Qaeda. Of course top Al Qaeda figures would talk up Iraq as the main front–all other things being equal, if you could convince your stupid enemy to fight you far away from where you are and make him think that he was dealing you a death blow in the process, you would do this, especially when the effect of this is to reduce his attention on the far more pivotal battle going on in the supposed backwater.
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May 2009: Monthly Archives


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