Thursday, June 28, 2007

Iraq: Lexington and Concord for Today

As we approach the anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, we should ask some fundamental questions about our nation in 2007. "The shot heard 'round the world occurred in 1775. British troops (presumably) fired upon American colonists in what is now referred to as "The Battle of Lexington and Concord." A year later we declared our independence from that tyranny, even though at the time it was still "our government."

What if "our government" fires on non-Americans without justification? Would we be as quick to criticize "our government?" Will Grigg writes:

Given that the Iraq war was illegitimate from the beginning, the only suitable course of action would be for Congress to de-fund it, and order (yes, order) Bush to bring the troops home.

Were we the moral, Christian nation we advertise ourselves to be, after our troops were back Congress would issue a national apology to Iraq for the unprovoked, unjust war our government launched upon it, and order (yes, order) Bush and his handlers to travel to Baghdad to deliver it in person. It would then enact a measure providing reparations to Iraq, which is the duty of every nation that launches a war of aggression. (Reparations in this case would be a sum sufficient to repair the country's infrastructure and oil industry; this would make it economically viable once again, and would be far less expensive than continuing the war.)

What effects on our system of government has the firing of shots in Baghdad had? Andrew Sullivan writes:

There's new evidence that Donald Rumsfeld specifically
the torture of John Walker Lindh, through his general counsel, William J. Haynes II. The biggest thing I glean from the Cheney series in the [Washington Post] is how early and decisively, Cheney and Rumsfeld decided that this war would be won by torture. No war ever has, but they knew better. More to the point: this issue was never seriously debated in an open and honest fashion in the White House. It was simply done - and done in a way that circumvented the law, the other responsible parties in the administration, and the constitution, under a philosophy that there are no constraints on executive power in wartime. Wartime, it's important to remember, is now permanent. The powers that Cheney has seized apply permanently and to anyone in the United States. There is no oversight and no law - just raw executive power. It is what America was founded to resist. And it is a sign of American decline that the American people have simply accepted the end
of their most basic liberty with a shrug of indifference.

Jason Kuznicki asks, Okay, What Now?

The articles on Cheney really are troubling (here are parts one,
two, and three).

Now, in the eyes of many conservatives, our current leaders are wise and restrained, and these conservatives will argue that the actual number of persons wronged has been few. They are right, at least on the last count, but the very fact that the administration has asserted these sweeping powers is dangerous enough.

Exactly. On June 20, 1785, Madison reflected on the recently-completed Revolution and warned:

[I]t is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of (the) noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much, soon to forget it.

The second "duty" would be that found in the Declaration of Independence: to abolish any government that tramples on our God-given rights.

But it is premature to ask what steps should be taken to abolish the government; to avoid the consequences of tyranny by denying the principle. Most Americans don't understand the principle. Most Americans, if grilled, could not explain why America's Founding Fathers were willing to take up arms against taxes which were only one-tenth as large as taxes today. Most Americans will be celebrating "Independence Day," but they wouldn't agree with it (if they understood it).

The first step must be to remind Americans of their rights, and cultivate an appreciation of them. But this will come only when we accept our duty not to infringe the rights of others, including foreigners. And acceptance of this duty will come only when we accept the duty of "our government" to acknowledge God who has endowed us with these rights.

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