The detonation of several suicide car bombs in Baghdad on the first day of Ramadan, the most holy days of the Islamic faith, provided violent and bloody examples of one way religion and politics can interact when used by radicals. It is not, however, the only way religion can be twisted to further a barbaric cause. American also has devout activists who are just as anxious to see America fail as any fedayeen.
Take, for example, the American Friends Service Committee. It claims on its website to be "a practical expression of the faith of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Committed to the principles of nonviolence and justice, it seeks in its work and witness to draw on the transforming power of love, human and divine." Certainly, when one thinks of pacifism, the image of the pious Quaker comes readily to mind.
But based on a mailing I recently received from the AFSC, it's clear that this creed of pacifism can no longer be accorded the moral high ground in policy debates. Love, justice and divine inspiration do no comport well with the embrace of bloody dictators or the opposing of those who would seek to transform tyranny into freedom.
I did not even have to open the letter to get my first taste of the AFSC's uncharitable venom. Emblazoned across the front of the envelop was the claim that America was in "a more dangerous time for peace and justice than even the McCarthy era." On the inside, the lead complaint is that the Bush Administration has on eleven occasions broken "promises" to support "serious, written down, legally binding agreements" in international affairs. Only six examples are specifically mentioned, however, and only one—the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was ever actually ratified. The ABM treaty was not, however, "tossed aside." The United States used the process established in the treaty to withdraw from an agreement that was no longer useful or relevant. Archives around the world are full of such documents rendered obsolete by events and now of interest only to historians.
The other agreements AFSC mentions, the Conventions on Small Arms, the conventions on Chemical and Biological weapons, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the treaty to set up the International Criminal Court, have not been ratified by the United States and thus have no "legally binding" affect on American policy.
Though the AFSC proclaims on the first page that it "is not a political organization" it poses to the reader the question, "Can you trust a leadership that so casually discards the provisions that defend our peace, safety and liberty?" The question hangs in the air because no argument is presented in behalf of any of the international agreements to show how they would ‘defend" the United States. The history of arms control agreements provides strong evidence that they do more harm than good.
The first international arms control conference was held in The Hague in 1899. It accomplished little, nor was the second Hague conference of 1907 any better. A third meeting scheduled for 1915 had to be canceled due to the outbreak of World War I. In 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, named after the U.S. Secretary of State and the French Foreign Minister, "outlawed" war. All the major powers that would fight in World War II signed this agreement, pledging to "condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies and renounce it as an instrument of national policy." The years between the world wars also saw the size of navies limited by treaty. The principle result of these arms control schemes was to constrain the superior industrial strength of the United States so that a much weaker Japan could build a fleet capable of obtaining regional superiority and launching aggression.
The progressive power of democratic capitalism is such that only by hobbling the United States in some manner can rival ideologies hope to close the gap sufficiently to pose a threat. Forging hobbles for American leadership is the apparent goal of AFSC activism.
The AFSC claims in its letter that it was among the first to recognize the "worst excesses of the Third Reich" and "to confront the Nazi government." But in the abbreviated history of the organization presented, this would seem to be the last time the AFSC recognized or confronted any evil outside the United States. As the group states in its online history, "recognizing that most conflicts have their roots in injustice, the Quaker organization has been long concerned with eliminating injustice at home in the United States."
Though the AFSC mentions the "hysteria and mob mentality of the McCarthy era" it does not mention the Cold War or even the Korean War which gave context to that era. There is no mention of the "excesses" of Soviet Communism, nor the continuing threat from a North Korean regime that talks incessantly of aggressive war and nuclear weapons.
The AFSC is proud of its role as "an early critic of U.S. involvement in Vietnam" and brags of its role, after the Communist victories, in rebuilding "lives and communities" in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. It fails to mention that this effort was in concert with brutal Marxist dictatorships which killed millions.
And then, of course, there is Iraq, where the AFSC "did everything it could to put the brakes on the headlong rush to war." If the AFSC had been successful, would have kept the extremely violent and sadistic regime of Saddam Hussein in power.
The letter ends with a prayer for "integrity" in government based on "truth, compassion and honest behavior." The AFSC would be well advised to apply this standard to its own behavior over the last half century. The AFSC has held the bloody hands of the worst tyrants on the planet and attempted to shelter them from true justice behind a plea for "peace" that would perpetuate their crimes and keep them in power. Conservatives often want to give some leeway to those who wrap their politics in Christian rhetoric, even when they disagree. No such consideration is due the American Friends Service Committee. The only friends it has served of late have been Satanic in the extent of their evil.