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The Coalition of Defeat and the Congressman of Surrender By: Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The “Win Without War Coalition,” including 40 Religious Left groups and secular allies, is imploring Congressman John Murtha to slash funding for the U.S. presence in Iraq.  Murtha chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

On the religious side, the coalition includes the National Council of Churches (NCC), Sojourners, Tukkun, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the United Church of Christ, Pax Christi, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Americans Friends Service Committee.

The secular coalition members include MoveOn.org, the NAACP, the Council for a Livable World, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Organization for Women, and the Sierra Club.

“Win Without War” does not appear to be interested in “winning” anything. Its exclusive cause seems to be immediate withdrawal and defeat for the U.S. in the Middle East.  It asked Murtha to draft a new bill that would “immediately begin the orderly removal of all U.S troops from Iraq and complete this process as quickly and safely as possible.”

Not very convincingly, “Win Without War” complained that the war has “hollowed out our military, diverted resources from the battle against al Qaeda and from homeland security, and deeply damaged our reputation abroad.”  But few if any of its member groups have expressed particular interest in “the battle against al Qaeda” or in other protections for the U.S. , beyond withdrawal and apologies for America ’s enemies.    

Revealingly, “Win Without War” is distressed that the U.S. has plans for an "enduring" relationship with Iraq . Presumably, it is preferable that Iraq align with Iran or Saudi Arabia , while the U.S. simply erases all its tracks and mails in its reparations.  “Win Without War” wants Murtha only to gather funding for the “safe and timely redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq and end the occupation.”

Naturally, “Win Without War” hailed Murtha for his “courage and tenacity in the face of attacks and criticisms” as “most admirable.”  It expressed great eagerness to work with Murtha to “end the war,” by which it actually means complete and immediate U.S. withdrawal, whether or not that leads to peace or expanded war. 

“Win Without War” hails itself as a coalition of “patriotic Americans committed to a U.S. foreign policy that embodies our nation's highest ideals ... We share the commitment to countering terrorism and weapons proliferation, but oppose the doctrine of unilateral military preemption."  In fact, most of the groups seem to oppose any kind of U.S. military action against any adversary, preferring a “diplomatic offensive.”

Meanwhile, the National Council of Churches (NCC), apparently not satisfied with the “Win Without War” anti war manifesto that it endorsed, has dispatched its own separate anti-war decree.  NCC chief Michael Kinnamon targeted the U.S. Congress with his “open letter” against the U.S. “aggression” in Iraq.

Kinnamon boasted that over the last 5 years, the NCC has repeatedly denounced the U.S. military presence in Iraq as a “disastrous mistake,” even before the U.S. led overthrow of Saddam Hussein began.  “Anyone can observe that US aggression is spawning new generations of terrorists; but the Christian critique runs deeper,” he asserted.  “Because human life is interdependent, because we are all children of one Creator, security can never be won through unilateral defense.”

Quoting Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Kinnamon opined:  "There is no security apart from common security."  Obtusely, Kinnamon insisted that “Israeli security depends, finally, on Palestinians having a stake in the development of the Middle East.” And, he further discerned, “U.S. security depends, among other things, on addressing the economic and social disparities that help fuel hatred of this nation.”  It is tempting to wonder what fuels the Religious Left’s own contempt for America.  In much of the Islamic world, America is loathed because it is perceived as a Christian crusader state.  But Religious Left groups like the NCC, having lost most of their own original religious impulses, are usually clueless about the religious motivations of America’s Islamist enemies.   They prefer to believe that America’s foes, like the Religious Left, have merely materialist aspirations that can be satiated through statist transfer payments.

Remarkably, Kinnamon noted that “Christians are realistic about evil in the world and, therefore, about the threat of terrorism.”  But virtually no political screeds from the NCC over the last 40 years indicate any geopolitical realism, much less acknowledge the need for self defense by America in particular or the Western democracies in general.  “We reject any ideology, however, which demonizes others while claiming all righteousness for ourselves,” Kinnamon declared, “And we refuse to define life as a zero-sum game in which our security is gained at the expense of others.”

Actually, Kinnamon’s NCC and its Religious Left allies often have claimed “all righteousness for ourselves.”   For them, the anti-war left is aligned with the angels, while they who caution against premature withdrawal or abject surrender have only sinister motivations.   The Religious Left often feigns modesty by slamming America.  But mindlessly attacking your own country is no proof of humility, especially for radical religious elites, who barely identify with America any way.  What the Religious Left claims is self-abnegation is closer to sanctimony.

Of course, Kinnamon wants Iraq War funding channeled instead towards reducing “hunger, the shortage of adequate housing, the spread of HIV/AIDS, the shortage of classrooms, and environmental destruction around the world.”   But since the advent of the Great Society, America has already expended many times the cost of the Iraq War in battling some of Kinnamon’s targets, and we are hardly closer to achieving nirvana.   His demands for quick results and limited costs apparently do not apply to the Welfare State, despite nearly 5 decades of experience.  

According to the NCC chief, only “justice will lead to lasting security.” Kinnamon is a poor theologian. Christianity has traditionally acknowledged that advocates of true justice do not always gain the world’s favor, and more often than not, are despised and persecuted.  The favor of the world does not always signal virtue.  And the world’s disdain does not necessarily confirm error.  Christianity’s Founder exemplified that example, but the head of the NCC evidently has forgotten.

Mark D. Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He is the author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church.

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