Posted by: Mark Nielsen | February 23, 2008

God’s In the Green Zone Mixin’ Up the Medicine


Iraqi Journalists Union chief Shihab al-Tamimi
is treated at a hospital after being shot Saturday.

And I’m on the pavement, thinkin’ ’bout the guv’ment

And it’s inability to supply it’s own troops properly (according to Obama), in a war we never should have started in the first place.

Or the lead story on at the moment, detailing mortar attacks on the Green Zone in Baghdad, where U.S. and Iraqi governmental installations are based. Powerful Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is at the center of it all, as he extended a cease-fire this week, in order to extend the impression of power and legitimacy he has built up since 2004. Meanwhile, these mortar attacks are believed to be the work of splinter militias that are disloyal to Sadr but are backed by Iranian Shi’ites (which the Iranian government denies is happening… not that they have any real control over what unofficial Iranian religious or military people are doing underground, through back channels).

I’m not here to give an opinion on whether Western nations should be working with Sadr or not. I really don’t know… and I’ve genuinely tried to keep up with this slippery guy. Sometimes I think maybe he’s just a patriot, looking to lead his people back to worshipping in peace. Yet methinks it would be pretty easy for a man like him to have his cake and eat it, too: to play both sides against the middle by officially calling cease-fire, and then looking the other way, or even very quietly sponsoring all these nagging “get out of town” attacks on Western targets or secular Iraqi government sites.

The more important point is that war  –not just this war but war in general– is ugly and slippery by its very nature. It’s the sharpest tool in the toolbelt of the Great Deceiver. Violence in the soul begets violence in the streets, as students at Northern Illinois University learned last week. (Here’s one area where I think Obama is strong but not strong enough: gun control.) Though it may be dicey nowadays to invoke Satan in a political discussion (I risk sounding like a religious crackpot), sometimes we just have to call it what it is: people being duped and used by malevolent forces, both supernatural and human, whose only goal is extended pain and suffering for as many “enemies” as possible. And it’s easy, really. Scared, hungry, ignorant, duped, paranoid people can be made to see enemies in so many dark corners, if the people holding the light know how to use it. But trust me on this: the ones playing us for fools will never be caught pointing a mirror in our own direction. The mere suggestion that we are our own worst enemies is the last thing Satan wants people believing. Because then we might start changing on the inside, repenting of sins both violent and selfish, instead of just changing allies, changing tactics, or changing the magazine on our M16 rifle.

Violent acts committed by anonymous individuals (or by sanctioned armies, or paid mercenaries, such as our own), whether those individuals are in Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, Burma, Pakistan, Palestine, or Colombia –anywhere people want to grab and hold power– serve only one purpose: to keep the regular joes and janes of the world living in fear.  So if that ain’t the work of the devil, I don’t know what is, because I was under the impression that “perfect love casts out fear“. And I’d better not be wrong about that… ’cause I just HATE being wrong, and if Jesus was nothing more than the Moqtada al Sadr of his generation, then we’re ALL screwed.

The invaluable lesson of Mahatma Gandhi, and of Nelson Mandela’s bloodless revolution in South Africa, is this: nonviolence just plain works better for lasting change. Whether or not the people formerly in those seats of power are better or worse than those who replace them, replacement by violent means is an option doomed to eventual failure. All it does is make more enemies, and fuel the fires of retaliation and hatred.

The unfortunate part is that the somewhat naive U.S. and British citizens are learning the hard way what Iraqis, Afghanis and much of the Two Thirds World have known for generations: there is no honor among thieves. Thieves of human dignity, or material necessities, or fair elections, or the truth, or hope, or young lives… they’re all about just one thing: power –getting it, keeping it, and abusing it. By perpetuating the cycle of violence, by lining their own pockets with money that was instead intended to be used to lift their neighbors out of ignorance and poverty, they’re doing the devil’s work, whether they know it or not.

And thus, maybe we’re doing the devil’s work, too. We pay taxes, don’t we?



  1. […] last but not least, we can cry out ourselves –here in our little cul-de-sac blogs and boutiques of opinion– believing that if even […]

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