The Holy Occupation of Iraq

By David Swanson

I picked up a pamphlet the other day that said “Just for You” at the top, so I assumed it was just for me. Much of the front page contained an image of soldiers marching, and next to them the words “What’s your exit strategy?” That’s easy, I thought. Impeachment, removal, indictment, and conviction. But was this really a pamphlet about peace? I read the text at the bottom of the front page:

“In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States had thousands of troops in Vietnam. Citizens sharply criticized the government. The United States wanted out, but found it hard to develop an exit strategy. More recently, the United States government came under attack for not having an exit strategy in Iraq. One writer has said that a general…”

OK, so I had to open it. And I immediately saw a bunch of quotes from “your Lord and Saviour [sic].” It turned out to be a pamphlet about personal strategies for “exiting” your life and flying off to Never Never Land.

But why would religions be trying to recruit people who, like me, want the United States to get out of Iraq? I thought about it for a minute before I realized what the answer was: they’ve already got their claws in virtually every American who supports the Iraqi Occupation. Their target rich environment is the peace movement.

But here’s the thing. If I wanted to have a Lord, I’d probably join the military. It’d be the easiest way to get someone commanding me right away, day and night. And if I believed Jesus was my Lord, then I’d find it a lot easier to not care about slaughtering a million Iraqis and driving millions more out of their homes. If I wanted to cease thinking for myself, I’d ask Nancy Pelosi to lead us out of Iraq, and I’d pray, along with Mark Twain:

“O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it — for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.”

But I’ve been thinking. And that’s the whole problem. So, for me there is no such thing as tough love or compassionate conservatism or free trade or wars of liberation or religions of peace. Religions bring wars. They are not the only thing that does, and no one can guarantee that a religion-free earth would find peace. But it’s fairly clear that we will never have peace while religions last. Not only do they divide groups of people from each other. (Can you imagine the Occupation of Iraq if Iraqis were Christians?) But religions also, more importantly, train people not to think, to thoughtlessly obey, to fail to accept responsibility, and to pretend to believe absurdities.

Jesus was born to a virgin.

They hate us for our freedom.

Everything happens for a purpose.

It’s all the fault of those people in Washington.

People don’t really die.

This is the best bill we can pass right now.

Thinking is for liberal elitists.

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