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I am writing this article on the eve of a probable US attack on Iraq. I believe such an attack would be a serious mistake, both as a violation of justice and as bad international strategy. But whether the attack actually occurs is irrelevant to the following fact: The projection of US power worldwide is not primarily a military affair. Real US power is exercised through the global export of habits, symbols, ideas, and attitudes deriving from its economic power, which in turn derives from US dominance of the information revolution sweeping the planet. Moreover, this influence will continue, and may even increase, no matter what the outcome of the armed confrontation with Saddam Hussein.
I would take it a step further. Despite the fact that it is the world's only superpower today, the United States is seriously overestimating what military power can accomplish. In his book "The Transformation of War," Martin van Creveld argues that all of today's big-power military establishments were created to fight in a world that no longer exists. He's right. Carrier battlegroups in the Gulf make great "news video" for the public back home. But they are drastically inadequate to inflict the kind of damage necessary to break Iraq. Nuclear weapons might accomplish that, but their use is excluded both by world censure and the fear that such an attack might trigger a third-party response, and spread.
In other words, what made the United States powerful during the Cold War-- the threat of massive nuclear deterrence, along with hi-tech, mainline military and naval forces-- is now largely useless in regional, ethnic, and religious conflicts, which are the face of the future. At least on the battlefield, America risks becoming the only remaining Goliath in a world of determined Davids.
Creveld's theme-- and futurist Alvin Toffler and others would agree with him-- is that the nation-state, as we've understood it for 300 years, has been undermined by fundamental economic changes. It's dying. Its forms and institutions still exist, but its influence is in decline. That will sound like good news to those who see the United Nations as a healthy successor to competing 20th-century national interests. But it's not that simple.
The United Nations itself is a creature of 1940s' big-power assumptions. It is the political equivalent of how science-fiction writers in the 1930s imagined the world of the 1980s-- through a glass, darkly. Despite some modest UN successes and many noble attempts, no superpower has ever let the United Nations stand in the way of its own perceived critical interests. And it will always be so, because political weakness is programmed into the organization's very gene code. Its architects designed it as a forum and arbiter among nation-states, not a serious policeman. So, predictably, superpowers either muscle it aside, or muscle it into conformity with their will.
Now let's return to what I believe is the real source of US power-- economic influence rooted in a dominance of today's information revolution. Obviously, I'm speaking in very broad terms here, because all the developed nations contribute to the current rise of the information culture. But it's no accident that, just as koine Greek became the common language of commerce in the ancient Mediterranean world, English has become the koine of today's new knowledge economies. It is primarily US technology, US microchips, US fiber-optics, US satellites, which are building the neural network of the new global mentality. In fact, business analyst Peter Drucker argues that the United States is the first genuine "knowledge society" in history-- a society where information, not gold or oil, is the primary source of wealth. If we combine that fact with Francis Bacon's observation of 500 years ago--that "knowledge is power"-- we can begin to understand what the post-national terrain of the next century will look like.
It won't necessarily be a Pax Americana. We may see very little pax, and americana is unlikely to mean the same thing it did in the 1940s.Global information changes will drive global economic imbalances, which may drive more, not fewer, armed conflicts. And America, even as it creates the global information society, is losing monopoly control of it to other regions (such as Asia), supra-national organizations and blocs-- and is blending into something quite different from its traditional, white, European, isolationist past.
But what America has indelibly imprinted on the emerging global culture is its spirit. And that spirit springs from the identity of Americans as the pre-eminent tool-makers in history. Americans are pragmatists; problem-solvers; innovators. We want results, and we've learned to create the tools to achieve them. Even our ideology-- the market-- is keyed to immediate, practical realities. Thus, in the end, Americans live simultaneously in two parallel universes-- the one, a universe of still-strong but fading religious sentiment associated with the nation's founding as an experiment blessed by God; and the other, a universe of deep utilitarian materialism which informs our economic life.
This latter, I suspect, is the face of the first decades of the 21st century-- and it is not good news for the weak, the handicapped, and the "useless."
Augustine, writing at a pivot-point in history not dissimilar to our own, reflected on the unraveling of ancient civilization around him and discovered, instead of despair, a hope and joy rooted in the City of God. As Pope John Paul II has reminded us so many times and so wisely, believers in Jesus Christ have no use for fear. Our task is to be seeds God's redemptive love, no matter how rocky the soil of the era, and to trust that He will bring in the harvest.
Fools with tools, after all, are still fools. Knowledge may be power; but it is not joy or love or hope or wisdom or fulfillment-- the essentials which sustain the human person. Only God can provide these-- which is why Augustine wrote, "our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."
Dear Mr. President:
Iíve been thinking a lot lately about the potential bombing of Iraq and have been mulling over the reasons you have publicly made to justify bombing.
You indicated that Saddam Hussein has lied, not kept his promise, stalled the investigations, and has killed his own people. Sources indicate that all of the above criticisms are true about Mr. Hussein and are certainly reasons for concern, irritation, and disapproval of his behavior.
But, also, Mr. President, I couldnít help but find a parallel in your regard. Sir, are you not also guilty of doing the same?
In an interview with 60 minutes you denied having an affair with Gennifer Flowers and according to the news, you acknowledged having an affair with the same woman when you were present for a Grand Jury investigation.
When you married Hillary, you PROMISED to be faithful to her and from the testimony of several women, the allegations are that you have NOT been faithful to your marriage vows which before God are serious and binding. Mr. President, a personís private life cannot be separated from the same person who is in public service. The values one holds in private are not different and do not reside in a different "person" who serves the American people.
You are being investigated in several areas from finance dishonesty to receiving money from foreign countries to possible perjury. It appears in most recent news that you wish to claim Presidential Privilege which gives the impression that you want to place obstacles in the investigations of you.
And worse of all, Mr. President, though you rightfully decry Saddamís killing of his own people, I invite you to be honest in acknowledging that abortion IS the killing of unborn Americans. Not only do you approve and support the killing of the unborn, but you have stood strongly for the killing of them by having their brains sucked out of their heads through partial birth abortion. This form of abortion, which is particularly cruel and heinous, is performed far more often than you seemed to have wanted to admit.
Mr. President, you are responsible for the deaths of thousands and thousands of your own people. Unborn children are human beings, too. No woman has a frog for a baby, or a cat or dog.
My concern is that the same conscience, yours, Mr. President, that condones the killing of defenseless unborn babies, will make further immoral decisions regarding the bombing of Iraq.
Other countries have weapons of mass destruction and have killed their own people, also. How can you exact virtue from Saddam Hussein, sir, when you yourself have the same failings?
The USA does not have the same international support now that it did during the Gulf war. The bombing of Iraq could bring about a conflagration which, I trust, is not that for which you hope.
It appears to the American people that through the problem and potential bombing of Iraq, you are trying to divert attentions from investigations of yourself.
Pilate did not have the courage not to send an innocent Man to be crucified. But the Man he crucified is remembered far more gloriously than the man who washed his hands of the matter.
You say, if bombing of Iraq takes place, it is Saddamís fault. No, Mr. President. It will first of all be yours.
I respectfully and urgently request that you do NOT authorize the bombing of Iraq. The "losers" may extend far beyond that country even to ours. May God be merciful with you, bless and guide you!
Noticeably lacking was any rational or reason on the part of the three stooges, or should we say three administrators brought in to sell the war in mid-America. They say if it sells in Peoria, it'll sell anywhere. Well, folks, it didn't sell in Columbus and we doubt it would ever sell in Peoria where Bishop John Myers is the shepherd. In fact another shepherd of Myers' stature is Archbishop Charles J. Chaput who is fast becoming the American spokesman for Roman Catholics totally loyal to the Holy Father and the teachings of the Church. Today we bring you a special article on this very subject which the Archbishop has written and will be published in Nuntium, the cultural review of the Pontifical Lateran University and made available through the Catholic World News Service. You can find it under Miters that Matter Because of this timely article by such a respected prelate of the Church we are running this in place of VATICAN II VERIFICATIONS which will return next week.
Despite the overwhelming opposition to bombing Iraq, the administration is dead-set on carrying through with their threat of bombing the Iraqi people. That is not the intent but everyone knows Saddam Hussein will use women and children as human shields in his weapons plants to sacrifice lives and gain the sympathy of the rest of the countries. Speaking of women and children, Cohen displayed photos of a dead Iraqi mother and child who were poisoned with gas along with tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people. He labeled the grim photo "Madonna and Child, Saddam Hussein style." It was gripping but do you think a member of Clinton's administration would hold up a like photo of an aborted fetus? After all, many more of these innocent children have died than the Iraqi holocaust. What does Clinton say about the aborted babies? He and his administration gush forth the platitudes that this war is necessary to "preserve our children," "to make it safer for our children." We could buy that if they truly did care about children but it's all a smokescreen coming from an administration strongly promoting the culture of death through abortion. Now Clinton is promoting the culture of death in Iraq via bombing and trying to sell this bunk to the American people. Some are being hoodwinked but, thankfully, most Americans are coming to their wits and saying, "Whoa, hold on a minute. Not so fast!" One questioner at the Ohio State "Town Meeting" asked if we have the moral right to attack Iraq which provoked no direct answer. As protesters, reminiscent of the Vietnam war years, shouted down Albright with taunts of "one, two, three, four, we don't want your racist war!" she implored the people with the plea, "We just want your support." To that some in the audience cried out, "You don't have it!" It was that simple.
Perhaps, with Clinton riding such a high crest of popularity, he thought he could send his cronies in and push his "wag the dog" agenda on the people but they must be scurrying about in the oval office today with plan B or C because plan A did not work as they so foolishly thought. Each day more and more leaders from former President Jimmy Carter to former military generals, politicians and religious leaders speak out strongly against bombing. Those in the Church almost unanimously oppose attacking Iraq. The Minister General of the Franciscans has circulated a letter written to Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair beseeching both not to follow through with his threats. In part it says, "We firmly believe that peaceful and long lasting solutions to political conflict can only be achieved by having recourse to dialogue and diplomacy. The struggle for peace, reconciliation and harmony among the men and women of our world has never been an easy nor a hitherto fully attainable goal. However, it continues to be God's mandate and an objective which must motivate all people of goodwill. We believe that violence only begets more violence and "the one who lives by the sword, dies by the sword" (Matthew 26:52)." The letter, signed by the Minister General (Father General of the Order of Friars Minor) Father Giacomo Bini, OFM, the Vicar General Father Estavao Ottenbreit, OFM, and eight highly-placed Definitors of the Order, emphasized that, "A bombing campaign would only kill more innocent people and worsen their already desperate plight. There must be plenty of intelligence resources, experience and diplomatic skills within the international community that can be mobilized to resolve this crisis peacefully. Invited by the beatitude "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:9), we encourage you to redouble your diplomatic efforts, to be patient, more resourceful and to continue to use dialogue as the preferential means in hopefully achieving a mutually acceptable and dignified solution to this ongoing crisis."
We all know that the problem lies with Saddam, not the people of Iraq. That is the common theme and rationale among those rejecting a military strike. So here's a few solutions to consider: Short of a peaceful settlement and since Bill Clinton has so many friends and cronies in Hollywood, why doesn't he turn to the celluloid clan there and dust off Batman, Superman, the IMF Forces, James Bond, Rambo, the Terminator, or the Saint - to name just a few - and enlist them to steal into Baghdad and silence Saddam without the people even being aware. Short of that he can always call on the CIA, KGB, or perhaps the most efficient stealth force in the world today - the Israeli secret service - the Massad. The latter has been successful in the past, and, after all, it's their future that is truly at stake for the true target is Israel as public and private revelation point to.
But we strongly suspect Bill Clinton will do an end-run and try to push this war down America's collective throat, the results or consequences be damned. It will take the public's mind off the lurid affairs he is being accused of and evidence mounts each day that more and more of the many stories coming out have credence. It does matter what the highest leader in the land does in his private time for moral leadership is primary and one cannot be moral one minute and immoral the next. For more on this, we refer you to Sister Mary Lucy Astuto's excellent column today on this very concept titled, An Open Letter to the President . Albright, Berger and Cohen - Clinton's "ABC team" - have more of these "town meetings" at other universities this week and next week, trying to peddle a war with Iraq, but with each one more and more the American people are waking to Clinton's tactics and rejecting them. We wonder if Clinton ever thought ahead about the consequences of what would happen if we were not as successful in Iraq as the first time. Our Lady has foretold that this would happen, that the neighboring Arab countries would gang up on a pro-Israel ally; afterall blood is thicker than water and the bitterness of Arab and Jew, Syrian and Jew, Babylonian (Iraqi) and Jew, Persian and Jew go back millenniums. From his actions and rhetoric it is doubtful Clinton grasps this fact. From his bullheadedness in sending his cronies to these town meetings, it's also unlikely he ever considered the question of what if they [the administration] tried to peddle a war and no one was buying it?!
My Dear Children, ponder also in your hearts that my Divine Son rode upon a beast of burden. When my Divine Son was to be born it was a beast of burden which took Joseph and I to Bethlehem. The beast of burden gave warmth later to the new-born babe. Many months later the Holy Family journeyed into exile upon the beast of burden. Throughout the lifetime of my Divine Son the beast of burden was present. A symbol of obedience. A symbol also of the earthly exile of all Godís children.
As My Divine Son now approached the summit of His mission which was to culminate on Calvary, it was only fitting that the beast of burden carry Him to Jerusalem to deliver Him into the hands of His enemies, as many years before the beast of burden had allowed the Holy Family to escape satanís plots to thwart the Divine Will.
I am asking each of my Little Ones who, in their heart know they are approaching the Calvary of the world, to lay not false promises (palm fronds) before my Divine Son. If you would truly make His Sacred Passion meaningful, then line His path of suffering, agony and death with your hearts. Bow before Him, Who is God, and thank Him profoundly for all He endured that you might be saved.
Place yourself upon the road to Jerusalem and see my Divine Son coming along, entering upon the final phase of His exile. Imitate Him in all ways. Be obedient to God, even unto death. Do not allow the babble of voices of the modern world to cause you to be a traitor who, in the time of trial, betrays the Truth to possess only momentary earthly security and comfort.
I solemnly tell you that you are my little, faithful children who must walk the same path as My Divine Son. Love as He loved. See only the soul so as to overcome all human prejudice. See only the Will of God, and be steadfast in your desire to be one with the Divine Will.
Then you will have laid down your heart. Upon it my Divine Sonís footprints will forever be engraved, so that as the world experiences great chastisement and divine justice, you will know the True Path you must followófor the footprints are upon your heart, and the burden He has already taken as His own.
My Little Ones, be the beast of burden in these years of tears and sorrow. Only in this way shall you know full peace, absolute trust and love so profound as to rend the heart asunder.
Pray and meditate upon these words, for they will help you to remain faithful to all my Son taught.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part One of Lesson 2: FAREWELL TO THE HOLY WOMEN AND THE MOTHER