President Obama has upped the ante in Afghanistan. He is sending another 17,000 troops to the beleaguered nation to ‘take the fight to Al Quaeda.’ One of the criticisms of past military efforts in this erratic region of the world is in defining the mission. Well, what is the mission? It is two fold: We want to punish those who attacked our country on 911, and we want to make sure they do not attack us again.
Did I say 911? Yes, September 11, 2001, almost eight years past, and the criminal master minds have not been punished or diminished in their eagerness to attack us again. That is because Bush and Cheney failed to define the correct mission. Bush and Cheney decided it was time for America to build other countries in our own image. They were filled with grand visions of their own Genesis, creating Republics, building capitalism, and promoting Christianity. And all the while writing their own book of creation so everyone would remember them as Creators of the New World.
It did not work any better for them than it did for God. Rather than the earth being blessed with God’s greatest creation, the earth is infected with the disease of human parasites – killing the beast that bears them.
OK – enough sarcasm for now. Let’s just consider other efforts in the past to build nations, to impose one culture on another. When the Europeans invaded North America about five hundred years ago they found a primitive people – now we call them Native Americans. Some people have since elevated the Native American to some sort of spiritual angel, living in harmony with nature. My notion is that they just had not yet invented the wheel and gun powder, and assault rifles. So they seemed peaceful enough.
In 1737 The Jesuits, today a teaching order of the Catholic Church, came to the Hudson Bay area with the intention of bringing Christianity to the pagan natives. At the time the Jesuits thought being a Christian meant working six days in your village and resting after Mass on Sunday. The nomadic tribes of the Hudson Bay had other ideas. This great adventure in civilizing others is now know as The Sillery Experiment. The Sillery Experiment is used by historians as an excellent example of the difficulty in changing other cultures. Bush and Cheney did not read their history books.
But European Christianity ultimately prevailed, right? Well, somewhat. When the natives refused to adopt the European ways, the Europeans Americans just eradicated the problem with a genocide comparable to anything happening in Darfur today. We might surmise that the unspoken philosophy was: Give them a chance to change, if they choose to maintain their primitive ways, kill them. That sort of sounds like the Bush Doctrine in regard to Iraq.
Now we have a new President. What is he doing? He has redefined the problem – actually he has resurrected the original mission – Find, punish, and remove the capacity of the 911 attackers. President Obama is not calling for an American form of democracy, or an American economic system, and he is not promoting Christianity in the Middle East. President Obama seems to understand the limits of his power.
I don’t think those folks over there in Afghanistan or Pakistan should underestimate the resolve of the President. It strikes me that until the 911 attackers are caught and punished, their organizations dismantled, President Obama will continue the pursuit. This President will not be distracted with delusions of grandeur – with the idea that he can do any thing he wants.
President Obama knows he is not God – he cannot create countries in our own image.