Sunday, April 02, 2006

"Religion is responsibility, or it is nothing at all."

The New York Times comes around:

Iraq is becoming a country that America should be ashamed to support, let alone occupy. The nation as a whole is sliding closer to open civil war. In its capital, thugs kidnap and torture innocent civilians with impunity, then murder them for their religious beliefs. The rights of women are evaporating. The head of the government is the ally of a radical anti-American cleric who leads a powerful private militia that is behind much of the sectarian terror.

One vital goal is to persuade the Shiites to abort their disastrous nomination of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Mr. Jaafari is unable to form a broadly inclusive government and has made no serious effort to rein in police death squads. Even some Shiite leaders are now calling on him to step aside. If his nomination stands and is confirmed by Parliament, civil war will become much harder to head off. And from the American perspective, the Iraqi government will have become something that no parent should be asked to risk a soldier son or daughter to protect.

Unfortunately, after three years of policy blunders in Iraq, Washington may no longer have the political or military capital to prevail. That may be hard for Americans to understand, since it was the United States invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and helped the Shiite majority to power. Some 140,000 American troops remain in Iraq, more than 2,000 American servicemen and servicewomen have died there so far and hundreds of billions of American dollars have been spent

It was chilling to read Edward Wong's interview with the Iraqi prime minister in The Times last week, during which Mr. Jaafari sat in the palace where he now makes his home, complained about the Americans and predicted that the sectarian militias that are currently terrorizing Iraqi civilians could be incorporated into the army and police. The stories about innocent homeowners and storekeepers who are dragged from their screaming families and killed by those same militias are heartbreaking, as is the thought that the United States, in its hubris, helped bring all this to pass.

The wise are put to shame;
they are dismayed and entrapped.
They have spurned the word of the Lord,
so what sort of wisdom is theirs?
Therefore I will give their wives to other men
and their lands to new owners.
For all, high and low,
are out for ill-gotten gains;
prophets and priests are frauds,
everyone of them;
they dress my people's wound,
but on the surface only,
with their saying, 'All is well.'
All well? Nothing is well!
They ought to be ashamed
because they have practiced abominations,
yet they have no sense of shame,
theou could never be put out of countenance.
Therefore they will fall with a great crash,
and be brought to the ground on the day of reckoning.--Jeremiah 8:9-12 (REB)

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