Did President Bush Go to War in Iraq Because God Told Him to?

  How can President Bush justify preemptive war? How can he answer those who say Iraq does not meet the definition of a “just war?” He doesn’t worry about such things. He doesn’t have to because he is doing what God has told him to do.

  He may not read the newspapers, but he does read religious tracts every morning, and they are basically of the Calvinist tradition, according to Timothy Renick, Director of Religious Studies at Georgia State University. (Normally, that’s his job, but this year he is serving as provost for the school.) Dr. Renick, speaking to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, said that it doesn’t matter that the president has been wrong about his reasons for going to war, because he knows that what he is doing was preordained by God. In other words, though hundreds of thousands, more than 4 thousand of them Americans, are killed or wounded, and 500 billion dollars has been spent, it’s really not important because he is doing God’s work.

Timothy Renick, Ph.D, Georgia State University Director of Religious Studies

Timothy Renick, Ph.D, Georgia State University Director of Religious Studies

  Dr. Renick says there is another very great religious figure, St. Thomas Aquinas, whose words refute the Bush rationale. St. Thomas, considered by many as the greatest Catholic theologian,  predated Calvin by a few hundred years. He thought that God gave man the power to reason and, therefore, he should.  He believed Godly decisions come from reason (and evidence), not from God. That goes against the Calvinist tradition, the tradition that President Bush and many Americans follow.

  Former President Jimmy Carter made the statement at the very beginning of the Iraq war that it was not a “just war.” He was basing that on international law which says that just wars are those that are waged to protect a country after it has been attacked. Preemptive war is not a just war. Iraq is a preemptive war.  St. Thomas addressed the subject of just war. He said, ” A just war is to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished for refusing to make amends for wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.”

  Now, President Bush could claim that even though he was given the wrong information about weapons of mass destruction, and about Saddam Hussein being involved in 9-11, he still did the right thing because he was acting in God’s behalf. Dr. Renick said St. Thomas did not believe we can be excused for our actions because of sincere mistakes. Ignorance does not excuse doing the wrong thing.

  During the discussion session after Dr. Renick’s speech, I asked Dr. Renick if what he was saying boiled down to President Bush getting us into the Iraq mess because he is a Calvinist instead of a Catholic? His answer didn’t surprise me. I have been accused by college professors before of over-simplifying things. In an effort to make it easy for the public to understand an issue, broadcast news people aim for simplification. However, he went on to say that the Calvinist tradition does tend to exercise a great influence over many Americans, including the president. 

  He went on to explain how St. Thomas also addressed the consensus question. President Bush doesn’t give a fig for it. 75 percent of the American public is opposed to the war in Iraq. That doesn’t matter. The president is doing God’s work and that’s all that matters. Ah, but this great Catholic philospher and theologian says consensus does matter. If people agree on a thing then that is evidence that their reasoning is unified and, and since they are using reason, which God gave them to use, they are being Godly.

  I guess the big question for a lot of us is, how does president Bush know what God wants? I know, I know, if mess happens, then it was preordained  by God and therefore the president was following God’s wishes. After all, didn’t Calvin teach that everything is preordained?  How can you argue with such illogical logic?

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One Response to “Did President Bush Go to War in Iraq Because God Told Him to?”

  1. Gil Fryer Says:

    Sociologist/Anthropologist/Philosopher Joseph Campbell had it right. Since time-immemorial..people have been fighting and dying for METAPHORS. Ah, the power of myth!

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