Bush’s Armageddon Obsession: The Looking GlaAuthor of this text: Michael Hill Ortiz
become accustomed to George W. Bush's use of the word evil until he told the
nation this last spring, „The evil one is among us." Anyone with a passing understanding of the evangelical world of Bush's faith knows he was
referring to the Antichrist. The implications of this are grave beyond telling
and yet scarcely ever noted in the public discourse. On the eve of a misguided
war, the Commander in Chief of the most powerful military force in human history
has located American foreign policy within a Biblical narrative that leads
inexorably towards the plains of Megiddo, roughly fifty five miles northwest of
Jerusalem: the battle of Armageddon. Two essential questions, as impertinent as
they are imperative, need to be asked: „Mr. President, as a born-again
Christian, is it not true that you regard this as the end times prophesied in
the Bible? In what way does your religious understanding of apocalypse inform
American policy in the Mideast?"
are many aspects to the fundamentalist understanding of the end of days, not the
least being the conversion of the Jews to the true Messiah before the final
battle. In his political autobiography (A
Charge to Keep), Bush places himself squarely in the mainstream of
evangelical thought. Recounting his pilgrimage to the Holy Land Bush writes of
entering into the waters of Galilee in the apparent baptism of "a Jewish
friend. " It was then that the hymn came to his mind:
the time is approaching: „By prophets long foretold / When all shall dwell
together / One Shepherd and one fold / Now Jew and Gentile meeting / From many a distant shore / Around an altar kneeling / One common Lord adore."
don't know if the president has read Hal Lindsey, but much of what he says shows a similar perspective. Having sold fifteen million copies, Lindsey's book The
Late Great Planet Earth remains the most influential text shaping fundamentalist
thought on apocalyptic matters. Written within the geopolitical fantasies of the
Cold War, the book says, „ As Armageddon begins with the invasion of Israel
by the Arabs and the Russian confederacy, and their consequent swift destruction,
the greatest period of Jewish conversion to their true Messiah will begin."
rather not believe that Bush is moving according to Lindsey's game plan but
the simple fact is that we don't know. The Administration's systematic
alienation of our Arab allies (soon leaving Israel as our only viable ally in
the Mideast) raises disturbing questions.
book influenced not only American fundamentalist culture but had a pervasive
effect on fundamentalist Islam's apocalyptic worldview. According to David
Cook, the American expert on Islamic apocalyptic literature, until the late
eighties this element of Muslim culture had been fairly static for centuries."
The contemporary Muslim," says Cook, „sees the present world turned
upside down by Christian millennialism.… In defense, Muslims make heavy use of
the Bible, or one might say the Bible as seen through the eyes of Hal Lindsey.
There are Muslim readings of the book of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation. The
only difference is the 'good guys' are Muslims, not Christians."
strange cross-fertilization between cultures has placed us in the situation in
which the current administration and radical Islam share a common worldview in
which peace descends after Evil is defeated in an apocalyptic battle. Both
parties sing the same song: God will lead our warriors to victory against the
forces of darkness.
are at an extraordinary and critical historical moment. When Bush was in Germany
trying to garner support for invading Iraq, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the
Pentagon leaked its unanimous objection. More recently Brent Scowcroft, the
elder statesman of the Republican foreign policy establishment, declared that
Bush's plans could unleash „an Armageddon in the Middle East."
comments of Mr. Scowcroft and others in the Republican foreign policy
establishment," writes the New York Times, "appear to be a loosely
coordinated effort." On the domestic front it seems that both the Pentagon
and significant figures in the Republican party (Scowcroft, Kissinger, House
majority leader Dick Armey) are attempting to rein in a rogue president before
American men and women begin coming home in body bags.
the foreign front the U.S. is facing near universal opposition by our European
allies and complete opposition from the Arab world, including Kuwait and the
Iraqi Kurds who have suffered so much under Saddam Hussein. The religious
underpinnings of Bush's war against evil are evident as is the absolutist
theology he shares with radical Islam. Both of them see such wars as we may be
facing right now as righteous, good and necessary.
is clear, we should be afraid for we are profoundly endangered by the passions
of both Christian and Muslim fundamentalisms.
This essay and its companion „Overcoming
Terrorism: A Twelve Step Approach" can be read at www.gatheringin.com. Given
the gravity of the world situation the author encourages readers to circulate
this freely. Michael Hill Ortiz can
be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Posted online by CounterPunch,
reprinted in the 2002 November/December issue of the American Rationalist © by
permission of the author.)
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