March 04, 2008

Conditions in the new Iraq continue to get worse for that country’s dwindling Christian population. On Friday, February 29, 2008 terrorists kidnapped Paulos Faraj Rahho archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, and killed three of his assistants. We still don’t know who’s responsible—our Shi’ite “allies” (who have marched around Christian neighborhoods closing down liquor stores and offering Christian women the choice of hijab or death), Sunni Ba’athists, or the tiny cadres of Al Qaeda in Iraq. It might just be bandits, preying on a group that has lost the protection its once enjoyed under the sturdily secular (if tyrannical) regime of Saddam Hussein. This is just the sort of thing which “unpatriotic” war skeptics feared, and some of us predicted: that in removing the iron fist of secular dictatorship, we might well unleash the will of the people. In Iraq, as in many parts of the world, what people will seem to want is the chance to gouge, slaughter, and drive out their neighbors. It’s hackneyed to point to the death of Tito and the subsequent bloody dismemberment of Yugoslavia, but the comparison holds—right down to the ethnic cleansing that even today the Kosovo Albanians are practicing against the harried remnant of Christian Serbs.

And now it seems that the U.S. is contemplating action on its own, or in support of Israel, against two more countries where Christians are still relatively safe, Lebanon and Syria. Robert Spencer, no friend to Islamist terror (to say the least) warned on this site a year ago of the likely consequences of toppling Syria’s secular government. The Lebanese are still trying to put their country together, and patch together a government, in the wake of last year’s Israeli attack—which backfired massively, giving moral credibility to the terrorists of Hezbollah (a horrible bunch, make no mistake) by placing them in the position of defending Lebanon against foreign attack. Oops.

What I wonder is when and if American Christians are ever going to make common cause with their co-religionists besieged in that miserable part of the world, trying to survive in the communities where their churches have existed since the 1st or 2nd century. Will we actually listen to the voices of bishops, priests, missionaries and ordinary Christians of the region—or continue to follow the foreign policy advice of men like John Hagee, who admit that they are (I’m not making this up) TRYING TO BRING ON THE END OF THE WORLD? I mean, that’s not the stance which brings with it a lot of credibility, most of the time. Without returning to my copy of The Conservative Mind, I can safely say that most conservatives have, over time, opposed explicit attempts to end history in a worldwide catastrophe. You really don’t have to be a Burkean to get that one right.


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