Iraqi War Casualities

Casualties of war are a grief for a nation. Each of us is diminished by the death of any one of us in war. The grief is compounded when the one killed is a loved one or friend. Daily casualty reports bring sorrow and empathy for the families related.

It does help to put things in perspective. Since what was thought to be the end of the war in Iraq approximately 230 Americans have been killed in the continuing conflict. That is 230 too many for most of us.

However, in the last year in America more police officers than that have been killed in the combat zone known as the United States. Within our own borders as many public servants have died in defense of individual rights.

The statistics related to the wars of our nation are astronomical. Consider these totals: Revolutionary War 25,324, Civil War 498,332, Spanish American War I 1,862, World War II 407,316, Korean War 54,546, Viet Nam War 58,098, and Desert Storm 146. There are other wars and “conflicts” in our history but that paints the general picture.

Look at just one of those wars in a bit more detail. The campaign in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany form D-Day through V-E Day cost the Western allied Armies 766,294 casualties. Included in that number were some 200,000 dead. Approximately sixty per cent were Americans. Of the 5,412,219 troops landed the casualty rate was 14.2 percent or roughly 1 in 7. There were also 50,000 allied civilians killed.

We in the West have been discrete in not referring to the present engagement as a war against Islam. Billy Graham even discontinued calling his revivals “crusades” in order not to offend Muslims as a result of the historical connotation of the term.

However, in 1999 Osama ben Ladin called for a jihad, a holy war. Saddam has repeatedly encouraged the same. Not all who are of the Islamic faith consider it to be a religious war, but those waging it certainly do. In trying to end it that must be taken into consideration. Those conducting the war are zealots fighting for and willing to gladly give their lives for their god. Their holy book distinctly teaches there is a great reward awaiting those who die for the faith.

Most wars are politically and diplomatically based and resolved. This conflict isn’t. It is a different kind of war never known in modern history. It combines gorilla tactics with religious fervor. Couple that with the fact Saddam released from prison 150,000 hardened criminals shortly before the outbreak of the war and there is a bigger challenge.

One element necessary for victory is a characteristic every previous generation of Americans has had to show in war and one for which this generation is not known. It is patience.

Another trait is one those who fought World War II showed in garnering the title “The Greatest Generation.” In an unsophisticated word, guts. Fortitude is basic.

Many American adhere to a religious faith other than that of the Islamic enthusiasts. We should wage peace through prayer.

International Intelligence Service

Syria is a country suspected of harboring terrorist training camps and secret bank accounts for Saddam worth billions. What is known of this we may never know. However, based on Israel’s dealing with Syria leading up to the battle for the Golan Heights it is likely they know a great deal. The Golan Heights fell in days as a result of years of preparation.

Years before the 1967 war members of the Israeli Secret Forces, the Musad, visited a young man named Eli Cohn working in a store in Nazareth. Living in an Arab city he was bilingual. They offered his an opportunity to work for them. He refused saying he liked his job. They left their card and told him if he ever changed his mind to contact them. The next day he was fired and soon called the Musad for an interview. He was set up as a Syrian citizen and sent to Argentina where he lived and worked for some time. Later he traveled to Syria with credentials as a highly successful Arab business man from Argentine.

In a short time he worked his way into the Syrian government and became the number two man in power. Eventually he asked for and was given a tour of the Syrian defenses of the Golan Heights. He complimented the fortifications but noted their gun placements were so well hidden that if communications were disrupted during a conflict there would be no way for friendly forces to know where they were. He suggested they plant eucalyptus trees by each bunker in order for their own welfare.

All the time he was communicating with the Musad in Israel. When the war broke out the Israeli army knew to strike the stands of eucalyptus and the Syrian defenses failed badly. Most of the defense force retreated to the summit of the Golan preparing to make a stand.

Syria knew they had to draw Russia into the dispute. Their U.N. Ambassador was on the floor of the U.N. making an appeal when handed a note. He read it aloud. It was a report that the defenses had failed and the Syrian army had retreated to Damascus. His hope was this would incite the Russians to intervene. The Syrian forces still on the Golan hearing this on their radios concluded that if they were the only ones not to have gotten orders to retreat they should withdraw. They did immediately.

The note given the ambassador was a bogus report sent by Israel’s man in Damascus. In reality there had been no withdrawal from the Golan until that moment. Thus, the battle for the Golan Heights was an easy victory for Israel.

The Syrians by this time realized they had a security leak. They walked in on Israel’s mole while he was transmitting to Israel. His arrest caused the U.S. to appeal to Syria for his release. That confirmed for the Syrians they had a big fish. Cohn was immediately condemned to death. Persons were bussed into the city square of Damascus to witness his public hanging. This ended a classic case of intriguing infiltration.

There is no way of knowing how many such agents are presently at work in Syria.

Integration Of Baseball

In 1946 Branch Rickey signed two outstanding young men to major league contracts. One of them, Carl Erskine, told me this story.

Carl was a 156 pound kid from Indiana with a lightening fastball. In his major league career he pitched three no hitters, one of which was an eleven inning game. He pitched in five World Series.

The other broke a unique record. He was Jackie Robinson the first Afro-American in the major leagues. Rickey was a founder of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes who practiced his personal Christian faith.

There were many outstanding players in the Negro League. A list of fifty was given Rickey from which to choose. He studied them carefully and noticed one who was reared by a single mother with a strong Christian faith. He was Rickey’s choice.

Both men were keenly aware of the potential difficulties that awaited the first Afro-American in the big leagues. Rickey knew a special character trait would have to be employed many times to make it work. When they met in his office Rickey pulled out his Bible and read Matthew 5: 39: “Whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

In summary it means to endure abuse. Jackie Robinson did it like the champion he was. His personal faith helped sustain him amid the hostility he faced. All our interpersonal conflicts could better be resolved if that same principle were employed.

There is ancient antithetical axiom from the Code of Hammurabi: “An eye for and eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Meaning, extract exact retribution. It is license to give out the same or more harsh treatment as you get. This leads to escalation of hostility. The Koran commends this conduct in Sura 2:194, “If anyone transgresses…against you, transgress likewise against them.”

If Jackie had responded in kind just one time it would have been inflammatory. Today’s athletes would do well to model his example. We all would. It would dramatically lower the tension level in our society. Murders, fights, divorces, and other conflicts would be dramatically reduced.

Instead of the Code of Hammurabi the Golden Rule would make for a more civil society: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Treat others as you would like to be treated. Speak to others as you would enjoy being spoken to. Share with others as you would enjoy them giving to you. You never see that in a sitcom.

When Rickey signed Robinson the elitist world of baseball said it was for money. Rickey’s personal papers were not released until ten years after his death. In them it was very evident his actions were based on his moral convictions.

Rickey and Robinson both endured and overcame the firestorm they called down on themselves by breaking the color barrier. They did it by employing a simple principle found in Scripture about which more people joke than practice.

Consider trying it out. The next time a flash point comes along monitor your response and employ that positive precept.

The Inauguration Of “W”

I could not believe what “W” did at the Presidential Inauguration. He had some audacity to say he couldn’t begin without a prayer. He then got specific and spoke of “…that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations….”

How out of touch can one president be? How very un-PC.

Having attended and participated in a presidential inauguration I know something of the order and decorum. Every word is virtually scripted and goes in the history book. Such a statement will stand out in the history of our country.

The idea of prayer is one thing. However, the idea of an Almighty Being who rules and presides is something else. With all efforts to remove God from society and promote evolution this is beyond the veil.

Wasn’t “W” aware of the intent of our forefathers to squelch religion in the public arena. For the president of all the people to bring religion into such a solemn ceremony is unconscionable. Did he not think there might be some people offended by such provincial thinking?

You would think he would have known better. At the age of 15 he studied and hand wrote a copy of the “110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” Such principles should have had formative influence that would have lasted.

The idea of having the Bible open right there on the platform between the 49th and 50th chapters of Genesis was a bold act. However, to kiss the Bible and reverently say: “So – help – me – God” is a bit much.

What most folks have overlooked is this statement included in the “New York Daily Advertiser” announcing a prayer meeting to be held the morning of the inauguration: “As we believe in an overruling Providence and feel our constant dependence upon God for every blessing, so it is undoubtedly our duty to acknowledge Him in all our ways and commit our concerns to His protection and mercy.”

For a president to have personal faith in God is one thing but should he be so public about it?

The coup de gras involved his party going to St. Paul’s Church after the inauguration for another prayer meeting led by one of the chaplains of Congress..

It is well chronicled that “W” believes in prayer. It is also known he goes to bed early, often around 9:00 PM. Staff members have seen him before retiring on his knees with the Bible open praying. During the war he has been seen to have done so frequently. Most persons would concede that such private practice of devotion is acceptable. To some it may seen an act of weakness, however.

Well, “W” was bold about his faith. Oh, in case you were thinking of a different “W” the one referenced here is George “W,” as in Washington that is. The wars were the French and Indian and the Revolutionary wars. All references to events at the inauguration occurred April 30, 1789, in New York with the exception of the post-inaugural prayer meeting have been perpetuated by every president since.

Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, B.F. Morris, pp. 271, 273, 501
The Rewriting of America’s History, Catherin Millard, pp. 59-66

How To Deal With A “Whatever” Mentality

“Whatever!” is the mantra of the moment.

It is a synonym for relativism, a byword for “anything goes,” and a revelation that situational ethics have made great advances. It makes for an uncertain society.

The Barna Research Group ascertained the following facts as a revelation this is a “Whatever!” culture.

* Three-fourths of all adults believe “there is no such thing as absolute truth. Two people can define truth in conflicting ways and both be correct according to this concept. This is contrary to the long held belief that when there are two polar positions on the same issue one is wrong.

* More than 70% of American adults agree that there are no absolute standards which apply to everyone. This means when it comes to morals and ethics, what is right and wrong, there are no absolute standards that apply to everyone in all situations.

Applied this means there are times it is all right to lie, steal, or cheat. Pushed to its logical conclusion it would then mean there are times it is OK to defraud, embezzle, commit treason or cooperate crime. Whatever!

It is precisely that moral mentality that has led to symptoms of uncertainty in our society. Trust is eroded by it. Understanding breaks down when people don’t have the same system of values. In a whatever world every person is a system of law unto self.

“Mr. Chairman, we need to change these figures to make our financial statement look better to our stock holders.” Whatever!

“I copied a book report form a friend at another school.” Whatever!

“I’m going to use the company credit card to purchase some personal items.” Whatever!

“Randy worships Jesus, John worships Sheila, Larry worships the goddess Sybil, and Bubba worships the tree in his back yard.” Whatever!

“I’m going to use cheap products lacking in quality and unskilled labor on this project and bill these folks for top quality items and work.” Whatever!

The pervasive “Whatever” attitude strips truth of its value, creates a lack of confidence, and makes every individual a personal system of law. It creates a wonderful world of “ME.”

Walter T. Anderson tells a story that illustrates this principle. There are three baseball umpires.

Confidently one says, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and I call “em the way they are.”

Another, a little less certain, says, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and I call “em the way I see “em.”

The third, a postmodernist, says, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and they ain’t nothing until I call “em.”

Standards, laws, gages, ideals, norms, established group ethics, and community morals make for a confident and cohesive culture. A “Whatever” mentality means vague is vogue.