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The website is overall dedicated to countering Empire and all its brutal, greedy and horribly destructive ways.
In this historical moment that supreme manifestation of Empire is the United States – to which the entire Western world is tied in various supportive ways; under which domination the rest of the world suffers: in the Greater Middle East as only one example, which endures brutal will to domination and oppression at the hands of American Empire. I reflect on this in an introduction to a posting here. An expanding list of postings on American Empire may be accessed here.
Here is a classic expression of America’s will to worldwide domination to extract maximum wealth from all peoples and the planet, the central motif of (American) Empire:
In 1948, George Keennan, State Department Director of policy planning, noted that the United States then possessed “about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population.” The challenge facing U.S. policy makers, he believed, was “to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.” [1. PPS 23, “Review of Current Trends, U.S. Foreign Policy” (February 24, 1948).] The overarching aim of American statecraft in other words, was to sustain the uniquely favorable situation to which the United States had ascended by the end of World War II. It’s hard to imagine a statement of purpose more succinct, cogent, and to the point.
Judged by this standard, the stewards of U.S. foreign policy down to the present day have done more than passably well… (America’s War For the Greater Middle East: A Military History, Andrew J. Bacevich, New York: Random House, 2016, p. 358) (See my commentary on this and more with reference to Michelle Obama here.)
General (George) Lee Butler, a “nuclear warrior” in the early years of the Cold War (that many claim began with the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan, August 1945), spent 27 years in nuclear policy-making. He eventually in an overt mea culpa became a passionate proponent for outright nuclear abolition. He self-published Uncommon Cause: A Life at Odds With Convention (volumes I & II). He catalogued a long list of disturbing experiences:
• investigating “a distressing array of accidents and incidents involving strategic weapons and forces”;
• seeing “an army of experts confounded”;
• confronting “the mind-numbing compression of decision-making under threat of nuclear attack”;
• “staggering costs”;
• “the relentless pressure of advancing technology”;
• “grotesquely destructive war plans”;
• and “the terror-induced anesthesia which suspended rational thought, made nuclear war thinkable, and grossly excessive arsenals possible during the Cold War.” (The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John W. Dower, Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017; p. 37.)
In retrospect, he decried the “wantonness,” “savagery,” “reckless proliferation,” “treacherous axioms,” and voracious “appetite” of deterrence — for which he himself had helped create many systems and technologies, including “war plans with over 12,000 targets.”…
“Elegant theories of deterrence,” he exclaimed in one speech, “wilt in the crucible of impending nuclear war.” In later recollection of the folly of deterrence, Butler pointed out that at its peak the United States “had 36,000 weapons in our active inventory,” including nuclear landmines and sea mines and “warheads on artillery shells that could be launched from jeeps.” He concluded that mankind escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of diplomatic skill, blind luck and divine intervention, probably the latter in greatest proportion. (ibid, pp. 36 & 37).
Nuclear strategist Albert Wohlstetter described this longstanding policy as a “delicate balance of terror (ibid, p. 27).” In short, any number of nuclear war planners in Washington contemplated striking 295 Soviet cities, with an estimated death toll total of 115 million, and another 107 million dead in Red China, besides millions more in Soviet satellite countries (ibid, pp. 28 & 29). In some circles, as a kind of sick dark humour, the two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki due to “only” 200,000 dead, came to be called “firecracker nukes (ibid, p. 29).” (This is not to mention the millions killed since World War II with related devastation in at least 37 countries around the world, or the millions murdered through US proxy wars, CIA covert operations the world over, surrogate terror exported to countries throughout Central and South America for more than a century, and other parts of the world, etc., etc., etc… (See ibid, throughout the book.)¹ )
And these “noble” American nuclear strategists holding up of course America as bastion of freedom and democracy throughout the world, blithely contemplated over many decades mass murder on a scale that arguably all previous mass murderers combined in the history of the world could only dream of! And serious contemplation of first-strike deployment was given repeated consideration:
Public as well as confidential proposals to launch a “preventive” or “pre-emptive” strike against the Soviet Union were not uncommon before the Soviets developed a serious retaliatory capability
— including for instance General Douglas MacArthur. The American public likewise supported this in general (ibid, p.41). This is America — Leader of the Free World?! Vocabulary for such gargantuan evil mindsets utterly fails! Yet every US Administration since Truman authorized the first atomic bombs dropped (which phenomenon he, a Baptist Sunday School teacher, declared to be “the greatest event in human history” — and not the Resurrection?! — one massively death-dealing, the other universally life-giving), along with thousands of strategists, day-in, day-out, went off to work with this kind of obscene potential horror, like “visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads”. How delightfully American (Empire)!
And Hitler, and Stalin are considered “mad” in their mass murders?! By the above dark humour standard, they were only “firecracker despots” compared to a long line of US Presidents. What then are all these upstanding Americans — right up to the present, with possibly a genuinely deranged current President seemingly itching to “nuke” some nation such as North Korea — if not mad monsters?
A paper that I wrote years ago, Christianity and the Subversion of Just About Everything!, in relation to this, with an introduction and excerpt, may be accessed here. I explain in introducing it that today were I writing the paper, the overall positing of “Just About Everything!” would mean Empire.
The Judeo-Christian Story is nothing if not one long Counter-Narrative to Empire! A sermon preached on this theme by Pastor Rob Brown of Eden Mennonite Church may be found here. There is an expanding scholarship that underscores this, links to several of which are below, also mentioned on the page introducing the paper above. Amen! Maranatha! (Come, O Lord).
“Come Out My People!”: God’s Call Out of Empire in the Bible and Beyond
Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now
Jesus and the Empire
Religion and Empire
In the Shadow of Empire
Paul and the Roman Imperial Order
Christ & Empire: From Paul to Postcolonial Times
Christ and the Emperor
God, Neighbor, Empire
Faith in the Face of Empire
Paul and Empire (website on The Paul Page)
I also draw attention to a trilogy of Empire Justice issues that have dogged the Church since its inception: Just War, Just Deserts, and in significant ways undergirding the first two, Just Hell (of eternal conscious torment). Each doctrine subscribed to by the Church has led to the Church’s wreaking (or blessing the wreaking of) untold violence and misery on vast swaths of humanity – all in the name of Christ! These three Justice doctrines constitute a massive travesty that arguably has turned away (and/or occasioned the slaughter of) more would-be Christ followers or otherwise than the Church has ever gained in its collective evangelistic efforts across the centuries. The trilogy of Justice Doctrines represents direct inversion of the Good News – which invariably calls us out of Empire ways to liberation in Christ on every level of relationship brokenness:
• towards God (theological);
• towards ourselves (psychological);
• towards others (sociological);
• towards Creation (ecological and cosmological).
This is what is at play in II Corinthians 5:17 – 21:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness [“justice” – see Chris Marshall’s paper on “justice” in Paul] of God.
There are two papers by me you may wish to peruse: Just War, Just Deserts, and Just Hell; and War and Hell. The latter is due for inclusion in a fall 2017 publication edited by Kevin Miller, entitled Hellrazed. It is a follow-through to his documentary, Hellbound?
¹ Historian John Coatsworth in the Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:
Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin’s gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin American vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] (“The Cold War in Central America”, pp. 216 – 221).
What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary “City on A Hill” that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. “The Land of the Free” conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America’s leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.
Photo of the year (2017):
(If only it were a laughing matter!) For much more on the utter tragedy that Emperor Trump is for the planet, please search my Blog: and act and pray, pray and act.
I’ve been writing on Restorative Justice since 1974. Back then, only a handful even knew of the term “Restorative Justice”… Most links here are to eclectic sources of personal interest. Some are to publications, such as the Mennonite Central Committee’s “Occasional Papers” series, some of the earliest writings on Restorative Justice.
Most reviews were composed by me. I try to put “clickables” to much of the resource material I mention, both on the website page and within the Review. There is also a story-telling introduction to each Book Review on the website page, besides the Review itself, which is downloadable in pdf format. There is a drop-down menu that lists all Book Reviews in alphabetical order.
I keep uploading more!
As blogs go, there are some miscellaneous whimsy and musings by me. There are also, beginning in 2016, many articles that I pick and choose from many sources, on many themes; many turning on the worldwide phenomenon of American Empire. I try to put “clickables” to much of the resource material I mention, again, both on the website page, and within the article. There is often a story-telling introduction to the Blogs on the website page, besides the entry itself, which is downloadable in pdf format, or accessible online. There is also a list in Sitemap of all items.
Robert Burns presents something below in the two excerpted verses about a “muse”, and hence “musings”… He seems to capture how I mostly feel drawn to write.
Epistle To J. Lapraik
– Robbie Burns
I am nae poet, in a sense;
But just a rhymer like by chance,
An’ hae to learning nae pretence;
Yet, what the matter?
Whene’er my muse does on me glance,
I jingle at her.
Gie me ae spark o’ nature’s fire,
That’s a’ the learning I desire;
Then tho’ I drudge thro’ dub an’ mire
At pleugh or cart,
My muse, tho’ hamely in attire,
May touch the heart.
Another great piece by Robbie Burns with too-true wisdom is To a Mouse with its bitter lesson:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain
For promis’d joy..
To these twists of Fate, Saint Paul said in Romans: “And hope does not disappoint…” Hope in Ancient Greece was a Trickster. Not so this hope… But never straightforward either.
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Finally, you may wish to tune into this, Meditatio Radio (not always on air), operated by The World Community of Christian Meditation (WCCM). They have many great resources for meditation.