'The War, Stupid' | Sojourners

'The War, Stupid'

The Persian Gulf war was so brief that two years later most Americans do not often think of the conflict. On this second anniversary of the war's outbreak, it is worth noting several books that pertain to the Gulf war and Christian faith.

"The War, Stupid"

Although most commentators see the Gulf war as President Bush's moment of glory, his shining achievement, I suspect his war policy was as damaging to his presidency as was his economic strategy. This war psychologically left people with a distaste that isn't verbalized, but sits irritatingly on the tip of the tongue.

In a crisis the American people want to assume the best of their leaders when offered a tolerable excuse, but eventually they will sort it out. Although perhaps unwilling to admit being misled, in true co-dependent fashion the sense of betrayal will influence their actions. As Bush's approval rating began its inevitable decline, the dissonance many Americans experienced regarding his justifications for war made the drop feel like free fall.

Amid the flurry of books published about the justness of the Gulf war, Middle East expert Charles Kimball's Religion, Politics, and Oil: The Volatile Mix in the Middle East (Abingdon Press, 1992, $4.95, paper) offers a quick and interesting read concerning the war's political, religious, and resource issues. Because most of these issues remain unaltered by the 1991 sorties, further involvements - militarily and politically - seem inevitable.

In the tradition of the best prophetic utterances, Kimball combines analytical and confessional approaches. Never willing to attach easy blame, Kimball digs beneath the obvious and simple, reaching for truth and justice.

Kimball suggests the war highlighted the need for consistent commitment to human rights and for humanitarian assistance. The semblance of respectability regained by the United Nations can be used to avoid future military action.

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Sojourners Magazine February-March 1993
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