Democracy in the Name of God

Democracy in the Name of God

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


How is it that in the XXI century we still kill each other in the name of God?
How to sell a war -or an invasion- in the XXI century?
How do you get the citizenry on board?
How to make such an unlikely situation not only likely but also common place, mundane.

Until early 2003, I could not believe this to be possible. To my surprise and utter disbelieve, on March 20, 2004 the United States and the so called ‘Coalition of the Willing” invaded Iraq against enormous worldwide opposition. How could that happen? There is no definite answer, only different versions of reality or insanity. What is clear is that invoking the name of God, as history has so often shown us, seems to work.

In one of George Bush’s earliest declarations pushing for the war, he stated that this would be a modern Crusade against the infidels*. Immediately his handlers spun his words and the term ‘Crusade’ disappeared from all discourse, but the invocation of God has yet to stop: in the name of God, God is on our side; thanks God, God willing…

The official reasons for the invasion keep changing. Originally it was the infamous Weapons of Mass Destruction, then it was the removal of Saddam Hussein, and lately it is to introduce democracy in the region. The unofficial version cynically points to the rich oil reserves of Iraq; a surreptitious expansion of the ‘Empire’; and a really twisted one that coalesces Jews and Christian Fundamentalists who believe that Jesus will only come back when Jews are in control of the Holy Land. (Ironically when the term ‘Fundamentalist’ is applied to Christians its connotation is positive; while if applied to Muslims it is associated with extremists, terrorists).

From the beginning the Invasion of Iraq was animated by religious conviction as much as a hidden economic -and strongly denied- agenda. It has been promoted as a test of Christian faith, no more and no less than a war waged against evil. For Bush and his Christian backers this is a righteous cause worth every drop of blood.

What is the connection between democracy, economics, and killing in the name of God? Is spreading ‘democracy’ the equivalent to the ‘Christianization’ of the original Crusades? This is what I explore in this body of work. It seems to me that the Bush administration has converted both democracy and war into ‘commodities’ that can be marketed, traded, and sold in the open market. Its partners, the Coalition of the Willing, are there to help spread the costs. These partners provide infrastructure and personnel support (armaments and soldiers). What percentage of the profits will they get? Are all partners after the same goals? Will the ‘Messianic’ part of this enterprise divide the partners?

Some of the results already indicate fractures, a number of partners have already left (Spain, Salvador), and others have reduced their participation or are in the process of leaving. One difference worthy of note is the way the partners treat their injured and killed ‘workers’ (soldiers). All openly honour them except for the U.S. -and Canada now. The returning body bags are hidden from view. Are these governments ashamed of their behaviour? Were they ‘bad workers’? Did they break any laws, especially religious laws? If they kill (following orders), are they to be commended? Are they killing in the name of God? If they are killed while carrying their duties, do they become heroes or saints? Then why is it their superiors try to suppress the information? Is it because they are actually villains?

Whatever the murky reasons for this latest foray of the Christian West against a Muslim nation, it has torn the very basic rules given by God: “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Thou shalt not murder. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet they neighour’s house.” When will we learn?

* From 1095 to 1291 there were eighth military ‘Crusades’ (from the Latin word ‘cross’) by European Christians against Muslims, aimed at spreading the word of ‘our’ God and, at the same time, trying to gain control of the Middle East. Most of the expeditions failed or the gains were short lived.