Friday, June 6, 2008

War, Christianity & Liberal Democracy:

The recent spike in oil prices and drop in the stock market prompted witty Volokh Conspiracy commenter Bruce M to remark: "I thought we were trading blood for oil. We got ripped off on that deal."

No doubt oil was some kind of big tangential issue to recent war in Iraq (it was a bigger issue in the first Iraq War -- the successful one). However, this war most certainly was not chiefly about oil. If it were, we would have just tried to take it.

The war was actually about the misguided desire to spread democracy at the point of a gun, something in which Bush's Straussian advisors strongly believe. And though Bush isn't a Straussian, I genuinely believe he genuinely believes liberal democratic rights are God ordained; thus his fanaticism/idealism (whichever term you prefer) on establishing democracy in Iraq. I've read Strauss and have blogged quite a bit about the tension (of which the Straussians are aware) between traditional Christianity (the kind Bush believes in) and liberal democratic theory (ala the theology of the Declaration of Independence).

One point I've taken from Straussians like Allan Bloom (Paul Wolfowitz's mentor) is that average folks or the "gentlemen" leaders like Bush probably aren't sophisticated enough to appreciate the tension between Christianity and liberal democratic theory; so just sell them a "synthesis" -- convince them their Christian God grants the liberal democratic rights found in the Declaration of Independence. Something similar occurred during the US and French Revolutions. Yes the French Revolution. I know the term "Jacobin" has been levied at Bush and his neocon advisors. And it seems strange that a movement -- Jacobinism -- that was associated with the secular/anti-Christian fanaticism of the French Revolution is associated with a traditional conservative Christian like Bush. But, many traditional orthodox Trinitarian Christians supported the French Revolution and saw it as the dawning of a new millennium of the "rights of man." This is what non-orthodox Christians like Joseph Priestley and Richard Price believed. But there were also traditional Christians like Ezra Stiles, former President of Yale, who were just as zealous and fanatical Francophiles.

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