Neo-cons and fundamentalists - the power of fear

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Matt Black, Oct 21, 2004.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    Saw a good programme on the TV last night:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-perl/whatson/search/advance_search.cgi?keyword=the+power+of+nightmares

    Basically, it was about how (allegedly) a group of neo-conservatives called Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfovitz, and Richard Perl (sound familiar?) based in Team B of the CIA in the 1970s and 80s, over-exaggerated the threat posed by the Soviet Union, with the aim of making US foreign policy more aggressive and the ultimate goal of imposing 'American values' (as they saw those) at home and abroad (eg in Nicaragua) , to such an extent that possibly they believed their own publicity.

    Next week, the programme will look at how they teamed up with Osama bin Laden to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan.

    But the really interesting thing was how they apparently mobilised the American fundamentalists on the 'at home' front. I didn't know, but acc to the prog, most fundamentalists did not vote prior to 1980, seeing politics as being 'worldly' (in essence, an isolationist approach, and one with which I am familiar with my wife being from a Plymouth Brethren background, who adopt a similar approach). But the neo-cons somehow managed to persuade them to turn out in their millions to elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, by selling them the line that somehow the US could be turned into a theocracy; profound pessimism at the state of the world and in particular the US by these Christians was turned into optimism and hope that the Republicans could change it for the (Biblical) better.

    This has been the case from then until recently: the Christian Coalition turns out in strength every four years to vote Republican, by and large. There are signs, however, reflected on these boards, that the Christian love affair with the Republicans is coming to an end.

    Some questions:-

    1. Do you think the observations about the neo-cons are accurate and, if so, should we be worried that they seem to have employed the same 'scare tactics' over Iraq and may do again eg:with Iran, Syria, etc?

    2. Have fundamentalists been historically politically unengaged and, if so, what changed in c.1980?

    3. Does the fundamentalists' current apparent disenchantment with the Republicans simply mark a change in political allegiance eg: to Peroutka, or does it mark the beginning of a retreat from political engagement back to isolationism and pessimism?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  2. JGrubbs

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    I find it simply amazing that Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfovitz, and Richard Perl who controled the foriegn policy in the 1970s and 1980s are also some of the founding members of PNAC who wrote the plan for the invasion of Iraq before Bush was ever elected. PNAC also talks about Iran, Syria, North Korea, etc.

    I think it was the Moral Majority that motivated the Christian voters in 1980, it went on to become the Christian Coalition, which I have always thought to be nothing more than the religious arm of the GOP.

    In 2000 there were an estimated 8 million Christians who chose not to vote. There are thousands of Christian voters who voted for Bush in 2000 but will be voting for Peroutka this year, I expect there to be millions of Christians who sit out this election as well.

    As long as the neo-cons control the GOP, there will be no hope of restoring the party to one of limited government and conservative principles. With the neo-cons in control starting wars around the world will always be the top priority for the party. It is apparent by the number of conservative voters who are against Bush on every domestic issue, but endorsing him soley on the issue of the "war on terror".

    When you "bang the drums of war" you can convince people to forget about the other important issues, forget about their freedoms and liberty, and wave their American flags in state worship disguised as "patriotism."

    "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."
    -- James Madison


    You can see that this is the direction of the current GOP leadership when you review the "The 2004 GOP Convention of Fear".
     
  3. Matt Black

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    Agreed. But does this mark the beginning of a withdrawal by fundamentalists from engagement with 'the world'? Is this the beginning of the end for the 'Christian Right'?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  4. ballfan

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    The article is very deceptive. It mixes truth and falsehoods together. Makes for a distorted picture. Kind of sounds like CNN, CBS, ABC and other liberal news networks. Is the BBC similar to these networks?
     
  5. JGrubbs

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    Can you point out any of the "falsehoods" in the article?

    It could be either the end for the "Christian Right", or it could cause a split not only in the Republican Party, but in the "Christian Right".
     
  6. Matt Black

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    Ballfan, the BBC, along with most media groups both here and I think also your side of the Pond, has a reputation for being a bit liberal, but that should not detract from the seriousness of the programme. What do you think of the issues raised? I'm interested in particular in the volte face that saw millions of fundamentalists abandoning their principles and voting for the first time in 1980 and whether they are now beginning to retreat from that political engagement, realising that the neo-cons were more 'con' than anything else.

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  7. Matt Black

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  8. Stratiotes

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    Matt,

    Good question about retreat. I was one of those fundamentalists that "woke up" to vote for RR. I bought into the GOP-is-God's-party mania for quite a few years. Eventually, it became clear to me that they were never really addressing the issues they said they needed our votes for and were just using us. The disillusionment lasted for a few years where I just voted for local candidates and ignored national elections - leaving those votes blank. Now I'm going back to at least voting at the federal level but never for the two major parties. My disillunsionment with US politics is pretty thorough and I don't hold much hope that it will ever change - but, I know for a fact it won't change if Christians continue to support the two lying/thieving major parties - encouraging their failures is not a road to success by any measure. I don't think its going to make me retreat - it just made me more militant in another direction. But, I think some will remain disillusioned like I was for a few years.
     
  9. Pennsylvania Jim

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    Yes, the article is obviously written from a liberal slant. BUT...every article has a slant, and liberals certainly have no corner on lying, unfortunately.

    Having said that, there are a lot of interesting facts and points. My prediction:

    1. Much of the "hoopla" will disappear, along with some of the voters who can't see past it anyway.

    2. The more radical versions of Dispensationlism will fall out of credit, with some taking a significantly modified view closer to historic premillennialism, and others turning to postmillennialism or amillennialism.

    3. In conjunction with #2 above, many Christians will realize that they've "been had", politically speaking.

    3. As a result, the GOP and the neocons will lose control of the "religious right", unless they can come up with another ploy. I can't predict whether Christians will act wisely or follow another diversion.
     
  10. Matt Black

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    Thanks so far, guys.

    Strat, I'd be interested in particular in hearing more about what or persuaded you to vote in the first place. As already said, my wife's parents are Plymouth Brethren and, with their pre-mill pre-trib rapture dispy take on things, they have a profoundly pessimistic view of 'this world' and there is absolutely no way, short of them ditching a lot of their theology, that they could be persuaded that 'this world' could be 'improved' by voting or any other kind of political involvement. My understanding is that US fundamentalism, while not monolithic in theology llike the PBs, was prior to 1980 very similar in outlook re 'the world'. So, I'm curious: HOW were they - you - persuaded to vote? Was part of the theology trashed eg: pre-mill to post-mill (much more optimistic and 'engaging with the world to make it a better more Godly place')?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  11. Matt Black

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    Part 2 was last night, in which Curtis charted the relationship between the radical Islamists in Afghanistan and the neo-cons: both believed that they had defeated the Soviet Union, but with its collapse, both needed a new bogeyman.

    The Islamists initially turned against their more secular governments in the Arab world, and when that anti-government terrorism did not work, because the masses were appalled at those acts of terror, they turned against the masses as being unworthy Muslims. Eventually they concluded that the masses were corrupted by secular western liberal values and targetted the USA as the source of those values.

    Curiously, the American neo-cons reached a similar, albeit non-terrorist conclusion about secular western liberal values. There was footage of the 1992 Republican Convention where, it was alleged, moderate Republicans were squeezed out by the Religious Right and, as a result, defected to the Democrats at the election. This infuriated the neo-cons, who saw an America thus corrupted by liberalism as not worthy of their defence - unless liberalism could be defeated. In their own minds, Clinton became the arch-liberal, their nemesis, the symbol of all that was bad and rotten in America, and he had to be destroyed at all costs. There followed a fascinating interview with David Brock, who stated the following (in contrast to what he was saying back then):-

    1. Whitewater was a land deal where the Clinton's lost, not made money

    2. Vince Foster took his own life

    3. Clinton was not drug dealing out of Arkansas

    The neo-cons' 'destroy Clinton' campaign of course reached its apogee in the Starr Inquiry (Starr himself having neo-con connections)...

    More next week

    Yours in Christ

    Matt

    2.
     
  12. LadyEagle

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    Agree 100%. Too bad more Christians don't wake up and smell the coffee. [​IMG]
     
  13. Pennsylvania Jim

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    Too bad some of them fall back to sleep so easily.
     
  14. church mouse guy

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    The left has been saying that the Soviet Union posed no threat since Russia fell to the Communists. However, that belief is laughed at by Eastern Europe and anyone else who fell under the Russian guns.

    As for the statement, "But the neo-cons somehow managed to persuade them to turn out in their millions to elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, by selling them the line that somehow the US could be turned into a theocracy;..."--that too is garbage as no one wants a theocracy. Most Americans left Europe to get away from state churches such as the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church. I know that the Southern Baptists are explicit in calling for a state free of church control.

    The British have rejected Christianity and are now a heathen nation. So of course this sort of overblown rhetoric plays well in a decayed England.
     
  15. church mouse guy

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    To argue that the Soviet Union was not a threat is akin to arguing that Germany posed no threat to England.

    Many of the neo-cons that worry the left so much are Jews.

    For the record, here is the Southern Baptist doctrine on the relationship between the church and the state:

    "XVII. Religious Liberty

    "God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.

    "Genesis 1:27; 2:7; Matthew 6:6-7,24; 16:26; 22:21; John 8:36; Acts 4:19-20; Romans 6:1-2; 13:1-7; Galatians 5:1,13; Philippians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:1-2; James 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12-17; 3:11-17; 4:12-19."
     
  16. swaimj

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    I think that neo-cons probably did not exist in the 70's. Their views began to develop in the late eightys and they gained positions of influence in the Bush II administration.

    A couple of observations on neo-cons: Just because one does not agree with the way neocons want to confront threats to the US, does not mean that the threats do not exist.

    Second, neo-cons are abberrant conservatives. Conservatism is a realistic view of the world. It sees the world as it is and attempts to deal with it as it is and generally recognizes the deepravity of man. Neo-cons see the world through a utopian lense which exaggerates the ability of the US to change the world and exaggerates the desire of the world to be changed. Because the neo-cons world-view is unrealistic, I think the influence of the neo-cons is destined to wane.


    Yes. After the Scopes trial in 1925, fundamentalists disengaged from culture. They left the denominations, they left the seminaries, they started their own schools, radio ministries, churches, etc. In the 1980's Jerry Falwell, a fundamentalist, came to believe that there was a great number of morally conservative Americans who could be rallied to support and elect candidates who would support legislation on moral policy. Falwell's rise coincided with the rise of Ronald Reagan who combined the support of social conservatives like Falwell and political conservatives to win the White House. Pundits at the time credited Reagan's election to the support of conservative evangelicals. Falwell led fundamentalists, at least in 1980, to re-engage culture.

    Fundamentalists have discovered that they are not well-suited for the political world. Politics is the art of compromise and fundamentalists aren't supposed to compromise. Falwell himself got a hard lesson on this early in Reagan's term. When a Supreme Court vacancy occurred, Reagan wanted to appoint a woman to the court. He cared little about her views, he just wanted to be the first president to appoint a woman. He nominated Sandra Day O'Connor. It became apparent fairly quickly that she was not very conservative and specifically, not anti-abortion. Falwell planned to hold a press conference to oppose her nomination, but Reagan's chief of staff called him and asked him to reserve judgement until they could present him with some facts about her. Falwell waited in silence that first crucial weekend while Reagan's people galvanized support for his nominee. Falwell recieved no information showing O'Connor to be pro-life. He had missed to opportunity to speak out out of loyalty to Reagan and he got taken. Of course we all know that O'Connor is on the court and has been a consistent pro-choice swing-vote on the court lo these many years.

    As a result of disenchantment with politics and specifically the Republican Party, fundamentalists and evangelicals, while still engaged in politics, do not have a coherent strategy for political involvement nor a powerful spokesman like Falwell to lead them in a strategy.
     
  17. Pennsylvania Jim

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    Sure they did. They were simply called what they are...liberals.
     
  18. church mouse guy

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    Evangelicals have a good leader in Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

    Fundamentalism is split and worn-out with a century of fighting and a Pentecostal doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture, which sometimes makes Christians who do not want to struggle against the anti-Christs, in my opinion. Other Fundamentalists have gone off into strange doctrines such as the anti-intellectual Constitution Party. Still others have rejected the Christian leadership of John Ashcroft merely because he is charismatic and accepts the perpetuity of spiritual gifts, which all Fundamentalism rejects, as you know.

    So I say that if a Fundamentalist wants to join the fight, he is welcome. If not, let him be like a Catholic, who fights only now and then.

    For me the Evangelical rallying cry is this statement by General William Booth (at age of 83 shortly before his death) spoken on the platform of the Albert Hall in front of a 7000 strong audience :

    “While women weep as they do now, I’ll fight:
    while little children go hungry as they do now, I’ll fight;
    while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, I’ll fight;
    while there yet remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight –
    I’ll fight to the very end!”


    [ October 29, 2004, 08:51 AM: Message edited by: church mouse guy ]
     
  19. Matt Black

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    In summary, the Adam Curtis' thesis is this:

    1. In America, Leo Strauss comes up with the idea that you need myths and big stories to energise a society. You need Good and Evil, you need to believe your country has some mission in the world. His favourite TV programme was, apparently, Gunsmoke, and he would make sure his classes ended so he could get home to watch it. Influential members of US adminstrations from Ford to Bush Junior(eg Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld) have accepted this principle, hence a shift from Kissingeresque pragmatism to Reaganite denunciations of Evil Empires. People of this persuasion believe that they defeated the evil of Communism (as opposed to accepting the fact that Communism collapsed because it was rubbish and Gorbachev realised this.) Once the Cold War was over, this worldview needs an enemy....

    2. Enter stage left, radical Islamists developed ideas (ironically under torture in Egyptian jails, where the guards had been trained by the CIA) that there's also a fight between Good and Evil. They concluded that this gave them the right to topple / kill leaders in the Muslim world who weren't "proper Muslims" and, when the people failed to rise up as they were meant to, to kill absolutely anyone who wasn't a proper Muslim. In the first phase, this expresses itself in various Arab nationalist movements, the Mujaheddin (again, ironically, trained in carbombing and other terrorist activities by the CIA). When the revolution doesn't come, these groups turn on each other and themselves, causing brutal acts of violence as their fractured movements implode (cf. the horrific massacres in Algeria). People of this persuasion believe that they defeated the evil of Communism (as opposed to accepting the fact that Communism collapsed because it was rubbish and Gorbachev realised this.)

    3. By 2001, these radical Islamists are at the fringe of the fringe - they have little or no support amongst Muslims or Arabs, and whilst there are disaffected Muslims (usual young men) who will carry out acts of violence in pursuance of an idea of attacking the West in various ways, there is no global network of terrorism. The people "caught" in Afghanistan were mostly innocents, handed over by the Northern Alliance because they got paid for them. There were no secret complexes in the Tora Bora mountains. There was no Al-Qaeda. There was a guy called Osama bin Laden who gave money to people who wanted it, but he was not the head of any organised international network.

    4. During a prosecution against Muslims charged with the East Africa embassy bombings, the CIA rely on the evidence of one man (who is running away from bin Laden because he's stolen some of his money). The CIA needs evidence that bin Laden is the head of an organised group, because under the law they can prosecute him for that in the way they would prosecute a Mafia boss - but they have to prove the existence of the network. The witness gives them the info they need.

    5. After 9/11, bin Laden starts using the name "Al-Qaeda". One of his closest allies, when questioned, gives the CIA information about great plans to blow up parts of America, which sound suspiciously like scenes from the recent "Godzilla" movie, which are used by governments to show how they're cracking down on terrorism. So-called "sleeper" cells in the US are found to be nothing of the sort - home videos of Disneyworld really are home videos; diaries with so-called plans are found to have been left in houses by previous occupants with histories of mental illness and delusion, or just backpacking tourists who left their guidebooks behind. The arresting of terror cells is highly publicised - the fact that most of them only get doen on minor criminal charges is curiously not mentioned when these matters eventually come to court.

    6. Basically, London and Washington are using the fear of a network that (initially at least) did not exist in order to maintain power. They do this because, in times past, optimistic promises were found to be untrue, so pessimistic warnings of destruction are the only way to ensure people listen to you. They are able to do this because a society that believes in nothing can only be energised by threats of destruction from outside by people who will believe anything. One of the things they are able to do with this is introduce the notion of holding someone on the grounds that they might potentially, possibly do something in the future.

    What do people think?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  20. Daisy

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    I wonder if they'll ever play that here. The thesis sounds plausible to me.
     

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