Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 1:19 am

God help us


Media Matters has identified what it sees as a media-related issue.

That issue is this: The right-wing Web site WorldNewsDaily, affectionately known to those of us in the reality-based community as Wingnut Daily, is complaining. It is complaining because an Army major wrote an exhaustively documented monograph for his work at the School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

That paper is titled “Strategic Implications of American Millennialism.” It talks about the prevalence and influence in the American military elite of dispensational pre-millennialism. This is a strand of Christian belief that holds that believing Christians will ascend bodily into heaven, immediately after which the world will be plunged into seven years of all manner of trouble, after which Jesus returns to Earth to reign for a thousand years (a millennium, whence the name).

Wingnut Daily’s Bob Unruh* is criticizing this Army major for suggesting that way too many people are setting actual military policy according to this belief.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Media Matters is right to criticize Wingnut Daily for complaining about this. But I also think Media Matters is missing the real problem here, which is that way too many people are setting actual military policy according to this belief.

As an amateur student of military history, I cannot stress enough how bad this is. I can point you to army after army after empire after empire that has decided that some sort of intangible, God-given quality was going to lead them to a military victory they otherwise had no chance of winning — and then gone and gotten slaughtered. Everyone laughs when the guy in “Gone With the Wind” brags that one Southerner can whip 10 Yankees, but when the French found out in World War I that red trousers and elán alone weren’t going to beat the Kaiser’s troops, all of a sudden it wasn’t so damn funny.

I am open to the possibility that God could come down to Earth tomorrow, hand a trumpet to David Petraeus and then we could all stand around and watch as al-Qaeda’s walls came tumbling down. Call me crazy.

But let me be clear here: Unless/until this actually happens, letting dispensational pre-millennarianism guide our military and foreign policy is dangerous magical thinking that is likely to get a lot of good people killed unnecessarily, military and civilian alike. As I type this, unlike the Hebrews of the Old Testament, we have no real indication that our commander in chief is anyone other than that tall, skinny guy currently living in the White House. And I pray to God that our military’s training, simulations, planning, logistics and everything else are structured accordingly.

*I wrote Bob Unruh, and here’s what I said: “Dear Bob: Is Joshua now a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army? Has God recently come down and personally handed a trumpet to Gen. David Petraeus, the blowing of which has caused al-Qaeda’s walls to come tumbling down? No? Then get off Maj. Brian L. Stuckert’s back. Leaving aside for the moment your gross misinterpretations of his work — I will, for the moment, give you the benefit of the doubt and not claim that you’re intentionally misrepresenting what he wrote — you need to understand that letting dispensational premillennarianism guide our military and foreign policy probably is only going to get a lot of good people — American and otherwise, soldiers and civilians alike — killed. I know you don’t want that. So, unless/until God actually shows up and hands Gen. Petraeus the aforementioned trumpet, how about you shut the hell up, mmkay? Thanks very much. Oh, tell me — how much do you get paid to make Christians look like total idiots? I hope it’s a lot. I’d hate to think your kids were going hungry while I resented you. Best, Lex”

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