Region: Iraq

I Think I’m in Love

Jim Webb during his first hearing with the Armed Services Committee . . .

One of Those Political Posts

I’ve come to feel increasingly alienated from evangelical culture, and politics is an important reason. I used to write about this a lot more on Long Pauses, but I grew tired of my own voice and my own hypocrisies. Too much finger-pointing. Plus, the results of the 2004 election broke my heart. I’ve felt more than a bit defeated and hopelessly cynical ever since.

Speculate Away

“Well, we don’t know what’s happening exactly, but it must be big. Speculate away!”

Just a Question

Many of us who opposed the war did so, in part, because we feared that destabilizing Iraq would provoke a civil war that would prove a humanitarian crisis worse than even Saddam’s regime. I wonder how American sentiment toward our role in Iraq would change if we admitted that the civil war has already begun?

Confidence Man

In the last month, Bush has given America’s highest civilian honor to George Tenet, the man who most on the right scapegoated for his “slam dunk” on Iraq intelligence. He’s nominated a petty criminal for the nation’s top security position. And he’s repeatedly emphasized his support of Donald Rumsfeld. I think we’re reaching a point when Bush’s statement of “confidence” will be read quite differently from how it’s intended.

Still Big News

Yesterday, after weeks of bloody fighting in Najaf, The Times ran another piece on Falluja, and I’m at a lost to explain why it wasn’t front page news. In all of the sound a fury of the Sunday morning spin fests, shouldn’t someone have been talking about this?

Mr. Bush Comes to Town

It’s interesting to see how Bush’s rhetoric has evolved. While admitting — finally — that WMD have not been found, he continues to litter his speech with allusions to them, though they’ve now morphed into “weapons of mass murder,” and — in a turn of phrase that would have made Monicagate-era Clinton proud — they are now modified with the nebulous term, “capability.”

Catchin’ Spears

I’m guessing that it’ll go something like this:

Looking Back

Yesterday, I found the “Peace on Earth, No War on Iraq” sign that I carried in a protest during the rush to war, and it occurred to me that I am genuinely proud of that act. It’s difficult to explain, but I know that it was absolutely the right thing to do. I guess that’s why I’m taking some comfort from quotes like these, all taken from traditionally conservative commentators

Because You Lied

Andrew Christie imagines what he would tell Dick Cheney if he were in Kerry’s shoes. I just wish that Kerry would say something. His “we need a broader international coalition and more troops” line is already wearing thin.

God Save the Queen

Joan Chittister watched Condoleezza Rice’s testimony with great interest, hoping to learn more about our government’s pre-9/11 knowledge of al-Qaeda. Instead, she was stunned by “the amount of self-congratulation spent on the fact of the testimony itself.”

Writing in the First Person

My brain is turning soft. It’s not that I’ve forgotten to update my 2004 film viewing and reading lists; it’s that I have, for all intents and purposes, abandoned my intellectual life. I don’t have the energy for it. Or the time. Or — and this is the big one — the attention span. And it’s starting to wear me down.

Stuck in the Long, Hard Slog

But wish as I might, I can’t yet join the knee-jerkers, and I’m not sure why, exactly. Except that I don’t want it all to have been for nothing.

Bring ‘Em On

“When Bush landed on the aircraft carrier in that flight suit, I immediately thought, ‘From now on, just do Bush in the flight suit. Every single time.'”

I Just Don’t Know

A dear friend of mine is now in parts unknown, doing the type of work that must be done if this war ever really will lead to greater peace and safety in the world. This is the last note I received from him: “I consider it a privilege to be able to serve the people of Iraq. Please pray that they will find true shalom in the coming months and years.”

F— Off, Old Europe

The arrogance of this bunch is just staggering. Tell me — is there any legitimate justification for our continued snubbing of the U.N.? I mean, other than a general, “nobody’s gonna tell me what to do” stupidity?

Theology of Empire

This weekend I received the latest issue of Sojourners, in which editor-in-chief Jim Wallis discusses the neocon move toward empire and the bad theology that Bush uses to promote it.

Vigorous Democracy

George W. Bush has turned me into a political animal, and I’m not the only one. Everywhere I go now, I find myself stepping into political discussions. Wars, dead soldiers, and budget deficits will do that to a country, I guess.

The Precision of Words

I worry when politicians denounce ambiguity, when they normalize and conventionalize concepts as mysterious as democracy and history. People die unnecessarily as a result.

Looking Back

I totally sympathize with this woman’s frustration (believe me), but to act as though the “untidiness” of post-war Iraq is a big surprise only proves your ignorance.

It Smells Like . . . Victory

I was aware of Sheen’s activism, of course — it’s near impossible not to be when he is so often demonized by the conservative media — but I’d never heard him explain so rationally and passionately his motivations.

Take Me With You, Alec

According to a recent poll, a third of the American public believes that we have already discovered WMD in Iraq. And nearly a fourth believes that Iraq actually used chemical and biological weapons during the war.

Give ‘Em Hell, Bill

“Sleep the sleep of the just” is my favorite line from Moyers’s speech. That strange metaphor — the idea that sleeping soundly somehow demonstrates moral rightness — has shown up in a few odd places lately, most notably in the frequent reports that President Bush is sleeping well despite (or, perhaps, because of) the war. Well thank God for small blessings, eh?

Red Five Standing By

After describing the administration’s push for the American Services Members Protection Act, Lawrence concludes with this fun little anecdote (and by “fun” I mean horrifying).

The Agenda

Within the strange confines of my personal experience, many of the “Regular Joes” who support President Bush and his agenda seem to do so because he is pro-life and because he evidences publicly the recognizable signs of a “committed walk with God.” Within this community — this large, evangelical sub-culture — voting Republican is a “moral” act, a single gesture by which evangelicals hope to restore America to its Christian foundations.

News from the Front

Tonight, I listened to Shane Claiborne tell stories about Baghdad. He’s taller than I expected (6′ 3″, maybe) and skinnier and younger. I mean, I knew he was young, but after reading his diaries for the last few weeks I somehow expected him to carry the weight of his experience in his skin.

Kushner on Bush

Tony Kushner on President Bush and military intervention in Iraq.


I watched a fantastic installment of Frontline last night called, The Long Road to War. The first half hour was devoted to a political biography of Saddam, the second segment dealt mostly with the ’91 Gulf War, and the final bit addressed the Clinton and Dubya years.

Rilke’s “The Man Watching”

Less than an hour until President Bush’s national address, and I’m too tired, too frustrated, and too stunned to think. I know that there’s not much lower on the blog food chain than posting a poem without comment, but, well, a friend sent this to me today, and it’s been a source of welcomed comfort.

A Bush Win?

With war now only days away (I assume), parts of the anti-war movement seem to be — and I say this with some hesitation — relishing the prospect of disaster.

God Bless Norman Mailer

I’ve been a champion of Mailer’s political commentary since first reading Armies of the Night and gasping at his prescient analysis of the Cold War. Sure, he can be as subtle as a sledgehammer, but the combined weight of his experience, intelligence, and confidence strike me with a welcomed force.

American Triumphalism

I so want Bush to be the Christian President that many of my friends claim him to be, but then I read articles like this, in which he makes such ridiculous comments.

Strange Bedfellows

In Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer calls himself a member of the “Conservative Left,” which makes more and more sense to me as I spend more and more time arguing with friends about this unnecessary, but apparently inevitable, war.


I had planned to post a rambling personal narrative today, describing in minute detail my particular experiences in Saturday’s anti-war demonstrations. But when I sat down to it, the idea seemed a bit too self-indulgent, even by blog standards.

Duck and Cover

I’ve heard the soundbite hundreds of times over the years, memorizing subconsciously its particular pauses and inflections. Not until the weeks following September 11, though, did FDR’s most memorable message resonate in any meaningful ways for me.

Hauerwas, Bush, and Alexander

After listening to me ramble incessantly, a professor recently pointed me toward Stanley Hauerwas. I now see why.

Here in the States

A friend from Canada wrote, asking what friends and neighbors in the States are feeling and saying to each other. This is how I responded.

In Their Own Words

Snippets from church statements in opposition to the war in Iraq.

Sick Day

An early update today because I’m at home, trying to kill a cold before it gets out of control. I hate being sick. Although I can’t really knock an opportunity to sleep late, drink coffee, and watch The Dixie Chicks: Behind the Music for the fifth time.

All We Are Sayin’

Liza Featherstone’s article, “Peace Gets a Chance,” provides a helpful overview of the various coalitions being formed to protest America’s regrettable foreign policy decisions of late.

Miscellaneous Debris

Four random but interesting links.

Kennan and Containment

I had no idea that George Kennan was still alive. The man who literally wrote America’s containment policy, the policy that has directed our foreign policy for nearly sixty years now, is 98 and living in Georgetown.

Planning for War (and Whatnot)

Herr’s porn analogy seems even more appropriate today, when technology allows us to watch a precision guided missile hitting its target from a first-person point of view. It’s Eisensteinian montage at its most perverse.

Calling the Bluff

Things are getting interesting, eh? Looks like Hussein has called Bush’s bluff. This editorial is the best I’ve found. Of course, the folks in Washington and London are already voicing their doubts about Iraq’s motives, which is neither unexpected nor completely unwarranted. I realize that the Bush administration must continue to pressure both the UN […]

Wagging the Dog

In today’s Post, Dana Milbank lets leading figures from both sides decide if the Bush administration is “Wagging the Dog” in Iraq. It’s a good, well-balanced piece, and worth a read, despite being fairly predictable. (Daschle: He’s wagging the dog. Fleischer: No he isn’t.) This is the first article I’ve read that compiles all of […]

Dorothy Day

Apparently this is going to be an unusually “religious” blog today. It had been several days since I last visited Sightings, so I had missed both excellent entries from last week. In “Your Two Cents,” Martin Marty gives voice to the many recent responses by Sightings readers. Then, in “A Just War?” James Evans summarizes […]

Cold War Logic

While they have succeeded (though not without difficulty) in reducing the situation to a gross dichotomy (good America vs. evil totalitarianism), they have suddenly abandoned our six-decade policy of deterrence and containment.


Two weeks ago I read a wonderful novella by Joan Didion called, Democracy (1984). Near the end, we learn that one of the main characters is an Ollie North-like agent, a guy who embraces the profit potential and moral ambiguity of international affairs.

A Blessing and a Symbol

Why am I surprised? The Sunday edition of my local paper leads with two “local interest” stories: one on a couple from Chattanooga who were married hours before driving to Knoxville for UT’s opening game; the other an embarrassing interview with a couple whose first child was born on the morning of September 11. If […]

Nine Questions

What with Dubya and Tony Blair now promising startling revelations in the coming weeks (what exactly does a dossier look like?), I’d like to join those who are encouraging the President to answer the following questions.