The Culture of a Vengeful God
I live the United States of America, a nation with a pervasive vengeful god culture. As such, we believe that God exists to punish evil, and that we are His instrument to do so on Earth. A bit dramatic, I know. But even when we elect a president specifically because we are tired of endless war, we can’t seem to go more than 10 years without clamoring to bomb someone.
In the days of the Cold War, the U.S. would simply support whatever side in a conflict that the Soviet Union opposed. It didn’t matter how brutal our surrogates were or even if they despised us (i.e. the Taliban). If the Soviets were fer ’em, we were agen’ ’em. And so it went, with illegal, undeclared war after illegal, undeclared war – dozens of them. Life was simple back then; the wars were kept as secret as possible from the American public, and anyone opposed to them was a traitor and communist sympathizer.
In 1991, the Soviet Union got tired of it all and disbanded. Then, the internet happened. Now everyone knows pretty much everything that happens everywhere. This complicates things. Now, we have to have a reason to kill people, other than obscure geopolitical power plays. Ever since the 1990s, our military excursions have been billed as wars to protect other populations from their own tyrannical regimes.
Our war in Libya was to protect the civilian population from the murderous regime of Gaddafi. In the process, possibly 30,000 Libyans were killed.
In Iraq, Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons against his own people (back when he was our ally) and so we had to get rid of him. As a result, 1,455,590 people were killed.
Our invasion of Afghanistan started as simple blood-letting in our search to hold someone accountable for the terrorist attacks of 2001 – someone we knew how to find and bomb – but it quickly morphed into an heroic effort to rid Afghanistan of its oppressive regime. For their own good, tens of thousands of Afghans had to die, and, as that war never seems to end, they keep on dying.
Now, after about 120,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war, we are told we need to bomb Syria because the government has crossed a line – they killed people with chemical weapons. It’s our responsibility, as God’s instrument of justice, to send the Syrians a message with our missiles. In other words, we have to kill people to punish people for killing people in the wrong way. They have to learn how to kill in a civilized fashion, like us. Stick to the script, Syria!
Killing to Punish Killing
This strategy is just a global version of what we do every day here at home. A majority of us embrace the death penalty as a tool to mete out justice. We, as a nation, believe that the government must kill people who kill people to stop people from killing people. It hasn’t worked yet, but it’s sure to eventually. And in the meantime, it just feels right to Americans to make someone suffer for making someone else suffer. And, if a few thousand or million other people die in the process, well, that’s the price of American justice.
Anyway, the Syrian Strikes Will Be Strategic and Quick
If there’s one thing we have learned from history, it’s that we have learned nothing from history.
Click here to be offended on my distinction between “justice” and “punishment”: