Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Should we leave Iraq?

There is a growing sentiment among members of Congress to urge President Bush to withdraw the troops from Iraq. At the very least they are calling for an exit strategy and a timetable for such an exit.

Yet, I fail to hear these same Congresspeople and Senators call for troop withdrawal from Germany or Japan, even though hostilities with those nations ended in 1945. Granted, there were Cold War considerations for keeping troops there, but does anyone fear a Soviet attack today?

Do these same leaders want our troops withdrawn from Korea? Yep, we still have them there even though hostilities were put on hold roughly 50 years ago. Okay, so technically we're still in a "state of war" with North Korea--but shouldn't we get our troops out before they die?

The Heritage Foundation reports that "In 2003, 387,920 troops were stationed on foreign soil." There are roughly 136,000 troops in Iraq.

Some cite the casualties of the Iraq War. The latest figures show 1743 deaths in Iraq (3/19/2003 through 6/28/2005), a rate of just over 2 deaths per day. 192 U.S. servicemen have died in Afghanistan--a much lower daily average since the casualties are lower and the war has lasted longer.

Meanwhile, a conservative estimate of casualties on D-Day alone is 8,443 (http://www.warchronicle.com/numbers/WWII/ddaycasualtyest.htm). Yes, that's right, one day alone in World War II saw 5 times as many deaths as the sum total of casualties in the war on terror. Add in the roughly 3,000 casualties on 9/11 and the number is still below that one day on Normandy's beach.

Remember the battle of Gettysburg? That three day battle claimed 51,112 soldiers--23,049 Union and 28,063 Confederate (hat tip: http://www.civilwarhome.com/Battles.htm). That comes to a staggering 17,037 deaths each day!

After World War II U.S. forces faced insurgencies and disparate groups seeking to keep out the "invaders." At one point in 1946 the New York Times declared "Germany is - a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. [European] capitals are frightened. In every [military] headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed." Many did not believe Germany or Japan were capable of democracy. Not only are they capable, but they also determine their own fates and destinies. They have not been puppets of the American government.

And isn't that what democracy is all about? And don't we owe it to the Iraqis to guide them as they feel their way into democracy and establish their government and identity among the democracies of the world?

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Ten Commandments

I just read on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel web site that the court issued a ruling on Ten Commandments displays. It seems that the court ruled that each instance is unique. They are okay in front of the Texas statehouse, but not okay inside a Kentucky courtroom.

Now, what makes it okay in one instance to allow the display of the Ten COmmandments but not in another case? The article stated thus:

The justices voting on the prevailing side in the Kentucky case left themselves legal wiggle room, saying that some displays inside courthouses - like their own courtroom frieze - would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held. Those courthouse displays are unconstitutional, the justices said, because their religious content is overemphasized.

Okay, so as long as there is no "religious" content, the Ten COmmandments are okay? How, pray tell, are the Ten Commandments "non-religious?" The whole debate over the Ten Commandments is that they are religious. A photo with the article showed a version beginning with "I am the Lord they God." Presumably this was from the banned version. But even taking this statement out one still has "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (don't you have to then state which is the Supreme God?) and "Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." Will these statements be taken out for Ten Commandment displays to be kosher?

The way I see it, the Ten Commandments are recognized by Christians and Jews. They are found in the Christian Bible and the Jewish Scriptures. Muslims have a respect for these books as well, so I suspect they have no quarrels with the Ten Commandments.

Of course, the United States is a multi-cultural society. Down the street from where I live is a Baha'i meeting place. Hindu believers are also found in Milwaukee. Elsewhere one will find devotees to Buddha and Confucius. Should we leave out the Ten Commandments for the sake of these people?

One of the classes we took in the seminary was a study of world religions. This included reading the sacred texts of each religion, such as the Bhagavad Gita. Many have precepts, usually less than ten, but a maneagable number. And, interestingly, they basically uphold the rights of people--you know, don't kill, don't steal, don't commit adultery, don't sass your parents, etc. And not only do these precepts preserve the same human rights and property as the Ten Commandments, they do so in similar fashion and in similar order.

So my suggestion is to place the rules of living from all religions in our courtrooms and government buildings. They envelope the fact that most Americans are faith-based and live by common rules, rules needed for an orderly society.

Welcome to the Hoh Blog

Welcome to The Hoh Blog. This forum will look at issues in the political and religious spheres. By way of introduction, I am a free-lance writer who writes primarily on religious topics. I attended four years of Lutheran seminary and have published several books.

My writing experience includes several books (http://www.geocities.com/hohjohn). I also have been a contributing editor for Suite 101.com, writing on topics such as Lutheranism, the Underground Railroad, Airline Liveries, Arena Football League, and Christian Humor.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you on this forum. Hopefully we can interact and everyone learns something along the way. At the very least I hope discussions are thought-provoking.