At a recent press conference the president was asked whether he could think of any mistakes he had made during his term in office. He paused, trying to conjure up an answer. In the end, he couldn’t manage to name a single mistake he had made.
Most of my friends seem to agree with the president. They feel he continues to deserve their undivided loyalty and support.
With all due respect, their actions and attitudes remind me of the professing Christians in Germany during the years of the Third Reich. It is a fact of history that only a few Lutherans offered any semblance of meaningful resistance to Nazi lying and heavy-handedness. David Priestly, in an article entitled “The Baptist Response in Germany to the Third Reich” (in God and Caesar, ed. R. Linder  pp. 102-23), has shown that one of the most orthodox of all the German Christian groups, the Baptists, also loyally supported the regime and even welcomed Hitler’s accession to power.
One can perhaps understand the passivity of German Baptists once the Nazi Party’s totalitarian control had been extended throughout the country. The real problem began when Hitler first seized power in 1933 and before 1936, when he finally consolidated his death grip on German society. What had the German Baptists done to take advantage of this window of opportunity? Nothing, it appears. As one German historian, Hannah Vogt, puts it: “The first sin of omission gave rise to all the later crimes” (The Burden of Guilty  p. 234).
Will American Christians fall into the same pattern of willful ignorance and apathy? Christians cannot escape their obligation to become involved on the side of justice and truth in their country’s public affairs. Simply because a particular candidate for office professes to be a Christian is not in itself an adequate reason to vote for him. His stand on the issues must always be the decisive considerations, not party loyalty or even religious connections.
Author David Corn, at his website bushlies.com, has documented the top ten lies of George W. Bush. For example, Corn reminds us of the president’s (false) rational for going to war with Iraq:
“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” And, “[Saddam Hussein is] a threat because he is dealing with al Qaeda.” These two Bush remarks go hand in hand, even though the first was said on March 17, 2003, two days before Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, and the other came during a November 7, 2002, press conference. Together they represented his argument for war: Hussein possessed actual weapons of mass destruction and at any moment could hand them to his supposed partners in al Qaeda. That is why Hussein was an immediate threat to the United States and had to be taken out quickly. But neither of these assertions were truthful. There has been much media debate over all this. But the postwar statements of Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of the CIA, provide the most compelling proof. He has been conducting a review of the prewar intelligence, and he has told reporters that the intelligence on Hussein’s WMDs was full of caveats and qualifiers and based mostly on inferential or circumstantial evidence. In other words, it was not no-doubt material. He also has said that prewar intelligence reports did not contain evidence of links between Hussein and al Qaeda. The best information to date indicates that the prewar intelligence did not leave “no doubt” about WMDs and did not support Bush’s claim that Hussein was in cahoots with al Qaeda. Bush’s primary reason for war was founded on falsehoods.
More recently, the Center for American Progress has assembled a list of 100 mistakes the president has made since assuming office. Here’s a sampling from this well-documented report:
1. Failing to build a real international coalition prior to the Iraq invasion, forcing the US to shoulder the full cost and consequences of the war.
2. Approving the demobilization of the Iraqi Army in May, 2003 – bypassing the Joint Chiefs of Staff and reversing an earlier position, the President left hundreds of thousands of armed Iraqis disgruntled and unemployed, contributing significantly to the massive security problems American troops have faced during occupation.
4. Ignoring the advice Gen. Eric Shinseki regarding the need for more troops in Iraq – now Bush is belatedly adding troops, having allowed the security situation to deteriorate in exactly the way Shinseki said it would if there were not enough troops.
5. Ignoring plans drawn up by the Army War College and other war-planning agencies, which predicted most of the worst security and infrastructure problems America faced in the early days of the Iraq occupation.
9. Predicting Iraq would pay for its own reconstruction.
10. Wildly underestimating the cost of the war.
11. Trusting Ahmed Chalabi, who has dismissed faulty intelligence he provided the President as necessary for getting the Americans to topple Saddam.
12. Disbanding the Sunni Baathist managers responsible for Iraq’s water, electricity, sewer system and all the other critical parts of that country’s infrastructure.
13. Failing to give UN weapons inspectors enough time to certify if weapons existed in Iraq.
15. Announcing that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended” aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, below a “Mission Accomplished” banner – more U.S. soldiers have died in combat since Bush’s announcement than before it.
17. Refusing to cede any control of Post-invasion Iraq to the international community, meaning reconstruction has received limited aid from European allies or the U.N.
18. Failing to convince NATO allies why invading Iraq was important.
19. Having no real plan for the occupation of Iraq.
21. Diverting $700 million into Iraq invasion planning without informing Congress.
22. Shutting down an Iraqi newspaper for “inciting violence” – the move, which led in short order to street fighting in Fallujah, incited more violence than the newspaper ever had.
23. Telling Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan about plans to go to war with Iraq before Secretary of State Colin Powell.
And the list goes on and on.
Dear friends, Bush’s public policy decisions are on the record. There is no reason for liberty-loving Christians to ignore them any longer.
Are evangelical believers, in their concern for doctrinal purity, guilty of neglecting the supreme obscenities of unjust war, government mendacity, the fabrication of evidence, as well as a multitude of lesser social and political evils? Did our president make any mistakes? Does he deserve to be reelected?
You be the judge.
June 11, 2004
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. His latest book, Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon, will be released later this month.