Plea of Abraham
March 13, 2003
By Ari Espinoza
We're told in Genesis of how Abraham argued with God over
the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah: "Will You
sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? What if there
should be fifty innocent in the city, will You then wipe out
the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent
fifty who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing,
to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so
that the innocent and guilty fare alike." The Almighty relents
his plan for the sake of the fifty, but Abraham continues
to question, finally counting down until he arrives at ten;
God replies: "I will not destroy, for the sake of ten."
Of course, we know that there weren't even ten innocent souls
in either of those doomed cities, and we know well how the
tale ends. Still, it's a timely story. Given how journalists
wax poetic over how religious this Administration, with daily
Bible study groups and Bush's admission that he prays every
day, Abraham's plea on behalf of people he doesn't even know
should be reworded and presented before the White House. Will
you destroy Baghdad even if there are at least ten innocent
That the United States is entering a new phase in its history
has gone blithely ignored by the media. That national policy
is being dictated by a Republican ideology enamored of evangelical
arm-waving is declared an example of "moral clarity," consequences
be damned. This alleged religiousness of Bush and his cohorts
has not met with any serious question probing how moral it
is to bomb a city because of one man is a perversion of any
serious religious principle. Imagine this exchange at a news
"Will you destroy Baghdad, Mr. President, for the sake of
one evil man even though there might be fifty innocent people?"
Response: "Yes, I will."
"Will you drop bombs and crush a city for the sake of one
evil man even though there might be twenty innocent people?"
Response, "Yes, I will."
"Will you erase Baghdad from the map for the sake of one
evil man even though there might be ten innocent people?"
Response, "Yes, I will."
The only sincere belief that Mr. Bush has is to invade, destroy
and occupy Iraq, a country that has not invaded or attacked
the United States. This is not a man deeply consumed with
the heavy moral weight of armed conflict and thousands of
civilian deaths for the sake of "regime change." He does not
appear bothered in any discernable way, especially if you
watched his March 6 news conference where he looked rather
sedate. It's a deeply calculated political game, by which
Mr. Bush will mouth religious platitudes but leave the cold
ugly realpolitik to his advisors and handlers. This mental
trickery can convince Mr. Bush that he really is a righteous
warrior doing the Lord's work. In reality, he has the theology
of a dry drunk.
Mr. Bush had blurred the September 11 attacks with Iraq,
knowing full well that the Administration's attempts to link
Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda is fraudulent. He's cloaked the
immorality of pre-emptive strikes in enough religious vocabulary
to confuse gullible Middle Americans into thinking he's been
personally selected by God to lead the nation. It's a twisted
and serpentine juxtaposition of fears, language and feeling
that has somehow comforted a large swath of the population.
And most of these claim to be righteous, God-fearing people.
If religion truly is the opiate of the people, America is
the highest nation on earth.
All leaders have invariably invoked the divine to justify
their ambitions and plans, and most importantly, their wars.
Mr. Bush is no different from any of them, who present themselves
as humble servants of a greater power merely doing what is
commanded of them. But Mr. Bush is not Alexander chasing the
Great King Darius; he is not Xenophon leading the Ten Thousand
and our forces in the Gulf are not the outnumbered Greeks
fighting the vast, multinational Persian army.
Instead, we have the smart technology, the satellite-guided
weaponry and night-vision superiority against an enemy with
Soviet-era tanks. Indeed, we are Sennacherib to Baghdad's
besieged Jerusalem. War does not always need to be a battle
of equals, but let's face facts: Iraq's military is weak with
aging hardware. War optimists are predicting an easy victory
within days if not hours. But no one has asked, if Iraq is
so fearsome, why are we so assured that the capitol will crumble
and his soldiers melt away? An inconvenient question when
so much canned music and computer-generated effects are ready
But the final disturbing question remains: why must we destroy
a city and cause so much destruction for the sake of one man,
lest there be ten innocent people there? I challenge this
morally bankrupt and backwards-looking government to answer
that before the "shock and awe" of 3,000 missiles begin screaming
across the sky.
Can you answer that Mr. Bush? Can you?