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Please feel free to forward this to others. Posted in CINJUST mailing list, August 20, 1998, and sent extensively to my address book.

<BEGIN LAMENT MODE>

A LAMENT REGARDING THE FOREIGN POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

The politicians have been busy today with their fave rave politricks.

And as usual when they play their little games, people are dead.

As a citizen of the United States, I just have to ask ---

Are we going to continue our insane foreign policy until bombs start going off with regularity right here in the United States?

Years ago there was a movie -- Invasion USA -- starred Chuck Norris, all about mean and evil terrorists landing in the night on the beach and moving inland, invading suburbia, and blowing up neighborhoods.

My observation is that actions always have consequences. And the Bible says "Sow not in the furrows of injustice, lest you harvest it sevenfold." (Sirach 7:3, I suppose it's not in President Clinton's Bible.) I think this is a CLUE.

This afternoon, I took a break at work and went outside on the veranda to engage in my carefully cultivated vice of tobacco smoking. I sat on a bench and watched the kids go in and out of our daycare, and thought about how in just a few days there would be another 240 or so kids, first through eighth grades, coming through those doors and into the classrooms. I wondered, "What if terrorists pulled up the driveway and let fly one little missile, probably given to them by the CIA who also had taught them to fire it, but who forgot that it would work as well against a Catholic school in a Kansas City suburb as it would against a Soviet tank." I thought, "There is absolutely nothing that can be done to stop that from happening, if somebody sets their minds to do such a monstrous deed."

Nah, it won't happen HERE. This is Kansas City, Missouri, heartland of America, those kinds of things only happen to foreign people, in other countries, who speak weird languages and have stranger habits. Why, such a thing just couldn't happen HERE -- it would be against the law!

Right. And 168 people woke up on April 19, 1995, went about their usual morning business, rushed to work, eating Danish and drinking coffee in the car, talking on their phones, probably thinking about what they would be doing in the evening, etc., and at 9:02 AM, because of a tiny group of demented and evil individuals, their earthly journeys ended in fire and smoke and terror. One of them was actually talking on the phone to a family member, and then the line went dead. Oh, the telephone company has a problem. No, that wasn't what had happened.

So I wondered some more about the prudence of running all over the world, kicking everybody we please, doing anything we want, generally being the biggest and baddest bully on the planet, and making money off the deal at every twist and turn of the journey.

Then I remembered, being a resident of Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, just how easy it is to cause big trouble.

Sure, the embassies are closed and hunkered down. Government buildings everywhere now sport concrete "art" out front that just happens to also be able to keep a bomb-loaded vehicle from getting close to the doors.

But our school doesn't have any such "protections". You can drive right up to the front door whenever you please.

Do we suppose that these people who hate us so much don't or can't read military strategy? I am a peaceful man, but I've read my Sun Tzu and Liddell Hart. Both summarize the essence of strategy as "hasten to where you are not expected and attack ferociously". If we bunker up our government buildings, they just go elsewhere. Maybe to my neighborhood. Or to yours. The French spent millions of francs building the Maginot Line, and the Nazi's just did an end run around the fortresses through Holland and Belgium. Do we think these people don't read this kind of military history?

Perhaps we in the United States should review for ourselves the sad knowledge that people elsewhere have had to learn: if you see a package sitting unattended in a public place, get away from it and call the police. You've talked to your kids (hopefully) about drugs and AIDS, but have you ever mentioned the hazards of unattended packages? Maybe you should.

Are we like the people of ancient Israel and Judah, who ignored the looming threats from first Assyria and then Babylon, "The Temple of the Lord, we have the Temple of the Lord, nobody can harm us!" We echo their arrogance, "We are the Americans, the Americans, the biggest and baddest people on this planet. Nobody can touch our wealth and power."

What happened to ancient Israel and Judah? Turns out the Babylonians cared nothing for the Temple of the Lord, except that it was a nice place from which to loot treasures to haul back to Babylon. In the northern kingdom of Israel, the ruling class was led out through holes punched in the city walls -- linked together by chains fastened to hooks in their noses and lips (there are triumphal murals that depict this standard Assyrian practice for conquered populations).

It is coming here, right here, to the United States, you bet your last vote on it, what goes around comes around, we will inevitably reap what we sow -- and the United States has sown in the furrows of injustice for waaaaaaaaaay too long. To further mix my metaphors, those chickens are coming home both to roost and to feast on the seven-fold harvest of bitterness and tragedy that will inevitably result from our foreign policies. I have already seen with my own eyes the crucified Christ in the ruins of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, a Eucharist of pain and suffering that continues for tens of thousands to this very day. I don't want to see such a sight again, for the rest of my life, except that all I have to do is to turn on the television and I can see it happening, perhaps in a dozen places at once, all over the place, each day, every day.

Please understand that I am not defending the terrorists who bombed the embassies and killed so many people. But I am asking, "Why do they hate us so much?" Are they just terminally evil and wicked people? Or has the United States kicked them and theirs around so much that they feel they have nothing to lose at this point? If our foreign policy's primary result is to encourage and increase terrorism, shouldn't we perhaps consider changing our foreign policy? Be a little less heavy-handed, support fewer dictators, hand out fewer weapons of major destruction, train fewer terrorists in our own terrorist camps like the School of the Assassins (oops, I mean the School of the Americas), participate a little less in the suppression of indigenous peoples everywhere, hand out fewer surface to air missiles to local warlords? Nah, it's not the U.S. way. Here, if something doesn't work, we order up twice as much of it, and somehow, we expect that if we always do what we always do, we won't get what we always get. If your child acted like the US government, you would be in utter despair at his or her inability to learn from their own mistakes or the example of others.

So I say, hear the Word of the Lord, United States of America:

A wise magistrate lends stability to his people, and the government of a prudent man is well ordered. As the people's judge, so are his ministers; as the head of a city, its inhabitants. A wanton king destroys his people, but a city grows through the wisdom of its princes. . .

No matter the wrong, do no violence to your neighbor, and do not walk the path of arrogance. Odious to the Lord and to men is arrogance, and the sin of oppression they both hate. Dominion is transferred from one people to another, because of the violence of the arrogant. . .

The beginning of pride is man's stubbornness in withdrawing his heart from his Maker; for pride is the reservoir of sin, a source which runs over with vice; because of it God sends unheard-of afflictions and brings men to utter ruin.

THE THRONES OF THE ARROGANT GOD OVERTURNS and establishes the lowly in their stead. THE ROOTS OF THE PROUD GOD PLUCKS UP, to plant the humble in their place. HE BREAKS DOWN THEIR STEM to the level of the ground, then digs their roots from the earth. THE TRACES OF THE PROUD GOD SWEEPS AWAY and ERASES THE MEMORY OF THEM FROM THE EARTH. Sirach 10:1-3, 6-8, 12-17.

Alas, alas, great city,

Babylon, mighty city, in one hour your judgment has come. . .

With such force will Babylon the great city

be thrown down, and will never be found again.

No melodies of harpists and musicians,

flutists and trumpeters, will ever be heard in you again.

No craftsmen in any trade will ever be found in you again.

No sound of the millstone will ever be heard in you again.

No light from a lamp will ever be seen in you again.

No voices of bride and groom will ever be heard in you again.

Because your merchants were the great ones of the world,

all nations were led astray by your magic potion.

In her was found the blood of prophets and holy ones and

all who have been slain on the earth."

From the 18th chapter of the Apocalypse of John

<END LAMENT MODE>

Robert Waldrop

August 20, 1998

+ The Memorial of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

Please pray for the conversion of James P. Wolfensohn, president of the

World Bank, and Bill Clinton, and Jesse Helms, and all the other men and

women of power and might.

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