Like most Americans, I often have harbored doubts about the hysteria directed at the Catholic Church regarding sexual predators in her midst.
That there are wicked men who infiltrated the Church and used the camouflage provided by its uniforms and prestige to abuse boys and girls is not only a fact proven in courts of law, but I would say an inherently not surprising one. It is sad and terrible but it is not surprising in so large an institution, and the proper response is not to shake one’s head and mutter meaningless words of outrage but to do something about it, which means, primarily, supporting the institution’s efforts to police itself internally.
When internal policing fails, we have authorities under democratic control — the police, the courts — that can step in. They do, with sometimes spectacular results and sometimes they fumble and drop the ball, as, also, is not surprising.
However, I am struck by the timing of a story in the venerable New York Times this week that puts the onus on the Army and the Marines for hushing up efforts of certain officers and enlisted men in Afghanistan to force pedophiles among our Pashtun allies to behave more like decent straight-arrow Americans. At least one officer has been forced out of the Army, if I read this report correctly. An EM was murdered by an Afghan for calling attention to the practice, and the Marines preferred to let the matter slide.
The idea seems to be, in the immortal words of Franklin Roosevelt, these are sonsofbitches but they are ours. Plus there’s a war on.
I do not dispute the larger strategic perspective, but it does not follow that you should blame the whistleblowers and the victims — at least one of whom was murdered.
It seems unreasonable that we should have given some 2,500 American lives to this Godforsaken country, and spent several billion dollars, to protect child rapists. No, that is incorrect, of course: we did not ask the best among us to make those sacrifices in order to protect deviants. Our goal was to defeat revolutionary Islam, which declared war on us.
There are two ways of defeating a revolutionary movement, but it is not an either-or matter, there are nuances in between. You destroy it utterly, which was the preferred solution of many observers back in 2001. Drop the big one on Kabul and take out the key politico-strategic assets (human and technological) of the Arabo-Muslim revolution, and let them think about getting their act together for a generation or two, and if the thinking has not improved, repeat.
The other idea, disputed in these pages, was to launch a democratic revolution in those lands to counter the revolutionary revolution. This was a respectable view and an honorable one and a brave one and goes back to Woodrow Wilson’s radical revision of the basic American foreign policy articulated by John Quincy Adams. Given what we know, and what we have learned, the flaws of Wilsonianism are difficult to deny. Their immediate effect was, not to cause World War II — that was due to evil men in German and Japan — but render its outbreak more likely, as Winston Churchill kept saying in the 1930s and as critics of the nuclear deal with Iran are saying now. President Obama is the contemporary Woodrow Wilson, without the sanctimonious cover of being for democracy worldwide; he actually appeases tyranny openly.
We have known Wilsonianism is flawed since it was first articulated and over serial demonstrated failure, but, in our characteristic optimism (or arrogance), we keep trying to build nations, nations like our own.
Observe, though, that given the way we have evolved in our governing institutions, this had to lead to further complications in our mission. Public servants of the United States spend their time, and spend the people’s money, urging upon recalcitrant societies the homosex lifestyle, even the “trans-gender” lifestyle. They do this in the name of democracy and nation building.
How deeply we immerse ourselves in perversion and sin is whose concern? The answer depends on our estimate of the damage done by perverse and sinful behavior to the surrounding community, broadly understood. The surrounding community in Afghanistan includes Americans fighting far from home — which at least is better than at home, small consolation for our soldiers forced to operate under insane constraints — against our enemies.
It is astonishing that with all our experts in and out of government, we did not, or we ignored, the sex proclivities that are rampant in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries. It is quite simply foolish to decide 10 years into a war against Pashtun savages that we had better leave them to their own perversions, after years of trumpeting reform, democracy, clean living, and the rights of girls to go to school. Punishing our soldiers for doing what every American male learns he must do, defend the weak and beat up the bully, undercuts our men’s morale and defeats their purpose.
We can tell them to keep their sadistic and sinful habits, but not on our dime. If Pashtun cops and military men under our authority and certainly on our payroll behave like skunks, deal with them like skunks.
But saying this merely underscores the vast and profound confusion that has pervaded our policies since anyone remembers. It is, in its bitter way, the equivalent of abandoning the South Vietnamese who (after much hesitation) had finally decided they could trust us; it is the same — not the same literally, but mentally in line with — as walking away from a genocidal disaster in Cambodia. It is in line with, having foolishly tried to make a Western democracy out of a non-nation called Iraq, abandoning the Iraqis when, at least on the battlefield, they had a chance to defeat forces much worse — and more threatening to us — than their own muddled and lousy excuse for a system of government.
All this is well known, has been as long as our great Republic has existed, and thereby has had foreign and security policies. It is by way of getting back to today’s news, the visit of Pope Francis to Congress, which oddly or not so oddly happens to be when the New York Times lets loose on this matter of our muddled policies in Afghanistan.
The Times led the hysteria over pedophilia in the Roman Church. Corruption and pedophilia in the Roman Church was a grave matter, as demonstrated by the names of some of the first-rate writers who addressed it, Ed McBain and Benjamin Black (John Banville). It remains a grave matter. It was always a grave matter, which is why the foremost German Catholic of the 16th century went and started the Reformation. The question is this: why is the great Grey Lady bringing up an apparent failure of the Army and Marines to deal adequately with Pashtun (i.e. Muslim) deviance now? Why not next week? Or last year?
One theory is that they want to deflect criticism from the visiting head of the Roman Church. Francis. Jose Mario Bergoglio was top cleric in his native Argentina before ascending to the throne of Peter, and the first Jesuit to make it to the top, also the first South American. This fact reflects the Church’s universal appeal, as well as its power. It does nothing to answer the mystery of the Times’ editorial choice.
It could be there is no mystery at all, of course, just ordinary editorial happenstance. Still, it is an odd moment to go after the Army and leave the Church alone, since the Times likes to expose alleged malfeasance in both institutions. It is odd too for a paper that heralds weirdo sex as social progress to worry about how Afghan cops and others in positions of power express their libidinal identities.
It may have to do with Francis’s deeply archaic positions, anti-modern and against progress.
The current pope is generally viewed as liberal, not to say leftist, in matters of public policy. This suggests he is reactionary, opposed to the opportunity- and wealth-creating function of modern democratic capitalism. In keeping with his origins — and we should not, of course, hold a man’s origins against him, but we can ask a person of Bergoglio’s attainments and responsibilities to outgrow them — in one of South America’s most tyrannical, demagogic, murderous, and politically stupid countries, he favors hollow appeals to class hatred (against “greed,” in favor of “equality,” and so forth) in the name of a compassion for the “poor” whom the very forces he denounces have raised from absolute misery into the beginnings of comfort and economic development over the past generation, worldwide.
The Holy man is, in short a sentimentalist, somewhat like the Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi, and no less dangerous to the very people he claims to love and serve.
The Times editors probably know this. But they also know that, like the pope, the Democrats toward whom the Times is partial use sentimental demagogy to gain support for hollow policies that do more harm than good to the people for whom they express such heartfelt concern.
It might even occur to ask why the Obama administration and its holy guest are so complacent toward the Castro regime in Cuba, even as we write murdering and repressing men and women of faith, practicing Catholics. Does Francis have a weak spot toward the Castros because, like that other friend-of-the-oppressed and scourge of the greedy capitalist Americans, Ernesto Guevara, he is from Argentina?
The Times editors also know that if questions start arising regarding the pope and the Church, someone will bring up such questions and the child abuse hysteria stories and, indeed, the very same questions of corruption and hypocrisy that so angered Martin Luther, and before you know it the pope will not be so popular and may even be disinvited from addressing the Joint Session of Congress. At this point that is unlikely, what with the investment of so many politicians from the president on down in being known as this churchman’s best pal in Washington.
As to Pashtun children, it will not bring them much comfort to consider they are the latest evidence that the U.S. democracy-and-human-rights industry is a sham.
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