You may see Bill Clinton as “the enemy” or as your enemy. I think you would be wrong, but if you haven’t actually listened you don’t actually know. Please ‘listen’ to these brief sentences. [From a recent interview given by Bill Clinton, translated by Jerome a Paris.]
Question: You also talk about terrorism, even if you hide this word behind those of “religion” and “conflict”
It’s on purpose. To fight fundamentalism, you need to hit the credibility of those that say “I act in the name of God”. There are two ways.
One is to demonstrate that politics has nothing to do with God, that politics is human, imperfect, to be improved. It’s hard in a number of societies.
The other strategy, more effective, is to destroy the legitimacy of the ideology which uses religion to create and feed conflicts. Religion should be a way to solve conflicts.
…. And it is necessary for our security. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world behind walls. We cannot kill all our enemies. We need a strategy that creates more partners and fewer terrorists. The destiny of Americans is tightly linked to that of others.
He is absolutely right. When you set out to kill all your enemies, you make more enemies, and you get quickly back to the old line from Roman history: “They make a desolation, and they call it peace.” Jesus’ promise, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” is not referring to that kind of peacemaking.
No, Bill Clinton is certainly not the enemy, other than for neocon bankrupts trying to further pose as fiscal conservatives. Nevertheless, I do not much like this approach of his to the matters of faith. We cannot kill all our enemies â€“ of course, that’s true. Of course, too, he is right in stressing this, for that is precisely the tiny snag in the greased machinery of neo-conservative think-tanking. But what is this strategy he offers us to undo the false religion of the new (Christian) Right?
First â€“ and most laudably â€“ he refuses to buy the “War on Terror” rhetoric by taking Bush’s crusade for what it really is: The practical side of a conflict-bent religiosity (serving as the moral armour of an aggressive re-interpretation of the American secular mission of liberty, â€“ as I’d like to add).
Then he proposes to debunk “fundamentalism”: Well, truly said, but those who really cling to the letter and forgo the spirit will see in the charge of fundamentalism nothing less than their tragic moral accolade â€“ and will do one thing: PERSEVERE! Bush himself is the one who most effectively demolishes the credibility of Christian power grabbers. Whatever can Clinton hope to add to this work?
1. I believe the sole way to discredit fundamentalism is by ONESELF ACTING credibly in the name of God. That is to say that it’s not politics specifically, but life itself, which has nothing to do with the perfection of holiness. Of course you may say politics are particularly remote from the Kingdom of God because in statesmanship, which is exercized on behalf of a majority of non-believers, Christianity cannot even provide an adequate gauge to judge the performance or outline the goals for good policies. That’s true in part, but did Larry and Connie decide to run this website, and do we join, because we think that faith has no crucial place in political affairs?
2. “Religion should be …” Let me put it harshly: A religion so designed will never be Christianity, though it will be very near to Hans KÃ¼ng’s “Project World Ethos”, for example, or other attempts at virtually imposing a super-religion of (a) geneal tolerance and (b) some basically western-liberal set of values, which ostensibly summarize the essential core of every religion. I do not think this strategy is biblical and I do not think that it has served us well to defy the real fundamentalists.
There is no two-steps approach to the essence of Christianity (first to become religious or “spiritual”, then to choose one’s specific beliefs and confess Christ, for those who like it). Jesus said: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) He reformed and refounded a religion which held the utmost of intolerance in the spiritual core of its belief, and he did not in the least reject this exclusiveness, instead he consummated Judaism’s gradually increasing inclination to view this intolerance in one line with the utmost of practical long-suffering. Furthermore, we will only get anywhere near to understanding the spirit of Islam if we find back to appreciate this paradoxical genius of our own religion.
True Christianity actually favours the solving of conflicts; yes indeed. But that works in the opposite way as what Clinton seems (to me) to suggest: The Sermont of the Mount (the call for peace-making) does not specify faith by commanding tolerance. No, it inculcates a kind of “global test of conscience”, if applied to the realm of politics or public behavior more general: If our take of religion creates conflict overall, and if we are no longer obviously â€“ by some gauge evident to more than our own narrow community of faith â€“ grieved by our stern duty to broadcast conflict or annoyance alongside with seizing the opportunity of showing other people (“non-believers”) the true God in THEIR own consciences, â€“ then it IS the WRONG ‘true religion’ we hold and promote. That is the Christian approach. If it is our approach too, then, upon contemplation, we will be able to derive some common values and features uniting us with non-Christian believers, who are or may be likewise attracted by some dim knowledge of the same one God whom we worship, but did not (yet) arrive at seeing Him in the shape of Lord Jesus.
There is no other, no intrinsically tolerant way how Christianity may be made fruitful for effective tolerance and liberal values. The backlash of the current divide in political America, as well as the unattractiveness of liberal Christian creed, who are frequently held together only by their opposition to fundamentalism, is sorry proof to that fact.
3. “We need a strategy that creates more partners and fewer terrorists.” That is right, but strategies are politics. Thus, under the assumption that p has nothing to do with r (with God), it is an approach which upsets the order in which the vast majority of manking find and found their loyalties (first beliefs and values, than interests). November ’04 showed it’s a losers’ strategy in America as well.
Larry (admin) says: “He is absolutely right. When you set out to kill all your enemies, you make more enemies, and you get quickly back to the old line from Roman history: ‘They make a desolation, and they call it peace.'”
Larry, there’s nothing to merit any doubt in your summary, and I love how you put together faith and politics. But if we look back on the past decade(s), I don’t think, wistful as many may be at remembering the prosperity, the moderation and the competency of Bush’s predecessor that the high esteem Clinton earns in comparison with Republicans should lead Americans to look for the necessary renewal of the American Dream by giving way to an instinct to “restore Clinton” (e.g. in the shape of Hillary …). For I see his heritage under a very mixed star.
Clinton sew the seeds of unilateralism that Bush is now reaping to excess. Of course, you may protest: Clinton is a devoted transatlantical and multilateral. Yes, â€“ and I do not think he means to lord it over any other nation or people, but imperialism is exactly what already his presidency effected and hate and resentment of America are to some degree the fruits dating back to his early management of our new age of ‘globalism’.
I urge us to HERE put in our faith: Clinton and the “new democrats” place strategy above moral conviction (which is another claim as that blunt and absurd conclusion of the Right that liberalism “IS” anti-moral), thus failing to enlist public support from where they (being the more social-minded of parties) should properly have recruited it. Of course, he oversaw a time of boom that was better than many (including me) in Europe then liked to see it (I was rather distrustful of the ‘witch doctory’ of New Economy). On the other hand there are real criticisms to be levelled against his below-the-surface management of the boom, which Clinton’s own former chief economic advisor, Josef Stiglitz, summarized in one of his books; and it’s just a strong impression of mine that Clinton or the New Democrats (critical of the New Deal tradition) have still not really faced his remonstrations. Clinton quickly fell short of breath with the brunt of his social reform intentions (putting up with the immediate social benefits of the boom) and instead gained support from the upper middle classes and the academic world. â€“ Nothing to say aginst reaching out to unite the nation, but I doubt that such a centrist formula will be eligible for success in the aftermath of hurricane George W. The time is come for a Progressive Populist of faith. I confess that I am driven to think of Al Gore, even though his faith is not outspokenly evangelical and I may have to feel shame or disappointment afterwards if he should really run and win White House. Maybe I’ll come to either revise or better explain my predeliction for him at some other place in the future.
One final note on the closing remark of Mr. Clinton concerning the standoff in the EU unification process. I must disagree once more. The French removed a burden from my soul. This vote, alongside with the recent German election on September 18 rejecting the conservative-libertarian aspirations of Ms. Merkel (that would have effectively dismantled our “social market economy” for good â€“ and replaced it by some pure capitalism that has never worked satisfactorily with us) was the happiest political news for me since long. This is not the place to clarify the misunderstandings that cause many socially minded Americans to look with incomprehension at the leftist, but non-liberal, convictions which informed the French movement of the “Non”. Let me only drop a few hints: In my opinion, the draft of the EU constitution would have done several â€“ utterly disastrous things â€“ if adopted:
1. On the economic plane, it would have tied together the European nations to an even more impenetrable thicket of interrelations and rules as prevail in the U.S. with its culturally far more homogenous variety of states, – thus harming the democratic processes in the member states without offering an adequate compensation on the EU level (which would probably be the wrong strategy anyhow, given the continuing want of a genuine European public or identity).
2. This thicket would likewise work to intensify economic competition while leaving behind the social counterweights, which only work on the national level, up to now. Their European expansion would not be timely enough to preclude severe social setbacks.
3. It would likewise, probably, harm the rule of the law and favour corruption or even police state tendencies by removing legal domiciles from their national surroundings, – thus creating an Eldorado for lawyers and lobbyists, but a nightmare for common people,
4. It would settle Europe on a course of emulating America in the discipline of global military operativeness, without offering us a real independence from NATO or USA. Therefore it would fail to re-install some slight multi-polarity in the arena of world powers. The most likely outcome would be a new spiral of armament even between the ostensible allies of Europe and the U.S.
5. Of course, you may argue, all of the above mentioned tendencies date prior to the constitution and will probably continue anyhow, but most grievous of all the European Constitution, once adopted in its proposed shape, would be practically irrevocable outside of revolution and war, the very things which the European project was always designed to eradicate. It vexes me how little this basic requirement of political wisdom and wariness was ever brought up in this dwarved farce which was the public coverage of the EU constition ratification process in Germany.
In my opinion, the whole European integration is on the wrong track. Praise God, it will not even be constitutionalized so soon!
yes, we can not kill all of our enemies, and Jesus would nto want you to try, either, I believe.
Vote Hillary in 08?