Sunday, March 19, 2006

American Theocracy

In Kevin Phillip's new book " AMERICAN THEOCRACY:The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century" we're given more dire predictions resulting from the influence and policies of the Bush administration. Those of us in the blogosphere have read much of these before. However, coming from a 1960's conservative Republican strategist who served in the Nixon administration, we have yet another compass point that should give us pause.

Phillips presents vast right wing Christian and Imperialish Oil conspiracy theories built upon evidence. By example: the failure to post American troops in front of the National Museum in Baghdad during the early days of the invasion, but the immediate posting of troops around the Iraqi Oil Ministry, which held the maps and charts that were the key to effective oil production. He supports the notion that the Bush administration's principal purpose in invading Iraq was to secure vast oil reserves that would enable the United States to control production and prices. "Think of Iraq as a military base with a very large oil reserve underneath. You can't ask for better than that." Terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, tyranny, democracy and other public rationales were, Phillips says, simply ruses to disguise the real motivation for the invasion.

The United States has embraced a kind of "petro-imperialism," Phillips writes, "the key aspect of which is the U.S. military's transformation into a global oil-protection force," and which "puts up a democratic facade, emphasizes freedom of the seas (or pipeline routes) and seeks to secure, protect, drill and ship oil, not administer everyday affairs."

On the Christian crusade, a rapidly growing group of "Christian Reconstructionists" who believe in a "Taliban-like" reversal of women's rights, who describe the separation of church and state as a "myth" and who call openly for a theocratic government shaped by Christian doctrine, are on the march. A much larger group of Protestants, perhaps as many as a third of the population, claims to believe in the supposed biblical prophecies of an imminent "rapture" — the return of Jesus to the world and the elevation of believers to heaven. Our venerable US Senate leader, Bill Frist, and bubble boy Bush are firmly grounded in this camp.

Prophetic Christians, Phillips writes, often shape their view of politics and the world around signs that charlatan biblical scholars have identified as predictors of the apocalypse — among them a war in Iraq, the Jewish settlement of the whole of biblical Israel, even the rise of terrorism. He convincingly demonstrates that the Bush administration has calculatedly reached out to such believers and encouraged them to see the president's policies as a response to premillennialist thought. He also suggests that the president and other members of his administration may actually believe these things themselves, that religious belief is the basis of policy, not just a tactic for selling it to the public.