Category : Iraq War

(Economist Erasmus Blog) How the travel crackdown is affecting the N American debate on Islam

As one immediate result, the travel crackdown is forcing the diversion of some academic events from America to the more liberal atmosphere of Canada, which seems not to have been dented by the killings at a mosque in Quebec City. An Ivy League law school is understood to be raising funds to switch a long-planned conference to a Canadian campus.

At least until recently, academia in Anglophone North America was a more-or-less seamless web, with scholars happily dividing their studies and careers between the two places. Certainly the reaction against the shutdown has been a continent-wide phenomenon, according to Mohammad Fadel, an associate law professor at the University of Toronto, whose early life and research were spent in the United States. (He ponders the compatibility of Western political philosophy with Islamic law and thought.) “North American universities have reacted quickly to defend their students and teaching staff who are nationals of the targeted states,” he reports. “Many departments in the United States stand to suffer directly from the exclusion of highly trained graduate students and faculty from those countries, and they will likely discover that their own academic work, such as lectures, workshops and seminars, is impoverished as they are prevented from inviting leading scholars.” Some non-American scholars who are still entitled to travel might boycott the United States, he adds.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Iraq War, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(FP) Stephen Walt-the Collapse of the Liberal World Order

When matters didn’t go quite so smoothly, and when some groups in these liberal societies were in fact harmed by these developments, a degree of backlash was inevitable. It didn’t help that elites in many liberal countries made some critical blunders, including the creation of the euro, the invasion of Iraq, the misguided attempt to nation-build in Afghanistan, and the 2008 financial crisis. These and other mistakes helped undermine the legitimacy of the post-Cold War order, open the door to illiberal forces, and left some segments of society vulnerable to nativist appeals.

Efforts to spread a liberal world order also faced predictable opposition from the leaders and groups who were directly threatened by our efforts. It was hardly surprising that Iran and Syria did what they could to thwart U.S. efforts in Iraq, for example, because the George W. Bush administration had made it clear these regimes were on its hit list, too. Similarly, is it that hard to fathom why Chinese and Russian leaders find Western efforts to spread “liberal” values threatening, or why they have taken various steps to forestall them?

Liberals also forgot that successful liberal societies require more than the formal institutions of democracy. They also depend on a broad and deep commitment to the underlying values of a liberal society….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Iraq War, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(W Post) What happens when the military chaplain is shaken by war

The pre-war Pastor Matthew Williams had gone to seminary, was ordained and thought he understood why people suffer. “God allows suffering because this world is temporary,” is how he would have put it.

Then came two deployments as an Army chaplain, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. Williams spent a year in an Afghanistan morgue unzipping body bags and “seeing your friends’ faces all blown apart.” He watched as most of the marriages he officiated for fellow soldiers fell apart. He felt the terror of being the only soldier who wasn’t armed when the mortars dropped and bullets flew.

This Memorial Day weekend, Williams is no longer an active-duty military chaplain nor a United Church of Christ minister. He is a guitar player on disability whose outlook on God, religion and suffering was transformed by post-traumatic stress.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq War, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(The State) 25 years ago, this University of SouthCarolina graduate gave his life in Desert Storm

Kim {Walters] faces this weekend with mixed emotions ”“ joy with the birth of her first grandchild; and sadness at [her first husband] Dixon’s death.

“Anyone who goes into the service goes in as a calling,” she said. “We need to honor these men and women, especially when times are this precarious.

“Appreciate them every day,” she said. “Value the relationships. Because, you never know.”

Read it all and do not miss the picture.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Iraq War, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

(WSJ) Iraq Cleric’s Moves Test Political Order

The decision by Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to have his supporters seize and then vacate the parliament building in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone was the act of a man who””at least for now””wants to control rather than destroy the country’s political system.

But this breach has put such a strain on Iraq’s political arrangements, established after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to balance the interests of the country’s sects and ethnic groups, that once this crisis plays out, there may be not much of a system left to control.

Mr. Sadr, the scion of a prominent Shiite clerical family who once led an insurgency against U.S. occupation forces and was responsible for unleashing some of the country’s worst sectarian violence, denies that he seeks outright power.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Iraq, Iraq War, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(FP) High Noon in Iraq–ISIS is finally being forced out of the country, but anarchy is taking over

The liberation of towns from the Islamic State has had the surprising effect on my Iraqi friends of making them more despondent than they were before. When they are asked when things will turn around, they shrug and say Allah karim, akin to the English expression “when pigs fly.” Just after Sinjar was “liberated,” my former student from there sent me pictures of his family’s Friday lunch spread before and after they devoured it, labeling them Sinjar “before liberation” and “after liberation.”

Iraq is now face-to-face with the classic “day after” dilemma. Many of its towns are demolished and there is no money to rebuild. There is no agreement on which groups should secure and govern the areas and who gets to go back. The most visceral and volatile barrier is the newfound distrust among the local populations of liberated areas, who see one another as collaborators, bystanders or victims of the Islamic State. Left unattended, these “day after” dynamics will ”” and have already ”” lead to internecine conflict and political gridlock that will undermine battlefield victories, similar to what happened in 2010 when military successes of the Sahwa, or Sunni Awakening militias, against Al Qaeda in Iraq were squandered due to a lack of lasting national and local political deals.

This is evident in Iraq’s disputed post-IS territories, where both the Kurdistan regional government in Erbil and the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad feel they have greater claims than ever before….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

(Local Paper) Triple amputee tells his remarkable comeback story

[Bryan] Anderson is one of very few combat veterans who lost three limbs and survived.

“It hurt to breathe. It was hard to breathe” on the sidewalk, he said, “but, at the same time, I never felt like I was going to die.”

Military doctors who treated Anderson induced a coma. He was transported to Germany for life-saving surgery, then to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for a 13-month-long recovery.

The 34-year-old now lives in Chicago and travels the country sharing his story with other veterans and various groups. He was featured on the cover of Esquire magazine, on “60 Minutes” and recently appeared in the 2014 film “American Sniper.” He also hosts an Emmy Award-winning PBS series in the Chicago area called “Reporting for Service with Bryan Anderson.” He was awarded a Purple Heart.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Theology

(JE) Vicar of Baghdad Witnesses Christ Amid Danger

A child of London’s East End, White explained to his listeners from theological, journalistic, and policymaking circles how years in Iraq and the wider Middle East had made him happy in the face of unspeakable horror.

“There are the days when you are crying, saying ”˜why Lord and there are days of immense joy,” the nattily-dressed, pink and blue bowtie-wearing White stated. His cane, indicating White’s multiple sclerosis, and his cross made of nails taken from the cathedral in Coventry, England, destroyed by German bombing in World War II, signified life’s harsher realities..

A singing White explained that he is even happier now than when he was resuscitating the dead from cardiac arrest as a London doctor before he joined the clergy. For “I know that I have got the love of Jesus with me all the time,” he said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Vicar of Baghdad Canon Andrew White interviewed on Canada's '100 Huntley Street'

The interview starts at about 43;30 in–watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Washington Post) David Petraeus: ISIS isn’t the biggest problem in Iraq

The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. [They] alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted ”” and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.

As for the U.S. role, could all of this have been averted if we had kept 10,000 troops here? I honestly don’t know. I certainly wish we could have tested the proposition and kept a substantial force on the ground.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

Canon Andrew White is Interviewed by The Huffington Post

His views on the Middle East have often put him at odds with the Church. In his 20s, he abandoned a career as a doctor to become a vicar, eventually heading up the Church of England’s International Centre for Reconciliation (ICR) where his work took him to the Middle East.

He backed the 2003 invasion in Iraq and afterwards restored St George’s, the only Anglican church in the country. He has endured kidnappings, bombings and the recent onslaught of Islamic State, which forced him to leave in the face of grave threats to his life. Now, he is pushing for more war, saying the countries that invaded Iraq must go back in force to stop IS.

When he moves outside his church, White was protected by up to 35 Iraqi guards. But when he meets The Huffington Post UK, he is sitting without protection in a leather arm chair, at his home in Liphook, Hampshire. By White’s own estimation, he has spent 70 to 80 days of the year at most in the UK since he went to the Middle East.

A family friend of White’s told me he seems to know everyone wherever he is, to which White replies: “The only place I’ve ever been where I don’t know everybody is here.” The walls of this room are covered in crucifixes he collects, maps of Iraq and Baghdad and a letter from former US President George W. Bush thanking him for his work there.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Iraq War, Islam, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

”˜The Vicar of Baghdad’ Canon Andrew White bears witness to the present hell in Iraq

Colin Powell famously told President George W. Bush before the Iraq invasion, “If you break it, you own it.” Well, it’s safe to say we broke Iraq.

That’s the story I heard last week from two people who live there. I met with the Rev. Canon Andrew White ”” “The Vicar of Baghdad” ”” who serves as the chaplain to St. George’s Anglican Church in the heart of Baghdad. We were joined by Sarah Ahmed, a director at White’s Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. Ahmed was born and raised in Iraq. White has lived there for 15 years.

“I was in favor of the U.S. invasion,” White told me. “But we are literally 5,000 times worse than before. If you look at it, you can see it was wrong. We have gained nothing. Literally nothing. We may have had an evil dictator, but now we have total terrorism. We used to have one Saddam. Now we have thousands.”

Read it all from USA Today.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Iraq War, Islam, Ministry of the Ordained, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(The Week) Michael Dougherty–Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians

Just 11 years ago, there were 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq. Since the U.S. war there, that number has plummeted to approximately 400,000 ”” and it is still falling fast. The chaos created by the U.S. invasion, occupation, and withdrawal, as well as the ongoing Syrian civil war and insurgent-fueled unrest in much of Iraq, has dramatically increased the persecution and pressure on Iraq’s Christians and other religious minorities.

ISIS, the emergent Islamist terrorist group that spans from Syria into Iraq, has already taken over Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. They painted signs on the walls of Christian homes, meant to indicate to all the presence of a minority they hate. They gave Christians a choice and a deadline: Pay an exorbitant tax, convert to Islam, leave, or be put to death. Most have fled after having their property confiscated. Five Christian families, according to The New York Times, had members too ill to flee to Kurdistan or Turkey, and so consented to a forced conversion to Islam. ISIS burned Christian churches, and dug up a shrine many Middle Eastern Christians believe is the final resting place of the prophet Jonah, along with another site said to contain the Biblical prophet Seth.

Reading these headlines and tut-tutting isn’t enough. The U.S. owes Christians and other persecuted Iraqi minorities assistance.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) Redrawn Lines Seen as No Cure in Iraq Conflict

Over the past two weeks, the specter that has haunted Iraq since its founding 93 years ago appears to have become a reality: the de facto partition of the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish cantons.

With jihadists continuing to entrench their positions across the north and west, and the national army seemingly incapable of mounting a challenge, Americans and even some Iraqis have begun to ask how much blood and treasure it is worth to patch the country back together.

It is a question that echoes not only in Syria ”” also effectively divided into mutually hostile statelets ”” but also across the entire Middle East, where centrifugal forces unleashed by the Arab uprisings of 2011 continue to erode political structures and borders that have prevailed since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Iran, Iraq, Iraq War, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Local Paper) Iraq veteran with PTSD finds healing in exercise

Dr. Yevgeniy Gelfand, a psychiatrist at Trident, knows Urena from working with him in the ER and says a growing body of evidence is showing that exercise can be a valuable tool in battling PTSD, which he describes as “complex disorder” that researchers are still learning about.

Gelfand says drugs often have been the first and foremost treatment for it and have generally proven not to work too well.

“In the West, everyone wants a pill. That’s how we’re conditioned,” says Gelfand. “I think exercise is often overlooked (as a therapy).”

Besides endorphins, Gelfand says exercise provides a “sense of well-being” through improved sleep, providing a sense of control, and giving people goals and a sense of accomplishment.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Psychology, Sports, Theology