Menu Close

Category: War and Peace

Is it Time for Congress to Resurrect the Truman Committee on War Profiteering?

war profiteering

By Bret Wilkins, Used with Permission from Common Dreams

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has a novel way to stop military-industrial complex profiteers from “bilking the American people”—and it’s actually over 80 years old.

In an article published Tuesday in The Atlantic, Sanders (I-Vt.) called for a revived Truman Committee—a World War II-era bipartisan congressional panel “designed to rein in defense contractors, closely oversee military contracts, and take back excessive payments.”

“America’s national priorities are badly misplaced,” the senator asserted. “Our country spends, with almost no debate, nearly $1 trillion a year on the military while at the same time ignoring massive problems at home. We apparently have unlimited amounts of money for nuclear weapons, fighter planes, bombs, and tanks. But somehow we can’t summon the resources to provide healthcare for all, childcare, affordable housing, and other basic needs.”

“The United States remains the world’s dominant military power,” the senator continued. “Alone, we account for roughly 40% of global military spending; the U.S. spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined, most of whom are allies. Last year, we spent more than three times what China spent on its military.”

Sanders noted that nearly half of the approximately $900 billion the U.S. will allocate for military spending this year “will go to a handful of huge defense contractors enjoying immense profits,” with many weapons companies profiting handsomely off sales to Ukraine, which is struggling to repel a two-year Russian invasion.

In what Sanders called a “particularly egregious example” of war profiteering, RTX Corporation—formerly Raytheon—has increased the price of its Stinger shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles by 600% to $400,000 since the early 1990s.

The senator continued:

It’s not just RTX. The stocks of American arms manufacturers have surged: Northrop Grumman’s share price increased 40% by the end of 2022, and Lockheed Martin’s by 37%. In 2022, the federal government awarded Lockheed Martin more than $45 billion in unclassified contracts. The company returned about one-quarter of that amount to shareholders through dividends and stock buybacks, and paid its CEO $25 million.

“There’s a name for all this: war profiteering. There’s a solution too,” Sanders stressed. “Congress should resurrect the Truman Committee.”

“These companies’ greed is not just fleecing the American taxpayer; it’s killing Ukrainians,” he contended. “A contractor padding its profit margins means that fewer weapons reach Ukrainians on the frontlines. Corporate greed is helping [Russian President] Vladimir Putin.”

Sanders highlighted the U.S. Department of Defense’s six consecutive failed audits, including the most recent one last December, in which the Pentagon was unable to fully account for nearly two-thirds of its $3.8 trillion in assets.

“It should therefore come as no surprise that defense contractors routinely overcharge the Pentagon—and the American taxpayer—by nearly 40-50%,” he wrote. “One company, TransDigm, overcharged by 4,451%.”

“But despite billions in fines for fraud or misconduct, the contracts never seem to dry up,” Sanders said. “That may be down to America’s system of legalized bribery: A share of the profits from these lucrative contracts will flow back to politicians who gladly accept millions in campaign contributions to make sure the defense budget is always flush.”

“According to the watchdog group OpenSecrets, defense contractors spent nearly $140 million lobbying the federal government last year,” he noted. “Millions of dollars more go directly to members of Congress in campaign contributions from companies, individuals, and political action committees linked to the defense industry.”

“Congress must put an end to this form of corporate welfare,” Sanders argued. “The best way to do that is to reinstate the Truman Committee on war profiteering so that we can end corporate greed in the defense industry. A windfall profits tax could help achieve this end as well.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Biden Continues to Preach Up the Myth that War is Good for the U.S. Economy

war is hell

We send Ukraine equipment sitting in our stockpiles. And when we use the money allocated by Congress, we use it to replenish our own stores… equipment that defends America and is made in America: Patriot missiles for air defense batteries made in Arizona; artillery shells manufactured in 12 states across the country — in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas; and so much more.

— U.S. President Joe Biden

William Hartung, a writer for Salon, writes:

Joe Biden wants you to believe that spending money on weapons is good for the economy. That tired old myth — regularly repeated by the political leaders of both parties — could help create an even more militarized economy that could threaten our peace and prosperity for decades to come. Any short-term gains from pumping in more arms spending will be more than offset by the long-term damage caused by crowding out new industries and innovations, while vacuuming up funds needed to address other urgent national priorities.

The Biden administration’s sales pitch for the purported benefits of military outlays began in earnest last October, when the president gave a rare Oval Office address to promote a $106-billion emergency allocation that included tens of billions of dollars of weaponry for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. MAGA Republicans in Congress had been blocking the funding from going forward and the White House was searching for a new argument to win them over. The president and his advisers settled on an answer that could just as easily have come out of the mouth of Donald Trump: jobs, jobs, jobs.

Lest you think that Biden’s economic pitch for such aid was a one-off event, Politico reported that, in the wake of his Oval Office speech, administration officials were distributing talking points to members of Congress touting the economic benefits of such aid. Politico dubbed this approach “Bombenomics.” Lobbyists for the administration even handed out a map purporting to show how much money such assistance to Ukraine would distribute to each of the 50 states. And that, by the way, is a tactic companies like Lockheed Martin routinely use to promote the continued funding of costly, flawed weapons systems like the F-35 fighter jet. Still, it should be troubling to see the White House stooping to the same tactics.

Yes, it’s important to provide Ukraine with the necessary equipment and munitions to defend itself from Russia’s grim invasion, but the case should be made on the merits, not through exaggerated accounts about the economic impact of doing so. Otherwise, the military-industrial complex will have yet another never-ending claim on our scarce national resources.

While it can be argued that war is good for the military-industrial complex, filling the coffers of arms manufacturers with billions and billions of dollars, we must ask whether this sort of spending is good for Americans as a whole. Taxpayers directly fund the U.S. military machine. The Israeli bombs falling on innocent Palestinians are bought and paid for by you and me. When we see gruesome pictures of war carnage and death, we must not avert our eyes from our handiwork. We are to blame. Until we force elected officials to change spending priorities, the U.S. government will continue to spend over a trillion dollars a year on defense and security. The total amount of money is limited, so what we fund reveals our priorities; our moral and ethical values.

Hartung adds:

The official story about military spending and the economy starts like this: the massive buildup for World War II got America out of the Great Depression, sparked the development of key civilian technologies (from computers to the internet), and created a steady flow of well-paying manufacturing jobs that were part of the backbone of America’s industrial economy.

There is indeed a grain of truth in each of those assertions, but they all ignore one key fact: the opportunity costs of throwing endless trillions of dollars at the military means far less is invested in other crucial American needs, ranging from housing and education to public health and environmental protection. Yes, military spending did indeed help America recover from the Great Depression but not because it was military spending. It helped because it was spending, period. Any kind of spending at the levels devoted to fighting World War II would have revived the economy. While in that era, such military spending was certainly a necessity, today similar spending is more a question of (corporate) politics and priorities than of economics.

In these years Pentagon spending has soared and the defense budget continues to head toward an annual trillion-dollar mark, while the prospects of tens of millions of Americans have plummeted. More than 140 million of us now fall into poor or low-income categories, including one out of every six children. More than 44 million of us suffer from hunger in any given year. An estimated 183,000 Americans died of poverty-related causes in 2019, more than from homicide, gun violence, diabetes, or obesity. Meanwhile, ever more Americans are living on the streets or in shelters as homeless people hit a record 650,000 in 2022.

Perhaps most shockingly, the United States now has the lowest life expectancy of any industrialized country, even as the International Institute for Strategic Studies reports that it now accounts for 40% of the world’s — yes, the whole world’s! — military spending. That’s four times more than its closest rival, China. In fact, it’s more than the next 15 countries combined, many of which are U.S. allies. It’s long past time for a reckoning about what kinds of investments truly make Americans safe and economically secure — a bloated military budget or those aimed at meeting people’s basic needs.

What will it take to get Washington to invest in addressing non-military needs at the levels routinely lavished on the Pentagon? For that, we would need presidential leadership and a new, more forward-looking Congress. That’s a tough, long-term goal to reach, but well worth pursuing. If a shift in budget priorities were to be implemented in Washington, the resulting spending could, for instance, create anywhere from 9% more jobs for wind and solar energy production to three times as many jobs in education.

As for the much-touted spinoffs from military research, investing directly in civilian activities rather than relying on a spillover from Pentagon spending would produce significantly more useful technologies far more quickly. In fact, for the past few decades, the civilian sector of the economy has been far nimbler and more innovative than Pentagon-funded initiatives, so — don’t be surprised — military spinoffs have greatly diminished. Instead, the Pentagon is desperately seeking to lure high-tech companies and talent back into its orbit, a gambit which, if successful, is likely to undermine the nation’s ability to create useful products that could push the civilian sector forward. Companies and workers who might otherwise be involved in developing vaccines, producing environmentally friendly technologies, or finding new sources of green energy will instead be put to work building a new generation of deadly weapons.

The United States faces serious domestic problems, yet the only thing that seems to matter to both Republican and Democratic politicians alike is maintaining our standing as the world’s most powerful military, threatening mayhem, violence, and death to any nation-state that dares to threaten our status as the biggest, baddest bully the world has ever known. As a result, virtually every aspect of American life is in decline. From potholes to poorly paid teachers to crumbling infrastructure to runaway medical costs to homelessness to a frayed social safety net, we are in a world of hurt. All of these serious problems (and others) could be fixed by reallocating federal spending, starting with a substantial cut to military spending. Until we are willing to rein in military and security spending, we will NEVER fix the various domestic issues we currently face. There’s money for one or the other, but not both. When given a choice to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and fix crumbling infrastructure or continue our wars and military incursions in countless countries, the choice is clear.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

If Joe Biden Loses the 2024 Presidential Election, This Will Be One of The Reasons Why

genocide joe biden

Israel continues its genocidal slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. Israeli armed forces and bombs have killed over 25, 000 Palestinians — most of whom are civilians. President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Andrew Blinken, and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre continue to pretend that Israel’s murderous actions are justified; that Israel is just defending itself.

Now it seems that President Biden and his fellow warmongers want to expand the conflict in the Middle East to Yemen and the Houthis — both of whom are proxies for Iran. It would not surprise me to wake up one day and find out that the United States has dropped bombs not only on the Houthis, but Iran itself. This, of course, would spark a regional war that could result in thousands of casualties and horrific property and infrastructure destruction. Successive administrations had a hard-on for Iran, going back to the days when George H.W. Bush illegally invaded Iraq and Kuwait in the Gulf War. Biden’s approach to the Middle East is not that much different from that of the presidents who preceded him. Unwilling to stand up to Israel and its American supporters, Biden refuses to call out Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. From illegal settlements, apartheid practices, and violence against innocent civilians, Biden says not a word, thinking that doing so is in his political best interest. What Biden will learn on election day is that he grossly underestimated American anger towards his callous, indifferent response to the plight of the Palestinian people. These angry Americans, many of whom are younger adults, vote. Biden’s actions have also outraged Arab-Americans, leading some Arab leaders to suggest that Biden risks losing their votes if he doesn’t change course.

Over the weekend, Representative Nancy Pelosi only made matters worse by saying that pro-Palestinian demonstrators were working on behalf of Russia’s president, Vladamir Putin, and called for some of them to be “investigated” by the FBI:

For them to call for a cease-fire is Mr. Putin’s message. Make no mistake, this is directly connected to what he would like to see. Same thing with Ukraine. It’s about Putin’s message. I think some of these protesters are spontaneous and organic and sincere. Some, I think, are connected to Russia.

When asked if she believed the protesters were “Russian plants,” Pelosi replied:

Seeds or plants. I think some financing should be investigated. And I want to ask the F.B.I. to investigate that.

After being called out for her anti-American, anti-First Amendment sentiments, Pelosi, in classic Capitol Hill fashion tried to cover her ass by releasing the following statement:

Speaker Pelosi has always supported and defended the right of all Americans to make their views known through peaceful protest. Speaker Pelosi is acutely aware of how foreign adversaries meddle in American politics to sow division and impact our elections, and she wants to see further investigation ahead of the 2024 election.

I hate to tell the former speaker of the House, but her bare ass is still showing. Suggesting that protesters of any stripe should be investigated by the FBI is reminiscent of the days of Edgar Hoover and Donald Trump’s presidency from 2016-2020; days when law enforcement and the power of the state were used to stifle dissent and protest.

Nihad Awad, The Council on American-Islamic Relations national executive director, condemned Rep. Pelosi’s statement:

Her comments once again show the negative impact of decades of dehumanization of the Palestinian people by those supporting Israeli apartheid. Instead of baselessly smearing those Americans as Russian collaborators, former House Speaker Pelosi and other political leaders should respect the will of the American people by calling for an end to the Netanyahu government’s genocidal war on the people of Gaza.

While losing the Arab vote — less than one percent of Americans are Arab — alone won’t cost Biden the election, added to an increasing number of disaffected younger Americans, it could tip the election in favor of the Republican Party. Biden has time to course correct, but I have no confidence that he will do so, or if he does, it will be too little too late, much like Hillary Clinton did in the 2016 presidential election.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Are You an Antisemite if You Oppose Israel’s Apartheid Policies?

Palestinian children 2

“Antisemitism is hostility to, prejudice towards, or discrimination against Jews. This sentiment is a form of racism, and a person who harbors it is called an antisemite.” Wikipedia

I have no hostility to, prejudice towards, or discrimination against Jews. Not one scintilla. I have never uttered one word that could be considered antisemitic, yet in recent weeks I have been accused of hatred for the Jewish people. Evidently, unless you blindly and without reservation support the military, political, and religious objectives of Israel, you are guilty of antisemitism.

Defenders of Israel love to use the “antisemite” label to cut off all discussion about Israel’s eight-decade-long apartheid practices. During the United States’ immoral wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, President George W. Bush famously tried to cut off all discussion and debate by saying “You are either for us or against us.” Who wants to be considered un-American during a time of war, right? This is exactly what is happening now with Israel’s war against Palestine. Either you are on Israel’s side or you are an enemy of the Jewish people.

I am against all war. As a pacifist, I see war as a failure of human imagination; an inability to solve conflicts without violence. While I grudgingly admit that self-defense is, on rare occasions necessary, few wars are prosecuted for self-defense reasons. When nation-states wage indiscriminate war, the result is always failure. There are other ways to settle conflicts, but we humans tend to take the easy way out by using violence, bloodshed, and carnage to settle our disagreements. That’s what Hamas did, and that is what Israel is currently doing.

Peace in the Middle East is possible, but until the West sees Israel as part of the problem, peace is impossible. Israel must be held accountable for their crimes (as must Hamas), and as long as they are given a pass, blood will continue to flow in the streets. Driven by Bible verses, Israel will not stop until they take ALL the land God promised to Israel in the Old Testament. There’s no room for a two-state solution, and as long as that is true, Palestinians will continue to push back against Israel’s apartheid practices.

As long as dead children keep piling up in Gaza, I will not turn a blind eye to Israel’s murderous behavior. Further, I hold the United States and President Joe Biden responsible for the war. As long as Israel has the U.S. standing with them and funding their military, they will continue to do what they are doing. Cut off the money and tell Israel that we will NOT defend them if they expand this war to Lebanon and Iran. As long as their bully big brother stands behind them in support, the bloodshed will continue and could lead to the deaths of American soldiers.

Call me an antisemite all you want, but I will continue to care about the deaths of children and other innocents far more than I care about being labeled a Jew-hater.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Genocidal War Plan Against Palestine

israel palestinian war

Over the weekend, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a stirring speech to the Israeli people about Israel’s war against Palestine. Netanyahu made it clear that the conflict is a religious war.

Common Dreams reports:

“The biblical reference to Amalek is genocidal,” noted one theologian after the prime minister invoked an ancient enemy. “The Bible commands to wipe out Amalek, including women, babies, children, and animals.”

Human rights defenders on Monday accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of an “explicit call to genocide” after he delivered a televised address calling Israel’s imminent invasion of Gaza a “holy mission” and invoked an ancient mythical foe whom the God of the Hebrew Bible commanded the Israelites to exterminate.

Declaring the start of a “second stage” of Israel’s war on Gaza—which he described as a “holy mission”—Netanyahu said that “you must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible.”

According to the Hebrew Bible, the nation of Amalek was an ancient archenemy of the Israelites whose extermination was commanded by God to Saul via the prophet Samuel.

Netanyahu believes that Israel must do to the Palestinians what the genocidal God of the Old Testament commanded Saul to do to the Amalekites:

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. (I Samuel 15:3)

Is this not exactly what Israel is presently doing in Gaza? How then, does their slaughter of Palestinians not constitute genocide or war crimes?

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce’s Ten Hot Takes for October 19, 2023

hot takes

President Biden says we must hold Russia, Iran, and Hamas accountable.” No one bothers to ask who will hold the United States accountable.

Biden continues to say Hamas doesn’t represent Palestinians. Are we sure about that?

Biden says the United States opposes all forms of hate. Really? What about our own hate; hate that left hundreds of thousands of people dead in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Americans are building the “arsenal of democracy,” Biden says. Evidently, democracy comes through violence and bloodshed.

American leaders wrongly assume that our form of democracy, with its commitment to militarism and capitalism, is the cure for what ails the world.

Why can’t the U.S. military pay with available funds for arming Ukraine and Israel? Instead billions will flow from our coffers to fund war as Republicans tirelessly work to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and SNAP. American children will go hungry while weapons manufacturers get rich.

When it comes to military weaponry, there’s no such thing as defensive weapons. Defensive bullets and bombs kill just like offensive ones do. Dead is dead.

If it is morally wrong to slaughter Jewish children, it is morally wrong to bomb, shoot, maim, and kill Palestinian children.

It’s disheartening to see Biden conflate the Ukraine War with the war between Israel and Palestine. And then throw in Iran to get an “axis of evil.”

Ron Klain, former Biden chief of staff, says there are a lot of weapons in the world. No shit, Sherlock. And who is the largest arms dealer in the world? The United States.

Bonus: Joe Biden might believe in a “two state solution,” but Israel doesn’t. It is the only solution, but seventy-five years later, we are no closer to a sovereign Palestine. In 1948, Britain gave Israel land that belonged to the Palestinians. Does anyone seriously think Israel will remove their illegal settlements from occupied Palestine, and allow the Palestinian people to chart their own future?

A Child . . . Is a Child . . . Is a Child

palestinian children

Children have always suffered the most from human thirst for dominance, power, and control. Governments and political leaders regret their deaths in war, but see them as necessary collateral damage in their quest for real estate. Fundamentally, the war between Israel and Palestine is about a promise the Jewish God allegedly made to a storybook character named Abraham. Thousands of years later, Israel demands the world accept as fact that God gave them all the land (and more) that currently makes up Palestine and Israel. Countless people have died and will continue to die as Isaac and Ismahel continue to fight over whom the land belongs to.

Israeli and Palestinian children bleed and die without difference. Yet, for some reason, many Americans think Palestinian children “deserve” suffering and death; that they must pay the price for the sins of others. Of course, this should not surprise us. The Old Testament is a written record of God commanding his chosen ones — Israel — to slaughter his (their) enemies. Why should we expect Israel to do anything differently today? Hamas can be brought to justice without destroying Palestine, but Israel has no interest in doing so. Much like the United States did after 9-11, Israel plans to kill anyone and everyone — including children and civilians — who stands in their way of destroying Hamas (and by extension, Palestine).

And so Israeli and Palestinian children will continue to die.

Thousands of miles away, Ukrainian and Russian children will continue to die.

Syrian children will die.

Yemeni children will die.

African children will die, both from war and starvation.

The world says it cares about children, but the actions of major world powers and militia leaders alike suggest that children are an inconvenience; their deaths are a necessary consequence of humankind’s endless fight over real estate.

Americans wept over the children killed on 9-11, yet when it comes to Afghan, Iraqi, and Palestinian children, their deaths are considered necessary consequences of the war.

As long as the blood of innocents flows in the streets, don’t tell me about the justness of your war and the greatness and rightness of your God. All I see are bloody hands.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

This Bomb is “Good” For You

bomb

Earlier today, an Israel Defense Force (IDF) official said that the Israeli plan to level and destroy Gaza and kill countless civilians — including children and babies — is meant for the “good” of the Palestinian people; that once Hamas is defeated, all will be well for Palestine (both the West Bank and Gaza). What will this “good” look like once Hamas is defeated and removed from power? A free Palestinian State? “Good” requires putting an end to Israel’s apartheid practices. “Good” requires turning the electricity and power back on and ensuring that Palestinians have sufficient food. “Good” requires access to medical care. “Good” requires rebuilding Gaza’s infrastructure and family dwellings. I have not read one word from Israel’s military and political leaders that suggests that they have any interest in “good.” Motivated by rage, vengeance, and retribution, Israel is poised to cause untold harm and carnage. Hamas will most certainly respond, adding to the blood of combatants and innocents flowing through the streets.

The idea that bombing and killing people because it is “good” for them is a common delusion of the powers that be in the West. The United States told the citizens of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq that our invasions of their sovereign states were “good” for them; that clap-happy freedom and democracy awaited once their lands were bombed into oblivion and hundreds of thousands of civilians were wiped off the face of the earth. Fifty years later, a unified Vietnam has returned to some sense of normalcy, but Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries that we have bombed with “good” munitions remain shadows of the countries they once were.

Americans wrongly assume that our “good” is what every nation needs. Who doesn’t want to be just like the good ‘ole United States of America, right? For those blinded by American exceptionalism, manifest destiny, and Christian nationalism, the only “good” they see is the continuance of the “American Way” — whatever the hell that is — and laissez-faire capitalism. No introspection, no repenting of our national sins. We’re #1! We’re #1! We’re #1! We never seem to stop for a moment to consider whether our quest for “rightness,” dominion, and power is “good.” If I asked one hundred residents of rural Northwest Ohio whether the United is “good,” all of them would unequivocally say YES! Ask one hundred residents from Europe, Africa, South America, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East the same question, and I suspect most of them would have a very different definition of “American Good.”

As long as we continue to use military force — either directly or through proxies as we are doing in Ukraine and the Middle East — to expand the American Empire, we should not expect the world at large to think we are “good.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Is Hamas “Evil”?

evil

Evil is a word bandied about these days, used to describe people, groups, and institutions that commit violent, vile, abominable acts against innocents. The word evil is also used to describe offending political and social beliefs. In Evangelical circles, the word evil is used to describe human behaviors that run afoul of their interpretations of the Bible or standards. Thus, two people of the same sex engaging in sexual intercourse are evil. Both the person and the act are evil.

Scores of Evangelicals have emailed or messaged me to let me know that I am “evil.” Never mind the fact that I have never committed evil. My beliefs and/or behavior offend these riders of the high moral plains, so I am given the “evil” label.

Evil is used so often that the word has lost a lot of its power and meaning. There was a time when we reserved the word evil for Hitler and Stalin. Today, a person is evil just because he wrote a blog post that denied the existence of God.

Israel and Hamas are currently at war. Hamas attacked Israel, killing over 1,200 people, many of whom were innocent men, women, and children. Hamas’ wanton slaughter of innocents certainly meets the qualifications for the label “evil.” I have listened to and watched a lot of programs over the past two days where Hamas was called evil. I have yet to hear a podcast host, news anchor, or Middle East expert, say the same about Israel. Oh, I heard the voices of people who recognize Israel’s barbaric response to Hamas’ attack, but none dare utter the word “evil.” To do so would be professional suicide.

Let me be clear, Hamas is evil; its murderous actions against Israel are evil. What I refuse to ignore is the fact that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people is evil too; that its indiscriminate bombing of Gaza is every bit as evil as the violent, murderous actions of Hamas insurgents. The West seemingly wants to give Israel a pass on its war crimes, much like they did to the United States when it invaded Iraq and Afghanistan — killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

Fundamentally, war is evil. How can it be otherwise? The goal of every war is to inflict maximum violence on your opponent, hoping that the bloodshed, carnage, and death will cause them to surrender. There’s no such thing as a “good” war. As a hypocritical pacifist, I recognize that war is inevitable; that as long as humanity is divided by race, ethnicity, economic status, resource availability, and geographical borders, men and women will kill each other, hoping to either maintain the status quo, gain power, or financially profit. That said, there’s no moral high ground when it comes to war. Calling a war “just” as Christians often do doesn’t change the fact that the machinations of war run contrary to all that is just, holy (for the religious), and good.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

The Rules of War

cartoon by phil hands
Cartoon by Phil Hands

U.S. President Joe Biden informed the American people that he personally contacted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, reminding him that Israel must play by the “rules of war” when they attack, level, and destroy Gaza.

The “rules of war?” Really? There are no rules of war. Oh, there are conventions, treaties, and agreements, but nation-states rarely abide by them. When it comes to war, there are no rules. States agree to abide by rules until they don’t.

In the present conflict between Hamas and Israel, both parties have already ignored the “rules of war” and committed horrific war crimes. It is certain that both Hamas and Israel will continue to commit war crimes in the days and months ahead. As of today, Israel turned off the electricity and water in Gaza. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are under siege. Told to flee the rage bombing of Israel, Palestinians literally have no place to go.

Let’s stop with the talk about the “rules of war” and “war crimes.” Such rules may exist on paper, filed somewhere in the bowels of government, but practically speaking, these rules are ignored with nary a thought. War crimes? Let me be clear, “war” itself is a crime against humanity. The governments of the world have spent most of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries slaughtering one another. And to what end? Hostilities cease for a time, something will provoke a military response, and war returns with a vengeance, with no thought given to the rules of war or whether their actions are crimes.

To President Biden, I ask, “Israel has already committed war crimes and will continue to do so as God’s chosen people turn Gaza into a rubble-strewn parking lot. Will you commit to holding them accountable for their crimes against innocent men, women, and children?” No need to respond, I already know the answer. It’s no; it is always no. The United States has a long history of committing war crimes — both intentional and accidental. We have no moral high ground on this issue — or any other, for that matter. If President Biden wants to do something that will save lives in Palestine, how about ending U.S. military funding to Israel? Instead, the President plans to give Israel billions of dollars more in military aid. The United States is funding multiple wars across multiple fronts. According to Reuters, the U.S. is the largest arms exporter in the world — $206 billion in 2022. In 2021, that number was $138 billion. War is certainly good for business, with no thought about the war crimes men and women will commit with these weapons of mass destruction.

Rules of war? There are no rules of war, only carnage and death. There are no winners, only losers.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser