U.S. capitalism is in the grips of a profound crisis. To address this crisis the Bush administration is engaged in a radical project that can legitimately be labeled “messianic imperialism.” The project plays to a critically important political constituency, the religious right, while simultaneously offering an imperial solution to the declining fortunes of the U.S. economy. What motivates Bush, as Professor Michael Klare recently observed in The Progressive, is “a combination of the empire and the messianic. He grasps the practical need to control oil, for which the administration is willing to go to any lengths, and he fuses it with messianic fervor.”
Shortly before becoming a presidential candidate, The Observer reports, Bush told a Texas evangelist that “I feel like God wants me to run for president. I can’t explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me. Something is going to happen. ... I know it won’t be easy for me or my family but God wants me to do it.”
G.W. Bush – a direct descendent of a Republican administration that was determined in the 1980s to liquidate the practitioners of liberation theology in Central America – now imagines himself to be on a divine mission: a crusade to rid the world of “evil.” In a San Francisco Chronicle article entitled “Madness of King George,” Harley Sorenson relates a comment Bush made in July 2003 to then Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Bush said, “God told me to strike at Al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you can help me I will act … .”
Believing his instructions come from God gives Bush a false sense of infallibility. This is a dangerous illusion, particularly for someone who Chip Berlet of the Political Research Association points out “is very much into the apocalyptic and messianic thinking of militant Christian evangelicals.”
Bush’s faith-based instincts also account for the appointment of Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin to the newly created position of Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, and for the administration’s continued support of Boykin. In this new post, Boykin is charged with tracking down Islamist leaders of terrorism around the world. When he’s not engaged in his official duties, Boykin travels the evangelical church circuit informing congregations that G.W. Bush got into the White House because of a “miracle” – “He was appointed by God.”
Journalist William Arkin reports in the Los Angeles Times that Boykin tells the congregations, “Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army.” This “spiritual enemy,” Boykin warns, “will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus.”
Appointing Boykin to a senior Department of Defense position charged with tracking down “Islamic terrorists” should be seen as an dangerous provocation. His visions of “Holy War in the Islamic world” and his declarations that our God “is the real God” while “their” God (Allah) is an “idol” can only insure that the current crusade lasts a very long time.
David Eisenhower is a sociologist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.