Amazing! The Reverend Pat Robertson promotes the assassination of foreign leaders. This week his call was for the life of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. As far back as 1999, Mr. Robertson urged that assassinations be part of U.S. foreign policy. In his sights then were Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, and Osama bin Laden.
It’s astonishing what a Google search can yield.
Two days after calling for President Chavez’s assassination, Mr. Robertson apologized, “Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement.” This was after he first claimed to have been misquoted. I wonder if Mr. Robertson is apologizing for his recent statement only, or also for his prior statements that promoted political assassinations.
Let’s think about this.
- What started World War I? It was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in 1914, in Sarajevo.
- What happened after the Kennedy Administration organized the overthrow (with an unexpected assassination) of our longtime friend, President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, in 1963? You know the answer: we kept marching deeper and deeper into a quagmire.
- What happened after the Kennedy Administration pressed its CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro? Our own President was assassinated, though there is no established connection between these two acts.
- What happened after President Clinton authorized the assassination of Osama bin Laden, in 1998, with cruise missile strikes? Bin Laden grew into a Robin Hood figure for millions and millions of people who oppose USA policies of military dominance. (Today, the USA is the world’s sole super-power, and we boast about it. When others do not agree with us, as with Venezuela in this case, we threaten them. They don’t like it, nor would we.)
- What happened after Saddam Hussein attempted to secure assassins to kill former President George Bush during his 1993 visit to Kuwait? A decade later, his son, President George W. Bush, decided to remove Saddam Hussein from power by military force, no matter the cost to the USA and to our credibility.
Now it’s admirable of the Reverend Robertson not to want war. He prefers assassinations. But, assassinations are not the answer to war. Assassinations, more likely, will lead to war. Besides, there are more options available than just these two.
Regarding President Chavez, what has he done to suggest that either war or assassination is appropriate? True, Chavez opposes the privatization of the Venezuelan petroleum industry, while American policy favors private ownership of property. True, Chavez has made friends with Fidel Castro, and Venezuela trades with Castro’s Cuba. Cuba needs oil which Venezuela has in abundance, and Venezuela needs medical professionals which are abundant in Cuba. These nations are neighbors, and there is no reason why they should not be friendly and trade with each other. Long ago we learned, didn’t we, that communists are not our mortal enemies. America does business with communist China. So what’s the problem with communist Cuba and Venezuela doing business together?
One might ask, “Why is this matter so important?” It is simple. I cannot stand by silently as America unwraps its war-drums again, this time looking south to Venezuela.
Some background: In 1998, eighteen prominent American leaders, many calling themselves Neo-Conservatives (or Neo-Cons), signed a letter to President Bill Clinton offering their support to him for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. That letter came from the Project for the New American Century. That same year Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 which authorized President Clinton to assist Iraqis in the overthrow of their government. Later, when the George W. Bush Administration came into office, many of those same eighteen signers of the letter to President Clinton secured prominent leadership positions in the Bush II Administration, among them: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Richard Armitage, Elliott Abrams, and Richard Pearl.
Powerful forces converged to set the stage for terribly flawed “intelligence” and skillful propaganda to demonize Saddam Hussein. All the while, voices of caution were silent, or drowned out by “security first” concerns. America became an aggressor nation, and that’s where we remain. Fact: We cavalierly claim the right to strike-first any nation or anyone that we fear may wish one day to attack us.
This is a call to the Clergy – all Clergy, no matter the denomination or faith. We depend upon your reason, your judgment, and your understanding of Holy Scripture. You have a powerful voice and an influential platform from which to speak. It is your duty to speak the Truth, especially when Truth may be unpleasant to utter and to hear.
In 2002 and 2003, during the run-up to the present Iraq War, many American pulpits remained silent about going to war. Many among the Clergy, as well as those in the pews, trusted our leaders, our intelligence community, and our press. These were expert professionals who knew what was happening in Iraq; we did not. Let’s not make that mistake again.
The Holy Scripture that I read tells me: Live peacefully with your enemies, even pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6). Love your God and your neighbors. And, your neighbor may even come from a faraway place which you neither understand, nor trust (Luke 10).
This time around, I call upon the Clergy to become active, prayerfully guiding us toward a world that the Prince of Peace might smile upon.
This is all the more urgent now that the Reverend Robertson, a prominent Christian leader and former Presidential candidate, is known worldwide to have urged assassins to kill the leaders of other nations.
Amazing! Look at what we have become.
Published in the Stanly News & Press, Albemarle, North Carolina, August 30, 2005.