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John Simkin

With God on its Side? Vietnam/Iraq

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On the radio this morning I heard a DJ play Bob Dylan's "With God on its Side". He said it reflected the time it was written (1963) when young people believed they could change the world. In 1963 I thought this song helped to change the way people viewed the Vietnam War. I know that Dylan has now rejected the ideas behind the song but in my opinion it still has plenty to tell us about the current war in Iraq.

Oh my name it is nothin'

My age it means less

The country I come from

Is called the Midwest

I's taught and brought up there

The laws to abide

And that land that I live in

Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it

They tell it so well

The cavalries charged

The Indians fell

The cavalries charged

The Indians died

Oh the country was young

With God on its side.

Oh the Spanish-American

War had its day

And the Civil War too

Was soon laid away

And the names of the heroes

I's made to memorize

With guns in their hands

And God on their side.

Oh the First World War, boys

It closed out its fate

The reason for fighting

I never got straight

But I learned to accept it

Accept it with pride

For you don't count the dead

When God's on your side.

When the Second World War

Came to an end

We forgave the Germans

And we were friends

Though they murdered six million

In the ovens they fried

The Germans now too

Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians

All through my whole life

If another war starts

It's them we must fight

To hate them and fear them

To run and to hide

And accept it all bravely

With God on my side.

But now we got weapons

Of the chemical dust

If fire them we're forced to

Then fire them we must

One push of the button

And a shot the world wide

And you never ask questions

When God's on your side.

In a many dark hour

I've been thinkin' about this

That Jesus Christ

Was betrayed by a kiss

But I can't think for you

You'll have to decide

Whether Judas Iscariot

Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'

I'm weary as Hell

The confusion I'm feelin'

Ain't no tongue can tell

The words fill my head

And fall to the floor

If God's on our side

He'll stop the next war.

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Hi John

Dylan's song well states the basic American view that God is on the side of the United States, and that the U.S. is divinely endowed. Starting from the time of the founding fathers, such sentiments have been enshrined in the American belief system. The God and America theme sounded by the present Christian right in the United States has a basis that goes back to the beginnings of the nation even if the political power flexing of the present U.S. fundamentalist Christian movement is new.

All my best

Chris

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Christopher is correct.

And God did indeed help the United States win its freedom from Britain.

See, e.g. the book "Angel in the Whirlwind". The title comes from the following:

After the Declaration of Independence was signed, Virginia statesman John Page wrote to Thomas Jefferson: "We know the Race is not to the swift nor the Battle to the Strong. Do you not think an Angel rides in the Whirlwind and directs this Storm?"

President Bush quoted this statement in his first inaugural address, by the way.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Christopher is correct.

And God did indeed help the United States win its freedom from Britain.

See, e.g.  the book "Angel in the Whirlwind".  The title comes from the following:

After the Declaration of Independence was signed, Virginia statesman John Page wrote to Thomas Jefferson: "We know the Race is not to the swift nor the Battle to the Strong. Do you not think an Angel rides in the Whirlwind and directs this Storm?"

President Bush quoted this statement in his first inaugural address, by the way.

Well, with GOD on 'both sides' of this current war, guess they canel each other out, huh? What's that leave us? Gotta be that damn oil, AGAIN! Just paid $3 bucks a gallon, coming from a Las Vegan - thats a ripoff, a reichwing ripoff!

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John wrote:

Did he also help to defeat you in Vietnam?

A good question, John.

Perhaps the answer is that none of the Presidents involved in that war were godly men. But your question is thought-provoking to be sure.

It is also thought-provoking that the scriptural reference is to Ecclesiates 9:11.

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John wrote:

Did he also help to defeat you in Vietnam?

A good question, John.

Perhaps the answer is that none of the Presidents involved in that war were godly men.  But your question is thought-provoking to be sure.

Maybe you need to ask Karl Rove what the answer is to this question. Why you are at it could you ask him if God was on the wrong side when you were forced to leave Lebanon? According to Robert Pape, professor of political science at the University of Chicago (Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism) Ronald Reagan’s decision to withdraw all military forces from Lebanon after the truck bombing in Beirut, is the main reason why so many terrorists groups now use suicide bombers.

See the following for more details of this argument:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=4579

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I have THE answer, John.

The War in Vietnam was but one of many "battles" in the Cold War.

The forces of truth and justice WON the Cold War.

The forces of truth and justice did not win every BATTLE in WW II, either.

When the fat lady sang as the Berlin Wall tumbled, all the angels in heaven were smiling.

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Mike: But the Soviet Union, Poland, Latvia, Rumania, Yugoslavia, etc etc, are not. If the other team leaves the game with only one man standing, you have won!

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Mike:  But the Soviet Union, Poland, Latvia, Rumania, Yugoslavia, etc etc, are not.  If the other team leaves the game with only one man standing, you have won!

Only one! What about China (the real problem) and Cuba? Other countries in Eastern Europe are disillusioned with capitalism and have started electing left-wing governments. Has the fall of communism in the Soviet Union resulted in the end of left-wing governments in the underdeveloped world? No. As Pat Robinson says, you still need to employ assassination squads.

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Sorry, Tim - we lost in Vietnam. Not only that, but I think it takes a real convoluted line of reasoning to conclude that because we lost in Vietnam, we won the Cold War. If anything, our loss in 'Nam would have encouraged, not discouraged, Communist support of insurgencies. Nor can one reasonably argue that Soviet support of the North Vietnamese somehow strapped the USSR economically. We spent far more for far less result.

Try as one might (and believe me, I've tried) one cannot extract any enduring value from our efforts in 'Nam. If our government had learned not to try and dictate to other countries what form of government they should have, THEN I would say we'd learned something from that experience and I could see some value for my personal sacrifice. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case.

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John wrote:

Other countries in Eastern Europe are disillusioned with capitalism and have started electing left-wing governments.

John, this may surprise you but I do not equate "left-wing governments" with communism. So long as a country has the right to revert back to another political philosophy, and respects the rights of its citizens, it certainly ought to be able to elect whatever government it wants.

Could one make the argument that the defeat of communism makes "left-wing governments" more acceptable? Is it possible, I mean, that there is at least some relationship between the fall of communism and an increase in left-wing governments? I have not studied the issue so I would be interested in your thoughts on my suggestion.

(By the way I assume you were refering to Pat Robertson.)

Edited by Tim Gratz

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Hi all

Mike Toliver wrote: "If anything, our loss in 'Nam would have encouraged, not discouraged, Communist support of insurgencies."

The effects of "defeats" or "victories" are interesting to analyze. We keep hearing there will be dire consequences if the United States withdraws from Iraq too soon. But will there be? The main consequence may be that the perception will be that the United States has made a mess of things in Iraq. But that consequence is overwhelmingly evident already, and could have been forecast even before the Iraq adventure was embarked upon. I have to laugh when I hear Bush and others saying that American withdrawal would "embolden" the enemy. Well, frankly, the enemy could hardly be any more emboldened, could they?

Chris George

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