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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Gary Dorrien: When imperial powers won't plan their exit.

Peter Steinfels interviews Gary Dorrien, the exceptionally talented theologian, social ethicist, and historian at Columbia and Union Theological Seminary, in today's New York Times about the legacy of Reinhold Niebuhr in contemporary foreign policy debates. This section of the interview isn't directly about Niebuhr, but highlights the disastrous mistake the Bush administration is now making:

We had a precious moment after 9/11. Not since the end of World War II was there such a possibility to move toward a community of nations. If the U.S. had sent NATO and American forces after Al Qaeda and rebuilt Afghanistan while creating new networks of collective security against terrorism, we could be in a very different world than we are in today. Instead, the U.S. took a course of action that caused an explosion of anti-American hostility throughout the world.

Now we are faced only with bad choices. The cross-fire of sectarian war in Iraq is so complex that it defies concise description. Continuing American occupation will fuel it rather than repress it. Jihadi terrorists are thriving in the chaos.

Whenever an occupier refuses to acknowledge the necessity of pulling out, the aftermath is worse. President Bush warns of chaos if we leave. Indeed, if we simply leave, there will be chaos. Leaving chaos behind is what happens when imperial powers refuse to acknowledge their defeat and the necessity of planning an exit that causes the least possible harm.

("Two social ethicists and the national landscape," Peter Steinfels, New York Times 5.26.07)

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 26 May 2007 at 8:49 AM

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May 28, 2007 04:09 PM | Permalink for this comment

See Chris Tessone's thoughts about Reinhold Niebuhr's Christian realism and Stanley Hauerwas's quietist utopianism at Even the Devils Believe.

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