John R. Houk
© July 31, 2013
Brig. Gen. Samson Simon Sharaf (ret.) of Pakistan has sent a critique of my post ‘A Response to “Samson Simon Sharaf and Pakistani Christian Patriotism”’ via the Google+ comment system. I usually place my thoughts preceding responses to comments; however General Sharaf’s comment is a post length and is well written with ideas I agree with as well as disagree. I’ll do my best to answer the Brigadier General’s well thought out comments below his post.
Brig. Gen. Sharaf (ret.) Defends Pakistan Patriotism and USA Criticism
(Title created by Editor)
Comment posted: July 28, 2013
Please understand that like you, we Pakistanis are also justified to claim our patriotism. . The right to freedom of thought cannot be viewed in black and white and selectively. If American citizens have a right to criticise government policies, so do we. I neither despise USA nor its people. Our opinions manifest fundamental rights and freedom of expression.
USA is a great country, the world’s only super power with a rich history. American Civil War was the Zenith of the Renaissance, Industrial Revolution and Nation States. Yet it took USA over a century to come to grips with civil rights epitomised in the tragedies of Martin Luther King and John F Kennedy. Social dynamics in an instant go berserk, but ages to take a correction course.
The America of our dreams that rose out of the civil war and the land of opportunities is not the America we see in recent international policies. Cocooned in its trans-Atlantic isolation, the advantages of globalisation do not manifest themselves in the policy towards conflict zones that lie far away. There are dual standards we protest.
The biggest and most enduring lesson of the Civil War was the decisive nature of the Social Dimension of conflict, again brought to fore in WWI and II. Hence post WWII, the process of rebuilding and restructuring was initiated for Central Europe, Japan and South Korea. The same was not done for Afghanistan and Pakistan in the post-Soviet withdrawal in the late 80s. The forces of religiously inspired militancy that were US allies from 1979 to 1989 were disowned and allowed to rot in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I felt then and in retrospect feel convinced that had USA followed the development model of Japan/Germany thereafter, much of what is happening now could have been moderated and contained. In fact, the absence to factorise societal factors and psych-social dynamics in policy and war plans has hurt countries adversely: from Gulf of Tonkin that destabilised the entire peninsula to AFPAK that has destabilised the entire region. The SledgeHammer and Daisy Cutter approach to kill a fly can only be paid back by collective hate.
USA and its allies could also have played a more assertive role in settling political issues in South Asia and prevented it from becoming a nuclear keg. Rather, Arab militants were allowed to transcend international borders and create a floating threat. OBL was allowed to Sudan and after Kenyan bombings facilitated to enter Afghanistan. Mansur Ijaz, an American opinion maker claims that USA refused to take him over from Sudan and I know through personal knowledge that USA refused to take him [OBL] over through a neutral country once Taliban wanted to hand him over in 2001.
In strategic parlance, Pakistan was the pivot from which the act of containing godless communism and Iranian revolution took place. Pakistan’s allies notably USA promoted the policy of using religion for strategic purposes as a result of which no measures were taken to hedge against religious and sectarian divides. The process began in 1949 and continued to become more exclusive with time. It is this effect we see in the religiously motivated violence in our country.
Unlike 1947-1971, Pakistani Christians are seen an extension of western influence. Acts of intolerance against Christians saw a sharp rise after 1981, when USA began sponsoring religiously inspired violence against Iran, Shia populations and USSR. Apart from blasphemy cases, in 28 incidents of terrorism spanning 10 years, 116 Christians have been killed and 410 severely impaired. 7 churches or properties have been destroyed. Human rights organisations and many Christian NGOs watching Pakistan through a periscope ignore the linkages of this violence to global politics. The socio-economic indices of Christians have plummeted and majority resigned to life in slums and ghettos. This is what I am fighting against as a Pakistani Christian activist.
During a lecture at Vatican, I said that we do not need reinforcement of Faith. In all adversities, we stick to our religion. Please convince the world to follow constructive policies that will help us prosper in other things as we do in Faith (3rd Letter of St. Paul, 1:2). As a religious right and a strong lobby, it is also your responsibility to instil the fear of God in your policy makers, whose Shock and Awe rains hell for Pakistanis and Afghans.
John R. Houk Response
July 30, 2013
General Sharaf is absolutely correct that he has as much right to criticize foreign and domestic governments as much as I do. Well anyway, from an American perspective. I doubt that General Sharaf would criticize the Pakistan government action that potentially would criminalize a group of Pakistani Christians for having an outdoor Easter Sunrise Service. General Sharaf is a Roman Catholic thus if he chose such criticism I suspect he would run afoul of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws. It would be blasphemous for a Muslim to accept an open Christian Service proclaiming the Resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Christ’s Resurrection and Sonship are a direct contradiction of the Islamic Quran. Hence the probable accusation of breaking a Blasphemy Law.
That was the point I was attempting to drive home in the post that got this discussion rolling – “Samson Simon Sharaf and Pakistani Christian Patriotism”. It is a mystery to me that Pakistani Christians are patriotic to a government that validates Islamic Sharia Law that results in persecution for the simple practice of Religious Freedom (e.g. proclaiming Jesus is the only way to God and all other paths – including Mohammed’s – are false paths). In America it is annoying to Biblical Christians when Muslims preach that Mohammed is the last Prophet and his revelation from Allah is truth while the People of the Book are deceived following a corrupted Scriptures. Annoyance does not lead to societal riots in which Mosques are burnt to the ground and Muslims homes and stores are destroyed and women are violated. That is something that does occur in Pakistan aimed at Christians when Americans speak what they believe is the truth about Islam. Muslims go beyond being annoyed to something said in a nation foreign to them leading toward taking out their vitriol on Pakistani Christians. AND still Pakistani Christians are patriotic to a government that does little prevention and only sometimes prosecutes only a few Muslims when hundreds may have been involved in violence and desecration of Churches. I have to be honest, Pakistan Christian loyalty and Patriotism mystifies me.
General Sharaf you say America is great nation then write a paragraph of America’s Civil Rights struggles in the past that are better now than any time in our history as if that greatness has now evaporated. I do agree America’s shining star on the hill status has diminished but Civil Rights have not been the cause of that dimming light. The American struggle to rekindle the fire to the light has more to do with the unfortunate success of Left Wing politics diminishing America’s moral fabric by separating all things Christian from influencing the nation on a Federal, State and Local level.
Prayer has been removed from our Public Schools, Christian symbolism in Public buildings are being extracted by legal means, lax abortion laws has enabled the murder of millions of unborn children and America’s Left has successfully forced American society to accept homosexuality and transgenderism as a part of the society’s normal fabric. There are a plethora of moral issues that I haven’t mentioned that the Left is using as a legal war on Christianity in an attempt to slowly expunge our faith and Biblical Morality.
America’s Founding Fathers believed in a Church-State separation; however that separation was not a two-way street like the American Left has been revising for the last 50 years or so. America’s First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees Religious Freedom and ensures that the government will not establish a State-managed Church. There is no mention whatsoever in the U.S. Constitution of preventing Christianity (literally any ‘religion’ in the wording, but the intent was referencing Christianity) from influencing the morals of American society on a Private or Public level.
The result of this moral encroachment by America’s Left has seen a skyrocketing of crime on an urban and rural level. Children that were once predominantly innocent angels have multiplied into disrespectful violent criminals. Most of America’s rural areas (which was my upbringing) had so much neighborly and community trust that people did not lock their doors in their homes or their automobiles. Those days are gone in the 21st Century. Actually those days left before the 21st Century arrived.
Chuckle. Now look what you did General. You got me contemplating the things that I do find disturbing about America’s current state of society.
Addressing America’s international policies there is an essence of truth to what you have observed. America’s Foreign Policy had a central paradigm that was established by our first President George Washington. Do not meddle in European affairs. Americans distrusted Europeans shortly after the American Revolution. Even after the establishment of our honored Constitution that has been the benchmark of American governance, America’s military strength was purposefully kept small because Americans do not trust the power of government which controlled the military. Even after America’s Civil War military personnel was reduced monumentally to limit government interference with American citizens. Only after a war began was there a military mobilization. This included America’s involvement in WWI. After WWI was over the military was reduced. The political reasoning for military reduction was because of the belief of the difficulty for foreign powers (with the focus on Europe) to cross the Atlantic and/or Pacific Oceans to make a sustained attack on American soil. The policy was called Isolationism.
Japan’s bombing of the Navy Base at Pearl Harbor Hawaii changed America’s military strategy forever. America had to play catch-up in mobilizing the army and navy to confront Japanese aggression in the Pacific and join the British in fighting Japan’s European ally Nazi Germany in the Atlantic-European theatre.
After WWII America was the big winner. All of Europe from the Atlantic Ocean to Moscow Russia suffered the devastation of truly horrible carnage and destruction. Japan’s industrial complex had been destroyed as well.
There was only one nation that did not experience destruction on their home soil during WWII. Of course that was the USA. Part of the reason for this again were the two oceans of the Pacific and the Atlantic; however it was obvious from WWII that ocean protection was quickly coming to an end. Soon after WWII the old Soviet Union set out to turn lands their Red Army had captured into a Communist Empire by imposing Satellite status of European nations the USSR did not directly absorb into their Marxist union.
If the USA had returned to past demilitarization as in all previous wars Europe and Japan would have to depend on their own diminished resources to rebuild their Industrial Complex AND they would become an obvious target of Stalin’s Communist expansionism that was quickly forming an Iron Curtain.
Seeing the change in the wind of geopolitics and National Security it became a wise choice to use America’s abundant resources to aid Europe and Japan to rebuild their Industrial Complex. Thus it was also inevitable that America would protect their investment from Soviet aggression by protecting it. To protect the USA had to expand their Military Complex for its first time in history.
Nuclear energy and hi-tech science turned America into the most formidable military the world has ever seen to the chagrin of the Soviet expansionist agenda. The USSR was constantly playing technical catch-up with our Military and Scientific Complex but were always a step behind. Marxist principles simply could not develop innovation with their resources in the same way as America’s Free Market Capitalism did. Even Russia’s nuclear program and armament was the result of espionage rather than personal development.
Have there been Foreign Policy mistakes and bad decisions by the American government? We all know the answer is yes. Nonetheless, America’s National Interests are more important to us than that of an unstable or destabilized nation that has the capacity to initiate WWIII conventionally or with a nuke war strategy.
General you stated the Muslim world (well specifically you use the global stretch example of the AFPAK area through the Vietnamese Gulf of Tonkin) could have benefitted from the post-WWII rebuilding of Western Europe and Japan. This a point I believe is categorically incorrect. In the case of the Muslim dominated world, it is not willing to allow the kind of American encroachment that would have been needed to create industrialism and an uncorrupted government Civil Service ex nihilo. Europe and Japan had a long history of a growing industrialism and a Civil Service to make the apparatus of government to function efficiently. Islamic Supremacism and Tribalism among Muslim nations makes such an American investment nearly impossible.
I didn’t use to believe that. I too felt the Westernized traditions of the Europe and Japan (yes Japan learned Western ways to make their nation military world power in the 1930s) paradigm would also benefit the Muslim world. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that nation-building political infrastructure that would infuse stable institutions of governance and economy cannot happen between America and Third World Muslim nations. America was able to do this with nations that already had a foundation to rebuild upon.
Ironically the Iranian model will probably work best among Muslim nations; however that government is so full of loathing of everything non-Muslim that American National Interests compels the USA to marginalize Iranian development. General you have to realize Pakistan has the capacity to become a model for the Muslim world, but again Islamic Supremacism compels the USA to meddle in Pakistan internal affairs. After all Pakistan has nukes. Perhaps saner people are managing Pakistan’s military than those managing the Iranian military; nonetheless from an American National Interest standpoint the Radical Islam that appears to becoming more and more pervasive makes the USA to overtly or covertly meddle to maintain some kind of balance of weakness rather than a balance of strength. The issue of finding Osama bin Laden holed up in Pakistan for years certainly adds to that distrust.
You don’t seriously think America was going to fix Vietnam (Gulf of Tonkin reference) after developing a Marxist paradigm for their economy and industry? Even today Vietnam maintains a Maoist-Stalinist repressive regime in which Civil Rights are non-existent unless you accept the Communist paradigm. Just briefly on Southeast Asia: South Korea and Taiwan join Japan in creating an Economic-Industrial Complex with American help.
I checked out the source you mentioned concerning Mansur (or Mansoor) Ijaz. There appears to be a bit of controversy on Mr. Ijaz’s reliability. The Memogate scandal he caused in Pakistan (and less publicized in the USA) in which Ijaz accuses Pakistan’s President Zardari and the Pakistani Ambassador at the time to the USA to be in collusion with America in allowing soldiers to fly into Pakistan and attack bin Laden’s Abbottabad paramilitary complex which resulted in OBL’s death. If true, in my opinion that is a plus for Pakistan’s President. Any Pakistan negative public reaction frankly shows why Pakistan should be a concern to American National Interests. As the USA departs from Afghanistan militarily the Afghanis deserve what happens to them if their good citizens allow the Taliban to rule again. After an Afghan departure the USA has less reason to meddle in Pakistan internal affairs except perhaps as to who controls Pakistan’s nuke arsenal. And also I have to be frank: the killing of Osama bin Laden makes it easier for American citizens of a Conservative nature to stomach leaving Afghanistan even with the failure of Presidents Bush and Obama to use a win at all costs strategy as was last practiced during WWII. The win at all costs strategy probably would have ended America’s interest in fighting in Afghanistan sooner; however as in WWII civilian collateral damage in both Afghanistan and Pakistan would have been much steeper. Musharraf’s game of getting US military aid in exchange for Pakistan cooperation in creating an anti-Taliban front was a travesty of a faithful alliance with Pakistan.
Apparently Mansur Ijaz is the global source of how America could have captured Osama bin Laden two times before the 9/11 Islamic Terrorist attack that led America into a Middle East war. The reasoning is no OBL means no 9/11 attack. No 9/11 attack suggests no American Global War on Terror (GWOT). The reality is 9/11 caused an American military mobilization like Pearl Harbor caused a mobilization to participate in WWII. You see WWII had been going on in Europe since 1939 and in Asia between Japan since before the Day of Infamy on December 7, 1941 in the early 1930s. Islamic Terrorists had been attacking Israel-Jews since before its inception in 1948 and American interests since at least from the late 70s and early 80s. It took around 3000 deaths on American soil to wake up American sensibilities that Islamic Terrorists are more than just a nuisance, but rather a threat to the American way of life at home and abroad. Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar simply gave the USA something tangible to extend American wrath for the senseless killing of Americans just because they are Americans. Frankly I and a lot of Americans would not be bothered using our resources to strike down Islamic Terrorists wherever they are hiding no matter the sovereign nation. Whether it takes the reach of SEAL Team 6 or Drones, Islamic Terrorists need to feel the pain they inflict on others. If Islamic Terrorists are dumb enough to hide among accepting non-combatants then so be it.
I apologize General I know it sounds harsh. Honestly though I’ve grown weary of Islam’s contribution to messing up the trust between individuals that I experienced in my childhood and youth.
Okay, back to Ijaz.
Ijaz claims the USA could have collected bin Laden from Sudan with the full consent of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Google exploration appears to validate Ijaz (See Also HERE) however the 9/11 Commission and Clinton Administration disagreed with Ijaz’s contention. Exposing Clinton to potential Foreign Policy screw-ups made Mansoor Ijaz a media darling among American Conservatives. However, more and more evidence seems to be pointing toward Ijaz as a narcissistic showboater in the case of Memogate.
Journalist David Frum believes Mansoor Ijaz is a faker because he lied about Frum under oath in a Pakistan investigation:
I finally concluded that Ijaz’s version of events was almost certainly bogus, and I raised the possibility that “Pakistani democracy has been corroded, and the U.S. and Pakistan have been pushed toward a dangerous confrontation, by a reckless fantasist motivated by childish vanity.”
Q: Do you know Mr. David Frum, who is also a contributor to CNN?
A: I don’t know Mr. David Frum personally, but I know about him. He has extensively written against me with regard to this matter.
Q: Do you have an article contributed on December 8, 2011, by Mr. David Frum?
A: I don’t have it.
Q: How did Mr. David Frum describe you in the said article?
A: I don’t recall, but it was in negative terms. [Volunteers] In view of the fact Mr. Frum defamed me my lawyers in Washington informed him that if he does not retract, I will be taking legal action against him.
(You can read the transcript here. This exchange is on page 43.)
Let me state flatly for the record: that quoted statement of Mansoor Ijaz is false. I have not been threatened with legal action by any lawyer representing Mansoor Ijaz. I have not had any communication of any kind from any lawyer representing Mansoor Ijaz.
Mansoor Ijaz did ask CNN.com to post a response from him, not only to my column, but also to a column by my CNN colleague Peter Bergen detailing the long, sorry history of false claims by Ijaz. That response can be read here:
Peter Bergen can ridicule my three or four claims that turned out to be inaccurate over a five year period of being interviewed nearly four or five times a week — it won’t change the facts, or the accuracy with which I recorded them in this instance.
Now there is a fifth time (at least) when an Ijaz statement has been revealed as false.
May it please the court, I think we have a regular pattern of behavior here. (READ ENTIRITY – Did The Notorious Mansoor Ijaz Lie About Me Under Oath? By David Frum; The Daily Beast; Mar 21, 2012 10:58 AM EDT)
General Sharaf, using Mansoor Ijaz as a source seems unreliable; nonetheless giving him the benefit of the doubt the U.S. government did not have a sense of a homeland security problem with Islamic Terrorism. It was still viewed as a legal Court issue rather than a military matter. Not until 9/11 occurred that National Security strategists began to view Islamic Terrorism as a homeland National Security matter. Of all the problems blamed on President Bush including some misjudged Foreign Policy decisions, he is a hero to me. President GW Bush made the decision to face Islamic Terrorism as a military threat that the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans could not throw up a wall big enough to keep the barbarians out. America’s war with the Taliban for protecting Osama bin Laden was the disturbing fault of the Taliban leadership of which Mullah Omar was the Chief leader among many.
So if Omar Mullah desired to give up Osama bin Laden in cooperation with the USA before 9/11, why not after 9/11 when bin Laden was considered a military war criminal?
General Sharaf you point out Pakistani Christians became persecution targets of American meddling in religious affairs of Iran. You do remember what the Shi’ite Mullocracy did to the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 right? An Embassy by international protocol is the national soil of the nation that occupies that Embassy. The protocol for diplomatic extinction is to order the national diplomatic personnel to leave the host nation. The protocol is not to attack an Embassy and hold the personnel hostage for nearly ONE YEAR screaming espionage where diplomatic immunity applies. If one thinks the USA will not inflict mayhem at least covertly for such ignorance of the sanctity of diplomatic immunity is sadly mistaken. I suspect the only reason President Carter did not respond as if this was an act of war was because he is Democratic Party Liberal like America’s current President Obama. Most American Liberals live under the delusion that ALL acts of aggression can be solved with a carrot more than with a stick. Radical Muslims do not respond well with carrots from the kafir. Carrots are viewed as weakness. It is only the stick that elicits a negotiation point with the ideology of Radical Islam. Iran is an enemy of the USA. Carter screwed up the opportunity to put Iran in its place. Instead Carter made Iran look like it was negotiating from a point of strength and enabled the Iranian Mullocracy to have an agenda of building a Military Complex that is not only threatening to American National Security but also to initiating yet another global conflict by forcing nations to choose sides if such a conflict breaks out.
The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (Canonical)
13 1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (13: 1-7 NKJV)
I get why Pakistani Christians should submit to the governing authorities imposing Islamic Supremacism over the Religious Freedom of Christians. After all the authorities appointed are from God regardless of Christian, Islamic, other religion or atheist. However when rulers fail to do good or be a minister of good, that ruler is outside the mandated appointment. When that ruler or rulers support evil over good God raises up another instrument to do the will of God knowingly or unknowingly (e.g. Nebuchadnezzar).
18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. 19 And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. 20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. 21 Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.
22 “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. 23 And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. 24 Then the fingers[a] of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.
25 “And this is the inscription that was written:
26 This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it;27 TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; 28 PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”[e] (Daniel 5: 18-28 NKJV)
I am biased nonetheless I believe America has been an instrument of good globally since WWII. I also believe standing as an instrument of good could be endangered because of the American Left purging of America’s Christian foundations that helped bring about good government when a council of diverse people agreed upon a national experiment that has been the U.S. Constitution. All the geopolitical meddling in the internal affairs of foreign nations under the policies of American National Interests and National Security might allow another instrument to spank the USA a few times to get the people to wake up. A paradigm God used with the Hebrew Tribes until the disregard of faith in God led to Assyria deporting the Northern Tribes of Israel and 100 years later Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar deported Judah and Benjamin. The largest of the remaining 12 Tribes was Judah and thus the Hebrew descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob became labeled as Jews. After punishment Jews by prophecy returned to their homeland about 70 years later ironically by the direction of the King of Persia which is present day Iran.
My point is God chooses whomever whether of faith or not to accomplish His purpose on the Earth. The New Testament warns that the Antichrist will fool people that he represents God. The Antichrists actions ultimately reveal who he belongs to whether as an individual or as an Antichrist spirit corrupting people and nations. I still believe the USA is God’s global instrument; however the further America descends away from Christianity the more likely that instrumentation will come to an end.