Dear readers, it is getting to be about that time. Time for me to bid you a fond farewell, as you read what will be one of my final articles for Delusion. Never the man to let a good opportunity go to waste, I’ve decided to use the announcement of my upcoming retirement from COG blogging as a platform from which to fire a parting literary salvo at one of my favorite Armstrongite ministers. I’ll do this by dissecting an article recently written by that minister – one that ties in nicely with the subject of making an exit.
The man is Stephen Flurry, PCG columnist and talking-head extraordinaire. The article is America’s Decade of Defeat, an otherwise unremarkable op-ed piece, laden with the usual half-truths, quotes taken out of context and the same boring talking points PCG has been regurgitating for years. Nothing new or special by any means but as I said, considering the subject of departure, this article was practically screaming for attention.
This piece is another in a long line of PCG articles focusing on the so-called “decline” of America. In it, Flurry mounts his editorial soapbox to critique US foreign policy, specifically the recent departure of US forces from Iraq. His article is a veritable smorgasbord of depressing terms (Defeat, decline, retreat, etc.), scripture slinging, trumpet-tooting (We told you so!) and the seemingly obligatory Herbert Armstrong quotes. It’s actually pretty remarkable that I was able to keep my eyes open long enough to read it, but I did. Such is my dedication to you, the reader. You’re welcome.
I’ll start by saying that I know Stephen Flurry to be a pretty smart guy. Saying that, I have a hard time accepting that he believes what he wrote. After reading the article, I also question just how seriously he takes his job. A title like “Executive Editor” carries with it the implication that Stephen is a Journalist of sorts. But with the journalistic integrity he displays here, I find this to be something of a joke. Then again, perhaps he can see the writing on the wall and is simply trying to pad his resume for the eventual day he finds himself seeking employment out in the real world? In any case, let’s begin.
“Joe Biden stopped in Baghdad this week to put a positive spin on the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq… But no amount of spin can change the fact that this pullout represents a shameful defeat for America in Iraq and an irreversibly massive setback in the war against terrorism.”
Right away, the games begin. The first trick used, is to call into question the credibility of a high-ranking US official (Joe Biden) by referring to his words as “spin”. Implying that the Vice President is sugar-coating things to make them look better than they are. Flurry uses this keyword twice. He also inserts another that will appear throughout the piece: “defeat”, this time, imbuing it with the power of “shameful”. Having set the proper tone of his article, he starts throwing quotes around:
“It may be some time before the full weight of this defeat is apparent in newspapers or on television,” the Weekly Standard wrote on November 7. “Its effects will be felt increasingly, however, as America’s leaders grapple with a rising and nuclearizing Iran and the reemergence of al Qaeda franchises in the Arab world.
Iran is already crowing over its conquest. Retreat from Iraq is only the beginning of America’s complete withdrawal from the entire region, said Iran’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
Ah… The Weekly Standard! That defiantly conservative publication that’s always advertising on Fox News? If I recall, a unabashedly biased bastion of conservative colloquy (Hey, just like Trumpet…) Anyway, I went to their website to verify the quote (forgive my distrust, Stevie) and I noticed something: Standard, like Trumpet, has an agenda to push. How bout that?
Amidst the endless Anti Obama rants and inane babble, can be found a writing team that is seemingly falling over themselves to make the current administration look bad. Not surprisingly, this same publication was practically jumping through hoops to deify the previous President. (This article defending the invasion of Iraq, was particularly
desperate passionate.) Oh, did they just quote an Iranian official? Great source! Flurry continues:
The Associated Press reported last month that Iran’s presence in Iraq is already visible. “It’s a natural step, most agree, for the only two Shiite Muslim-led governments in the Sunni-dominated Mideast to expand their relationship.”
The AP then concluded with this statement—one that could easily be mistaken for what the Trumpet has been saying for the past 15 years: “Ironically, it was the U.S. who opened Iraq’s door to Iran by ousting Saddam’s Sunni-dominated regime, allowing Shiite parties with historic ties to Tehran to rise to power.”
America opens the door, Iran waltzes in—and now Iran shows America the door!
Finally, the Associated Press! Now we’re getting somewhere. Unfortunately, he’s quote-mined the hell out of that article. What the readers don’t see are the quotes from many Iraqi citizens vehemently opposed to an Iranian incursion (political or otherwise). I’ll address that “We were right!” assertion in just a moment, but first, allow me to give readers some proper perspective. (From the same article):
Many in Iraq’s Shiite majority (are) wary of infringement of their country’s sovereignty and afraid of being overrun by the Iranian theocracy.
“We hated the Iranians. And there are still bad feelings… The government should not tolerate any Iranian interference, as our anger against them only gets worse when we hear about their deeds,” said Karim, a Shiite.
Experts and diplomats note that Iraq has stood up to Iran in a number of ways, including competition in oil production and crackdowns on militias attacking U.S. forces last summer. Iraq also has adhered to many U.S. and international sanctions against Iran.
Iraq’s Sunnis deeply fear Iranian domination and the potential they will be even further shut out of the political process.
As you can see, the Iraqi people (not just Sunni) have a deep dislike for Iran. The scars of war do not easily fade. How many Iraqi children lost their fathers to Iran in the 80′s? How many wives lost their husbands? How many Iraqi soldiers came back crippled? This sort of thing is not easily forgotten or forgiven and the Iranians know better than to think that it is. Stephen continues:
Ten years ago, President Bush promised to relentlessly march against terrorism “until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.
Sometimes facts are incompatible with your position. One way to get around that little problem is known as moving the goalposts. This quote, intended to establish another “failure” on the part of America, does so by attempting to redefine the concept of victory and showcase what we didn’t accomplish. These tactics reek of desperation.
In actuality, politicians make unrealistic promises all the time; the kind that make for great sound-bytes and help drive up the poll numbers. However, using such sound-bytes as benchmarks to gauge failure, (especially on a national level) is patently absurd.
Two months ago, President Obama was pleading for Nouri al-Maliki to allow a measly 3,000 U.S. troops to remain in Iraq… But the Iraqi prime minister sharply rebuffed the request and instead bowed before intense pressure coming from Tehran and the pro-Iran factions in Iraq.
Wait a second… Wasn’t he just talking about spin? Stephen: Put. The. Irony. Down. Here, he’s engaged in the not-so-fine art of semantics. An objective author may have said “Obama asked“, Stephen instead chose “pleaded”. The same could be said for “measly” and “sharply”. Not only did Al-Maliki not “sharply rebuff” the request, according to the New York Times – Iraq agreed to let us to stay so long as we agreed to abide by their rules. How dare a sovereign country expect that of us? Sharp rebuff! Decline of America! The sky is falling! He was right! The end is nigh! Let’s build… an auditorium? He continues:
American power is now in full-scale retreat.
Oh no he did’ent! Stephens article was published in December of 2011. You know, the same year that the US turned Bin Laden into fish-food. The same year that US drones took out Gaddafi’s convoy in Libya. Or fast-forward to January, when the US decided to send a third Aircraft Carrier to the region. But never mind all that, Stephen says our power is waning. Who are we to argue with him?
America waged war against an elusive battle tactic, rather than confront the real enemy. It turned a blind eye to the “axis of evil” and instead targeted small fries—al Qaeda and affiliates, Saddam, the Taliban, etc.
First of all, I love how Stephen has magically transformed from small-time editor into master military tactician. I also love seeing him opine about the USA ignoring the “Axis of Evil” before going on to whine about… targeting Saddam? Wait a sec… Saddam, the leader of Iraq? I thought Iraq was in the Axis? At this point, the real question we should be asking Stephen is this: If you truly believe that end time events are prophesied to happen a certain way, and if you truly believe that God already has a plan in motion, why even bother to worry about (what you perceive to be) American military blunders in the first place? Continuing:
America’s military strength has been downsized and degraded. A generation ago, Codevilla noted, America’s Navy had 600 combatant ships. Today, it has fewer than half of that… And so the Pentagon mothballs ships, cancels a sophisticated remote-controlled artillery system and stops production on the F-22 fighter-bombers.
A generation ago, America was embroiled in a little something known as the Cold War. The USA had a vastly larger navy then because it had to contend with an equally obese Soviet Navy. Times have changed and the USA has adjusted accordingly. As for the F-22 cancellation? There were good reasons for that, as this article clearly demonstrates. But Stephen seems to be neglecting the fact that the current economic situation is a global affair. Numerous other nations are suffering military cutbacks. France, Italy, and *gasp* even Germany. With few exceptions, it is a safe bet that most militaries around the globe are being forced to make cuts. Are they all suffering “defeat” as well?
“And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them,” God says about our very day in Isaiah 3:4.
Ah yes, let’s look to the pages of the bible for an answer. Surely the prophet Isaiah will have something constructive to add to 21st century foreign policy decisions? While we’re at it, how would King David have handled things? Even better, maybe we could ask King Arthur to chime in. I’m sure Merlin is just full of good advice. Moving along:
Later in that same passage, He blames the leaders primarily for the mess we have gotten ourselves into.
Huh? Say that again? “He blames the leaders… for the mess we have gotten ourselves into?” Well, call me crazy, but when I get myself into a mess, I don’t blame others. But, who can argue with the impeccable logic and rationality of ol’ Yahweh? Flurry continues:
When the economy collapses—and we’re already at the beginning stages of that collapse—food and water will be scarce. Shelves will empty. God, it says, takes it away!
Don’t bother trying to figure out how this pertains to the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. It doesn’t. Let’s just say that even if the economy were to collapse entirely, and even if there were food and water shortages, It’s still quite a stretch to attribute that to the hand of god. More like the god of supply and demand. (Look it up, Stevie.) Continuing:
And notice what else is taken away: “The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.”
Now it seems as though Stephen is trying to shoehorn an entire bronze age passage into his defeat and decline theory. Sigh. For starters, Barack Obama is an incredibly eloquent orator. Where was this scripture 4 years ago when Dubya was giving speeches? Next, the US military industrial complex is well-stocked with cunning artificers, the people behind technology like unmanned predator drones. Those same drones that allow the US to strike their enemies with impunity, wherever they are, all while keeping their honorable soldiers (captains, ironically) out of harms way. Seems rather prudent when you think about it. And as for a shortage of Prophets? Is he kidding? He writes:
For more than two decades now, the Trumpet has been heralding the end of the American empire—and it has all been based on prophecies like this one in Isaiah 3.
They’ve been telling us all along! As did HWA who heralded the end of America decades prior. In fact, wasn’t 1975 In Prophecy also based on prophecies like the one in Isaiah 3? (Odd that PCG would neglect to purchase the rights to that little tome, eh?) And yet, America is still the most powerful nation on earth. Weird how they left that one out.
From the beginning of the war against terrorism, we told you that the United States did not have the “necessary will” to win the war (November 2001). That forecast was based on another prophecy—Leviticus 26:19.
And from the very beginning of my apostasy, I’ve been saying that Gerald Flurry did not have the “necessary will” to wear a pink polka-dotted jacket or clown shoes when taping a Key of David episode. This too was based on prophecy. (See how easy it is to be right?)
We told you early on that as active and aggressive as America would be in the war, in the end, its strength would be spent in vain (Leviticus 26:20). Now, everyone else is writing about it.
Don’t you just hate those Johnny-come-lately types? Always swooping in to steal your thunder? Considering that the only “everyone else” I’ve seen quoted contextually in his article - institutions like Weekly Standard and The Claremont Institute (Codevilla’s conservative think-tank) – are right-leaning organizations who essentialy mirror the PCG politically, I’ll take that with an appropriately large grain of salt.
“Do you think so great a fall could not come to so great powers as Britain and America?” Herbert W. Armstrong asked in The United States and Britain in Prophecy well over a half century ago. Back then, it would have been easy to scoff at the prophecies of God. Not now.
Au contraire, Stevie. It’s still incredibly easy to scoff at the prophets and their prophecies. Not only that, it’s actually a lot of fun!
America is still a superpower. We still possess the most advanced fighting force on the planet. We have a Navy and Air Force unmatched by anyone. With our carrier groups and refueling planes, we can project our power wherever we desire. With our drones, we can use the scalpel when we don’t need a sledgehammer. (Stephen, spare us a scripture quote about relying on horses and chariots…) As far as Iraq went, in a conventional military sense, we showed the true nature of our power. It took our troops less than 3 weeks to fight their way into Baghdad. When we left, we did so at our leisure, in a well-coordinated and executed drawdown. This is nothing like the chaos of a true defeat, such as the Fall of Saigon, but to Stephen, there is seemingly no distinction.
At the end of the day, the bottom line is this: the United States pulling out of Iraq is no more a defeat than my leaving the world of COG-blogging is a defeat. In both instances, we’ve simply moved on to something else. Me to a more interesting realm of blogging. The USA, to the next war on the horizon – which at this point, is looking more and more like Iran. And when that shit hits the fan, it’ll probably be a very, very good thing that we are not still tied down in Baghdad. But try telling that to Stephen Flurry.