The Evangelical Roots of American Unilateralism
Over the next few days I'm going to post an article written by Duane Oldfield that appears on his website.
Duane Oldfield is an associate professor of political science at Knox College and the author of The Right and the Righteous (Rowman & Littlefield, 1996). An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2003 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, August 28-31, 2003.
This article suggests that the violent policies are tied with the right-leaning political Christian thought.
I do not personally hold to the idea that all Christians encourage violence in politics or in any other arena. I believe that most of the rank and file want peace as much as anyone else.
What I do believe, simply is that the current administration justifies their actions as being 'Christian', which is not a historically new concept.
This article expands on that notion and clarifies the issues at work within the administration.
The Evangelical Roots of American Unilateralism: The Christian Right's Influence and How to Counter It
While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self defense by acting preemptively...
Today humanity holds in its hands the opportunity to further freedom's triumph over all these foes. The United States welcomes our responsibility to lead in this great mission. (author's emphasis).
But our responsibility to history is clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.
--The National Security Strategy of the United States (2002), p. 6, preface, and p. 5.
That the administration of George W. Bush is pursuing a unilateralist foreign policy on issues ranging from the Iraq War to global warming to the International Criminal Court is obvious to observers at home and abroad. Also clear is the fact that the Bush policy, at least in its broad outlines, is very much in keeping with the preferences of the Christian right. As the second two quotes above indicate, the president, himself a born-again Christian, does not hesitate to use a moralistic, implicitly religious language in defense of his policies.
What, exactly, is the relationship between the Christian right and the unilateralist foreign policy of the present administration? For the last quarter century, the Christian right has been a key player regarding domestic social issues such as abortion, gay rights, and prayer in schools. While journalists, politicians, and academics continue to analyze and debate the Christian right's effectiveness in these areas, less attention has been paid to the religious right's influence on American foreign policy. However, that influence is becoming difficult to ignore and is in need of further analysis. 1
In the first two sections of this paper, I examine the political and religious roots of the Christian right's unilateralism and the development of the alliances that have allowed the Christian right to become a significant player in contemporary U.S. foreign policy. The final section of the paper looks at a second question: how should progressives understand and respond to the Christian right's influence? I contend that focusing on the “extremism” of the Christian right is a misguided strategy and that we should instead see the Christian right as part of a dominant foreign policy alliance. Resisting that unilateralist alliance requires a focus on its inherent contradictions.