U.S. President George W. Bush believed that God told him to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, a senior Palestinian official says in a broadcast interview.
The British Broadcasting Corp. On Thursday released an excerpt from an interview with Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Shaath that was part of a series called "Israel and the Arabs." Shaath described his first meeting, in company with Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, in June 2003.
"President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did. "'And then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq." And I did. "'And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it."'
Abu Mazen told the BBC that, at the same meeting, Bush told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."
And Karen Hughes was making such progress!
It's not hard to imagine the thought process, using the term loosely of course, that went into this inestimable PR nightmare. I'll bet Bush figured that he could speak and relate to Abu Mazen as a man of faith, completely clueless that his American evangelical "God is my buddy!" approach to religion would certainly be unfamiliar, and very likely offensive, to Mazen. Also, over the past 1400 years Muslims have had some experience with war in the name of God, and it's rarely been very enjoyable. Would it be indelicate to suggest that it's high time someone grabbed the president by his head and screamed this into his face?
As for Bush "getting" the Palestinians a state (after they've agitated, struggled, and suffered for one for more than half a century) well, that's really sweet of him. Of course, by the time Bush makes good on this, Palestine will probably consist of a few isolated, extremely overcrowded Arab enclaves amidst a matrix of Israeli settlements and bypass roads, settlements which Bush himself gave the green light to continue building. But it will be a state, just like Iraq and Afghanistan are democracies, so quit complaining.
UPDATE: The SF Chronicle has more.
"One of the biggest problems the Bush administration has is the translation of American Christian culture to the world, and specifically to Muslim countries," said commentator Micah D. Halpern, author of "What You Need to Know About: Terror."
"It's not that these societies are foreign to Christians, it's just that the Christianity that Bush embraces is not the Christianity that these Muslim countries see at home," Halpern said. "In that mistranslation, his message is ballooned out of proportion. One of America's biggest diplomatic mistakes is their lack of understanding of local Muslim and Arab cultures abroad. You can't just throw out the word God and assume that everyone's on the same page."