Enabling Cultures of Death? (Part I)
“While the people suffer, incredible quantities of money are being spent to supply weapons to fighters. Some of the countries supplying these arms are among those that talk of peace.”
— Pope Francis’ July 5, 2016 message to Amnesty International Conference on Syria
July 6 I attended the celebration of life for a friend — a decorated retired colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Returning home, I learned the long-awaited British public inquiry into the U.K.’s role in the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq was finally released.
Juxtaposed with the celebration of Harry’s life, this report hit me hard. I was sickened.
It concluded: Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat; peaceful alternatives to war had not been exhausted; the U.K. and U.S. had undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council; and the 2003 war was unnecessary.
Former U.K. PM Tony Blair’s own British Intelligence agents advised such an invasion would exacerbate — not help — situations in the Middle East.
Some relatives of the British soldiers killed called for Blair, a Roman Catholic, to stand trial as a war criminal.
I mention Blair’s faith because of fear-mongering about Muslims.
I am not noticing the world being a better place thanks to “Christian” leaders — business or political.
Too many condone “unnecessary wars” consuming tens of trillions $U.S. in public funds while social security, public education, health/palliative care and drug programs are underfunded. Such public investments enable life with dignity for all while delivering political and social stability.
Given these programs actually deliver peace, national security, and life with dignity for the full continuum, why are they not as well funded as war programs? Why is advocating for them not part of the March for Life?
In 2015, Pope Francis visited the Peace Factory, an Italian initiative to “promote peace, tolerance and inclusion among multiethnic, socially diverse and differently abled children in elementary schools.”
When asked “Why powerful people do not help schools,” Pope Francis stated the question should be: “Why do many powerful people not want peace?”
Pope Francis continued: “They live off war — It is the industry of death — their greed harms us all.”
Unpacking the relationship between the U.K., the U.S., and Saudi Arabia illustrates Pope Francis’ points.
In the 18th century, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab started a “revivalist movement” to “purify” Islam. One name for this movement is Wahhabism.
Soon a politico-religious alliance between Muhammad ibn Saud (House of Saud tribal leader) and the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam was formed. They conquered most of the Arabian Peninsula.
After the First World War, France and the U.K. “Christian” leaders divided the Ottoman Empire according to the needs of their “powerful people” or socio-economic elites.
In return for their politicians recognizing and protecting the newly formed Arab states, British and French businesses got “priority of enterprise” in their respective areas.
The multi-faceted complexity and self-determination aspirations of the region’s peoples were not considered.
This contributes to the deadly chaos unleashed by the 2003 invasion — as British intelligence and others accurately predicted (see Elias D. Mallon S.A. articles in the journal America).
When the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (a Wahhabi absolute monarchy) was formed after the First World War, it became an “ally” and trading partner of the U.K. — maintaining its 1915 “special status” awarded when it became a British protectorate.
Jumping to the mid-1970s — after centuries of Christians composing roughly 15 - 20 per cent of the Middle East population, in the mid-1970s it starts to decline. Today it is two to five per cent.
Why? Most answers do not make sense to me.
In his 2016 The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins begins clearing the obfuscation.
The 1970s was the OPEC oil embargo. This dramatically raised the price of oil.
British and American socio-economic elites wanted Middle East oil and a means of repatriating petrodollars.
The Saudi elite wanted “western” goods, including military hardware and training, and assurance of their “special status.”
Saudi Arabia, a brutal dictatorship, was/is one of the world’s worse violators of religious freedoms and other human rights.
The American, British and Saudi elites got what they wanted — plus the Saudis assured there would never be another oil embargo . . . while the “west” turns a blind eye.
Awash with petrodollars, some Saudis unofficially “facilitated” exporting their Wahhabi distortion of Sunni Islam around the world.
Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. just sold Saudi Arabia billions in military equipment.
Perkins also helps clarify why the U.K. and U.S. are focused more on regime change in Syria than defeating ISIS or alleviating the burgeoning humanitarian crisis threatening stability in the Middle East and Europe.
Under al-Assad, Syria is a regional rival of the House of Saud’s Arabia.
Plus — for economies such as America’s, Britain’s and increasingly Canada’s — dependent on manufacturing and selling weapons, reconstruction contracts due to devastation caused by war, and the financing of both — peace is not as lucrative as war.
As Pope Francis states, all God’s creation is harmed by governments and economies under the influence of those benefiting from war.
Given Pope Francis has this figured out, why is it not getting more attention in our Catholic press?
Are we enabling grotesque cultures of death by perpetuating a too narrow understanding of “pro-life”?
Please join Pope Francis in praying: “Never War!”
An educator, writer and engaged citizen living in Qualicum Beach, B.C., Zarowny is also on the leadership team for her parish’s Justice and Life Ministry.