Obama as Empire-Builder

by Andrew Stephens-Rennie

As I was looking through my feed reader, I noticed an interesting post by Fr. John Dear, on Gareth Higgins‘ blog from earlier in December, discussing Obama and Afghanistan. If I had noticed it earlier, I would have posted it alongside Brian’s reflection, “Swords or Peace?.” I didn’t post it then, but here it is:

It doesn’t seem to matter that most Americans want the war to stop, that most Afghanis want us out. It doesn’t even matter that only a hundred Al Qaeda members remain in Afghanistan. The rest have taken refuge in Pakistan. Our new war president says the war must continue.

“You would think that we don’t have enough to do here at home,” Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich said this week.

You would think that we don’t have 47 million Americans who go to bed hungry, 47 million Americans who don’t have any health care, 15 million Americans who are out of work, another 10 million Americans whose homes are threatened with foreclosure, people going bankrupt, and business failures. All these things are happening in our country and we’re acting like a latter-day version of the Roman Empire, reaching for empire while inside we rot. We have to challenge this because our future as a nation is at stake. If we continue to militarize, we lose our civil liberties, we lose our capacity to meet our needs here at home.

We have money for Wall Street and money for war, but we don’t have money for work. We have money for Wall Street and money for war, but we don’t have money for health care. We have to start asking ourselves, why is it that war is a priority, but the basic needs of the people of this country are not? And how are we getting the money to pay for the war? We’re borrowing it. We’re going deeper into debt. We’re mortgaging our future. We’re creating conditions where we will become less democratic because we can’t meet the most essential needs of our people. This needs to be challenged. And it needs to be challenged in a forthright way. The issue is the war; the issue is America’s reach for empire. The issue is our inability to meet the needs of people here at home.

Obama and his generals are dead wrong — this I insist with so many others. The war is illegal, immoral, impractical and plain foolish. It will further divide us. It will lead us into debt beyond our means. It will sow the seeds of terrorist attacks to come.

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Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Andrew is a writer, dreamer and organizer with a keen interest in developing leaders in faith, compassion and justice.

He currently serves as the Director of Missional Renewal for the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Syilx, and Ktunaxa nations. He previously served as the Director of Ministry Innovation at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC.

Andrew is cofounder and contributing editor at www.empireremixed.com, and co-editor of "A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh" with Marcia Boniferro and Amanda Jagt.

4 Responses to “Obama as Empire-Builder”

  1. Brian Walsh

    My goodness, what an incredibly powerful piece. Powerful not because of the eloquence of Fr. Dear (thought that cannot be denied), but because of its radical faithfulness to the gospel. Thanks for posting this Andrew.

  2. Katie Munnik

    Thank you for posting this. A powerful affirmation of our calling today. Would that we all would be always “rooted in prayer, patience, and love.”
    That’s how it happens, isn’t it?

  3. andrew

    Katie – Thanks for your thoughts. And I think you’re right that such rooting is essential to our calling. Sometimes it’s just so freaking hard to live it out, especially in a world that pulls our hearts in so many competing directions.

  4. Katie Munnik

    Absolutely. That’s why I was drawn to the word “patience” in that list. Love and prayer – we’re at least good at talking about those, but patience? That’s counter-cultural to the extreme.


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