Who Backs Obama's Afghanistan Strategy
Afghanistan: A Mistake?
President Obama's address on Afghanistan turned the politics of Christian advocacy groups on its head. Friends were critical. Foes were supportive. And some groups found themselves with strange bedfellows.
Jim Wallis of Sojourners decried the troop increase as "a mistake" and "the wrong direction," calling for greater diplomacy and more humanitarian aid.
"We will pray for our servicemen and women who will continue to sacrifice for a tragic strategy, for more innocent civilians in Afghanistan who will die from more military escalation, for a president whose deepest instincts we still trust, and for the soul of our own nation," said Wallis. "May God save us from our well-intentioned mistakes."
Pat Robertson, who rarely holds the same political positions as Wallis, found himself agreeing that the new strategy is a mistake, albeit for different reasons. Robertson said in a 700 Club broadcast that America should leave immediately because Afghanistan is "a quagmire."
"It'll be another Iraq, except it will be never-ending," Robertson said. "And those fierce tribes just like to kill each other. They've been doing it for years. … There are certain areas that are amenable to the democratic process. I don't think Afghanistan is one of them."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, gave a rare show of support for President Obama, calling his strategy "an act of gutsy leadership." That said, Perkins said the President must pay for the surge in troops, preferably by halting some of the Democratic Party's planned expansions of social programs.
Others who support an increase in troops balked at the 2011 deadline to pull out of Afghanistan. Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice supported the increase in troops on his Wednesday radio program, but added, "The idea that you would telegraph to our enemies that we will be leaving [Afghanistan] in 36 months is absurd."
The Traditional Values Coalition's Andrea Lafferty criticized the plan because of its timetable. The plan is a clear strategy for defeat, she said, and Obama gave "the enemies of freedom a great speech and much encouragement for their efforts to destroy democracy and our way of life."
Swiss Anti-Muslim Referendum
On November 29, 58 percent of Swiss voters approved a referendum that banned the building of new minarets, the spires often featured on mosques.
Rob Schwarzwalder of the Family Research Council defended the referendum. In his view, Europeans are justified in wanting to protect their cultures and in opposing efforts to have their cultures "Islamicized." He noted that Christians and Jews are not given rights in Muslim nations.
"Count the crosses in the Islamic world. Read about the anti-Semitic rhetoric of many Islamic groups in Europe. Consider the repression of, and frequent violence against, Christians in Muslim-dominant nations. Add up the 'fatwas' against Muslims who dare convert to faith in Jesus. Then ask me to worry about the Swiss vote on minarets. Just don't hold your breath," concluded Schwarzwalder.
Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, strongly disagreed. He called the ban "a cowardly move that contradicts Swiss commitments to religious freedom and tolerance." Mohler said that by banning only minarets, the referendum is singling out Islam for negative treatment.
"Surely the Swiss can do better than this," Mohler said. "With this measure they have managed to violate religious liberty, anger Muslims, and avoid dealing with reality—all in one simultaneous act."