Our Army vs Our Constitution

American soldiers destroying Bibles and enforcing sharia?

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

- Presidential Oath of Office

I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

- United States Uniformed Services Oath of Office

The Constitution of the United States is our most sacred founding document, the source from which all our liberties and our form of government derive.  Other countries swear allegiance to the king or queen, or to the Fuhrer or some other leader; our statesmen and warriors instead swear to abide by a centuries-old written law.  As John Adams said, "We are a government of laws, and not of men."

Why, then, are our soldiers fighting and dying in defense of a government sworn to uphold the exact opposite of Constitutional rights, specifically their commitment to the absolute destruction of the First Amendment?

The Associated Press reports:

Afghan authorities suspended two Christian foreign aid groups on suspicion of proselytizing in the strictly Islamic nation and said a follow-up investigation would include whether other groups were trying to convert Muslims... Proselytizing is illegal in Afghanistan, as it is in many Muslim countries. It is a hot-button issue for many Afghans sensitive to the influence of the scores of foreign aid groups operating in the country to help it recover from decades of war.  [emphasis added]

Two charity organizations, Church World Service and Norwegian Church Aid, are in Afghanistan at their own expense to assist in the recovery of that devastated land.  Being charities, they are at least vaguely religiously-oriented as their name would imply.

However, in Afghanistan it is illegal for Christians to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ or to attempt to convert Muslims.  Of course, Muslims are encouraged to convert anyone else to Islam, but once you're a Muslim (even if you're born that way), there's no leaving.

We're not talking about a matter of custom or even religion; in Afghanistan, this is the law.  This shocking fact was brought home a few years ago by the case of Abdul Rahman, born a Muslim but a Christian in his heart.  Wikipedia sums up his sad story:

In February 2006, members of his family reported him to the police.  He was arrested after police discovered that he possessed a Bible.  After his arrest, he was unable to find a lawyer in Kabul willing to represent him. Authorities barred attempts by the Associated Press news agency to see him.

Despite conversion away from Islam being subjected to the death penalty, he was eventually freed on grounds almost scarier even than a conviction:

Judge Mawlawizadah stated that since Rahman refused to repent then his mental state was being examined. If he was found to be mentally unfit, the case would be dismissed.  Abdul Rahman's conversion to Christianity, while knowing that doing so is punishable by death, was viewed by some as evidence of mental incompetence.

On the face of it, it's a neat way for the Afghan government to avoid offending their Western patrons by executing a man on religious grounds.  Only a madman would ever leave the One True Worship of Allah, and of course you cannot hold the insane accountable for their actions, so, no execution required.

But doesn't declaring converts automatically insane sound awfully similar to the repugnant Soviet practice of putting anti-Communists under harsh psychiatric treatment?  After all, since Marx was self-evidently right, anyone who disagreed with him could only be mentally disturbed.

Rahman was eventually let out of jail just long enough for Italy to offer him asylum and whisk him out of the country, where he lives today.  Yes, that was a fairly happy ending for him; but imagine the fear of any other would-be Afghan convert who might not be so lucky!

Far from being ashamed of themselves, the oppressive Islamic mullahs showed their power over all Afghans.  Now they are trying to exercise that same theocratic fist over Western aid groups that are in their country offering a helping hand!  How dare they!

The Islamic Un-Constitution

The problem is, legally the mullahs are absolutely correct.  The Constitution of Afghanistan is a demented looking-glass version of our own:

We the people of Afghanistan: With firm faith in God Almighty and relying on His lawful mercy, and Believing in the Sacred religion of Islam...

Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary and indivisible state.  The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam.

In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.

The state adopts necessary measures to ensure physical and psychological well being of family, especially of child and mother, upbringing of children and the elimination of traditions contrary to the principles of sacred religion of Islam.

The officials, politicians, and judges even have an oath specified... requiring loyalty to Islam.

In the name Allah, the Merciful and the Compassionate I swear in the name of God Almighty to support justice and righteousness in accord with the provisions of the sacred religion of Islam...

So, what exactly are the "provisions of the sacred religion of Islam" when it comes to apostasy - that is, people who want to stop being Muslims and be something else instead, exercising the liberty of conscience that is guaranteed to Americans in our First Amendment?  Muslim theologians for the past thousand years are united in agreement: kill them.

Sura IV. 89: "They would have you disbelieve as they themselves have disbelieved, so that you may be all like alike. Do not befriend them until they have fled their homes for the cause of God. If they desert you seize them and put them to death wherever you find them. Look for neither friends nor helpers among them..." Baydawi (died c. 1315-16), in his celebrated commentary on the Koran, interprets this passage to mean: "Whosover turns back from his belief ( irtada ), openly or secretly, take him and kill him wheresoever ye find him, like any other infidel. Separate yourself from him altogether. Do not accept intercession in his regard". Ibn Kathir in his commentary on this passage quoting Al Suddi (died 745) says that since the unbelievers had manifested their unbelief they should be killed.

The Afghan courts and justices are simply following their laws exactly as written.  The Afghan Constitution clearly states that Islamic sharia law is the highest law of the land; the Koran clearly states, and has stated for centuries, that converts are to be killed; and obviously, anyone trying to encourage conversion away from Islam is doing the work of the Devil and must be stopped by the full power of the state.

What Are We Thinking?  Are We Thinking At All?

There's nothing the least bit unique about Afghanistan.  Virtually the entire Islamic world has pretty much the same legal principles; that's why most Muslim majority countries are either unanimously Muslim or engaged in ongoing civil violence.

It would be a bit much for America to attempt to enforce the rights of our Constitution for everybody in the entire world; even if it were possible, it wouldn't be a good idea because the required militarization might destroy those same rights here at home.  It's not even absolutely necessary for us only to be allied with countries that honor human rights; in WWII, we fought alongside Stalin's Russia against Hitler's Germany because Nazism was an even greater and more immediate threat than Communism.

After the war was over and Hitler was in hell, we did not use our army to keep Stalin in power or help protect Communism from its opponents.  Quite the opposite: the Free World and the Soviet Bloc almost immediately rediscovered their natural enmity.

In Afghanistan, we invaded the country and deposed the Taliban because of their support for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorists.  Bin Laden and the Taliban were natural allies because they both believe that Islam is the only religion which has any right to exist and that all non-Muslims should be killed or forced to convert.  9-11 showed this evil belief to be a deadly threat to American lives.

Having overthrown the theocratic Taliban, we are now propping up an Afghan government whose constitution declares the exact same thing!  Our army has gone so far as to burn Bibles privately owned by soldiers serving in Afghanistan; didn't we fight a world war against another book-burning nation some decades ago?

Yes, Islam is a centuries-old Afghan tradition.  Shinto emperor worship was a centuries-old religious tradition and an essential part of Japanese culture, too; but that didn't stop Douglas MacArthur from destroying it utterly as the military occupying general after we defeated Japan in 1945.  The religious belief of emperor-worship was the very cause of Japanese aggression and war; it had to go.

Today the Emperor of Japan is respected purely as a source of national unity, tourism, and soap-opera, much like the British royalty.  Nobody is going to go invading other countries in the name of an Emperor who most decidedly is no longer God; the problem of Emperor-inspired militancy has been solved once and for all.

The religious belief in the absolute supremacy of Islam, to be enforced by the sword, is the exact reason we had to invade Afghanistan in the first place.  It defies reason that we should fail to root out that evil philosophy, the cause of so much death; it beggars belief that we should actually spend our blood and treasure to prop up a government that holds to it.

If anybody had dared to suggest such stupidity to Gen. MacArthur in Japan, we'd not be able to show you his response for fear it would scorch the phosphors right off your screen.  Yet that's precisely what we're doing in Afghanistan today.

In the abstract, there's a good reason for us to be in Afghanistan: to destroy the philosophy that wants freedom's end and Allah's totalitarianism.  If that's not our goal, we need to come home today and let the barbarians fight things out amongst themselves... while we save our money and prepare our arms so we can crush whichever mad mullah rises to the top of the heap.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments
I'm going to quibble with you a bit. Your first sentence is "The Constitution of the United States is our most sacred founding document, the source from which all our liberties and our form of government derive." This is wrong.

The Constitution acknowledges that are rights exist outside of governments. Our liberties are not derived from the Constitution, but protected from government by it.

I think a very important point to keep clear.
June 15, 2010 9:21 AM
Very Good Point Fennomen...
June 15, 2010 10:15 AM

Excellent point. In fact, the Constitution acknowledges that our rights come from "Our Creator" as does the Declaration of Independence.

On that... Since the modern consensus is that God doesn't exist, I wonder if that's grounds - among the left - to view the Constitution as based on false pretenses and thus null and void.
June 15, 2010 10:26 AM
In that sense, Fennoman, you're right. Ultimately, our liberties are derived from "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God." But you raise an even larger point.

In the legal world today, liberties are actually derived from the Constitution - I mean, the Court goes looking for penumbras and emanations that indicate the presence of the right, or occasionally the plain text granting one.

What you're arguing is that the lawyers have been too rights-conscious in the Constitution. I mean, we shouldn't be looking for rights in the Constitution per se; we should assume the people or states have all rights. What the lawyers need to be digging in the Constitution to find is the specific authorization granting government power to do X - and if they can't find it, they can't do it.

But I don't think American jurisprudence has ever worked that way, not in a century at the very least.
June 15, 2010 10:31 AM
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