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“On a Mission from God”

George W. Bush’s Faith
and

the War on Terror






Dr. David Bos




Department of Humanities

Theology

Bachelor Thesis





Utrecht University





Rachèl Koopman

3409538

July

6,

2011



“On a Mission from God”


2

Contents





Introduction






p. 3









Analysis








I.

Faith and George W. Bush



p. 5

II.

Bush and the War on Terror



p. 11


III.

“Apocalyptic Crusade”




p. 18












Conclusion






p. 23

Conclusion










Bibliography





p. 25












“On a Mission from God”


3


Introduction



“It’s impossible to understand President Bush

without acknowledging the centrality of his faith.”



Nicholas D. Kristof
1


eligion has always played an important role in the American presidency. The degree to
which religion shapes the political beliefs,
rhetoric and policy decisions of presidents in
office has been part of the religious discourse in the political arena for many years. Throughout
history Americans have shown they prefer a believer in the White House


a politician who
identifies himself as

an atheist just stands no chance at be
coming President.
2

This has everything
to do with America’s religious heritage; it is a profoundly, uniquely religious country; it is “one
nation under God” as the Plegde of Allegiance
3

states. An
atheist President
who denies this

important dimension of civil religion


meaning the blending of religion with nationalism, such
as the conviction that America is God’s chosen nation


that dominates all American national
holidays and historic milestones, would not last ve
ry long in the White House. Even though
religion is an indispensable part of American history and culture, it can be questioned what
should be the right amount of religiosity in the Oval Office.
4




Presidents from George Washington to Barack Ob
ama have ex
pressed their belief

in God
in different ways. Some have been quieter about it than others and all have had different
political purposes for invoking God into their public statements. Yet it appears that few
presidents have been as openly religious as form
er President George W. Bush. A lot has been
said about his so
-
called “faith
-
based” presidency; whether it is the significance of his own
presidential faith or his close ties to his evangelical base and the political force of the Religious
Right
5
, Bush’s fa
ith and the implications of that faith for administration policy, became a matter
of public interest and absorbed into the discourse of popular culture.
6




Many authors argue that Bush’s religio
us belief shaped his politics
7
; I would like to look



1

Nicholas D. Kristof, “God, Satan and the Media”,
New York Times,
March 4,

2003.

2

Nancy Gibs, “The Faith Factor”,
Time Magazine
issued on “Faith, God nd the Oval Office”, June 21, 2004.

3

The Plegde of Allegiance is an oath of loyalty to the national flag of the United States of America, written in August 1892 b
y
socialist min
ister Francis Bellamy and formally adopted by Congress in 1942 as the national pledge. The most recent change
added the words “under God” in 1954. See
http://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.
htm

(Accessed June 22, 2011).

4

Nancy Gibs, “The Faith Factor”.

5

Even though the religious right can refer to any religiously motivated conservative movement around the world, in this
context it refers to the Christian segment of the Religious Right (also known as the “Christian Right”) in the United States.


6

David D
omke,
God Willing? Political Fundamentalism in the White House, the “War on Terror”, and the Echoing Press,
London,
Pluto Press: 2004, p. 2.

7

Authors such as Stephen Mansfield,
The Faith of George W. Bush,
New York, Tarcher: 2003; Michael Baigent,
Racing

toward
Armageddon,
New York, HarperCollins Publishers: 2009; T. Walter Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War, From 9/11 to Catastrophic
Success in Iraq,

London/Oakville, Equinox Publishing: 2009; David Aikman,
A Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W.
Bush,
N
ashville,

W Publishing Group: 2004; Elizabeth Edwards Spalding, “Heritage Event: Presidential Faith and Foreign
Policy: Are Times Changing?”,
The Heritage Foundation,
January 19, 2007. On
http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/
heritage
-
event
-
presidential
-
faith
-
and
-
foreign
-
policy
-
are
-
times
-
changing

(Accessed June 22, 2011) and others.

R

“On a Mission from God”


4

especial
ly into Bush’s foreign policy, because clearly a lot has happened in this field during his
presidency. B
y way of

a literature study I want to analyze

what scholars, political theorists and
other commentators have to say about the role of Bus
h’s faith in hi
s foreign policy, notably in the
global War on Terror. Part of this was Bush’s Middle East approach, which will be the focus of
this paper, because here
interesting theories emerge about the Bush administrations that are
worth analyzing from a theological
perspective. Some have described it as “messianic
militarism”; others stress the notion of “apocalyptic dualism” that characterizes Bush’s policy;
and it is questioned whether Bush’s faith was truly Christian or just an
American form of civil
religion.
8

Wi
th all these issues in mind, I formulated the following research question:



How did the religious
conviction

of former President George W. Bush play a role in his
foreign policy, especially in the War on Terror?

At first, a further look into the
development of Bush’s faith and his worldview is needed, which is
subject to specu
lation among commentators, mostly because it
remains difficult to really find
out what the former President believed in. The only way
in this paper
is indirectly through
Bush
’s public pronouncement
s, his (pre)presidential memoir
s
A Charge To Keep: My Journey to
the White House
(1999) and
Decision Points
(2010) and accounts from authors who have written
on this

subject. This part will give

some background informatio
n about Bush
’s religious
conviction,

which

leads to the second part that
deals with the Bush administration’s response to
the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It became a major turning point in his presidency;
events like the War on Terror and the controversial Iraq war overshadowed almost all domestic
policy items. Que
stions arise as to whether Bush’s Mideast approach was to some extent
religiously motivated, and, could this even be demonstrated at all? And what can be said about
Bush’s vision for the Israel
-
Palestine conflict, in relation to the Religious Right approac
h toward
Israel?

Finally, I will look into critical assertions about Bush’s use of faith in foreign policy that are
linked especially to the Christian apocalyptic tradition. It will also discuss whether Bush’s
presidency was unique or consistent with the
larg
er American political tradition, in order to
formulate a final conclusion.





Rachèl Koopman








8

David Domke,
God Willing?
; Matthew Rot
hschild, “Bush’s Messiah Complex”,
The Progressive Magazine,
February 2003;
Frank Lambert,
Religion in American Politics: A Short Story,
Princeton University Press: 2008 and others.

“On a Mission from God”


5

Analysis


I.

Faith and George W. Bush


“Faith can change lives. I know firsthand

because faith changed mine”




George W. Bush
9



he religious beliefs
of George W. Bush in relation to his presidency is a topic frequently
discussed since the day he took office in the White House. Some of Bush’s critics have said
that his faith is insincere, and that he used it as a political cover for his right
-
wing agend
a.
10

However, this question

about sincerity of belief

is not relevant here


I do not doubt that Bush’s
faith is deeply held


but the real question is the content and meaning of that faith, and
furthermore, what role it has played in his foreign policies.



According to many authors, George W. Bush was probably more comfortable taking his faith into
the White House than any other president since Jimmy Carter.
11

They point out that this is in
part manifested in Bush’s speeches that are spiked with religious
references
12
, in the
appointment of many evangelicals in his administration, and in promoting his “compassionate
conservatism” and the faith
-
based initiative as part of his new administration.
13

Bush had no
problem “discussing his faith and indeed with intro
ducing faith convictions into the public
discussion of national policy”, according to David Aikman.
14

Even though Jimmy Carter also
described himself as an evangelical, born
-
again
15

Christian


just like George W. Bush


he was
religious in a less public way
. So the difference with Bush’s religion lies in Bush’s own
presentation of himself early on; he was very open about his personal religious experiences and
how they helped transform his life.
16





9

Excerpts from the sermon “Faith: our heritage, our hope,” Second Baptis
t Church, Houston, Texas, March 6, 1999. Quoted in:
David Aikman, “Religion and the Presidency of George W. Bush”, in:
Religion and the American Presidency,
Gastón Espinosa
(ed.), New York, Columbia University Press: 2009.

10

Jim Wallis, “Dangerous Religion
: George W. Bush’s Theology of Empire”
, Sojourners Magazine,
September
-
October 2003,
Vol. 32, No. 5, p. 20.

11

See Baigent,
Racing toward Armageddon
; Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War;
Aikman, “Religion and the Presidency of George W.
Bush”.

12

Though it can be quest
ioned to what extent this was unique for Bush’s presidency, but this will be discussed later.

13

Faith
-
based initiative means the empowerment of “faith communities to take a greater role


using government funding


in addressing the nation’s social problems.” This “compassionate conservatism” was Bush’s trademark. See Aikman, “Religion
and the Presi
dency of George W. Bush”, p. 498, 500
-
501.

14

Aikman, “Religion and the Presidency of George W. Bush”, p. 500
-
501.

15

Being “born again” is a central feature of American evangelical faith. It means truly accepting Christ as your personal
Savior, which is usu
ally combined with a radical change of heart, i.e. a spiritual renewal. Those who have experienced this,
believe that God directly intervened in their lives and transformed them. See Edward T. Wimberley, “Steward
-
in
-
Chief: The
Theology of George W. Bush an
d His Environmental/Conservation Policy”,
Journal of Religion and Society,
Vol. 09, 2007. On
http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2007/2007
-
12.html

(Accessed June 24, 2011).

16

For example, his declaration that Jesus Christ “changed my heart” in the Iowa Republican caucus debate in 1999, when he
was asked which philosopher had influenced his life the most, made clear that “a conviction of personal religious faith would

in one wa
y or another play a major role in the George W. Bush administration…” Aikman, “Religion and the Presidency of
George W. Bush”, p. 489; Mansfield,
The Faith of George W. Bush,
p. xviii
-
xix.

T

“On a Mission from God”


6



Mo
st discussions of George W.
’s religious faith draw heavily on his campaign
autobiography


i.e. his public image


A Charge to Keep
which describes the life of George W.
who “drifted until middle age”, when he had a special encounter in 1985 with Southern Baptist
Reverend Billy Gra
ham, who “planted a mustard seed” in his soul and helped turn his life
around.
17

Though the book mainly describes a gradual transformation, which would eventually
prepare Bush for the road leading up to the White House, many scholars who have written on
the

subject of religion and the American presidency, all highlight the role that Billy Graham
played in this “life
-
changing” moment.
18

Graham would supposedly be responsible for Bush’s
conversion, though the term ‘conversion’ would perhaps be too much, since B
ush has always
been a religious person; he was raised a devout Episcopalian and regularly attended church.
After he married Laura Welch in 1977, he changed his denominational affiliation from his
parents’ Episcopal faith to his wife’s Methodism.
19

The Graha
m encounter therefore built upon a
lifetime of Christian religious experience.



Still, according to Bush’s himself,

Graham did “spark a change” in his heart, as he and
Graham had a heart
-
to
-
heart conversation on the beach at Walker’s point, Kennebunkpor
t,
Maine.
20

Though George W. today says he cannot remember specifically what Graham said, it
was Graham’s charisma and “the power of his example” that made an unforgettable impression
on Bush. “I knew I was in the presence of a great man.”
21

Graham reflected

the kind of
Christianity that Bush himself would later emulate. Looking back, George W. saw it as “the
beginning of a new walk where I would recommit my heart to Jesus Christ.”
22

So it appears to be
a rediscovery of faith; a rededication to God that began
under Graham. Bush describes this and
the recommitment that followed, not as a “born
-
again experience”, but rather as a “renewal of
faith.”
23

This seems to be a purely formal distinction, since the meaning of a ‘spiritual renewal’ is
closely related to a ‘b
orn again experience’.
24

Yet it is interesting why Bush would rather not call
it this way, since it can be reasoned that ‘being born again’ would in fact create a sense of
recognition among his evangelical base.



Why Graham gets s
o much credit in Bush’s

memoir
s and in the accounts of others on this
subject, could be due to the fact that Graham is a distinguished public figure whose fame grew
out of frequent visits to the White House over several decades.
25

The story of Bush’s life
-
changing transformation
caused by Graham that “ended his drinking problems, solidified his
family life and gave him a sense of direction” seems to be very convenient for Bush’s public



17

Bruce Lincoln, “Bush’s God Talk”, in:
Political Theologies
: Publi
c Religions in a Post
-
Secular World,
De Vries, Hent and
Lawrence Sullivan (eds.), New York, Fordham University Press: 2006, p. 269. Much of what is mentioned in
A Charge To Keep
about Bush’s ‘religious journey’ is repeated in his post presidential memoire
s
Decision Points
(2010).

18

See Aikman,
A Man of Faith
;

Paul Kengor,
God and George W. Bush,
HarperCollins Publishers: 2005; Howard Fineman,
“Bush and God,”
Newsweek,
March 10, 2003.

19

Kengor,
God and George W. Bush
, p. 18. Yet, it is difficult to link B
ush to a particular denomination. He is also often referred
to as the “president for ecumenicals” instead of the “president for evangelicals”, because he seemed to hold a tolerant and
inclusive approach to people of different faiths. This is for instance r
eflected in Bush’s relations with members of other faith
communities, such as praying with Jews and Sikhs and his attempts to fight prejudice against Muslims. He was much more
ecumenical than many of his Evangelical supporters were comfortable with as pres
ident. See David Aikman, “Religion and
the Presidency of George W. Bush”, p. 493
-
495.

20

The Bush family had a vacation retreat there. Kengor,
God and George W. Bush
, p. 22; George W. Bush,
Decision Points,
New
York, Crown Publishers: 2010, p. 31
-
33.

21

Geor
ge W. Bush,
A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House,
New York, HarperCollins: 2001, p. 136.

22

Ibid.

23

Paul Kengor,
God and George W. Bush,

p. 23.

24

See footnote 15.

25

Craig Unger, “How George Bush really found Jesus”, November 8, 2007. On
http://www.salon.com/books/feature/

2007/11/08/house_of_bush/print.html

( Accessed June 24, 2011).

“On a Mission from God”


7

image, since


as some authors argue


it in fact gave him a clean slate to pursue his political

ambitions.
26

According to this view, such a conversion story would not only position George W.
“as a religious and political man of his time", but it would also “neutralize the many issues from
his past that threatened to undermine his future in politics (
and possibly that of his father as
well).”
27




David C. Bailey also elaborated on this key contention as he argues that in fact the
Pauline conversion narrative inspired Bush to adjust his own conversion story, providing his
campaign with a compelling expl
anation for his admitted indiscretions with alcohol.
28

“Even
more importantly”, Bailey says, “Bush’s adaption of his conversion experience to the Pauline
form … served as narrative evidence of a divine commission upon his life that would ultimately
culminat
e in his election to the presidency”, therefore creating a “sense of “consubstantially”
with evangelical Christians.”
29

In this scenario then, the highly regarded Rev. Billy Graham would
be a suitable guide for Bush’s conversion
30

story.



With these remark
s in mind, it shows that the line between creating a public image to
appeal to and identify with American evangelicals and the actual events that have occurred that
changed Bush profoundly in his faith, remains unclear.
31

But it is a fact that Bush came int
o
strong Christian faith in his adult years and, consequently, “this heartfelt adoption of an
evangelical version of Christianity” created a “warm admiration with which many Americans,
especially those in the evangelical community, view Bush.”
32




BUSH REP
ORTEDLY BEGAN studying the Bible daily after the experience with Graham, and then
with the support of his good friend Don Evans, who also served as Secretary of Commerce
during Bush’s first term, he joined the nondenominational Community Bible Study Group
in
Midland, Texas.
33

The CBS was an intensive, yearlong study of a single book of the New
Testament. For two years Bush and Evans and their partners, read the writings of the gospel of
Luke and Acts of the Apostles.
34




One common example of the religiosi
ty in the Bush White House is related to this
extensive Bible reading.
It appears that
Attorney General John Ashcroft held daily Bible studies



26

Wimberley, “Steward
-
in
-
Chief: The Theology of George W. Bush”.

27

Fre
derick Clarkson, “The Dubious Conversion of George W. Bush”, January 5, 2009. On
http://www.talk2action.org/story
/2009/1/5/175438/5293

(Accessed June 10, 2011); Russ Baker explains

t
hat George W.’s “behavior before becoming
governor [of Texas in 1994], his partying, his womanizing, and in particular his military service problems


posed a serious
threat to his presidential ambitions. Their [Bush sr. and Bush jr.] solution was to wipe
the slate clean


through religious
transformation.” Russ Baker,
Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and
What Their Influence Means for America,
New York, Bloomsbury Press: 2009, p. 390.

28

David C. Baile
y, “Enacting Transformation: George W. Bush and the Pauline Conversion Narrative in A Charge to Keep”,
Rhetoric & Public Affairs,
Vol. 11, No. 2, Michigan State University: 2008, p. 215
-
216.

29

Ibid.

30

As said before, I disagree with the term ‘conversion’,

because of the implication that George W. was not a religious person
before his encounter with Graham, which clearly was not the case.

31

Graham has never mentioned the encounter, so the substance of what took place has been pieced together from George
W.
’s comments to his friends and reporters and from his account of the incident in
A Charge To Keep
and
Decision Points.
The
fact, however, that Graham declined to corroborate Bush's account, leads some authors to suggest that the whole conversion
story was
created

in the interest of Bush’s political ambitions. See Clarkson, “The Dubious Conversion of George W. Bush”;
Unger, “How George Bush really found Jesus”.

32

Aikman, “Religion and the Presidency of George W. Bush”, p. 477.

33

Bush,
A Charge to Keep
, p.
136.


34

Especially Paul’s conversion story appealed to Bush; he liked the idea of knowing Jesus as a friend. See Fineman, “Bush and
God”. This is also interesting in light of the view that the Pauline conversion narrative was an essential tool for the Bush

campaign as it sought “the available means of persuasion” to sway religious voters.” See Bailey, “Enacting Transformation”, p
.
216.

“On a Mission from God”


8

at the Justice Department for the White House staff. Basically anyone could attend, Christians or
non
-
Christian,
there was “no pressure”.
35

But such overt religiosity was not just confined to the
lower levels of the administration. “Cabinet sessions began with prayers”, said one of Bush’s key
speech writers David Frum.
36

This is however a common tradition
37

and Bible
-
st
udy groups have
always been around in the Oval Office; the Clintonites had one as well. Still it seems that “the
groups are everywhere now”, according to Howard Fineman.
38

Also Stephen Mansfield

said that
no previous administration has ever hosted so many w
eekly Bible Studies in the White House,
and never have religious leaders been more gratefully welcomed.
39




The primacy and authority of Scripture, together with God’s grace and love seem to be a
fundamental part of Bush’s theology. Paul Kengor writes that

George W. “subscribes to a kind of
love theology, influenced by his own reading of the Bible and probably by Methodism’s historical
emphasis on ministering to the outcast.”
40

Even though his faith is not complex, as Bush himself
describes it, it can be rea
soned that he has a hard
-
to
-
define theology: he was less orthodox than
many of his evangelical admires in the Religious Right
41

wanted, but also less than the advocate
of a new American Christian theocracy that many of his critics feared.
42




The right wing

of the Republican Party, however, would benefit from a conservative
evangelical President. According to Chip Berlet, an expert on rightwing religious groups, the
Religious Right has targeted the Republican Party as their vehicle through which they could
a
dvance their conservative agenda.
43

In George W. Bush, the Religious Right found a born
-
again
Christian, who spoke their language and subscribed to their views.
44

In the Religious Right,
George W. Bush found the right audience to support his domestic and for
eign policy agenda.
45

By contrast, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both of whom were evangelical Protestants (Southern
Baptists, specifically) did not embrace the social agenda of the Christian Right.
46

Unlike these
previous presidents, George W. Bush was the

first President whom the Christian Right could
legitimately claim as its own.
47

This is reflected by Richard Cizik, one of the most prominent
Evangelical lobbyists in the United States, who talked about “having one of their own in the
White House” in a 200
3 interview: “Clinton…sort of understood who we are, but didn’t have the



35

However, some staffers said they felt uncomfortable about those sessions because their boss led them and they
did

feel
pressure to attend. Bush did not go to these meetings; he read the Bible individually each morning and studied a Bible lesson

daily, according to White House correspondent Judy Keen, “White House staffers gather for Bible Study” in
USA Today,

October

13, 2002.

36

Craig Unger,
The Fall of The House of Bush: the Delusions of the Neoconservatives and American Armageddon,
London, Simon
& Schluster: 2007, p. 196.

37

See for example
http://chaplain.house.gov/index.html

(Accessed June 25, 2011) for opening prayers.

38

Fineman, “Bush & God”.

39

Mansfield,
The Faith of George W. Bush,

p. 14.

40

Kengor,
God and George W. Bush,
p. 41.

41

Like all labels, it is difficult to identify the const
ituent members of the Religious Right.
41

Critics describe the movement as
narrow and backward, while supporters see it in a more positive light


as born
-
again, evangelical Christians who want to
spread to gospel to the entire world. Lambert,
“Religion in A
merican Politics”,
p. 184
-
185.

42

Gastón Espinosa (ed.),
Religion and the American Presidency, George Washington to George W. Bush with Commentary and
Primary Sources,
New York, Columbia University Press: 2009, p. 39.

43

Chip Berlet,
What is Dominionism
? Palin, the Christian Right & Theocracy,
September 5, 2008. On
http://www.theocracy
watch.org/introduction2.htm

(Accessed June 15, 2011).

44

Lambert,
“Religion in American Politics”,
p. 205.

45

For example, Bush could never have become President without the overwhelming support of white conservative
evangelical votes. This was also the case for Bush’s re
-
election in 2004. Mainstream commentators noted that it was the
unusually high turnout of b
orn
-
again Christians concerned over moral values who helped George W. Bush get reelected. Back
side of
The Faith of George W. Bush,
Mansfield.

46

David C. Barker, Jon Hurwitz, Traci L. Nelson, “Of Crusades and Culture Wars: “Messianic” Militarism and Polit
ical Conflict
in the United States”,
The Journal of Politics,
Vol. 70, No. 2, April 2008, p. 311.

47

Ibid.

“On a Mission from God”


9

heartbeat of evangelicals. This President somehow [Bush]


and I think his staff


have the
heartbeat of evangelicals. So we don’t need to be constantly calling up the White House
or…
lobbying them on behalf of our agenda. I think that we see eye to eye.”
48

So George Bush is
not the typical politician who ‘understands’ them; he is ‘one of them’.
49

Accordingly, the
relationship between the evangelical community and the Bush presidency has
been very close
and unprecedented.
50



BUSH’S WORLDVIEW APPEAR
S to rests upon a
Calvinist understanding of a God who has laid
out a “divine plan”, mixed with a Wesleyan theology of personal transformation and personal
relationship with Jesus.
51

That thinkin
g of a larger plan


which is shared by many Christians


became prominent especially during his years in the Oval Office.



It is necessary to acknowledge, though, that worldviews are not easily identified, since it
is often articulated in language tha
t rarely sheds light on one’s foundational values and
assumptions about reality, according to professor of linguistics George Lakoff.
52

He argues that
most people are not even consciously aware of their own worldview; w
h
at people say about
their worldview d
oes not necessarily accurately reflect how they reason or act. Yet a systematic
analysis of the public communications of Bush would be the first step to gain some insight into
his worldview; this approach will to some extent also be adopted here.



History
, according to Bush, is the unfolding of God’s will: “Behind all of life and all of
history, there’s a dedication and purpose.”
53

Bush’s confidence stems from his belief that “the
future is in stronger hands than his own”, according to David Frum.
54

Bush exp
ressed the same
feeling when he was governor of Texas: “I could not be governor if I did not believe in a divine
plan that supersedes all human plans,” he said.
55

There is a fatalistic element in the acceptance
that everything is in God’s hands. “The result

is unflappability”, says Frum.
56




It can be questioned however, to what extent this persistent calmness is in fact solidity
or a mix of stubbornness and arrogance, as some critics would also describe it.
57

On the other
hand, such religious rhet
oric about
a “divine plan” and “providence”
is also a very common form
of American civil religion, which many Presidents have invoked in their speeches; Bush was no
exception in that. Elizabeth Spalding argues that the conviction that the President is God’s
chosen al
so seemed to be a common thought among various American Presidents.
58

Wayne
Slater explained

that: “[Bush] absolutely believes that he is at a moment in time, with the



48

Richard Cizik in a Frontline interview on November 12, 2003. On
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/

jesus/president/religion.html#ixzz1QONNz1hv

(Accessed June 25, 2011).

49

Karen Tumulty & Matthew Cooper, “Does Bush owe the Religious Right?”,

Time
, February 7, 2005. John Ellis, a B
ush cousin,
says he always laughs “when people say George W. is saying this or that to appease the religious right. He
is
the religious
right.” Quoted in: Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War,
p. 71.

50

Barker, Hurwitz & Nelson, “Of Crusades and Culture Wars”, p. 311.

51

Kengor,
God and George W. Bush,
p. 35.

52

Quoted in: Domke,
God Willing?,
p. 5.

53

Quoted in: Andrew Austin,
“Faith Matters
:
George Bush and Providence”,
March 18, 2003. On
http://www.publiceye.org/

apocalyptic/bush
-
2003/austin
-
providence.html

(Accessed May 11, 2011).

54

Quoted in: Julian Borger, “How I created the Axis of Evil”,

The Guardian,
January 28, 2003.

55

Quoted in: Matthew Rothschild, “Bush’s Messiah Complex”.

56

Quoted in: Howard Fineman, “Bush and God”.

57

Rick Perlstein for instance calls it (somewhat cynically) “divine calm”. See Perlstein, “The Divine Calm of George W. Bush”,
The Village Voice,
April 27, 2004. On
http://www.villagevoice.com/2004
-
04
-
27/news/the
-
divine
-
calm
-
of
-
george
-
w
-
bush

(Accessed May 11, 2011). Also see Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War,
p. 78 and others.

58

Like president Woodrow Wilson, who held the convic
tion that “he, and he alone, was the chosen instrument to do God’s
will in the world.” See Spalding, “Heritage Event: Presidential Faith and Foreign Policy: Are Times Changing?”.

“On a Mission from God”


10

presidency and the attack on
9/11,…

in which he’s an instrument of God; that he hopes he
has
God’s will;…that he’s carrying out the divine design in whatever he does. It gives him a lot of
solace… So when some people see arrogance, people who know him see a kind of solemnity and
certitude.”
59

Yet the downside of this certitude is that Bush seld
om looks back; he does not give
second thought that what he might be doing is wrong, according to Slater.
60



Nevertheless, this confidence did not come upon Bush until he got on the pathway that led
eventually to the White House. At a time when most men ar
e going through a ‘midlife’ crisis,
George Bush was just getting started. On the morning of his inauguration for his second term as
Texas governor in 1999, he sat down in the First United Methodist Church, listening to Rev. Mark
Craig’s sermon, which would

become a “defining moment” in his life, as Bush writes in
A Charge
To Keep.
61

The sermon was crucial in helping him decide to run for President, as Rev. Craig spoke
of Moses’ reluctance to heed the calling of the Lord. In that sermon, Bush heard God callin
g him
to become the President of the United States.
62

In discussing his presidential ambitions with the
Texas preacher James Robinson later, Bush told him: “I feel like God wants me to run for
President. I can’t explain it, but I sense this country is going

to need me…God wants me to do
it.”
63

It seemed that such a feeling of “being called upon by the Divine to occupy the of
fice”
filled
Bush with a sense of purpose.
64

It would be inter
esting to see how this sense

affected Bush’s
interpretation of the events of

September 11 and his self
-
proclaimed global War on Terror.



















59

Wayne Slate has reported on George W. Bush for
The Dallas Morning News
for over a decade. Frontline interview, July 1,
2004 on
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/choice2004/interviews/slater.html#ixzz1
QTJ7siP8

(Accessed
June 26, 2011).

60

Obviously this has led to a lot of speculations among commentators about Bush’s presidency. For instance his
purs
uit for
preemptive war in Iraq would be an example of such confidence that he is on the right course.
See

Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War,
p. 67 and Kengor,
God and George W. Bush,
p. 219


223 and others.

61

Bush,
A Charge To Keep,
p. 1.

62

Austin, “
Faith Matters”.

63

Mansfield,
The Faith of George W. Bush,
p. 109.

64

Perlstein, “The Divine Calm of George W. Bush”.

“On a Mission from God”


11

II.

Bush and the War on Terror


“Freedom is not America’s gift to the world;

it is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman.”



George W. Bush
65


any authors have written on the
subject of George W. Bush defining his foreign policy in
religious terms; and in particular his understanding of the War on Terror, which he
framed with a vocabulary of moral absolutes as a battle between “good” and “evil”, and his
passionate speaking abou
t America’s purpose in the lager world and the divine gift and calling of
freedom.
66





This religiously motivated rhetoric has been analyzed, compared with previous
Presidents and discussed by many scholars, but question is whether Bush’s approach to the
global War on Terror, carried out especially in the Middle East, could have been attributed to
Christian theological motivations.


To begin with, the atrocity of September 11 had a major impact on Bush’s strategy for the Middle
East, but also on himself.
In his first presidential year, Bush “gave the impression of a man
unsure what to do with the awesome power placed in his hand”, says Walter Herbert, but “the
attacks of
9/11
then made clear what God had in mind.”
67

Presidential aides and observers
noticed
the transformation that followed; they sensed “a different look” about Bush.
68

He
became a ‘War President’, and he seem
ed

perfectly at ease with his role. It looked as if Bush
carried a confidence, a feeling of destiny, a call, that he had been placed in of
fice at that vital
moment in history.
69

Supportive Christians, usually conservatives, also spoke of Bush’s being
chosen


by God


for the moment.
70

This is not to say that this was the overall thought among all
Americans, but it is a fact that Bush had the
highest approval rating of any President in American
history, at the time of Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001, according to an ABC poll.
71

But question is whether the dramatically increased support for Bush in the post
9/11
climate,
was due to the

appreciation for the President himself or just because he played up to the
American sentiment of revenge in a
n

appealing manner.




65

Quoted in: Herbert,
“Faith
-
Based War”,
p. 76.

66

Aikman, “Religion and the Presidency of George W. Bush”, p. 491; Lambert,
Religion in American Politics,
p. 207; Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War,
p. 64
-
78; Spalding, “Heritage Event: Presidential Faith and Foreig
n Policy: Are Times Changing?”.

67

Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War,
p. 71.

68

Kengor,
God and George W. Bush,
p. 128; Frontline interview with Wayne Slater on July 1, 2004.

69

Kengor,
God and George W. Bush,
p. 128
-
129; Lincoln, “Bush’s God Talk”, p. 269.

70

Keng
or,
God and George W. Bush,
p. 223. Lieutenant General William Boykin for instance, one of the top military officials
leading the hunt for Osama bin Laden, also represented such sentiment, when he told a church gathering: “Why is this man
[Bush] in the Whi
te House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. He’s in the White House because God put him
there for a time such as this.” However, Boykin defined the War on Terror in religious terms, by saying that America is
engaged in a holy war as a “Christ
ian nation” battling Satan and that America’s Muslim adversaries will be defeated “only if
we come against them in the name of Jesus.” Quoted in: Chris Hedges,
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on
America,
New York, Free Press: 2004, p. 29
. Bush distanced himself from these specific statements of Boykin, by saying that it
“doesn’t reflect my point of view or the point of view of this administration.” See “Bush renews rebuke of Boykin”, on
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2003/oct/28/20031028
-
113316 6459r/

(Accessed June 26, 2011).

71

Unger,
The Fall of the House of Bush,
p. 219.

M

“On a Mission from God”


12



It can be reasoned that Bush’s own public and private statements on the subject of
“divine providence”, strongly indicate that he believed God put him in the White House; this
understanding defined the sense of mission that came upon him after
9/11,
says F
red Barnes,
editor of the neoconservative magazine
The Weekly Standard.
72

In a March 11, 2004, address to
the National Association of Evangelicals, Bush declared that America is a nation on a “mission”, a
mission to remove terrorism out of the world.
73

In
Bu
sh at War,
Bob Woodward writes: ‘Most
presidents have high hopes. Some have grandiose visions of what they will achieve, and he
[Bush] was firmly in that camp.”
74

The Al
-
Qaeda attacks played into Bush’s Middle East hopes
perfectly. According to Rick Perlste
in, they allowed Bush to move his administration into a
Manichaean realm


viewing the world in moral dualistic terms of good and evil, dark and light


that could not have happened in such a way without 9
/11
.
75

Using a term familiar to
evangelicals, Bush s
aid that the country was “called” to rid the world of evil and spread freedom
and democracy.
76




But by calling for a “war against terror”, Bush broadened the
9/11
conflict. Instead of
describing the assaults as a criminal act by a small terrorist group, t
he American media
perceived them precisely as Osama bin Laden wanted: as an
act of war.
In words quite similar to
bin Laden’s, American newspapers after
9/11
proclaimed the world to be at war, which Bush
soon defined as a war on terrorism.
77

This war, howev
er, was multifaceted.


PART OF THE WAR strategy to fight terrorism was spreading freedom and democracy in the
Middle East, a central theme to Bush’s presidency, with “America as God’s agent of freedom”.
78

Still, the promotion of democracy and the sense of
American exceptionalism
79

have

always been
visible in any presidential administration. After President Woodrow Wilson introduced his
“Wilsonianism” in 1918


the cluster of ideas that Wilson espoused, which consisted of
traditional American principles (such

as democracy and the Open Door Policy)


aspects of what
came to define the term appeared later in fuller or different form than what Wilson thought of in
the first place.
80

Yet, the conviction in the early twentieth century that the US was a ‘beacon of
fr
eedom’ to the world, which could lead it into a new, peaceful era of unobstructed commerce,
free
-
market capitalism, democratic politics and open diplomacy, is a conviction which is still
held today.
81

The former Bush administration also maintained this kind

of neo
-
Wilsonian sense
of idealism, and applied it to their Middle East approach.




72

Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War,
p. 67
-
68.

73

Lambert,
Religion in American Pol
itics,
p. 207.

74

Bob Woodward,
Bush at War,
Simon & Schuster, New York: 2002, p. 339.

75

Perlstein, “The Divine Calm of George W. Bush”. This is precisely what David Domke calls “political fundamentalism” to
describe the way the Bush administration used c
ivil religion to promote their political agenda. See Domke,
God Willing?,
p. 6.

76

President George W. Bush, “Remarks at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance Service,” National Cathedral,
Washington, D.C., September 14, 2001.

77

Mark Juergensmeyer,
Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence,
University of California Press: 2000, p.
148. Domke says about this:“The ultimate irony is that in combating the Islamic extremists responsible for September 11, the
administration adopted,
pursued and engendered its own brand of
political fundamentalism



one that, while clearly tailored
to a modern democracy, nonetheless functioned ideologically in a manner similar to the version offered by the terrorists.”
Domke,
God Willing?,
p. 4.

78

Lamb
ert,
Religion in American Politics,
p. 207.

79

A term used to describe the belief that the United States is an extraordinary nation with a special role to play in human
history; a nation that is not only unique but also superior. Many scholars of the belief

in American exceptionalism argue that
it forms one of the core elements of American national identity and American nationalism. On
http://www.answers.com/
topic/exceptionali
sm#ixzz1QfIPiNVu

(Accessed June 27, 2011).

80

Mary Beth Norton (eds.),
A People and A Nation,
Ninth Edition: Vol. II, Wadsworth: 2008, p. 627.

81

Ibid.

“On a Mission from God”


13



Chalmers Johnson, who was a C
IA analyst and a distinguished
political scholar in
international relations, referred to this Wilsonianism as the ‘crusading ideology’, which

became
a permanent feature of American foreign policy and militarism.
82

The precise character of the
crusade changes from time to time


spreading democracy, defending freedom, fighting
communism, combating terrorism


but its core is the belief that Ameri
ca has a divine mission to
spread its values and way of life around the world.
83




What comes to mind in this context, is George Bush’s remark that “this crusade… is going
to take a while” in a 2001 reference to the War on Terror.
84

Of course it is question
able whether
Bush really thought he was on a ‘crusade’ or that this was just a manner of speaking. Either way,
we must take into account Bush’s remarks about being “driven with a mission from God” who
would tell him to “go and fight those terrorists in Afg
hanistan…and end the tyranny in Iraq.”
85


B
ased on similar public and private statements
of

Bush,
m
any authors agree on the fact that
Bush saw himself as an instrument of God, and moreover, that he was certain of doing God’s
will.
86

The closest reference fro
m a credible source that reported this explicitly was a
Time
piece
by Michael Duffy: “Privately Bush even talked of being chosen by the grace of God to lead at that
moment, and perhaps he was.”
87

More nuanced was Dana Milbank’s report who speculated on
Bush
’s general spiritual thinking: “Bush implies but does not directly assert that he is doing
God’s will.”
88

Yet, professor of history of religion Bruce Lincoln argues that “wherever the U.S.
happens to advance something he [Bush] can call ‘freedom’, he thinks

he’s serving God’s will,
and he
proclaims
he’s serving God’s will.”
89




And still, even if Bush had directly claimed he was doing God’s work, then

Americans
should hardly be a
ppalled”, because

“he would not be out of

step with previous presidents”,
accor
ding to Kengor
.
90

Did Bush really think he was serving God’s will? We will not know for
sure, but equally important is the fact that it is natural for Bush’s evangelical base, who share his
religious beliefs, to assume that Bush believes he is divinely insp
ired and also believe this
themselves. It creates a sense of unprecedented trust in their President, and is in part stimulated
by Bush’s use of ‘double
-
coding’ in his speeches, using expressions and phrases like ‘wonder
-
working power’ and ‘killers of innoc
ents’ to connect with his Christian supporters while
concealing his attitudes from the public at large.
91



IF WE TAKE a further look at Bush’s Middle East policies, it seems that (part of) his “mission”
was in fact effectively carried out in Afghanistan, w
ith Operation Enduring Freedom to



82

Chalmers Johnson,
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic,
Metropolitan

Books, New York:
2004, p. 46
-
48.

83

Ibid.

84

Aikman, “Religion and the Presidency of George W. Bush”, p. 492. This was, however, a single unfortunate exception and to
his credit, Bush never casted the conflict as a crusade. See Bruce Lincoln, “Bush’s God Talk”, p. 271.

85

Quoted in: Herbert,
Faith
-
B
ased War,
p. 72. According to Aikman (“Religion and the Bush Presidency”, p. 492), Bush never
used any theological arguments or even referred to his personal faith when speaking of his decision to invade Iraq in April
2003. This quotation of Bush, however
, gives reason to think otherwise.

86

See Unger,
The Fall of the House of Bush,
p.196; Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War,
p. 67; Perlstein, “The

Divine Calm of George W.
Bush”; Rothschild, “Bush’s Messiah Complex” and others.

87

Michael Duffy, “Marching Along”,
Tim
e,
September 1, 2002. There were numerous reports by noncredible sources, usually
Web sites who were critical of Bush.

88

Dana Milbank, “For Bush, War Defines Presidency, Response to Iraq Reflects Convictions”,
Washington Post,
March 9, 2003.

89

Quoted in: Perlstein, “The Divine Calm of George W. Bush”. For more information, see Bruce Lincoln’s essay on Bush’s
theology, “Bush’s God Talk”.

90

Kengor,
God and George W. Bush,
p. 248.

91

Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War,
p. 65.

“On a Mission from God”


14

overthrow the Taliban, and in Iraq with a preemptive war to pursue regime change. Within the
confined circles of the Bush administration, it was asserted that Iraq might be the key to
reshaping the entire region.
92

Bush “dreamed of a democratic Middle East, with Iraq itself as a
‘city on a hill’ catalyzing the transformation.”
93

According to Herbert, within this mindset the
War on Terror is not just a policy: “it is a mystical consciousness, in which the President
vi
sualizes an immeasurable shape
-
shifting enemy against whom combat can never end.”
94

Bush
pledged to pursue and destroy not just Al
-
Qaeda, but terrorism; not just terror, but evil. This
seemed rather ambitious; a clear example of Bush’s high hopes. At the sa
me time it raised many
questions as to how these goals could ever be accomplished.



For the Bush administration, it started with making clear there could be no neutrality in
the coming struggle. “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make,
” Bush
announced on September 23, 2001. “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
95

When the time came to make his case for the Iraq war, Bush returned to this idea of good versus
evil, by portraying Saddam Hussein as evil incarnate.
96

This p
remise of dualism is clearly
described by Berlet: “The dualistic dichotomy constructs a framework using demonization
[portraying a person or a group as practically bad or evil], scapegoating and conspiracism to
divide the world into a good ‘us’ and a bad ‘
them’.” Berlet continues to elaborate the role of the
scapegoat, which “serves the dual purpose by representing the evil ‘them’ and simultaneously
illuminating, solidifying and sanctifying the good ‘us’.”
97

Accordingly, Herbert applies this to the
Iraq war,

when he argues that in Bush’s theology, Saddam Hussein and Bush himself had become
typological figures, embodiments of Good and Evil.
98

They represent supernatural forces locked
in eternal conflict between good and evil.
99




But if we look beyond this s
pir
itual element of demonizing
and the higher democratic
goals of spreading liberty and so on, we should also keep in mind that establishing power in the
Middle
-
Eastern region would in fact have great political, financial and economic benefits for the
United
States, in particular for the oil industry, in which the Bush family has a great part. The
attacks on September 11 took place while the Bush administration was still looking for a more
effective way to contain the threats to these vital U.S. interests in t
he region by Saddam
Hussein.
100

From their first days in office, t
he key members
101

of the administration were
eagerly



92

Unger,
The Fall of the Ho
use of Bush,
p. 201.

93

Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War,
p. 76.

94

As Bush made clear in his address to Congress on 20 September 2001, “our war on terror begins with Al
-
Qaeda, but it does
not end there.” Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War
, p. 74.

95

Lincoln, “Bush’s God T
alk”, p. 271. As a result of this, post
-
9/11
Americans hesitated to question the Bush administration
for fear that they would be seen as ‘unpatriotic’, as being ‘with the terrorists’. Austin adds that “they are also heretical
for
refusing to accept the mis
sion that God has made for all Americans.” See Austin, “Faith Matters”; Domke,
God Willing?,
p. 3.

96

Lincoln, “Bush’s God Talk”, p. 272. Cited in Unger,
The Fall of the House of Bush,
p. 201: “According to Secretary of the
Treasury Paul O’Neill,…, no one
ever questioned why Iraq should be invaded. ‘From the beginning, there was a conviction
that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” said O’Neill. “It was all about finding a way to do it.’ ”

97

Chip Berlet, “Christian Identity: The Apoca
lyptic Style, Political Religion, Palingenesis and Neo
-
Fascism”, p. 484
-
485.

98

Like Karen Hughes


on whom Bush relied for convincing statements about the presiding spiritual drama


said in a few
words: ‘On September 11, Americans saw the face of evil. Th
is Administration will overcome evil with good.’ See Herbert
,
Faith
-
Based War
, p. 78.

99

Juergensmeyer

calls “such images “cosmic” because they are larger than life...they transcend human experience.” Such
religious images of divine struggle problematize t
he conflict, because they are being placed in the service of worldly political
battles. See Juergensmeyer,
Terror in the Mind of God,
p. 149

100

Bruce R. Kuniholm, “9/11, the Great Game, and the Vision Thing: The Need for (and Elements of) a More Comprehensi
ve
Bush Doctrine”,
The Journal of American History,
September 2002, Vol. 89 No. 2, p. 431.

101

Most important: President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, CIA Director George Tenet, National Security
Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State C
olin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of
Defense Paul Wolfowitz and others.

“On a Mission from God”


15

looking at how they could take
Saddam

out and change Iraq into a new country.
102





In effect, ridding Iraq both of its leader and of its weap
ons inventory has been on the
neoconservative
103

agenda since long before there even was a Bush administration.
104

Much has
been written about the increasing neoconservative power, which is concentrated in right
-
wing
foundations and think tanks in Washington,
D.C., and its attempt to take over American foreign
policy and implement their private agenda.
105

Johnson for instance has written that this group is
composed of “war
-
lovers…who seized on the national sense of bewilderment after
9/11
to push
the Bush adminis
tration into conflicts that were neither relevant to nor successful in destroying
Al
-
Qaeda.”
106

It exemplifies the
complexity of
demonstrating

to what extent religious
motivations played a role in the conduct of Bush’s Mideast

policy, since a
n examination of

the
cast of characters in Bush’s administration policymaking circles reveals a pervasive network of
neoconservatives, who were supporting the Afghan war and the Iraq invasion and desired to
provide greater security for Israel.
107



THIS IS PARTICURLARLY int
eresting in light of Bush’s vision toward the Arab
-
Israeli problem,
the last pillar of his Middle
-
East policy that will be discussed here. In his June 24, 2002 Rose
Garden Speech, Bush laid out his vision of a recognized Palestinian state that would receiv
e
American support if Palestinians elected a new leadership and fought terrorism. He envisioned
“two states, living side by side in peace and security.”
108

Similar to the decision to invade
Afghanistan and Iraq, at least according to Bush himself, he also fe
lt that the two
-
state solution
was like “God’s word coming to me”, as God told him to “go and 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.”
109

But if Bush was supposedly

“captured by neoconservatives around him”
110
, it is somewhat
remarkable that
this

was not manifested in Bush’s call for a two
-
state solution to the Israel
-
Palestine conflict.



This last point needs some explanation. For a long time the neoconservative net
work has
been closely related to the Christian Right.
111

The line between the conservative movement and



102

The roots of this obsession are to be found in the First Gulf War of 1990
-
91, which resulted in a running feud between
Saddam and the Americans ov
er the next decade. Saddam’s resilience was unbearable for George W. Bush’s administration;
they developed a passionate determination to crush Saddam. Bush himself carried this sense of grievance into the White
House. An infamous


often cited


quote of B
ush, calling Saddam “the guy that wanted to kill my dad,” reflects this sense of
revenge. See Stephen Kinzer,
Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq,
New York, Times Books:
2006, p. 288.

103

Though not described as a ‘movement’ by

neocons themselves, but rather as a ‘neoconservative persuasion’, it can be
defined as a branch of


distinctly American


conservatism, with its political purpose to ‘convert’ the Republican party, and
American conservatism in general, into a new kind of

conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy. Their
core agenda is to reassert U.S. global dominance through an aggressive foreign and military policy. See Matthew Lyons,
“Christian Rightists and Neocons: A 25
-
year Alliance”, October 27,

2005. On
http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~lyonsm/alliance.
html

(Accessed June 17, 2011); Irving Kristol, “The Neoconservative Persuasion”,
The Weekly Standard,
Vol. 8, No. 47,
Augustus 25, 2003.

104

Kathleen & Bill Christison, “The Bush Administration’s Dual Loyalties”,
CounterPunch,
December 13, 2002. On
http://www.ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/neo
cons.html

(Accessed June 20, 2011).

105

Chalmers Johnson,
Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire,
Holt Paperbacks, New York: 2004, p. xvii.
Craig Unger,
The Fall of the House of Bush,
p. 213 and more.

106

Ibid.

107

Christison, “The Bush Administration’s Dual Loyalties”. Also Unger speaks of the Bush administration’s “religious cast” in
The Fall of the House of Bush,
p. 196.

108

George W. Bush, “Rose Garden Speech on Israel
-
Palestine Two
-
State Solution”, June 24, 2002,

White House, Washington,
D.C. On
http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/gwbushtwostatesolution.htm

(Accessed June 20, 2011).

109

Quoted in: Herbert,
Faith
-
Based War,
p. 7
2.

110

According to Democratic politician Howard Dean. Quoted in: Kristol, “The Neoconservative Persuasion”
.

111

Matthew Lyons, “Christian Rightists and Neocons: A 25
-
year Alliance”.

“On a Mission from God”


16

the right
-
wing Christian group has been increasingly blurred, so at times they are rendered
nearly indistinguishable.
112

Especially foreign policy has been
the key to the alliance of the
Christian rightists and the neocons, and most importantly is their common support for the state
of Israel.
113

Since Bush welcomed both neocons and Christian rightists in his administration


unlike his father George Bush Senior
, who mostly excluded them


by appointing them several
key posts in the Defense Department and other agencies
114
, the unlimited support for Israel
could quite easily find its way into the White House.



While neocons have a secular approach to the Middle E
ast, it is comparable to the goals
of the Christian Right, which


though composed of many different conservative tendencies and
theological viewpoints


generally subscribes to a particular “end
-
times” theology, drawing upon
visions found primarily in the

biblical Book of Revelation.
115

They believe in a rapidly
approaching End Time confrontation between good and evil, and expect the imminent return of
Christ in the Holy Land, who will reign for a thousand years


a Millennium. A popular retelling
of such es
chatology


the
Left Behind
series (1995) of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins


has sold
more than 60 million copies, which popularized this doctrine embraced by the Christian Right,
which is called premillennial dispensationalism, a tenet championed by
evangelicals from Billy
Graham to the late Christian Right activist Jerry Falwell.
116

They believe Christ comes back
before

the beginning of the Millennium, as opposed to postmillennialists, who believe that Christ will
return
after
a millennium of peace on
earth. “Dispensationalist” means someone who believes
that all of time is divided by God into certain “epochs”, an interpretation developed in the
nineteenth century by English theologian John Nelson Darby, who asserted that we are now
living near the end
of the sixth dispensation, the period immediately preceding the Second
Coming of Christ.
117




This apocalyptic, premillennialist and dispensationalist thinking explain
s

the activist
interest and focus of the Christian Right on the Middle East. The impact of

such thinking is
especially evident in right
-
wing Christian Zionism
118
, which opposes “Palestinian statehood and
the removal of Jewish settlements from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, because God promised all
of the Biblical land of Canaan to the Israelites.”
119

The
ir

support for Israel comes in many forms,
such as lobbying Congress and the administration to adopt pro
-
Israel policies and intervening in
the foreign policy debate on the Palestine
-
Israel issue.
120




However, it is difficult to say to what extent th
is pro
-
Israel lobbying was attributable to



112

David Neiwert,
“Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis
”, p. 29. On
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/Rush%20New
speak%20%20Fascism.pdf

(Accessed April 29, 2011).

113

Chip Berlet, “Pastor Hagee’s Armageddon Politics”
, The Huffington Post,
May 22, 2008
. On
http://www.huffingtonpost.
com /chip
-
berlet/pastor
-
hagees
-
armageddon_b_103161.html

(Accessed on May 14, 2011).

114

Matthew Lyons, “Christian Rightists and Neocons: A 25
-
year Alliance”.

115

Barker, Hurwitz & Nelson, “Of Crusades and Culture

Wars”, p. 310.

116

Ibid.

117

Darby’s greatest fame came from popularizing the Rapture; “those who have accepted Christ were suddenly “caught up”
from the earth to join the Lord in the air, thereby escaping the horrifying Tribulation that was to follow.” Unger
,
The Fall of
the House of Bush,
p. 26.

118

Christian Zionism is a source of Christian Right support for the U.S. wars against Afghanistan and Iraq and for a general
U.S. presence in the Middle East. Most Christian Zionists support any action of the Israeli

government and dismiss the rights
of Palestinians. See Berlet, “Pastor Hagee’s Armageddon Politics”.

119

Ibid.

120

Ibid. Marcus O’Donnell supports this by stating that “premillennial Christians not only believe the government’s actions in
Iraq and Israel are
crucial to God’s unfolding plan, they are actively lobbying to ensure that Bush’s support for Israel is
unwavering.” Marcus O’Donnell, ““Bring it on”: the apocalypse of George W. Bush,”
Media International Australia
Incorporating Culture and Policy,
No 113
, 2004.

“On a Mission from God”


17

the Christian Right and neoconservative network, or because Bush himself also had much
affection for Israel. Although he has deep roots in the evangelical Christian community


a
faithfully pro
-
Israel element of h
is conservative Republican base
121



Bush could not stand
publicly a view of Israel that might be considered theological.
122

But according to Aikman, Bush
privately holds a biblically favorable view of Israel’s existence, together with the majority of the
evan
gelical community. “They believe that the United States has a moral duty to ensure that
Israel is defended and to turn away from this is to court divine displeasure.”
123




The
two
-
state solution, however, seems to contradict such biblical preference of the
state
of Israel, and that is why it is opposed by many U.S. evangelicals who support Israel. On the one
hand, Bush tried to play to some extent the traditional
peacemaker role in dealing with relations
between Israel and the Palestinians. On the other hand
, though, Bush’s favorable attitude
towards Israel reflects the special relationship that he feels with the country and explains why
he
made

the support for Israel a “top foreign policy priority”.
124

Aikman therefore argues that a
“U.S. President lacking the

faith dimension of Bush’s attitude

toward Israel might have been far
more critical of Israel’s actions.”
125

That is why that some have suggested that Bush’s Mideast
policy was pervaded with apocalyptic thought; this will be discussed in the following chapte
r.









121

Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Bush and Israel: Unlike his father”,
New York Times,
August 2, 2006.

122

Aikman,
A Man of Faith,
p. 126.

123

Ibid.

124

Aikman, “Religion and the Presidency of George W. Bush”, p. 491
-
492.

125

Ibid. For Bush, according to Charles
Levinson in USA Today, “the connection with Israel appears to run deeper than a
desire to placate the powerful Jewish lobby or to curry favor among his own evangelical base, many of whom are fervent
supporters of the Jewish state”. Charles Levinson, “Is Is
rael better off after Bush Presidency?”,
USA Today,
May 15, 2008.

“On a Mission from God”


18

“Apocalyptic Crusade”




“Let me be blunt. The man is delusional and

the shape of his delusion is specifically

apocalyptic in belief and intent.



Michael Ortiz Hill, on Bush’s foreign policy
126


o far this paper has tried to show the wide range of writers and publications that are of
mixed mind regarding how much Bush’s faith infused his politics and how it accorded with
previous presidencies. Specific critical theories that were brought into this

discourse have
suggested there is a symbiosis between Bush’s policy regarding the War on Terror and the
Christian apocalyptic tradition. But were does the connection with apocalyptic thought come
from?


George W. Bush has clearly not been the first Presi
dent to invoke God in his rhetoric or to claim
the United States is under the wing of Providence, but many were uncomfortable with the way
Bush used religious rhetoric in “inflammatory ways”.
127

It led some to speculate that he may be
consciously playing out

a Christian end
-
time scenario in which he believes himself to be playing
a critical role.
128

Authors tried to demonstrate that Bush subscribes to an apocalyptic worldview


better yet, that he is on an apocalyptic crusade


by looking at his speeches “that
are brimming
with apocalyptic resonance”.
129




According to Michael Ortiz Hill,

this has everything to do with Bush’s friendships with
Rev. Billy Graham, who “taught Bush to live in anticipation of the Second Coming”, and with Dr.
Tony Evans who “shaped Bu
sh’s political understanding of how to deport himself in an
apocalyptic era”.
130

Dr. Evans, a founder of the Promise Keepers
131

movement, taught Bush about
“how the world should be seen from a divine viewpoint”.
132

It is argued that the Promise Keepers
embrace a

doctrine of Dominionism, which seeks to make America a Christian nation, by taking
political power as the only means through which the world can be rescued.
133

And supposedly it
is this eschatology that Bush has imbibed, which leads to some kind of “Messian
ic leadership”,
through which Bush sees himself “as an agent of God to restore the earth to God’s control”.
134




Yet, there is a theological inconsistency with this connection to Dominionists; they hold a
postmillennial end
-
time view, which means that they
do not expect the Second Coming of Jesus



126

Michael Ortiz Hill, “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: Bush’s Armageddon Obsession, Revisited”,
CounterPunch,
January 4,
2003. On
http://www.counterpunch.org/hill01042003.html

(Accessed on May 31, 2011).

127

Matthew Rothschild being one of them. See his article “Bush’s Messiah Complex”.

128

O’Donnell, ““Bring it on”: the apocalypse of George W. Bush,” p. 11.

129

O’Donnell, ““Bring it on”
: the apocalypse of George W. Bush,” p. 7; Hill, “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”; Austin, “Faith
Matters”.

130

Hill, “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”.

131

Promise Keepers is an international conservative Christian organization for men, “
dedicated to instilling a passion in the
Body of Christ to hear, obey and meditate in the Word of God…We are awakening the church to its Biblical responsibility to
stand in unity with believing Jews.” On
http://www.promisekeepers.org/home/about/core
-
values

(Accessed June 29, 2011).

132

According to Dr. Martin Hawkins, Evans assistant pastor. Quoted in: Hill, “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”.

133

Hill, “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”; Hedges,
Am
erican Fascists,
p. 10
-
12.

134

According to S.R. Shearer of Antipas Ministries. Quoted in: Hill, “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”.

S

“On a Mission from God”


19

any time soon. Accordingly, to say that Dominionism is the theological source for Bush’s
“messianic leadership”,
and

that he also learned to live in the anticipation of Christ’s return


a
premillennialist view


co
ntradicts one another. Additionally, it remains rather difficult to verify
Hill’s arguments; though Bush
’s faith

might have
been formed with the help of
evangelical men,
there is no direct evidence that he really believes what Dominionists believe.


Still
, this does not keep commentators from attempting to illustrate the apocalyptic
beliefs of Bush. O’Donnell for instance notes three aspects of Bush’s religious rhetoric, which, he
thinks, highlight an underlying apocalyptic worldview: (1) Bush’s definition

of the “war on
terrorism” as a battle between “good” and “evil”, (2) Bush’s believe we are living in
unprecedented times that call for fundamentally new responses and (3) his believe he has been
divinely chosen by God to lead.
135

These themes keep coming ba
ck in many accounts of scholars
on this subject; they connect this to the dualistic theme in the Book of Revelation, which narrates
the apocalyptic battle between the armies of Christ and those of Satan, hence the term “dualistic
apocalypticism” in Bush’s

presidency was brought up.



However,
p
rofessor Lincoln says he finds very little that is explicitly apocalyptic in Bush’s
public speeches. Lincoln instead links Bush’s Christianity to the missionising impulse of Acts of
the Apostles, the biblical book t
hat Bush first studied after the life
-
changing encounter with
Graham in 1985. “It’s expansionist


it’s religious imperialism, if you will. And I think that
remains his primary orientation.”
136




Nevertheless, O’Donnell reasonably points out
that
while this

is an interesting
distinction, one should keep in mind that in effect all early Christianity was apocalyptic, since
the
missionary impulse in Acts wa
s driven by a sense of “the imminence of the sudden apocalyptic
return of Jesus.”
137

By citing Acts 1:6
-
11,
which narrates the ascension of Jesus, O’Donnell makes
clear that for the early Christians there was a vital connection between the restoration of Israel,
their expansionary evangelical mandate and the sudden Second Coming of Jesus. “This early
Christian n
exus of beliefs is also critical to the worldview of many of today’s fundamentalist
Christian groups.”
138

He continues on the effect of this particular worldview: “If this same
symbolic logic is not informing Bush directly it is certainly guiding many of the

groups who seem
to have a powerful influence on White House policy.”
139

Berlet,
on the other hand, argues that
Bush
himself
is
also “
very much into the apocalyptic and messianic thinking of militant Christian
evangelicals. He seems to buy into the worldview

that there is a giant struggle between good and
evil culminating in a final confrontation”, which could lead to taking risks that are “inappropriate
and scary because they see it as carrying out God’s will.”
140



But apart from what Bush may believe himself
, the far more intriguing issue here are the
actions and rhetoric that resonate with many Bush sympathizers. Journalist Frederick Clarkson
for instance doubts the depth of Bush’s faith, he sees Bush evoking his religious rhetoric merely
for political purpo
ses. “Bush is playing to a base activist constituency”, Clarkson argues. “Many of
these people believe that they’re living in biblically inspired End Times.”
141




135

O’Donnell, ““Bring it on”: the apocalypse of George W. Bush,” p. 7
-
8.

136

Perlstein, “The Divine Calm of George W. Bush”.

137

O’
Donnell, ““Bring it on”: the apocalypse of George W. Bush,” p. 12.

138

Ibid.

139

Ibid.

140

Quoted in: Matthew Rothschild, “Bush’s Messiah Complex”.

141

Ibid.

See also Lincoln, “Bush’s God Talk”.

“On a Mission from God”


20


THE CONSEQUENCE OF this apocalyptic thought is the instilling of helplessness. It is argued by
m
any, among them professor of American Studies Lee Quinby, that Bush “played up the
vulnerability Americans felt because of terrorism or Saddam Hussein and then accentuated the
military as an assurance that America’s helplessness will be transformed.”
142

This

same pattern
is described by Justin Remes, who calls it “apocalyptic premediation”, which means “the
evocation of potential futures in an attempt to modulate affective states.”
143

Remes argues that
“Bush, like the apocalypticists before him, used vague, dis
astrous premonitions to engender
vulnerability and fear, thus encouraging an unquestioning acceptance of authoritarian rule.”
144

Accordingly, O’Donnell points out that Bush’s rhetorical strategies may be seen as similar
attempts [to the Book of Revelation] “to persuade through the mobilization of evocative,
symbolically charged language.”
145

Remes goes on by demonstrating that Bush’s

premediations
regarding Iraq

and Saddam

installed fear and instability, and the sense that something
could
happen at any moment. The utopian undercurrents are equally a part of the Bush
administration’s rhetoric. For instance, “the phrase “War on Terror”
carries with it the dubious
and utopian implication that terror can one day be eliminated.”
146

Furthermore, Remes adds that
“not only did Bush messianically proclaim that the US would attempt to “eradicate evil from the
world”, he also proclaimed (with no ir
ony) that our
enemies
were the ones who were being
“governed by fear”. In other words, as he was instilling fear in the American populace, he was
convincing them that there was nothing to be afraid of.”
147




T
actics of apocalyptic demonization
148

are obvious
in totalist groups,
but
it appears in
more muted forms in other settings.
149

David Neiwert points out that it is in fact distressingly
common in public

discourse, especially in certai
n sections of the Christian Right.
150

Bush’s
stressing of
evil

regarding the
Al
-
Qaeda terrorists and Saddam
could be seen in this light;
America had to “secure the world and this civilization as we know it from these
evil
people
[italics added].”
151

Such statements caused
Matthew Rothschild
to
describe the foreign policy of
George Bu
sh as “messianic militarism”.
152

He states that Bush “may have discarded the word
“crusade”, but it’s a crusade he’s on.”
I have already questioned whether Bush’s ‘crusade
expression’

wasn’t just more a manner of speaking.

Domke
argues
that Bush’s overt reli
gious
language was only part of the story. “The much more important and far less obvious matter was



142

Quoted in: Rothschild, “Bush’s Messiah Complex”; O’Donnell, ““Bring it on”: the apocalypse of George W. Bush,” p. 13;
Berlet, “Palin’s Apocalyptic Nightmare?: The End Times and Christian Right Dominionism”, C
onference
Examining the Real
Agenda of the Reli
gious Far Right,

City University of New York, April 2005. On
http://www.talk2action.org/story/2008/9/9/
9040/56216

(Accessed June 2, 2011).

143

Justin Remes, “Apocalyptic Premediations”
,
Journal of Religion and Popular Culture,
Volume 22(2): Summer 2010.

144

Remes, “Apocalyptic Premediations”.

145

O’Donnell, ““Bring it on”: the apocalypse of George W. Bush,” p. 13.

146

Remes, “Apocalyptic Premediations”.

147

This element of optimism is not
in conflict with apocalypticism, says Remes, “rather, it is its necessary complement”,
because it provides hope to an ideology which is essentially fatalistic. Remes, “Apocalyptic Premediations”.

148

Framing political enemies as agents of Satan, leaving no
room for compromise and inhibiting self
-
examination.

149

Chip Berlet, “Christian Identity: The Apocalyptic Style, Political Religion, Palingenesis and Neo
-
Fascism”, p. 492.

150

He argues at length in “Rush, Newspeak and Fascism” that extremists are increasingly taking up the rightward flank of
mainstream conservatism, thereby creating the danger of rightward gravitational pull exerted on the mainstream, dragging
more and more co
nservatives into radical positions. “The other, and perhaps more serious problem is the way it enfranchises
extremists, giving them real power in the political structure they might not have otherwise


and rather than mitigating their
extremism, encouragin
g it.” Neiwert,
“Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis
”.

151

Ron Suskind,
The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of its Enemies Since 9/11,
New York, Simon &
Schuster: 2006, p. 99.

152

Rothschild, “Bush’s Messiah Complex”.

“On a Mission from God”


21

that the administration had converged a religious fundamentalist worldview with a political
language to create a
political fundamentalism
that offered famil
iarity, comfort, and a palatable
moral vision to the U.S. public in the aftermath of September 11.”
153

In this view one is forced to
conclude that the overt religiosity of Bush was a means to an end, to serve the administration’s
political agenda that was wr
apped up in familiar language.



Theologian Jim Wallis has also noted the mixture of religion and politics and examines
Bush’s theology from a biblical perspective, which led him to pose the following question:

Is it
really Christian, or merely American?

Does it take a global view of God's world or just assert
American nationalism in the latest update of "manifest destiny"?”
154

Wallis then describes a
specific example that worries him: in the 2003 State of the Union Bush evoked a quite famous
line from an o
ld gospel hymn that causes deep resonance among the faithful in his own electoral
base. Speaking of America's deepest problems, Bush said: "The need is great. Yet there's power,
wonder
-
working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American p
eople."
155

Wallis explains that the meaning of this hymn has been corrupted, since the song says there is
“power, wonder
-
working power
in the blood of the Lamb
" [italics added]. “The hymn is about the
power of Christ in salvation, not the power of “the
American people,” …Bush’s citation was a
complete misuse.” One can always wonder whether this signal of identification was really
George Bush or the speech writer


some of them came right out of the evangelical community


but that is hard to find out. In

contrast to others who claim that Bush’s religious out
look was
closely related to
apocalyptic
thought
, Wallis makes a case that “the resulting theology is more
an American civil religion than a Christian faith.”
156

He argues that
the

real theological proble
m
in America today is no longer the religious Right, but the nationalist religion of the Bush
administration



one that confuses the identity of the nation with the church, and God's
purposes with the mission of American empire.”
157



Yet one should not forg
et that this tendency is not unique to Bush’s administration, but
echoes the history of civil
nationalist
religion, dualistic apocalypticism and a demonizing form of
anticommunism that dominated U.S. culture for most of the 20
th

century.
158

Berlet adds that
“[w]hen Ronald Reagan declared the Soviet Union “the Evil Empire” and launched a massive
military buildup in the early 1980s, his actions were based on apocalyptic claims from both the
Christian Right and a new movement…dubbed neoconservatism.”
159

Reagan cit
ed scriptural
authority to demonize the Soviet Union as an evil empire, and as a result the mainstreaming of
apocalypticism received a major boost.
160

Also Mansfield argues that Bush was not unique in his
“missionary” policy, all Presidents have expressed su
ch sentiments and rhetoric in different
ways and it has become part of America’s “national lore”.
161

Spalding goes one step further and



153

In addition t
o the many other publications on this subject, Domke also noted the administration’s tactics that capitalized
on American’s fears in the wake of
9/11,
via strategic language and communications. Domke,
God Willing?,
p. 2.

154

Jim Wallis,
God’s Politics: Why
the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It,
San Francisco, HarperSanFransisco: 2005,
p. 141.

155

George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003. On
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpsrv/onpolitics/
transcripts/bushtext_012803.html

(Accessed June 30, 2011).

156

Wallis,
God’s Politics,
p. 142.

157

Ibid.,

p. 149.

158

Chip Berlet, “Pastor Hagee’s Armageddon Politics”.

159

Ibid.

160

Chip Berlet, “Dances with Devils: How Apocalyptic and Millennialist Themes Influence Right Wing Scapegoating and
Conspiracism”,
Public Eye Magazine,
Fall 1998, online study on
http://www.publiceye.org/ apocalyptic/ Dances_with_Devils_
2.html

(Accessed on June 30, 2011).

161

Mansfield,
The Faith of George W. Bush,
p. xvii.

“On a Mission from God”


22

attempts to show with historical examples of other U.S. Presidents like Wilson and Truman that
Bush was not alone in havin
g his faith influence his policy.
162

Just to what extent this has
happened, Spalding leaves unanswered.



There is probably nobody denying the dualistic tendency and feeling of American
exceptionalism among American Presidents. While there is a long traditi
on in American politics,
which believes in the “manifest destiny” of the United States as a nation especially chosen by
God, many

got uncomfortable when it came
to “Bush’s sense of mandate [which] seems
disturbingly personal.”
163

Equally important is the eff
ect it had on the interaction with Bush’s
evangelical base, many of whom identify with the Christian apocalyptic tradition, which
according to many commentators, inspired Bush’s rhetoric and actions.









162

Elizabeth Spalding,
“Heritage Event: Presidential Faith and Foreign Policy: Are Times Changing?”.

163

O’Donnell, ““Bring it on: the apocalypse of George W. Bush”, p. 10.

“On a Mission from God”


2
3


Conclusion


“My administration has a job to do.

We will rid the world of evildoers”.



George W. Bush
164


hroughout this literature study I have come to formulate several concluding remarks about
the role of Bush’s religious belief in his foreign policy, particularly

in the War on Terror.


First of all, I have noticed the great amount of publications that discuss Bush’s supposed
conviction he is carrying out God’s will; needless to say that this has worried many. Though Bush
certainly has given plenty of reason to thi
nk so, I do not follow such statements, mostly because
of a lack of verifiable arguments given by these authors. Bush has indeed mentioned that he felt
divinely chosen to lead the country, and he attributed the pathway that led him to the White
House to
“d
ivine p
rovidence


as well. Yet, one has to keep in mind that some critics intentionally
gave these statements extra weight, thereby creating an image of a recklessly fundamentalist
President who was ‘carrying out God’s will by waging war’, which
obviously
is a sc
ary prospect
.
This is not to say that Bush’s religiosity in the White House might have been worse, yet a
realistic and objective approach was sometimes hard to find in these comments.



In addition, I argue that the religious dualistic themes of Bu
sh’s post
-
September 11 war
discourse were largely an

updated


form of civil religious rhetoric, which has been maintained
by many previous Presidents. It
has long been part of American
political history, so in this
respect Bush was not unique in publicly
discussing his faith, or using biblical references.
Furthermore, Bush’s overt religiosity served the well
-
developed political strategic style of
creating a public image to gain and secure broad support for his administration’s agenda from
his fervently eva
ngelical base. To this extent I contest the comments of those who state that
Bush’s foreign policy was ‘completely’ dri
ven by his religious conviction;

by an apocalyptic End
Time scenario centered around the Middle East


a vision which is maintained by ma
ny Christian
rightists. Though Bush might have been discussing policy with people who press right
-
wing
solutions to achieve peace in the Middle East, or with devout premillennialist Christians, it is not
to say with certainty that it formed the root of his

foreign policy toward the Middle East.
Bush’s
Mideast vision, with the US on a divine mission to spread freedom, largely consisted of a kind of
neo
-
Wilsonian idealism, a crusading mentality that has been a permanent feature of American
foreign policy and
which was renewed by the tragic events of
9/11.



Yet it appears that Bush
himself also had great ambitions of what he might achieve in the
Middle East, in his self
-
proclaimed War on Terror, in Israel, in ridding the world of evil.
However, in Christian t
heology
the confrontation with evil is a role reserved for God, so it was



164

George W. Bush on September 16, 2001, White House. Quoted in: Manuel Perez
-
Rivas, “Bush vows to rid the
world of evil
-
doers”,
CNN Washington Bureau,
September 16, 2001. On
http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/16/gen.bush.terrorism/

(Accessed July 3, 2011).

T

“On a Mission from God”


24

not Bush’s or the nation’s responsibility.
It is not surprising then, that some critics charged Bush
of having a “Messiah complex”, although this may be a little overstated. Yet, Bus
h seemed to
confuse the role of God with that of the American nation, the Christian faith with national
ideology.
165




This
exemplifies the

administration’s cleverly use of civil religion and Manichean
rhetoric in the post
-
9/11
climate to install fear and i
nstability, in order to sway the
masses

into

unquestioned acceptance of Bush’s policy in the Middle East


such as launching the doctrine of
preemptive war. To this extent I follow commentators who argue that, even though Bush may
foster the impression tha
t his policies are grounded in deep religious conviction, and which has
all too willingly been adopted by Bush’s critics, the reality is that Bush’s theology and his
deployment of it is rather pragmatic. It seems that for the most part Bush used attractive

terms
such as “freedom” and “evil”,
thereby
adding a theological dimension to it, to justify policies that
have already been decided on quite other grounds.
166




Bush’s close ties to the Christian Right and the many neoconservative advisors in his
adminis
tration has not made it easier to identify the extent to which Bush’s religious faith played
a role in the conduct of his Mideast policy. Given the fact that these right
-
wing groups have their
own conservative agenda, which they want to bring about, especi
ally when it comes to pro
-
Israel
lobbying and the implementation of a unilateral, imperial foreign policy in the Middle East, that
emerged from the adminis
tration’s war on terrorism, it can be argued that
Bush was
just
the
right leader to make this happen.

After all, he has the “heartbeat” of evangelicals. Yet, the
comprehensive and complex interaction that took place between the evangelical community and
George W. Bush will most likely continue to be an area of interest to many.
















165

Wallis,
God’s Politics,
p.
141;
Rothschild, “Bush’s Messiah Complex”.


166

Bruce Lincoln, “Bush’s God Talk”.

“On a Mission from God”


25


Bibliography



Aikman, David,
A Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush,
Nashville, W Publishing Group:



2004.



, “Religion and the Presidency of George W. Bush”, in:
Religion and the American Presidency,



George Washington to George W. Bush with
Commentary and Primary Sources,

Gastón Espinosa,



(ed.)
,

New York, Colombia University Press: 2009.

Austin, Andrew,
“Faith Matters: George Bush and Providence”,
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