May 20, 2009

Rumsfeld adorned Iraq briefings with Bible quotes

by David Masters

Donald Rumsfeld, former US Defence Secretary, embellished his defence briefings to George W Bush during the Iraq war with Biblical quotations, it emerged this week.

The quotes, such as “be strong and courageous” from the book of Joshua, adorned the covers of Bush’s daily briefings, and were placed alongside images of the US military.

One quote from the Psalms is placed next to the image of a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier.

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast, O LORD,” the quote reads.

Another briefing cover shows two US soldiers kneeling in prayer. “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?/ Here I am Lord, send me!” reads a Bible verse from Isaiah next to the picture.

Uncovered by journalist Robert Draper and published in this weekend’s GQ magazine, the quotes were designed to appeal to President Bush’s Christian beliefs, which are not shared by Rumsfeld.

Critics fear that the quotes could have triggered a backlash in the Muslim world if they had been uncovered at the time of the briefings, as they give the impression that the Iraq war was the crusade of a Christian country fighting against Islam.

“If these official daily collages of crusade-like messaging and war imagery had been leaked, they would have reinforced the Muslim world’s apocalyptic fear that America was waging a religious war,” wrote Frank Rich in the New York Times.

Rumsfeld “was cynically playing the religious angle to seduce and manipulate a president who frequently quoted the Bible,” Rich added, and in doing so he was “taking a risk with national security.”

One Pentagon staff member said he feared the quotes could have been “as bad as Abu Ghraib” for America’s image in the Muslim world if they had been leaked whilst they were being used.

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