Eliot Weinberger · Bush's 'Common Faith'
In the latest chapter of How Radical Christianity is Destroying the West from Within, the English-language internet has finally picked up a story that has been in the French newspapers for at least two years.
In 2003, George W. Bush called Jacques Chirac to persuade him to join the Coalition of the Willing in the jihad against Saddam Hussein. Appealing to their 'common faith', Bush said:
Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East... The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled... This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.
A little hazy on his Book of Revelation, Chirac sought enlightenment from Thomas Romer, a theologian at the University of Lausanne. Romer told the story in the university’s journal, Allez Savoir, and Chirac himself later confirmed the conversation in an interview with the journalist Jean-Claude Maurice.
Bush once told a group of Amish farmers, 'God speaks through me,' and no doubt we can look forward to further tales of his divine inspiration – the mirror image of that of another black sheep of a wealthy family, Osama bin Laden. In 2003, Bush told Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas:
God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act.
No wonder the wily Donald Rumsfeld made sure that the covers of the Pentagon’s daily intelligence briefings to the president featured sword-rattling quotes from the bible.
Until now, my favorite Bush-Chirac story was W’s first visit to Paris. At the press conference, he said:
Jacques tells me the food is fantastic here, and I’m going to find out.