Uncivil War

Deep division is sparking deadly political battles that are destroying American greatness.
From the June 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

In 1858, as war clouds gathered, Abraham Lincoln warned that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” These immortal words have never been more relevant.

Civil war grips the American government. The White House has become a political Gettysburg. Animosity and suspicion have eroded the unity of mind and purpose of national leadership. Politicians are soldiers dressed in suits and ties. Press releases, filibusters and vetoes replace guns and cannons as weapons.

The damage that such political division can inflict cannot be overestimated. This brother vs. brother struggle is undermining America’s reputation abroad and leaving the nation as prey awaiting the claws of its enemies.

The war within the American government took a sharp turn when the Democrats secured majorities in both chambers of Congress in last year’s midterm elections. Those elections, wrote Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry at the time, “changed American politics forever.”

Prior to those elections, Democrats waged war from a defensive position; now they are on an offensive warpath, making intense and regular strikes on their Republican enemies—especially President George W. Bush. Presidential power and authority now butts against a wall of resistance at every turn. Every key decision, particularly in foreign policy, gets criticized, ridiculed and slammed. Intense division is driving the devolution of the United States from one of the world’s strongest governments into one of the most inefficient and deadlocked.

The most damaging single instance of the Democrats’ strategy of opposition occurred at the beginning of April, when Nancy Pelosi, the new speaker of the House and a leading general in the Democratic army, visited the Middle East, against the express wishes of President Bush, to conduct foreign-policy discussions with the leader of Syria, Bashar Assad. By engaging Assad in direct discussions, Ms. Pelosi rejected the elected president’s established policy intended to isolate tyrants, and assumed a posture of negotiation with dictatorial, terrorist-loving leaders.

Recognize the importance of this event.

Naturally, in an open, democratic nation like America, opposition and dissent is allowed and encouraged. But the Pelosi trip represented a new level of warfare within America’s governing bodies: the Democrats’ complete rejection of the current democratically elected administration.

By intentionally assuming responsibilities that were not legally hers and virtually launching a separate, Democrat-led U.S. foreign policy—trampling on the presidential office and the Constitution in the process—Ms. Pelosi inflicted deep wounds on more than just the Republican Party; she struck the entire government and nation a deadly blow.

Assault on the Presidency

It is common for members of Congress or the Senate to visit foreign nations for routine “fact finding” meetings. But as the speaker’s accomplice and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos confirmed, Ms. Pelosi’s pilgrimage was much more than routine. “We have an alternative Democratic foreign policy,” said Mr. Lantos just prior to their trip. “I view my job as beginning with restoring overseas credibility and respect for the United States” (Wall Street Journal, April 6; emphasis mine throughout). What they were doing, however, was precisely the opposite: destroying whatever credibility the U.S. still has.

America faces some desperate problems in the Middle East. Ms. Pelosi, like every other American, has a democratic right to weigh in on, even oppose, the foreign policy decisions of the Bush administration. But the solution is not the Democrats conducting a renegade foreign policy. Disagreement, frustration and intense emotion do not justify blatant rejection of presidential authority—especially by fellow politicians. Ms. Pelosi’s visit was a direct assault on the credibility and authority of the office of the U.S. president.

The Constitution provides legal procedures by which the speaker and fellow Democrats may voice their discontent. The speaker certainly has no right or responsibility to defy the president by substituting the established policy of the American president with an alternate and contradictory Democratic foreign policy. Disagreement is no cause for treason.

When Ms. Pelosi flew to the Middle East with an “alternative Democratic foreign policy” stashed in her bag, the message she sent to Middle Eastern nations, particularly Syria, was: There is no reason for you to fear or respect George Bush; the Democratic Party doesn’t. Be assured, the Democrats will soon control the American government, and our foreign policy is radically different.

Ms. Pelosi sought to paint President Bush as a war-mongering, unreasonable, uncompromising oppressor—and to sell the Democrats as a peace-loving, open-minded political party willing to negotiate and compromise with anyone—even terrorist-sponsoring nations.

Furthermore, her message was one of surrender, conveying the impression to America’s enemies that President Bush is losing control of his government and now lacks the power of influence to follow through on his policies. Support for Mr. Bush is hollowing, and Ms. Pelosi exposed this fact to the world.

Pelosi’s visit to Syria, stated a Lebanese official, “was a godsend to an isolated and beleaguered regime. The Syrian regime, which had been thinking of bowing to international pressure, is now reassured: All it has to do is to wait until Pelosi’s party takes over the White House in 2009” (New York Post, April 6). This assault hijacked the authority and power of a president who still has more than 20 months left in office. The speaker undermined the Islamic terrorists’ number-one enemy, the U.S. president. America’s terrorist enemies were surely thrilled.

This attack didn’t simply ridicule, marginalize and undermine President Bush; it undermined the nation. It showed that the most powerful country in the world—with untold enemies wanting to see its undoing—has its hands tied when it comes to global affairs. This assault drained the confidence of America’s allies and fueled the arrogance of the nation’s enemies. The fact that this deadly blow came at the calloused hands of American politicians is diabolical as well as tragic.

Assault on the U.S. Constitution

Ms. Pelosi’s jaunt to the Middle East was also a fierce assault on law and the U.S. Constitution.

In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, lawyer and politician Robert Turner explained how Ms. Pelosi committed a felony by her actions in Damascus. The Logan Act, explained Turner, “makes it a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for any American, ‘without authority of the United States,’ to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government’s behavior on any ‘disputes or controversies with the United States’” (April 6). The law was created during the presidency of John Adams after Pennsylvanian citizen and pacifist George Logan traveled to France intending to conduct foreign policy on behalf of the American people.

This law secures the singleness and unity of U.S. foreign policy and helps protect the reputation of the American government. Consider the nightmare of multiple policies being promoted by multiple, independent representatives.

The object of the Logan Act, explained Rep. Roger Grisworld in 1798, was “to punish a crime which goes to the destruction of the executive power of the government.” This law recognizes that the people of the United States invest the executive department with the authority and power to negotiate with foreign governments and that it is therefore a usurpation of that power for an individual, operating outside the executive branch of government, to practice contradictory foreign policy.

Under the Logan Act, Nancy Pelosi could have been jailed for three years for her discussions with Assad. Instead she was mildly rapped on the wrist by the Bush administration, congratulated by segments of the press, and applauded by many Democrats.

For the same reasons Pelosi’s actions contravened the Logan Act, so they also trampled on the U.S. Constitution. The speaker is a member of the legislative branch of government and is not vested with the authority to pursue an independent foreign policy. The Constitution clearly dictates that the responsibility for formulating and conducting foreign policy lies with the executive branch, headed by the democratically elected president. One might argue that Ms. Pelosi’s actions were justifiable because of her prominent position as speaker of the House. To the contrary, Ms. Pelosi is all the more accountable: She swore an oath to uphold the Constitution!

Though Ms. Pelosi isn’t the first member of Congress to engage in this sort of behavior, “her position as a national leader, the wartime circumstances, the opposition to the trip from the White House, and the character of the regime she has chosen to approach make her behavior particularly inappropriate” (op. cit.). Fact-finding missions or negotiations authorized by the president are within the law for traveling representatives. But when the speaker of the House—the person third in line for the presidency—blatantly defies the president, flouts the law and tramples on the U.S. Constitution—all in an effort to embrace a terrorist-sponsoring state—shouldn’t the American people be alarmed?

“The appalling, astonishing thing about the top-ranked Democrats is their willing embrace of evil—seemingly, any evil—as long [as] the evil opposes whatever Republican is in power” (Human Events, April 9). The speaker acted treasonably, broke the law and rejected the U.S. Constitution—for what? Political gain!

The Constitution dictates how government should operate and how laws are to be made. It is the skeleton on which America’s legislative, executive and judicial appendages hang. That document is at the heart of America’s government and law; the nation has thrived under the guidance provided by that legal charter!

What would happen if all Americans began following Ms. Pelosi’s example? Anarchy would reign!

Assault on Unity

In terms of national wellbeing, the speaker assaulted another pillar of national governance: national unity.

The American government and public, already grappling with the effects of intense political division, were dealt a further fateful injury by the dagger of disunity through Pelosi’s backstabbing actions. The speaker’s open defiance of President Bush and treasonous advancement of Democratic doctrine thrilled liberals and infuriated conservatives, fueling the disunity and division that already existed in both the political and public spheres.

Worse still, the whole world was audience to this all-American debacle. The speaker displayed “for our enemies the political disunity that weakens our country in time of war, which has to hearten not only Assad but also Iran and all terrorists” (The Courier, April 9). Weak, divided leadership is just one of America’s Achilles heels, and Pelosi’s trip graphically exposed it to the nation’s enemies.

“The Pelosi mission,” wrote Amir Taheri in the New York Post, “confirms the analysis made by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the United States is incapable of developing and implementing a long-term strategy” (op. cit.). Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, Bashar Assad, Osama Bin Laden; these tyrants must be thrilled by the global display of American disunity.

We can be sure that as America’s enemies gleefully witness the nation’s rabid political and national disunity, they will work to exploit it.

Inward America

After returning to America amid a political brouhaha, Tom Lantos showed no signs of regret for his trip with Ms. Pelosi. During a press conference, he said he would happily return to Syria, and would “get on a plane tomorrow morning” if the opportunity arose to conduct similar talks with Iran. He expressed confidence that Nancy Pelosi would be ready to join him.

This civil war in America shows no signs of letting up. Democrats and Republicans are digging deeper into their respective bunkers. War rages in Washington! Even now, Congress and the president battle over troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan and whether or not the U.S. should quit battling in Iraq.

Immediately after last November’s midterm elections, Gerald Flurry warned in the Trumpet that the election results prove we are “witnessing the demise of American global leadership.” He forewarned that the Democrats’ victory and the appointment of Nancy Pelosi would prove to be a curse on the United States. We can see this curse playing out already.

President Bush will not be able to accomplish anything of substance again,” wrote Mr. Flurry. “Internal crisis and division will prevent the U.S. from conducting a respectable foreign policy.” The debacle surrounding Pelosi’s visit to the Middle East earlier this year proves the veracity of that statement: It was anything but respectable; it should embarrass every politician in America—Republican and Democrat!

Civil war is the worst kind of conflict because it forces a nation to turn inward. Not only does the nation then rip itself apart from the inside, but it also fails to see looming threats coming from without. Consider the political civil war in the British government during much of the 1920s and 1930s. Britain’s leaders were so distracted by internal crisis and infighting, they failed to recognize the growing threat of Hitler’s Germany. Today, many U.S. politicians are so busy dodging bullets and crafting retaliatory attacks on political opponents that they are blind to external threats. Division is causing America’s leadership to be dangerously self-centered and preoccupied.

Lincoln’s warning about a house divided echoed a biblical principle (Matthew 12:25). “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” wrote the Prophet Amos (3:3). America will soon fall if rampant division continues to strangle the American government. History shows that few things destroy a national government more quickly than division and infighting. Nations consumed by internal crisis become prey to outside forces.

Sadly, this is precisely where America’s political civil war is leading.

Division will continue to inflict terrible wounds on the American government, and enemies will swoop down and prey on its corpse. This world is moving into what the Bible identifies as “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24; Revelation 11:2)—a time when Anglo-American global dominance gives way to domination by non-English-speaking power blocs, ushering in a time of untold human suffering. America’s loss of geopolitical leadership in the world is fueling the rise of forces hostile to the U.S. The civil war raging in American politics has global consequences!

The strength of Abraham Lincoln’s leadership in the 19th century was his ability to guide the nation through war and glue the nation back together. Lincoln eventually silenced the forces of disunity. Sadly, there are no leaders of Lincoln’s caliber in America today (Isaiah 3).

But the situation is not hopeless. If you understand the Bible, you know that where mankind sees hopelessness, God sees opportunity! The disarray besieging the American government should serve to prod you to ask some profound questions.

Ask yourself: How can true unity be achieved? What is the right form of government? What is the key to national success? How can I achieve unity in my own family?

Mankind’s history proves it is unable to answers these questions. But God can and will, if we seek the answers repentantly and prayerfully.

Millions of people lack understanding because they fail to properly seek God. Jesus Christ said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). To learn more about the way of unity, and the right form of government, request our free book Mystery of the Ages.

As political civil war grips America and hostile foreign powers rise, as worldwide political disorder increases, isn’t it time we all followed Christ’s admonition and asked why this is all happening?

Go ahead, put God to the test. Seek, and ye shall find!