Stormin' Norman's jihad

April 01, 1991

Amid all the hemming and hawing over Gen. Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf's apparent difference with President Bush over the precise moment to terminate the destruction of Iraq, another remark which the good general made during his interview with David Frost escaped attention.

When Frost asked Schwarzkopf if he believed "God was on your side," the general replied instantly: "He had to be. He had to be because of the outcome."

It is self-evident that those two sentences together constitute circular reasoning: Schwarzkopf was saying in effect, if God is on your side, you win, which proves that God was on your side.

That of course is utter nonsense; taken to its logical limit, such reasoning would sanctify every military victory in history, including Saddam Hussein's blitzkrieg conquest of Kuwait on Aug. 2. And it turns every battle into what Saddam Hussein tried to make into a jihad, or holy war in Arabic/Muslim terminology.

Schwarzkopf is a great military commander, no doubt, but he doesn't speak for God. We prefer the remark of Jim Wallis, head of a religious group called the Sojourners. When asked the same question, he replied simply: "God is on the side of the suffering."

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