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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Opinion Column

Bush: ‘We’re
changing the world’

Commentary by Pat Murphy

Maybe it wasn’t a slip of the lip as everyone assumed when President Bush talked of launching a "crusade" against terrorism.

This president indeed may be driven by a religious zeal that is beginning to reveal itself and is reminiscent of the eight crusades between 1095 and 1270.


  • In his recent press conference, the president four times mentioned plans to "change the world." He said, "we’re changing the world" by attacking Iraq. Twice he said Iraq offers "an historic opportunity to change the world." Finally, "my job as the president is to lead this nation into making the world a better place."

  • In his extensive interview with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward for the new book, "Plan of Attack," President Bush said he consulted a "higher father" than his genetic father, former President George H.W. Bush, before attacking Iraq.

  • Evangelicals cite Bush’s references in his 2003 State of the Union speech that "There is power, wonder-working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people." The phrase was coined by Christian song writer Lewis E. Jones’ "There is Power in the Blood" and the repetitive line, "There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r in the blood of the Lamb."

  • In the 2000 campaign, Bush was asked what figure he admired the most. "Jesus," he said.

  • The president’s decision to reverse long-standing U.S. policy and endorse Israel’s territorial claims on the West Bank is seen by Christian-Zionists as Bush’s recognition of religious elements of Israel’s plight, rather than only political ones. (The Hill, the Capitol’s insider’s newsletter, reported March 30 that nominally Democratic Jews are defecting to the Republican Party because of Bush’s decisions favoring Israel.)

The mystery is whether Bush’s "changing the world" mission (a phrase akin to "new world order" that normally sends conservative Republicans into a frenzy) is a post-2000 epiphany, or whether he concealed his zeal while claiming to plan a "humble" foreign policy and avoid non-humble Bill Clinton’s nation-building.

Bush’s crusade to change the world from evil to goodness has unsettling similarities to the 1840s U.S. doctrine of "manifest destiny" aimed at conquering Indians.

Albert Beveridge expressed one of the most chilling monologues on manifest destiny on the floor of the Senate, as recalled by scholar Michael Lubbrage in the "From Revolution to Reconstruction" project.

"God has not been preparing the English-speaking ... peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-admiration. No! He has made us the master organizers of the world to establish a system where chaos reigns ... He has made us adepts in government that we may administer government among savages and senile peoples."

Just as not everyone was willing to submit to changes that ancient crusaders wanted to impose in distant lands, Bush will find resistance to his 21st century ideas.

Some Americans might even suggest he change things at home before sallying forth like a knight of old on a Quixotic adventure that only he believes taxpayers can afford.


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