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US Troops: Evangelists For Liberty

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I read an interesting article last week which was linked through the WSJ’s opinion column, Opinionjournal.com:

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations official charged with election assistance yesterday threw a barb at American troops in Iraq,accusing them of conducting an “overenthusiastic” campaign to promote this weekend’s Iraqi election.

The chief of the U.N. Electoral Assistance Division, Carina Perelli, was asked in a press conference about reports that American troops helped Iraqi officials distribute information on the electoral process to Iraqi citizens, and encouraged them to participate in Sunday’s vote.

Ms. Perelli said that U.N. officials spent time “asking, begging military commanders precisely not to do that,” but the time has not been well-spent. The Americans were “overenthusiastic in trying to help out with these elections,” she said. “We have basically been saying they should try to minimize their participation because this is an Iraqi process.”

At the same time, she acknowledged that the U.N. itself is “not happy” with the way information on the election was disseminated. There are 22 U.N. election experts stationed in Baghdad as part of an international group of 40 election workers advising the Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission, she said.

So, what I’m reading from this quote, and the full article posted here, is that the UN, as usual, was fumbling the ball when it came to Iraqi get-out-the-vote efforts, yet they were unhappy that US troops were out there doing the job for them? Yep, sounds like typical UN “efficiency” to me.

Of course, what most people forget is that US troops have long been what I like to call “evangelists for liberty.” These are people who, like us, grew up living, breathing, eating, and sleeping, the freedoms that we’ve all enjoyed as citizens of this nation.

The major difference, however, between those of us who have not served in the military and those who do serve is that they’ve taken an additional step. They have actually put their lives on the line for our freedoms, and, because of that, know the value of liberty better than anyone.

They’ve lived our freedoms here in the US, fought to protect them overseas, and now they are living examples of America’s zeal for democracy. Who better in all the world than our troops to help get out the vote?

If Ms. Perelli had any common sense, this is what her quote would have looked like in last week’s New York Sun:

Ms. Perelli said that, “our own get-out-the-vote efforts were hampered in many ways, however, US Troops enthusiastically supported all of our efforts and were able to have a much broader impact because of their already-established ties to the communities they’ve been assigned to protect throughout Iraq. These men and women showed in no uncertain terms how much they care about the future of Iraq.”

Yes, I know. It’s too much to expect from any UN official, isn’t it?

Well, at least we, the ones served most directly by our best and brightest, can offer up our thanks and gratitude for what they’ve done. It was their blood, their sacrifice, and their determination that paved the way for that history-setting vote yesterday.

Thanks to you, our men and women in the military, the world is a better place today than it was just two days ago. Thanks to you, we live in a freer world. You are the world’s fiercest warriors, and America’s greatest ambassadors.

David Flanagan

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About David

  • evangelists? Onward Christian soldiers.

  • General William Boykin, anyone?

  • Shark

    Why stop there?

    I like the sound of “Christian Crusaders”

  • Actually, the term “evangelist” is used in corporate America. Technology companies often use the term/title to describe those assigned to go out an market new technologies to clients.

    For some examples, go here, and here. You can also just do a google search on the topic and read any one of the thousands of links you’ll get on industry “evangelists.”

    No offense, but you guys need to get out more. Thanks for your comments


  • David, technological evangelists spread the word via seminars, not war. Your analogy is still incorrect, unless you are trying to continue with your ongoing theme of Christianizing this war.

    And of course, the term is more descriptive, ‘technological evangelists’, which gives a clear indication that it is not religiously based, rather than just evangelists.

  • Steve,

    The term “evangelist” is corporate term used to describe people who are assigned to bring products and services to a broader market. This can include ANY product or service, as you would easily see if you just took the time to check the Google link I created.

    And the troops are not evangelizing through war. One of central themes of my post here is what comes AFTER the war is over. Not only did our troops tear down the former regime, they have actively paved the way for a new democratic Iraq, and they were actively out in the communities they’ve been assigned to protect handing out flyers and asking people to please vote.

    What did we get for this effort? The fact that Iraq’s first election had greater participation among its citizens than any vote in US history.



  • yea, memmbe if we banned driving for three days around our elections we’d get some REAL voter turnout!!

    no wait, then we’d have to walk somewhere…


  • Whatever David. I think the term ‘evangelist’ with it’s religious connotations, even if it is used in the corporate environment in this heavily Christianized nation, is still a wrong term to use to describe the spreading of democracy in a Muslim country, in a place that’s read by all citizens of the world. Reeks of insensitivity and clearly lays down a subconscious connotation equating Christianity and democracy.

    I’ve notified the ACLU about your lack of PCness. Mah-wah-hah-ha.

  • Well, perhaps you could do as some of your fellow Kerry-supporters did in wisconsin and slash the tires of vans rented by the local Republicans to ferry people to the polls on November 2nd. 🙂 Who was responsible for this attempt to disenfranchise voters? Here’s what the Washington Post reports:

    Tuesday, January 25, 2005; Page A02

    MILWAUKEE, Jan. 24 — The sons of a first-term congresswoman and of Milwaukee’s former acting mayor were among five Democratic activists charged Monday with slashing the tires of vans rented by Republicans to drive voters and monitors to the polls on Election Day.

    Sowande Omokunde, 25, son of Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), and Michael Pratt, 32, son of former Milwaukee acting mayor Marvin Pratt, were among those charged with criminal damage to property, a felony that carries a maximum punishment of 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

    The activists are accused of flattening the tires on 25 vehicles rented by the state Republican Party to get out the vote and deliver poll watchers Nov. 2.

    So, as you can see Mark, your thinking is right in line with others in the DNC.



  • Steve,

    I’m sure that the ACLU has already received several complaints about me. But,hey, it’s the thought that counts. 😉


  • right.

    except that i was joking while you, as usual, are just being your smug self.


    as i’ve said, the conservatives have taken full control over our government, and can fuck up the country and the rest of the world as they see fit.

    i just hope they let me take my albums and turntable with me to the prison camp.

  • Mark,

    Sorry, it’s very hard to tell from a text message if someone is joking or if they are mocking. Yes, the emoticon was there, but it doesn’t help.

    And yes, I’m sure you’ll be able to take your albums and turntable with you. I’ll put in a good word for you.


  • thank you.

  • Shark

    Dave, yer “evangelist” definition makes me feel much better, ’cause seriously — I think we should hunt down and kill ALL evangelists AND marketing people.

  • Shark

    Dave Dilbert [on the new Office Space vernacular]: “No offense, but you guys need to get out more.”

    No offense, but I gave up a $50K a year job so I didn’t have to sit in any more meetings with dickheads who cop right-wing fundamentalist religious terms to describe their evil, satanic wishes to “bring products and services to a broader market”.

    Good gawd, I’d rather starve and live in a cardboard box.

  • I will admit that the images from Abhu Ghraib will persist, and will continue to have an “evangelical” effect on those who view them for many years to come.

    But I’m afraid the analogy of the American trooper as an “evangelist for liberty” betrays a lack of understanding on just too many levels.

    A lack of understanding of the range of importance people attach to “liberty” (quote from a vox pop interview on UK Radio 4 this morning from the streets of Baghdad: “I don’t want freedom. I want a job. I want security for my family. Freedom can come later”). Of how the actions of a few US troops have tainted the actions of the many. And of the contempt in which US foreign policy is now universally held.

    For every one of these masturbatory pulp fictions, there are two books of gritty reportage citing the hardened teenagers from Nebraska “fragging kids and old guys”, of downloadable aircrew radio chatter celebrating the “pig killing runs” and pictures of grinning air-load masters giving the thumbs-up in front of bombs with “Happy Ramadan” painted on the snout.

    Which will have the longest shelf life amongst those for whom it matters most (to us)?

  • Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!

    I was going to reference this, but I’m more interested in what type of mirror it is.

  • According to Dictionary.com:

    e·van·gel·ist n.
    often Evangelist Any one of the authors of the four New Testament gospel books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.
    One who practices evangelism, especially a Protestant preacher or missionary.

    – Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition


    n 1: a preacher of the Christian gospel [syn: revivalist, gospeler, gospeller] 2: (when capitalized) any of the spiritual leaders who are assumed to be authors of the Gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John [syn: Evangelist]

    – Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University


    a “publisher of glad tidings;” a missionary preacher of the gospel (Eph. 4:11). This title is applied to Philip (Acts 21:8), who appears to have gone from city to city preaching the word (8:4, 40). Judging from the case of Philip, evangelists had neither the authority of an apostle, nor the gift of prophecy, nor the responsibility of pastoral supervision over a portion of the flock. They were itinerant preachers, having it as their special function to carry the
    gospel to places where it was previously unknown. The writers of the four Gospels are known as the Evangelists.

    – Source: Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary

    Synonyms: advocate, champion, companion, converter, Evangelist, follower, herald, messenger, missionary, pioneer, propagandist, proponent, proselytizer, witness

    So there you go – it does have direct roots in Christianity…but you can also absolutely apply the term to any type of business or political proselytizing.

    I think everyone in this site knows the difference between a live horse and dead horse…so pray, stop flogging the latter…

  • So Dean, you think Muslims in their internet cafes thoughout the Middle Eastern world, will see ‘Evangelists for Liberty’ and say, “ah that’s just American corporate speak”?

    I think everyone in this site knows the difference between a live horse and dead horse

    But you don’t know who’s here, do you? You are just going on the assumption that everybody here is a white American Christian boardmember.

  • I find the best treatment for evangelists is a good old-fashioned Puritan dunking. You bind them, and put them in body of water. If they sink, they are good. If they float, they are evil and you burn them.

    Or if a body of water isn’t handy, put them to pressing, stack large weights on them until they confess their wrongs and expire.

    Let’s consider that outside the borders of the USA, troops are considered a threat, and we know they are up to no good at all. The thuggish Red, white and blue Army bringing damage to your sovereign nation. Is “evangelical” also a synonym for “retarded thug”?

  • Let’s consider that outside the borders

    You just lost the right wingers, right there.

  • Rick Stevens

    Sound familiar ? Different war, different country…how soon we forget and must repeat the mistakes of a prior generation:

    U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote (NYT 9/4/1967)
    by patachon
    Mon Jan 31st, 2005 at 08:30:16 PST

    (From the diaries — kos)
    [in case you haven’t been keeping up with developments in Vietnam from 40 years ago…]

    U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote :
    Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

    by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 3– United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam’s presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

    According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

    The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

  • Considering it was the US military who invented the phrase “friendly fire”, and that in international conflicts, the US military kills as many of their supposed allies as the purported enemy, in the rest of the world when the USA shows up it is a clear case of “with friends like this, who needs enemies?”

    So, the US military isn’t evangelical, they are dumb and dangerous to everyone around them. But, since they mostly commit their damage outside the States, it doesn’t register with the barcalounger battalion.

  • Eric Olsen

    the abilities and propriety of the U.S. military are the absolute least of our worries: they are he most capable and principled armed force in world history. If you have issues with their leaders and policy makers, that is another matter.

  • they are he most capable and principled armed force in world history. If you have issues with their leaders and policy makers, that is another matter.

    And your cite would be … ?

    So, if the top of the hierarchy is corrupt and incompetent, that isn’t the fault of the organization? Well, I guess if that excuses you down the line for voting for Shrub, I guess it helps you sleep better at night.

    For the rest of us in the world, it is just bullshit. The USA armed forces are a welfare programme, a very well funded programme, but they are not “the best”.

    Generally when you use the term “most”, keep in mind that it is a comparison, so you must be able to provide a scale. Just saying something is the best is meaningless.

  • What a train wreck this thread is. Talking past each other, everybody is. Not like usual. No, usually all we see is constructive dialogue around here.

    So pay attention. Here comes the fair and balanced explanation, and I don’t have time to repeat myself today.

    On the left hand, U.S. soldiers’ enthusiasm for voter participation is completely understandable and praiseworthy. Those who ridicule the rank and file of U.S. volunteers as “crusaders” or “thugs” damage only their own credibility. The Americans’ enthusiasm for democracy is at worst naive; there is absolutely nothing sinister in it.

    On the other hand, the U.N.’s concerns have also been misrepresented in Mr. Flanagan’s original post. Their source is not ingratitude for American sacrifices. Their goal is the same as the Americans’ goal: to help the elections succeed.

    The sad fact is, in the Arab world a propaganda battle is raging, with some trying to paint the Iraqi elections as a sham and any resulting government as a puppet of the Bush administration. Defeating such claims requires making it crystal clear, in appearances as well as in reality, that the Iraqis are taking control of their own affairs.

    The U.N. advised the American soldiers to tone down their election activism, not to censor the brave GIs, but to avoid giving any appearance that Iraqi voters are only doing what the “occupiers” tell them to do.

    Of course some in the Arab world will make that accusation no matter what, but there is no need for us to boost such voices credibility on the Arab street if we can possibly avoid doing so.

  • Victor, just consider this, and think about consequences, I’m not asking you to do any hard thinkin’, just some, how it might be any way different is up to you and yourn:

    QUARTERING ACT under the law, colonists had to provide housing, candles, bedding, and beverages to British soldiers stationed in the colonies.

    In American colonial history, the British parliament provision (actually an amendment to the annual Mutiny Act) requiring colonial authorities to provide food, drink, quarters, fuel, and transportation to British forces stationed in their towns or villages. This act was passed primarily in response to greatly increased empire defense costs in America following the French and Indian War and Pontiac’s War. Like the Stamp act of the same year, it also was an assertion of British authority over the colonies, in disregard of the fact that troop financing had been exercised for 150 years by representative provincial assemblies rather than by the Parliament in London. The act was particularly resented in New York, where the largest number of reserves were quartered, and outward defiance led directly to the Suspending Act as part of the Townshend legislation of 1767. After considerable tumult, the Quartering Act was allowed to expire in 1770. An additional quartering stipulation was included in the Intolerable Acts of 1774.

  • Jim, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.

    Specifically, you’ll have to work much harder to establish any substantial connection between what you have quoted and anything that is happening today, much less between that and anything I have written.

    The eighteenth-century British didn’t even pretend they planned to set up a self-governing nation in their colonies, so they don’t lend themselves to easy comparisons with events here and now in the twenty-first century.

    Maybe you have a valid point of some kind to make, but you have not yet made it.

  • The only parallell I see to the Quartering Acts is the recent attempt by the Texas Department of Transportation to fob off 1.3 billion in road development funding on the people of Austin in the form of toll roads. It has nothing to do with the situation in Iraq.

    As for the ‘evangelist’ issue, people have used that term because everyone knows it. Perhaps they should be called the Proselytizers of Participatory Democracy? But that’s not so catchy. I do wonder what the term evangelist is translated into in Arabic. Perhaps they call them Muezins in Arabic. That would make sense and be semi-appealing.

    So let’s call them the ‘Muezins of Democracy’.


  • Jihadists for Democracy? Whatever the term you use, I used evangalists because it is a word that I, a person who has spent virtually his entire career in the IT industry, understands. Sure, I’m a Christian too, but evangelist is a term used far outside of Christian circles and has been for years.

    Victor: I appreciate your points regarding Ms. Perelli from the UN, but I disagree with her. Of what use is a toned-down effort to encourage Iraqis to vote when it might result in a dismal turnout?

    I would rather risk accusations from the arab world than a 20% voter turnout on election day. But thats just me.

    And the stubborness of some in insisting that Iraq is just another Vietnam never ceases to amaze me. The only comparison that Iraq has to Vietnam is what was going on BEFORE we invaded, when we were vainly trying to contain a tyrant who refused to be contained, just at the North Vietnamese refused to be contained.

    You know what would have worked in Vietnam? A full invasion and nation-building, as well as containing their leaders in 10X15 cells the way Saddam is now contained. Let me give you a quote from one Iraqi voter after he had finished voting yesterday:

    The Times quotes 80-year-old Rashid Majid: “We have freedom now, we have human rights, we have democracy. We will invite the insurgents to take part in our system. If they do, we will welcome them. If they don’t, we will kill them.”

    Sounds like a good plan to me.



  • I knew it, you’re like the old mainframe VDTs, a combination of two bad things. With almost any combination of sect and OS you will be both a heathen and heretic at the same time.

    Jihadists for Democracy? Whatever the term you use, I used evangalists because it is a word that I, a person who has spent virtually his entire career in the IT industry, understands. Sure, I’m a Christian too, but evangelist is a term used far outside of Christian circles and has been for years.

    Because of course, in a small part of North America, that is all that counts. What you people in your cult think of yourselves. Why do you insist on shoving your heterodoxist agenda down our throats?

    And don’t think of the children, because I know you sick bastards just want to get your hands on them for indoctrination.

  • Why do you insist on shoving your heterodoxist agenda down our throats?


    You never fail to provide me with a good laugh. Who is shoving anything down your throat? Is there something about my posts that just FORCES you to read what I’ve written?

    Perhaps I’ve discovered some Orwellian mind trick and you, poor Jim, are too weak too resist! I have only one thing to say to you Jim:

    These are not the droids you are looking for…



  • Nick Jones

    How about “Preachers for Participatory Politics”

  • Not sure ‘preachers’ is generic enough.

    How about Friendly Tour Guides on the Democracy Road Trip?


  • How about “U.S. Troops maintaining the peace while people vote”?

    What, you guys have to give them a name, like a ball team? A mascot is next I suppose.

  • How about “U.S. Troops maintaining the peace while people vote”?

    I think that is perfect. Only thing to add is the fact that they’ve done more than that, they’ve been in many of those communities helping whenever possible. They didn’t just maintain the peace, they’ve built real ties to many communities.

    Anyway, I appreciate your comments.



    It doesn’t matter what you post, some folks will never see anything in Iraq as less than utter failure.

  • Very true Ski. Thanks.


  • Nick Jones

    OK, how about “Prophets of Participatory Politics”?

  • I think the use of the word “prophet” is pretty universally accepted, don’t you? Muslims are good with it, as are members of Judaism and Christianity.

    Right on the money. 🙂


  • Naming modern figures “prophets” is not quite kosher for Muslims. The vast majority of Muslims believe there will be no prophets after Muhammad, at least not until the end of the world.

    Many Christians have a similar belief that there won’t be any more prophets until the end of the world. Of course, Christians are far less likely to include Muhammad in their list of genuine prophets.

    I don’t know who is considered the most recent genuine prophet in the majority of Jews’ beliefs. It seems unlikely to anyone much more recent in history than Christ or Muhammad. I have noticed most Jews are not quite so obsessed with the concept of the world coming to an end sometime soon, so they are a bit more flexible about the whole prophet thing, but they don’t give out the title to just anyone.

    Alas, the search continues for a headline that will make it impossible for anyone to take offense or twist the author’s intent.

    Perhaps “US Troops: Polite Promoters of Participatory Political Processes”?

  • Shark

    How ’bout:

    U.S. Troops: “Planetary Freedom Enablers”

    (kinda has that Star Wars meets Dr. Phil sound — which, given their current mission in Iraq, seems sorta appropriate.)

    I also like:

    U.S. Troops: “Nannies For Nutbars”


    The New Marketing Slogan:

    “Our shock & awe will make you shit in your pants — and then we provide toilet paper and clean underwear. Try asking the U.N. for that!”

  • Eric Olsen

    nice, except “enablers” is too fruity a word

  • What ever happened to the tried and true slogan of US troops: “Kill ‘Em All, and Let God Sort Them Out“.

    What? Too “edgy”?

  • HW Saxton

    We are saving up that motto for when we
    invade Cana-duh. Hope that answers that.