Book Review: ‘Blinded By Might’

Originally published at
By K. Daniel Glover

Confession is supposed to be good for the soul, so my soul should feel quite healthy after this painful admission: I voted for Bill Clinton.

I only voted for our disgraced president once, and then only because I did not care much for George Bush as president and was just plain scared of Ross Perot. Yet I still must bear the guilt of having elected to our world’s highest office a man who has no scruples.

That is a heavy burden for someone like me, a Christian whose political philosophy is guided by moral conservatism, and that burden becomes greater whenever I confess my democratic “sin” to brethren. First, I get the “you did what?” blank stare from people who sincerely believe you cannot be a Christian and a Democrat (which I am not). Then the only half-joking question: Did you repent?

I play along, saying that indeed I did repent — so much so that I did not vote for any presidential candidate in 1996 because they all demonstrated wishy-washy morality. But in the back of my mind, I always wonder this: Can any Christian truly believe God favors one politician, one party or even one country over another?

Co-opting God for political purposes
Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, the minister of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., apparently have been wondering the same thing. And their wonderment moved the two former leaders of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority to write a book on the spiritual dangers of mixing politics and religion.

The tome — “Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America?” — is part personal confession and part public (albeit gentle) rebuke of the comrades in faith who Thomas and Dobson believe have sacrificed their spiritual leadership to gain political power. In the process, the duo argue, men like Falwell have lost sight of their mission — preaching truth to the lost — and gained nothing in return.


‘The Right To Remain Silent’

Originally published at
By K. Daniel Glover

“No person … shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” So says the Fifth Amendment in its guarantee of a constitutional right against self-incrimination.

Enshrined in the Bill of Rights, that staple of American democracy seems simple enough, and for much of U.S. history it spurred only limited public debate. The masses let the constitutional and legal scholars ponder the meaning of “compelled” while they battled to preserve other bedrock rights — their freedoms to speak freely and practice any religion, and the freedom of the states to govern their people, for instance.

All that changed with the March 13, 1963, arrest and subsequent conviction of Ernest Miranda, a Phoenix resident jailed for the rape of 18-year-old Mary Adams. Miranda confessed to the crime and even signed a statement saying his confession was “of my own free will.” But three years later, a Supreme Court led by activist Chief Justice Earl Warren, and motivated at least in part by a desire to craft nationwide standards of criminal procedure when race-based police abuse was common, ruled that the police had violated Miranda’s rights.

In a 5-4 decision (Miranda v. Arizona), the court demanded a new trial for Miranda and, more importantly, mandated the reading of Miranda rights — “the right to remain silent” and to legal counsel chief among them — to all criminal suspects. Although Miranda eventually was retried and reconvicted, his legacy lives today in police interrogation rooms and almost every cops-and-robbers confrontation on television.

Yet critics of the Supreme Court’s most famous decision on criminal procedure remain vocal. They say the fears that moved congressional lawmakers to call for the impeachment of Warren in 1966 — that Miranda would set criminals free on technicalities and “handcuff police” — have proven true. So three decades after the Miranda ruling, they have forced the issue of criminal confession back to highest court.

A return to ‘voluntariness’
The case in question today, United States v. Dickerson, involves Charles T. Dickerson, who on Jan. 27, 1997, confessed to robbing several banks in Maryland and Virginia. A district court suppressed the confession on the grounds that, although given voluntarily, it involved a technical violation of Miranda.

‘The War To End All Wars’

Originally published at
By K. Daniel Glover

There is a difference in an American defending his home from invasion and going hundreds of miles to engage in a brawl.

Rep. Henry Allen Cooper, R-Wis., uttered those words on the House floor more than 80 years ago, as Congress debated the merits of war against Germany, a war that started in Bosnia. Now at the close of the century, the world is right back where it was at the start of the 1900s — at battle in the Yugoslav region of Europe, and wondering whether a relatively minor conflict may escalate into full-blown international war.

With the NATO-led Operation Allied Force underway in Yugoslavia and tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians being forced from their homes in Kosovo, now seems an appropriate time to revisit the United States’ entrance into World War I, once naively known as “the war to end all wars.”

From neutrality to the trenches
Historians peg the genesis of World War I to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir apparent to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire. On June 28, 1914, the Black Hand band of assassins, who sought the creation of a Serbian empire, succeeded in their plot to kill Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, on their official visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia.

The assassination was meant to convince the empire’s government in Vienna of the rightness of an independent Serbia; instead, it triggered a chain reaction of war declarations. Austria invaded Serbia, and Germany allied itself with Austria. Russia, suspicious of Austria’s intentions, sided with the Serbs. Germany then declared war on Russia and France, and invaded Belgium and Luxembourg, and Great Britain declared war on Germany.

The United States, safely separated from the European conflict by the Atlantic Ocean, tried to remain neutral. But a deluge of news about German atrocities and war tragedies like the 1915 sinking of the British passenger ship Lusitania, which killed 128 Americans and more than 1,100 other people, slowly weakened the isolationist mentality of Congress and the nation.

The World Order After Kosovo

Originally published at
By K. Daniel Glover

Last week, a dozen or so U.S. editorial writers (including this writer) assembled at the United Nations headquarters in New York for a two-day series of briefings. Senior U.N. officials summarized their work on everything from peacekeeping and world population to economic development and human rights.

Almost all the speakers shared a common message. The United Nations, they insisted, still plays a significant role in a world far different from the one that existed at its inception, and the United States needs to acknowledge that role by paying its back dues to the international organization.

But the curious absence of another briefing topic — any substantial discussion of the NATO-led bombings in Kosovo that began the a day earlier — seemed to send another message: In a world without the Cold War, the overall mission of the United Nations remains unsettled.

The same can be said of NATO. Its leaders will convene in Washington later this month both to celebrate the alliance’s 50th anniversary and to debate changes to its “strategic concept.” With the Soviet Union gone and its communist doctrine repudiated, the United States, too, at times seems unsure of its role as world leader and of its place in organizations like NATO and the United Nations.

So the foreign-policy question of the moment for the United States, the United Nations and NATO is one and the same: Where do we go from here?

NATO’s proving ground
Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., who chaired the House International Relations Committee when Democrats last controlled Congress and who now serves as director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, thinks the conflict in Kosovo may well provide some answers, especially for NATO.

An unsuccessful mission in Kosovo will not destroy NATO as a world force, Hamilton said, but it could make the global body weaker. “Kosovo is a very great test for NATO,” he said. “And one question is how does NATO emerge. Is it going to be invigorated, re-energized? … Or is it going to emerge weaker, sort of a hollow shell, if you will?”