We’ve railed against liberation theology and similar pseudo-Christian Marxist shape-shifting bullshit before. We’ve also teed off on our very favorite incomperent guerilla, Che Guevara, and the media-academic tendency to swoon over thugs, so many times that we have to google them ourselves. In a remarkable coincidence, the neocon Front Page Magazine has worthwhile stories on both out now.
Liberation Theology was always Soviet in origin. Marx, who was a man of theory with little grasp of the real world, did recognize that religion was an obstacle to his materialistic ideology; and his followers brought the practicality that he himself lacked to the issue, big-time. The Soviets had a three-pronged strategy to undermine world religious resistance to their scheme of subversion, domination and conquest: (1) undermine the Catholic Church by directly attacking the Pope; (2) co-opt Orthodox and Protestant churches and set up an international organization that would be run clandestinely from Dzerzhinsky Square, the World Council of Churches; and (3) create a “new theology” that would be Marxism-Leninism with a veneer of Jesus. Front Page:
KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin provided a secret 1961 directive to infiltrate the Russian Orthodox Church. The objective was to implant agents of influence that could then push out “reactionary” and “sectarian” church figures that were seen as threats to communism.
Mitrokhin disclosed a secret meeting of senior East Bloc intelligence officers in Budapest in July 1967. Two KGB officers gave instructions regarding “work against the Vatican; measures to discredit the Vatican and its backers; and measures to exacerbate differences within the Vatican and between the Vatican and capitalist countries.”
[Ion Mihai] Pacepa illustrates the success of this operation with multiple examples. For example, in January 2007, the newly-appointed archbishop of Warsaw had to resign amidst revelations that he had been a secret collaborator with the Polish secret service during the Cold War.
[Ronald R.] Rychlak said that Soviet efforts to influence Protestants were also targeted. In 1944, the Soviets established the All-Union Council of Evangelical Christian Baptists, now named the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists of Russia.
The president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Mark Tooley, has written about the communist use of the World Council of Churches. He notes that hundreds of Protest[ant] and Orthodox churches belonged to it as it towed [sic] the Soviet line and even went so far as to finance Marxist guerillas.
The third leg was promoting an anti-capitalist, anti-Western brand of Christianity. If the KGB could not eliminate Christianity, it reasoned it might as well manipulate it. Liberation Theology was born.
Pacepa, a high-ranking Warsaw Pact defector, and Rychlak, a professor, have written a book, Disinformation, recounting some of the internal plans behind the various WCC and Liberation Theology scams. The above quote is from Front Page’s Brian Mauro’s review of it.
And why do some people love them some strongman?
The sort of saps who fall for Liberation Theology are well-represented on college campuses. You can identify them by the incongruous iconographical juxtaposition of a Che t-shirt and a cross or crucifix. They’re also endemic to certain bien-pensant newspapers and in those government roles that are recruited from the professoriat and Thinktankistan. Front Page also pointed us to Caroline Glick’s Jerusalem Post article about these characters, who seem to swoon over every jerk in gaudy doorman uniform or exotic robes, most lately Ayatollah Rouhani and his henchmen. Our favorite of her examples is NYT’s Dexter Filkins, who’s got a sorority crush on an Iranian butcher:
As a curtain raiser for Rouhani’s visit, veteran New York Times war correspondent Dexter Filkins wrote a long profile of Iran’s real strongman for The New Yorker. Qassem Suleimani is the head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. It is the most powerful organ of the Iranian regime, and Suleimani is Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s closest confidante and adviser.
Rouhani doesn’t hold a candle to Suleimani.
Filkin’s [sic] profile is detailed, but deeply deceptive. The clear sense he wishes to impart on his readers is that Suleimani is a storied war veteran and a pragmatist. He is an Iranian patriot who cares about his soldiers. He’s been willing to cut deals with the Americans in the past when he believed it served Iran’s interests. And given Suleimani’s record, it is reasonable to assume that Rouhani – who is far more moderate than he – is in a position to make a deal and will make one.
Filkins is a seasoned fabricator we’ve had run-ins before. While he was Iraq, we caught him writing first-person reports from scenes he was never at, in the Times’s fine tradition of hotel-bar journalism. (Most of his “work” was done by uncredited, under- and sometimes un-paid, Iraqi stringers). His reports might not have been true, but they fit the Narrative the Times wanted, the story by Lower Manhattanites for Lower Manhattanites and wannabees. The fabricated report went on Page 1. It was exposed the next day. The Times stands behind it. That’s how they roll.
The problem with Filkin’s [sic] portrayal of Suleimani as a pragmatist, and a commander who cares about the lives of his soldiers – and so, presumably cares about the lives of Iranians – is that it is belied by the stories Filkins reported in the article.
Filkins describes at length how Suleimani came of age as a Revolutionary Guard division commander during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980 to 1988, and how that war made him the complicated, but ultimately reasonable, (indeed parts of the profile are downright endearing), pragmatist he is today.
As the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Suleimani commands the Syrian military and the foreign forces from Iran, Hezbollah and Iraq that have been deployed to Syria to keep Bashar Assad in power.
The IRGC is an unusual and unique structure — in effect, it is a complete parallel military with all branches. Its members are selected for political reliability first and military prowess second, and are favored with all resources over the regular armed services. They are frequently reinforced with foreign volunteers and often operate foreign terrorist groups as a cat’s-paw of Iran.
Where have we seen that model before? Yep, it’s modeled deliberately on the SS. In Iranian eyes, that’s not a bad thing. Glick’s conclusion:
The main take-away lesson from the Filkins profile of Suleimani is that US officials – and journalists – like to romanticize the world’s most psychopathic, evil men. Doing so helps them to justify and defend their desire to appease, rather than confront, let alone defeat, them.
This is where Che, like Castro largely a creation of swooning media, is a strong parallel. Now Filkins’s and the Times’s puff piece for Suleimani drops right into a long, long tradition that goes back to the Times’s proudest and most representative Pulitzer Prize winner, Walter Duranty. In the 1930s they managed to simultaneously suck up to Stalin and Hitler. After World War II, they consistently admired whatever thug was on top of the Kremlin pigpile du jour, and wrote hilarious front page puffers, planted by the KGB, saying that Brezhnev was an avid consumer of Western goods and admirer of American cars, and that Yuri Andropov was a closet liberal with a stack of forbidden jazz records on his turntable. They were reasonable guys who were just not given enough concessions by unreasonable Reagan or whomever.
If the United States were to invade Hell, Dexter Filkins would be on Page 1 with Beelzebub’s point of view and numerous details showing how he’s really a regular guy and appeasement is the best policy.
Even if he had to make them up.