Every once in a while I learn new information which causes me to go back and revise an older post. This just recently happened with my post titled David Marshall's 144 Instances of Ignorance, Stupidity, Hypocrisy, and Lack of Comprehension in Critiquing The God Delusion.
In Marshall's post (#57) he claims that Richard Dawkins made use of a disputed story about former U.S. president George W. Bush saying how he believes god told him to invade Iraq. Rather than digging any further and finding the source of the story or contacting those said to be involved in the issue, Marshall resigned himself to reading a few news stories which did not give an accurate portrait of the incident.
I've been reading an excellent book titled 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars, by Kurt Eichenwald. In this history of the events that lead up to the war in Iraq and the curtailing of numerous civil liberties and Constitutional rights by the U.S. government, he relates this story about George Bush and how his religious beliefs impacted his decision to go to war with Iraq.
Eichenwald writes that while George Bush was speaking with the French president Jacques Chirac about a war with Iraq he tried to appeal to his Christian faith by saying to him, “Jacques, you and I share a common faith. You're Roman Catholic, I'm Methodist, but we are both Christians committed to the teachings of the Bible. We share one common Lord. Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East. Biblical prophecies are being fulfilled.” Bush continued, “This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase His people's enemies before a new age begins.”
Jacques Chirac “was bewildered,” writes Eichenwald. The French president believed that Bush “sounded dangerously fanatical.” After getting off of the phone with Bush, Chirac asked his aids what Bush was referring to. Gog and Magog??? The French president asked his aids to contact a biblical expert to find out what Bush was talking about. This expert happened to be Thomas Römer, a theology professor at the University of Lausanne. After being told the story about what Bush said Römer typed up an explanation about Gog and Magog and sent it to the French president. (500 Days, 459-460)
I checked Eichenwald's sources. This story originated with an article in the French magazine Allez Savior, which interviewed Professor Römer about the details of this story. After reading a translated version of the French article it made me even more curious. I wanted to be doubly sure these reports were correct so I contacted Römer myself and to my surprise he replied. He confirmed the story. (Personal communication with Professor Römer via email September 29, 2012)
I'm very happy that I finally got confirmation for this story. Over the years I've occasionally wondered about this story and whether or not it was true. Well, now that this story has been clarified and confirmed, it's pretty scary knowing that there was such a religious fanatic who was in charge of one of the most powerful states in the world.
A huge thanks goes out to Kurt Eichenwald for his excellent research and this fantastic book he's written.