On Sunday GQ magazine published an amazing scoop revealing that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld embellished top-secret wartime memos with covers featuring quotations from the Bible.

Leaked by an unknown official who was disturbed enough to keep copies but reluctant to fan Islamic fears that the United States was on a crusade, the memos are being seen as Rumsfeld’s means of manipulating or ingratiating himself with the born-again President.

From Ephesians he chose:

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Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

But there is another, perhaps more alarming, story about Bush’s Christian fundamentalism and the Iraq War that has yet to come to light.

In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France’s President Jacque Chirac. Bush told Chirac that Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and they had to be defeated.

Gog and Magog are Biblical creatures, forces of the Apocalypse, who appear in Genesis and Ezekiel. At the end of the millennium they would come out of the north and, unless stopped, destroy Israel in a final battle. Bush believed the time had now come for that battle.

The Book of Revelation took up the Old Testament prophesy:

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle … and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

Bush is believed to have told Chirac: “This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins”.

The story emerged only because the Elysee Palace, baffled by Bush’s words, sought advice from Thomas Roemer, a professor of theology at the University of Lausanne. Roemer subsequently gave an account in the September 2003 issue of University’s review, Allez savoir. The small piece apparently went unnoticed, although it was repeated in a French newspaper in 2007.

The story has been confirmed by Chirac himself in a new book yet to be published in English by French journalist Jean Claude Maurice. Chirac is said to have been stupefied and disturbed by Bush’s invocation of Biblical prophesy to justify the war in Iraq and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs“.

In the same year he spoke to Chirac, Bush had reportedly said to the Palestinian foreign minister that he was on “a mission from God” in launching the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and was receiving commands from the Lord.

There can be little doubt now that President Bush’s reason for launching the war in Iraq was fundamentally religious. He was driven by his understanding of the realisation of Biblical revelation in which he had been chosen to serve as the instrument of the Lord.

That the US President saw himself as the vehicle of God whose duty was to prevent the Apocalypse raises serious questions about Australia’s participation in the war. In his intimate moments with Bush, did John Howard hear about Gog and Magog and the holy mission to fight the forces of Satan?

More than three thousand US troops have died in the campaign to defeat the evil forces from the north. Were Australian troops sent to risk their lives because of George Bush’s Biblical delusions?

In a coda to this story I stumbled across a curious fact. It’s common knowledge that while a senior at Yale George W. Bush was a member of the exclusive and secretive Skull & Bones society, a fact that has given rise to lurid stories about an old boys’ network at the pinnacle of corporate, government and CIA power.

George’s father, George H.W. Bush had also been a “Bonesman”, as indeed had his father. Members of Skull & Bones are assigned or take on nicknames when they join. And what was George Bush Senior’s nickname?

“Magog”.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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