Religion, in One Way or Another, Is Part of America’s Social Contract

Surveying the deep divisions and intense passions that have seized American public discourse since 2016, and some of the attacks on traditional politics from both right and left, Suzanne Garment sees a threat to the country’s underlying social contract, which she terms the “American deal.” Garment defines this deal “as a set of political ideas that have persisted in this country over the past couple of centuries and, most of the time, have kept our political arrangements from falling apart.” Of the twelve rules she enumerates as constituting this deal, the fourth is that “most Americans are religious, more or less.”

Today, lots of people are more inclined to call it “spiritual”; certainly large numbers of citizens have drifted away from organized religious denominations. As a result, we’re surprised when we get seemingly anomalous news, like the story of female religious orders that are growing once more because millennials are interested in becoming nuns.

Moreover, numbers aren’t the sole measure of the influence; there’s nothing like religion to remind us of the salience of intensity. Sometimes the story is that religious influence has prompted a state legislature to ban abortion after a term of eight weeks; sometimes the news is about Muslim, Jewish, and Christian clergy joining together to guard a sanctuary after a hate crime.

Almost nothing is embedded more deeply than religion in the American fabric. Other elements of the Bill of Rights may have equal respect, and at least one item—the Second Amendment—periodically explodes in importance, as it’s exploding now. But none of them matches religion, unruly and unpredictable, as an ineradicable part of the deal.

Read more at American Interest

More about: Donald Trump, Religion and politics, U.S. Politics


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy