This is a platoon of straw men. First, has Bush ever said that those who question his policy disbelieve in evil? Has he ever said that those who question him don’t believe in God? This is unfair to the president. There is in Wills’ essay a haughty contempt for what he apparently sees as the simplicity of Bush’s faith. Perhaps Bush sees things with much more clarity than the sophisticated ex-Jesuit Wills.
Second, I agree that we must be very careful to avoid the sin of presumption re: the idea that God is on our side. That said, Wills makes it impossible for our nation ever to go to war with the assurance that we’re acting justly, doing as God would have us do. Ultimately, this does go back to one’s view of evil, and the responsibility a righteous man has to fight it. I don’t think it necessarily follows that one who opposes the US policy on this or any other war disbelieves in evil, much less in God. But you look at the persistence among the antiwar side — when confronted by bone-chilling evidence of the Saddam regime’s brutality, its grotesque torture of its own people, and the hideous weapons they’ve built — of an inability to come up with any practical way of dealing with it, and you wonder if they have any idea what evil is about, or if it even exists. In Wills-World, the only moral position for a religious believer to take vis-a-vis war is either outright opposition to it, or pained, inconclusive hand-wringing.
I mean, I’m so tired of hearing “we should work with our allies” or “let the inspectors work” or (my favorite, from an antiwar friend) “there’s got to be a better way than war.” They have a sentimental view of evil, I think. They don’t believe in Hell, they believe in Heck (and even then they’re not so sure).