I was not a fan of George W. Bush’s Iraq decisions but when this story first broke (back in 2016??), I smelled questionable hearsay and soon found this adamant rebuttal from Ambassador Kurt Volker, the former United States Permanent Representative to NATO. He among others participated in those phone calls and strongly denied these sensationalist rumors which helped sell a lot of books. Volker wrote:
As someone who participated in all of the calls between President Bush and President Chirac in late 2002 and early 2003 — the run-up to the 2003 war in Iraq — I have been surprised in two ways by the debate in these pages over the content of those calls. First, the notion that President George W. Bush — citing “Gog and Magog” and the Book of Revelations — had some kind of messianic vision that by invading Iraq, the United States was doing God’s will to eliminate evil, is a notion very far from reality. Never did anything like that come up.
You can read Volker’s extensive reflections on those phone calls at: https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/11/15/bush-chirac-and-the-war-in-iraq/
I have a degree of familiarity with the history of Gog and Magog hermeneutics, and I can remember listening to some fundamentalist radio preachers at the height of the Cold War identifying Gog and Magog as the evil Soviet Union. As the Cold War died down, I noticed that some of them started redefining Gog and Magog in other directions. Eventually, new alleged villains on the world stage started getting tagged with the God and Magog labels. So it didn’t surprise me when various Islamic nations became the revised targets. Nevertheless, I’ve been unable to find reliable evidence that Bush bought into such Bible prophesy pop-hermeneutics specifics. Moreover, the particular twist that Jean Edward Smith puts into his Bush-helps-along the Gog and Magog prophecy fulfillment makes absolutely no sense to me—even in the most fanatical Bible prophecy tropes.
Jean Edward Smith’s sensationalist portrayal of George W. Bush as an out-of-control religious zealot strikes me as an ideal way to sell a lot of books. Even though I wasn’t a fan of Bush’s foreign policy, I am highly skeptical of these easy stereotypes. Bush was not an self-proclaimed Bible scholar nor a documented fan of pop-apocalyptics. It is not clear to me that these caricatures accurately depict his particular brand of evangelicalism.
Here’s more excerpts from Ambassador Volker’s reflections on the phone calls in question:
In full disclosure, I have not gone back to consult the memoranda of conversation from those calls in writing down these observations. And indeed, I would not be surprised if there are gaps in the written record due simply to the overload caused by the sheer volume of calls. So what follows here is my personal recollection. I did, however, consult a few individuals — both French and American — who also had direct, personal knowledge of those calls, and their recollections are consistent with my own.
First, in all these phone calls, I can only recall one occasion when religion came up. Chirac brought it up, when he described the complex political balance among the various religious sects in Lebanon.
It is also worth mentioning that even some evangelical fans of George W. Bush have generated a long list of gushing reports of the President inserting Biblical insights, “prophetic fulfillments” and “his personal testimony” into all sorts of events and episodes which White House staff, independent observers, and historians have adamantly denied as absurd. Many of these legends of “evangelical piety” are quite humorous in their obvious apocryphal but genuinely wishful roots. One of my personal favorites is the fictional claim by some fundamentalist Christian fans of George Bush that he once abandoned his hectic public appearance schedule to talk one-on-one in the corner of a high school cafeteria with a young teen whose father had told the President that his son was losing his faith in God. The myth claims that Bush’s aides kept insisting that other matters urgently required the President’s attention but that he calmly told them that “eternal matters of a spiritual nature” demanded his attention because “I’m a Christian first and the President second.” I had friends who would tell me these stories with adoring appreciation of their favorite President.
With these many stories in mind, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if we eventually discover that these Gog and Magog tales actually originated as Bush-adoring evangelical fan-fiction and Jean Edward Smith ran with them for his own sensationalist purposes.
@Patrick, whether such far-fetched rumors come from adoring George W. Bush fans or from atheist critics of all things Bush, I take them all with a huge grain of salt. Don’t believe everything you read.
A lot of popular atheism websites are just about as reliable as a lot of the “creation science” websites. They have agendas which don’t always emphasize getting their facts right.
“There was never any conversation about prophecy, destiny, Gog and Magog, or anything of the sort.” — Ambassador Kurt Volker
The Bush years seem quaint in comparison to politics today.
@Patrick, this excerpt from Ambassador Volker may explain how the silly rumor got started:
The stories about Bush citing the “Gog and Magog” stories from the Bible are sourced from France. I do not know who would have said these things to journalists in France or why. I checked with a few former French colleagues who were present with Chirac at the time, and none recalled this kind of reference. One did say that Chirac, exasperated after one particular phone call with Bush, said, “it is hard to reason with someone who gets his instructions from God.” My sense is that this referred to Bush’s surety and determination — not a literal complaint that Bush said he was doing God’s will — but that, of course, can be a matter of interpretation.
They shouldn’t. Trump may be corrupt and narcissistic, but at least he hasn’t (yet!) made torture of prisoners our national policy.
On what basis are you making that claim?
He said that, but thus far I’ve not seen any reporting indicating that he actually did it.
I’m certainly not attempting to defend Trump. Just trying to remind folks that GWB was actually, really really awful.
I’m confident that the fact that he said that means that the people with the opportunity to torture are going right ahead.
Well, I hope that’s not the case. Time will tell (at least we can hope).
Instead he has made inhumane treatment of child crossing the border our national policy.
I had heard that flu vaccinations won’t be given to migrants coming through the border–and that strikes me as something which may prove a costly decision for all of us.
Perhaps there are complicating factors unknown to me.
I opposed the second war with Iraq and was never a fan of Bush. only Reagan was a great president in the 20th century.
Magog is a term that usually, and should be, see as a reference to the slavic language division from Japhet, son of Noah. You can see oin the word the type of words one sees in slavic languages.
One can not stop prophecy by the way. So one can’t stop gog/magog. its illogical.
And that is another reason why George W. Bush would not have reasoned as Smith assumed in his mythical spiel.
The Daylight Atheism article is a good illustration of someone woefully ignorant of American evangelicalism spinning a fictional tale (or spreading someone else’s over-spun tale) that fits a bizarre caricature of what an evangelical Bush was imagined to believe and do. I wonder if “The Friendly Atheist” will also promote the silly story.
Yes your right. people lie or imagine and publish same.
The war of Gog and Magog will signal a new day in human history because finally after millennia, the Lord God will reveal himself. The skeptic will have a lot to answer for in that day. I am personally hoping this war erupts in our lifetime when “the anger of the Lord comes up in his face” and he fights for Israel.
I have long predicted that there will be no (successful) atheists in the final days of this planet. If there are atheists, they will not be taken seriously. All will know in that day and from that day forward that there is a God in heaven to be feared.
23 Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.
6 And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the Lord.
7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel.
13 Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord God.
21 And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.
22 So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward.
28 Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God,
Total nonsense. There will be no war of Gog and Magog. Total nonsense. Your threats against atheists are evil, will be taken seriously as a threat, and will be reported to law enforcement as a hate crime. I demand that you assure everyone here that you will incite no hostility nor harassment of atheists or any other people. Your ancient book is evil and should be denounced as such. Hate speech like this is a crime.
Moderators some sort of sanctions against @r_speir are in order here for the spewing of hate speech.
Sick sadistic fantasies.
Hoping for war and delighting in it is a very disturbing thought, @r_speir . That applies even to any one of history’s many “just wars.” Are you sure that your “hope” for war is Biblical?
The Bible warns against finding delight in bad things happening to one opponents or enemies. (Yes, I’m very much aware of the imprecatory Psalms but they don’t contradict what I’m saying.)
Patrick, is it your position that the Bible (“your ancient book”) should be banned as hate speech? Perhaps that topic deserves its own thread—but this Gog and Magog OP has basically played out so a few posts shouldn’t be too disruptive.
Meanwhile, I don’t recall anything in the Ezekiel passage singling out atheists. @r_speir and I probably read the passage differently.
No the Bible shouldn’t be banned. It should be placed in the ancient mythology fiction section of the library and be available for anyone to read and study as such.
But any person taking verses out of the Bible and using them to instigate hate, intolerance, and injustice against other people should be prosecuted for hate speech.
For example here is a bible verse of God instructing believers to kill atheists.
Deuteronomy 13:6-10 New International Version (NIV)
6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. 9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
This is hate speech today and should some person try to incite violence against a group of atheists, I would inform law enforcement and prosecute to the full extent of the law as a hate crime.