Shmuley Boteach is an American Orthodox rabbi, radio and television host, and author. He rose to prominence with the publication of his international bestseller Kosher Sex. He received his rabbinic ordination in 1988 from the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement in New York City, as a disciple of its leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. He frequently appears as a guest on television and radio discussing politics, religion, society and morality. He also now hosts a reality television program entitled Shalom in the Home which involves facilitating conflicts between family members. He has authored many books since Kosher Sex, the latest of which is The Broken American Male.
Topic: Iraq as an act of altruism.
Shmuley Boteach: For me the big story is, of course, the war in Iraq . . . but not because of how other people see it – should we be there, should we not be there. The war in Iraq was, in my opinion, an altruistic attempt on the part of one nation – not that America didn’t have selfish ambitions as well. Of course they did. But ultimately the altruism was more important than that; that we’re this great nation. We saw this guy who just slaughtered people __________, and we just . . . You know you get embarrassed after a while doing nothing. He gassed children. He gassed whole communities, killed tens of thousands of people. The New York Times said he killed 1.1 million people. That’s the New York Times who didn’t even support the war. But the war wasn’t fought well, and then it became a quagmire. So people started saying, “You know what? No more of these foreign adventures.” America might will remain at home. Well that’s a bit sad because that’s the way it used to be. You know Rwanda – 800,000 Africans killed. America did nothing. ___________, Kosovo. Kosovo we finally intervened, but you know in the . . . They were ___________, and there was the massacre of the Armenians. America did nothing. The First World War. You know we are responsible for our brothers’ lives. I don’t know that we could stop every genocide, but we gotta stop a couple here and there. And America is the richest, most powerful country in the world, and that confers upon us certain responsibilities. I fear that because Iraq has not panned out well as of yet – and maybe it will and maybe it won’t – that most Americans are gonna say, “Forget it. I don’t even wanna hear it.” And then we’re gonna hear about . . . What happens if Darfur gets worse? What happens if they start slaughtering every man, woman and child in the Darfur region of Sudan? Are we Americans gonna say, “Sorry. Not our problem.” Well you know that’s sad. So the war in Iraq has been a turning point because we try to do this very altruistic thing. And because it didn’t work out so well, we became disillusioned very quickly.
Recorded on: 09/05/2007