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Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
Recent events in Syria and Iraq are some of the most upsetting and heartbreaking we’ve seen in years. Thankfully, American air strikes and allied forces have slowed ISIS’ advance, but it is by no means finished. I doubt we’ve seen the worst they are capable of. Moreover, though ISIS now holds the spotlight, none of its cruelty diminishes the concurrent threat from Al Qaeda. Both of these groups are bent on the destruction of western civilization and will stop at nothing to achieve that end, and now one of them has a large base from which to operate.
The sad thing is that their advances in Iraq were avoidable. Mindy Belz, in World Magazine, reminds us that previous American administrations did not imagine that nations destabilized by war could recover without generations’ long support. Ten years after the end of WWII, 269,260 American soldiers remained in Germany and 190,000 American soldiers remained in Japan. Ditto Korea, where in 1963 we still had 56,910 troops. We still have bases in those countries. No one would argue that the stabilizing presence of the American military wasn’t critical to those countries’ success. By December 18, only 150 American military personnel remained in Iraq, all stationed around the embassy.
The Obama administration is at least partly responsible for the current state of affairs: for their failure to negotiate a security agreement that would have kept enough U.S. troops in country to help the Iraqis achieve stability, and for their evident naiveté about the forces arrayed against them. But so, as a nation of voters, are we. Part of the reason Mr. Obama was elected was because of his determination to “get our troops out.” We, against all of the evidence, refuse to believe two things fundamental to the Biblical world view:
1. Man is a fallen creature, capable of and prone to treacherous and brutal evil against his fellow creatures. See Cain and Abel, Genesis 4:8.
2. Islamo-fascists, like ISIS and Al Qaeda, and the leaders of Iran, are just the most recent manifestation of a phenomenon that reaches back to the time of Noah, where “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and was full of violence … for all of the people on earth had corrupted their ways.” Genesis 6:11-12.
“War is permanent to the human condition,” the late Harold Rood taught his students in International Relations at Claremont Mckenna College, “and in war it is better to win, for no one ever had to accommodate a loser. America will always have enemies,” he told them, “and those enemies will forever be planning and expending resources to place themselves in a position to defeat us. It would be nice if it was otherwise, but it is not otherwise. It is the way the world works.”
Professor Rood, as a veteran of WWII in Patton’s Third Army, knew whereof he spoke, and whether he knew it or not, had a Biblical worldview.
The sensible thing, the Biblically informed thing, for a superpower to do in a fallen world is not to reduce its military capability, as is currently being done, but to strengthen it; not to leave its borders open, but lace them up tight; not to leave our infrastructure vulnerable, but vigorously protect it.
No nation, least of all the U.S., as favored by God as Abel ever was, can be secure by hoping for the best about the Cain’s who are plotting our destruction. No government that does not prepare for the worst deserves to lead it.