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Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Soleimani_Car Remains

Credit…Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office, via Associated Press

“[B]ecause of our foreign policy of interventionism developed in the twentieth century, and because of our more recent policy of pre-emptive war, the United States has become the primary target of militant Muslims worldwide.”

 

U.S. Strike in Iraq Kills Qassim Suleimani, Commander of Iranian Forces,” ran the New York Times headline.  Why did the US take this drastic action?  The article’s subheadline explaines, “Suleimani was planning attacks on Americans across the region, leading to an airstrike in Baghdad, the Pentagon statement said.”

This explanation is not something made up by the New York Times.  Rather, it is the same explanation given by official Washington for the deadly January 3 drone strike in Baghdad.

In his remarks from Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump, after asserting that his highest and most solemn duty was the defense of our nation, claimed that, “Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him…We took action last night to stop a war.  We did not take action to start a war.”

PBS reports Secretary of State Mike Pompeo giving similar justification in an interview he did with CNN.  According to PBS, Pompeo said that Gen. Qassem Soleimani “was actively plotting in the region to take actions, the big action as he described it, that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk.  We know it was imminent.   This was an intelligence-based assessment that drove our decision-making process.”

Reuters reported Pompeo’s remarks from January 3 thus, “last night was the time that we needed to strike to make sure that this imminent attack  that he was working actively was disrupted.”

Finally, the National Review quoted Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran, saying, “The President’s first responsibility is the safety of the American people.  Qasem Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks in the region against Americans in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon that could have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.”

One common thread that links all four quotes above is the word “imminent.”  We are told by all three gentlemen that General Soleimani was not merely plotting to harm Americans, but that his attack or attacks were “imminent.” Therefore, they argue, the President’s decision to drone Soleimani – in his January 3 statement quoted above, President Trump said “Last night, at my direction, the United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike” thus taking responsibility for the decision – ought not be viewed as an act of aggression, but rather as one of self-defense.

The term “imminent” is key to understanding the reasoning behind the killing of Soleimani as well as determining whether the President’s decision was a moral one.  The reason “imminent” is such a key term relative to Soleimani’s death is that it’s the tip-off, the big tell, that this attack was carried out using the doctrine of preemptive war as the theoretical framework to justify the decision by the President to kill the Iranian general.

So what is the doctrine of preemptive war?  Let’s take a look.

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Baghdad Embasssy Attack

Hundreds of protesters stormed the US embassy compound in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone [Khalid Mohammed/AP Photo]

I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.

  • Psalm 120:7

It seemed like déjà vu.  Watching video of angry protesters storming the American embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday, I couldn’t help but recall similar scenes from 1979.  I was thirteen when angry crowds of demonstrators took to the streets against the Shah of Iran, swept the Ayatollah Khomeini to power in that nation, and captured the American embassy in Tehran, holding fifty-two American hostages for 444 days.

There was, as you may suppose, a good deal of anger directed at Iran from the American public.  Pictures of the scowling Ayatollah, a man whose menacing face seemed to be everywhere, served to drive home the seriousness of the ongoing hostage crisis.

For my part, I recall not so much being angry with Iran as I was puzzled by the whole affair.  Here were people on the other side of the world, in a country I had barely heard of, marching, burning American flags and calling America the Great Satan.   The whole thing just seemed bizarre to me.  As far as I was aware, I had never harmed an Iranian, nor did I harbor anything like hatred for the Iranian people.  So why did these people, seemingly out of the blue, one day start proclaiming how much they hated my country?  It was as if Iran was a nation full of nothing but lunatics.  At least that’s how it appeared to me at the time.

Sometimes I wonder how those too young to have lived through the Iran hostage crisis view that event.  Do Millennials or Gen-Z even know about it?  If so, do they realize how big a deal it was at the time?  This one event dominated the news for over a year.  It even spawned a new news program on ABC called Nightline hosted by Ted Koppel and dedicated to providing the latest hostage crisis updates.  If memory serves, it used to come on weeknights at 11:30 pm after the local evening news.

That was then.

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Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

– John Quincy Adams

Stay out of foreign wars. Time was when Americans, from then least of them to the greatest of them, understood this simple, Biblical maxim of foreign policy.

But beginning with William McKinley and the Spanish American War in 1898, America got into the vulgar business of empire. Over the following century, the language of war, once foreign to American patriots, became the nation’s native tongue.

I was born during the Vietnam war. As a nine year old, I recall watching the nightly news as a helicopter evacuated the last remaining personnel from US embassy in Saigon, signaling the end of US intervention there.

Seven years later there was the intervention in Grenada.

In October 1983, America was shocked to hear that 241 Marines were killed in their barracks by a suicide bomber driving a truck.

In the late 90’s as the Soviet Union went belly up, war hawks went into panic mode as talk of a “peace dividend” was in the air.

There were no more monsters. What’s an interventionist to do?

But never underestimate a globalist. Indeed, they are a determined lot.

And it wasn’t long before the found just what they were looking for in the person of former ally Saddam Hussein.

Gulf War I quickly followed.

Then came Somalia, the Balkans, Gulf War II, Afghanistan, Libya, and more drone strikes and covert interventions than I could begin to name.

All of it, naturally, in the name of defending “our freedoms,” which were daily being consumed by the burgeoning security state fostered by the same folks who brought us the wars.

Now as I write Thursday night, across my phone comes the headline, “Trump launches attack on Syria with more than 50 tomahawk missiles.”

The search for monsters once again has found its mark.


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ZambiaGod have mercy on the currency,” read the headline. Curious, I followed the link to an article about the president of Zambia calling for a national day of prayer and fasting to address country’s currency crisis. It turns out that Zambia’s national currency, the Kwacha, has fallen by 45% against the US dollar in 2015, causing Zambians a host of economic difficulty. It is eminently Christian and sensible to call on the Lord in times of trouble The Bible is filled with promises that God will deliver his people if they call upon his name. Typical is Ps. 50:15 which reads, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me. And because it is eminently Christian and sensible to call on the Lord in times of trouble, no Western president or prime minister would ever think of doing it. “We’ve got this,” they say, “no divine help needed.”

Such was not always the case. During the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called for a national day of prayer and fasting. But that sort of thing doesn’t fly anymore. In the aftermath of the greatest national disaster of my lifetime – I’m speaking here about the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. – George Bush encouraged Americans to go to Disney World. What’s worse, he participated in a blasphemous ecumenical prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington which featured, among others, a female Episcopal bishop, a Rabbi, a Muslim cleric and a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church-State. Far from being an example of turning to God, this service was a double-minded affront to the Lord Christ Jesus. And because it was double-minded, those who participated had no reason to think they would receive God’s blessing or assistance. The failure of the Global War on Terror stands as a stark testimony to this principle.

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According to John Hagee, the answer to this question is a resounding “yes.” Israel, we are told, is on the verge of annihilation and it is incumbent upon Christians to take a stand for Israel now.  Hagee and others believe that Christians have an obligation to bless Israel, and this is generally understood by them to mean supporting whatever initiative is being pushed by the Likud party.     In his book In Defense of Israel, the first chapter of which is titled It’s 1938…Again, Hagee makes the following claim,

John Hagee

John Hagee

As an avid student of history, I am convinced that we are facing the same situation the world faced in 1938.

Iran is the new Germany, and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is the new Hitler. Iran poses a threat to the State of Israel that promises nothing less than a nuclear holocaust. The only way to win a nuclear war is to make certain it never starts. We must stop Iran’s nuclear threat an stand boldly with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East (Hagee, In Defense of Israel. 2,3)

Hagee, of course, in not the first or only person to make comments of this sort. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamen Netanyahu has built his career on statements of this sort. But since Hagee claims to speak for Evangelicals in general, his comments are of special interest to Christians.

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